What’s in a name?

The Polain family crest The Poleyn family crest

Okay, this has nothing to do with the usual subject matter of this blog, but it was far too amusing not to post. A long time ago my family started looking into the origin of the name Polaine and found Poulain de Liege from Belgium. There are many spellings of the name, but a common Medieval ones are Poleyn (a part of a suit of armour), Poulain (French chocolate) and Poulaine (a type of very pointy shoe).

But most amusing were these two entries in House of Names (which seem totally spurious), in which the describe origins of our name thus:

It was a name for a young buck; it is derived from the Old French word poulain, which meant colt. This nickname would have been given to a person given over to friskiness and possessed of a certain nervous energy in much the same way a young horse is.

So, there you go, young stud.

7 Replies

  • poliane

    from the conjunction of two words: poli as in early 19th century london chimney sweep slang ‘rolli – polli’ meaning fat, specifically too fat to enter the chimney with ane – taken from anal shortened in speech as in “ees so ane that fella about his carriage” – highwayman chat from the time of dick turpin…

    so polaine is a kind of modern day diss… hardly a young buck…

  • Just because the above listed website had your name listed doesn’t mean that it is for sure your direct line. Your Polaine could be from a totally different name originally, since surnames changed greatly over time and were commonly misspelled. Also, coats of arms were given to a specific person, so there is no way to know that the coat of arms listed on houseofnames website is from your direct line. I’m not trying to preach or anything. Just thought you would like a little more info on this.


  • I am a franchisee of houseofnames, so i have good knowledge to comment on them. I do also sell the same things, but i try to make sure each customer is educated on the fact that it might not actually apply to their direct line.


  • Thanks Mike – good to know.

    Some time ago (20 years or more) my parents did get the names and ancestry looked into and traced quite far back. But my parents have lost/deeply archived the info, so I can’t compare!

  • My grandmother told me that this name (polaine) comes from the hugonoffs (not sure of the spelling) from french/belgian origin at the time of the french revolution

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