First Names are not just first names
The study of Armenian first names is also fascinating since virtually every aspect of our culture is reflected in them.
Meaning of Armenian girls names
|AGHAVNI||Armenian; “pigeon, dove”|
|ANAHID||Armenian version of Diana. An Ancient Godess in Armenian Mythology|
|ANI||Name of an ancient Armenian capital City|
|ARPIE||Armenian; “rising of sun”|
|BERJOUIE||Armenian; “gorgeous, elegant lady”|
|DEROUHI||Armenian; “Lady of the house”|
|DZOVIG||Armenian; “small sea”|
|GADAR||Armenian; “apex, top of a mountain, perfect pure”|
|GAYANE||Martyred Nun of Armenian Church. Cathedral built in name|
|HRIPSIME||Martyred Nun of Armenian Church. Cathedral built in name|
|HOURIG||Armenian; “small fire”|
|HAIGANOUSH||Armenian; “sweet Armenian woman”|
|SATENIG||Armenian; “An Armenian Princess”|
|SURPOOHIE||Armenian: “sacred or holy women”|
|SIRANOUSH||Armenian ; “Lovely woman”|
|SIRVART||Armenian: “dear rose, lovely rose”|
|SOSSY||Armenian; “the plane tree”|
|TAKOUHI||Armenian; “Queen, wearer of a crown”|
|TALINE||Name of an old old Armenian monastery|
|VARTOUHI||Armenian; “beautiful as a rose”|
Meaning of Armenian boys names
|ANTRANIG||Armenian; the oldest; the first born; coming first|
|ARA||Name of legendary Armenian King and hero, Ara Keghetzig (Handsome)|
|ARAKEL||Armenian; “to send”|
|ARAM||Armenian; “Father of King Ara”|
|AVEDIS||Armenian; good tidings, bringer of Good news|
|BAGHDASSAR||Armenian version of Balthasar; one of three wise Kings|
|BEDROS||Armenian version of Peter|
|CARNIG||Armenian; “small lamb”|
|DICKRAN||The great King of Armenia|
|DIRAN||Armenian; “one who rules”|
|GARABED||Armenian; “Caravan Leader, pioneer”|
|KEVORK||Armenian version of George|
|GHOUGAS||Armenian; version of Luke|
|GOMIDAS||Armenian; a famous musician and Clergyman|
|HAGOP||Armenian ; version of Jack or Jacob|
|HAIG||Legendary Armenian Patriarch and hero|
|JIRAIR||Armenian; strong and active working man|
|KHACHIG||Armenian; “small cross”|
|KHAJAG||Armenian; “one who has blue eyes; also beautiful flower”|
|KRIKOR||Armenian form of Gregory. Krikor was the first Christian leader|
|LEVON||Armenian version of Leon; “Lion-like”|
|MANOOG||Armenian; “small child, infant”|
|NISHAN||Armenian; “Cross, mark, sign”|
|PAPKEN||“A Catholicos of Armenian Church”|
|RAZMIG||Armenian. “A soldier; one who fights a battle”|
|SARKIS||Armenian version of Sergius, (to serve)|
|YERVANT||An Armenian King|
|ZAVEN||Armenian version of Savinus, or Savin|
Did you know that most Armenian names that end in “ian” or “yan,” mean the “son of”? Armenian names generally fall into five categories: aristocracy, parent, geography, occupation, or trait. Many last names today have been shortened or modified for various reasons; some to aid pronunciation by non-Armenians, others drop the “ian” for personal reasons.
Those strange sounding Armenian family names
Have you ever thought about the meaning of “ian”? Most Armenian names end in “ian” or “yan,” meaning the “son of ,” but some Diaspora Armenians have changed these endings to blend in their host societies. Today in Turkey “oglu” often replaces “ian,” while Russian Armenians may change the endings to “ov”; e.g., Gary Kasparov, Serge Parajanov. A name ending in “ian” is not always exclusively Armenian, since the ending can also be occasionally found in names in Irish, Persian, English, Philippine and some other cultures.
Armenian last names generally fall into five specific categories: Aristocracy, Parent, Geography, Occupation or Trait.
The ancient Armenian aristocracy (“Nakharar” class) was derived from Parthian-Persian stock and many of their names ended in “uni” or “ooni.” Most of these families were destroyed over the centuries but some still survive today; e.g., Sasuni, Rshtuni.
Many Armenian names are derived from the first names of an ancestor,; e.g., Davidian, “son of David,” Stepanian, “son of Stepan,” or Krikorian, “son of Krikor/Grigor.” Until the 19th century, virtually all first names had a religious origin, so most of those last names are also religious.
Some last names are based on geographic origin and end in “lian” (Turkish) or “tsian” (Armenian). Typical examples are Sivaslian “from Sivas,” Urfalian “from Urfa” and Vanetzian “from Van.” These names were typically given to an immigrant who migrated from a different region of Armenia. Obviously everyone living in Marash would not call himself or herself “Marashlian”.
Most last names were taken from the professions of an ancestor. These names frequently originated with the tax collectors who needed to identify all individuals for tax purposes. Typical examples are Najarian “son of a carpenter,” Arabian “son of a wagon/ teamster,” and Vosgarichian “son of a goldsmith.” Many of these occupations are not Armenian, since the tax man (typically a Moslem Turk, Persian, Arab, etc.) would use his own native word for the occupation; e.g., the name Boyajian is based on the Arab/Turkish term “boyaji” “one who dyes.”
The most confusing and curious names are those based on some trait of an ancestor. Typical examples are Topalian “son of the cripple,” Dilsizian “son of the tongueless one,” or Sinanian “son of the spearpoint.” Many of the origins of these names are unclear unless one understands the original context. As an example, Dilsizian indicates that an ancestor had his tongue cut out by the Turks for using the Armenian language, while the term “Sinan” was a slang term applied to somebody either with a very erect military-like carriage or who was “hung like a horse.” Some of these traits are not physical, but rather reflect personality or social status; e.g., Melikian “son of the king” or Harutunian “son of the resurrection.” The name Harutunian could be based on an ancestor named Harutune (so-named because he was born around Eastertime), or adopted by a convert to Protestantism to show his status as a “born-again Christian.”
Many last names today have been shortened or modified to aid pronunciations by non-Armenians; e.g., the name “Mugerditchian/ Mkrtichian” becomes “Mugar,” “Husseniglian,” becomes “Hewsen,” and “Samourkashian” becomes “Samour.” These abbreviated names often drop the “ian” ending, and are not immediately identifiable as being Armenian to an outsider.
The name categories of Occupation and Trait can differ significantly between Eastern Armenians and Western Armenians, since the eastern names often have Persian, Georgian or Russian roots, while the western names may have Turkish, Arab, or Greek roots. Names with the prefix “Der” or “Ter” show that one of the ancestors was a “Der Hayr” (a married parish priest), a position of great social status among Armenians; e.g., DerBedrosian, Ter Petrosian.
The study of Armenian Names is a fascinating exercise, since virtually every aspect of the culture is reflected in names. There have been extensive studies of Armenian names in the Armenian language, but little has appeared in English and many Armenians (born outside of Armenia) do not understand the significance of their own names.
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