How Much Chuk Can a Canadian Chuck?

I am a HUGE fan of the sport of hockey, and in watching about a bajillion games, I’ve noticed a trend in some of the players’ names…an awful LOT of them have the suffix “chuk” in their last name.

Here are but a few examples: Simchuk, Tkachuk, Sawchuk, Melnechuk, Gylywoychuk, Kravchuk…you get the idea. Now, I’m not so silly as to suppose that ONLY hockey players have this ending to their surnames,it’s just that there’s such a high ocurrence of these kinds of names in the sport.

My question is this: what is the meaning of the suffix, and where did it come from? Is it a “son of” kind of thing, like John"son" or "Mc"Dougall? I’m assuming that the players I’m refering to are Canadian, although certainly there are several nationalities in the sport.

It’s not “chuk”. It’s more likely to be something like “czek”, “chek” or “czyk”, all of which are Eastern European in origin. The suffix -czyk is Polish for “son of” (

That might be it…I wonder if the “chuk” suffix is perhaps a New World-ization of the Polish suffix?

As far as the names I listed, those are indeed the spellings of the names, and there are many more that have the “chuk” suffix.

That may well be the case. Any other takers?

Beg to differ, mattk, but names ending in “-chuk” are very common in Canada, espcially the prairies and Ontario. It usually means that the person is of Ukrainian descent. There are a lot of Ukrainian-Canadians. The Canadian government in the early part of the 20th century encouraged their forebears to come to Canada because of their skill in dry-land farming (the climate and soil in Ukraine is very similar to that of the prairie provinces).

As for their representation in professional hockey, well, the prairies have always been a training ground for good Canadian hockey players. (There may also be players in the NHL direct from Ukraine - I’m not aware of any offhand, but there are lots of Russians and Czechs, so there may also be players from Ukraine.)

Now, I’m guessing that “-chuk” may be a Ukrainian cognate of the Polish -czyk, and I assume that it’s been transcribed from the Cryllic. But it is consistently spelt “-chuk.”

Incidentally, the first president of Ukraine after the fall of the Soviet Union was Leonid Kravchuk. Not Canadian.

Back to Canada, a number of waves of immigration occurred after World War 1, but those who were present during the war faced internment, as this site notes.

There has been talk of reparations for those interned and their descendants, but I believe thus far nothing has come of it. This is a source of embarassment among Canadian moralists, who on the basis of their nation’s better behavior over the years can be a bit self-righteous in their disdain for American policy.

Correct. (BTW, I went to high school with Curtis Leschyshyn, a #2 draft pick in '87 or '88; my brush with fame!) Having married a Uke, I should know. In the mother tongue, the suffix is roughly pronounced “chook”, but everyone in Saskatoon says “chuck”. Also cognate with the Czech ‘cek’ (with a funky inverted circumflex on the c). Many people in these parts lovingly call the home of the Oilers hockey team “Edmonchuk”.

dqa: I’m not proud of how the Canadian government has treated various minorities through the years. But I’d be no prouder for being American; some pretty crappy stuff went down on both sides of the border. And that’s all I’m going to say about that; further posts on that subject belong in GD. (And Leonid Kravchuk isn’t Canadian? Well, there goes that idea for world domination…)

Thanks for the explanation, folks. Now I can enjoy my hockey without having that nagging question in the back of my mind!

In the 1960’s, the Boston Bruins had Johnny Bucyk, Vic Stasiuk, and “Bronco” Horvath, prairiemen all, together on the “Uke Line”. Probably not a PC name anymore, though.