Meaning of Armenian first and last names

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First Names are not just first names

My Armenian name is...

My Armenian name is...

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

Name Meaning
AGHAVNI Armenian; “pigeon, dove”
ANAHID Armenian version of Diana. An Ancient Godess in Armenian Mythology
ANI Name of an ancient Armenian capital City
ANOUSH Armenian; “Sweet”
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”
VOSKIE Armenian; “gold”


Meaning of Armenian boys names

Name Meaning
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)
VAHAN Armenian; “Shield”
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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One Response

  1. Bill Manoogian January 13, 2017 at 15:56 #

    “Manoog” means “small child” but no one can be the son of a small [pre-pubescent] child, right, because little boys can’t become fathers? So, the original “Manoogian” must either have meant that he was thought to be too young to have become a father or that the father was so young-looking or well preserved that he could pass for very young. Which one do you think it was?

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