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The Polish name Mikołaj is held to correspond to the Nicholas family of given names, as evidenced by the Russified name of Mikołaj Kruszewski.

As this is an odd sound change, my question is why? My first guess would be interference from Michał and other variants of Michael.

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You are absolutely right, the change N > M is due to the influence of Michael.

That happened not only in Polish, but also in

  • Ukrainian: Микола, Миколай (Mykola, Mykolaj)
  • Belarusian: Мікалай (Mikalaj)
  • Czech and Slovak: Mikuláš
  • Upper Sorbian: Mikławš
  • Lower Sorbian: Miklawš
  • Slovenian: Miklavž.

UPD: Best wishes on Saint Nicholas' Day, which is celebrated today by most of the Eastern Orthodox!

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  • 2
    What a happy coincidence.
    – jogloran
    Dec 20, 2013 at 0:27
  • Is Микита also due to the same influence?
    – alephalpha
    Jan 13, 2023 at 7:07

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