Armenian names are one of the most distinguishable traits of the Armenian nation. You can typically tell if someone is Armenian based on their name- and sometimes, their name can tell you where they came from, too. Armenian first and last names are special and unique, and they often denote a very ancient cultural heritage. There are many factors that play a part of Armenian names, so let’s explore them in more detail.
Armenian First Names
Armenian first names are noticeable, and you are likely to recognize an Armenian based simply on their name. Many Armenian names come from the Bible and are the Armenian versions of more popular names.
In Armenia, it is a common tradition to name children after their grandparents, particularly their paternal grandparents. So, girls are typically named after their paternal grandmothers, and boys are typically named after their paternal grandfathers. This tradition carries on for generations, so some names become unique to specific families. Although, not everyone chooses to follow this tradition, and there are even some grandparents who do not wish for their children to do this. Or, some parents will name their children something similar, but not exact, so as to give their child some uniqueness. For example, the grandmother’s name could be Vard, and the granddaughter’s name could be Varduhi.
The most popular names in Armenia as of 2018 are Nare for girls and Davit for boys.
Something interesting about Armenians is that they typically don’t use middle names like people in many Western nations are used to. They instead use a patronym, which is the father’s name, with the letter “i” added at the end. So, for example, if your name is Anush Balasanyan, and your father’s name is Suren, your full name would read “Anush Sureni Balasanyan.”
Armenian Last Names
Armenian last names are the most notable feature of Armenians and the easiest way to figure out whether or not someone is an Armenian. Armenians especially find each other through looking at their last names.
Armenian last names almost always end in -ian or -yan, and less commonly, last names sometimes end in -nts, -tsi, or the Russianized -ov/-ova.
Why do Armenian last names end in -ian? There are several different characteristics of Armenian last names.
This suffix means “son of,” so, if someone’s last name is Poghosyan, this means “son of Poghos.” The most popular last name in Armenia is Harutyunyan, followed by Sargsyan, Hovhannisyan, Grigoryan, and Khachatryan.
The next characteristic of Armenian last names is traits. If someone’s ancestor had a particularly unusual trait, then this could be reflected in their last name. For example, the last name Topalian means “son of a cripple,” so someone with this last name could have had an ancestor who was a cripple.
Next, Armenian last names can also denote occupation. The well-known last name Kardashian means the son of someone who processes stone.
Armenian last names can also simply denote the names of aristocrats. People carrying such last names do not necessarily have to be from aristocratic families. Some examples are Pashinyan, Nakhararyan, Rshtuni, and Bakunts.
And finally, some Armenian last names show the location where the particular family is from. So, the last name Shiraktsi can be of someone who is from the region of Shirak, or Marashlian can be someone who is from Marash.
Armenian Girl Names
Armenian girl names also have special elements. As mentioned before, Armenians often name their daughters after their paternal grandmothers. Sometimes, Armenians will also name their daughters after other special female figures in their lives.
The most popular girls’ names in Armenia in 2018 were Nare, Maria, Mari, Mane, Elen, Anahit, Mariam, Angelina, Eva, and Ani.
Many Armenian first names come from the Bible and are Armenian versions of popular biblical names. This applies to women, too. This is where the name Mariam comes from- Mary, the Mother of God. The popular female names Gayane and Hripsime also come from Armenian saints. Many Armenian female names come from the names of ancient Armenian goddesses, too, such as Anahit, Astghik, and Nare.
Other Armenian female names may denote the region where their ancestors were from, such as the name Vanuhi- a girl from Van, Ani- the ancient city in present-day Turkey, or Tatev, named after the popular monastery.
Some Armenian girls are also given popular international names, which have slowly become modern Armenian names. Two very popular international names in Armenia are Margarita and Milena. Some others include Lena, Anna, Sophia, Eva, and Christine.
And finally, there are some Armenian female names that come from the names of objects, such as Arevik (sun), Lusine (moon), Vard (rose), Gohar (jewel), or Tsaghik (flower).
Armenian Boy Names
Armenian males are often named after biblical figures. Some of these examples include Hovsep (Joseph), Movses (Moses), Hovhannes (John), Petros (Peter), Poghos (Paul), Hakob (Jacob), and Soghomon (Solomon).
Some Armenian male names are also the names of popular historical figures. One of the most popular such names is Hayk, who is the legendary founder of the Armenian nation, from whom even Armenia got its name of Hayastan. Others include Tigran, named after the great Armenian king Tigran the Great, Vardan, named after Armenian hero Vardan Mamikonyan who saved Christianity in Armenia, and Mesrop, after the founder of the Armenian alphabet, Mesrop Mashtots.
Just like with female names, some Armenian males are given more modern and popular names. Some of these examples include Artur (Arthur), Davit (Davit), Daniel, Gabriel, Erik (Eric), Alexander, and Samvel (Samuel).
Next, males can be given the names of geographical locations, such as Sasun, Sipan, and Ararat.
Also similar to women, some men also are given the names of objects or other special words, such as Khachik (small cross), Ishkhan (prince), Razmik (little fighter), and Manuk (baby).
Finally, as of 2018, the most popular Armenian male names are Davit, Narek, Mark, Tigran, Alex, Hayk, Artur, Gor, and Aren.
Once again, Armenian names have unique characteristics that play a huge role in the history and culture of Armenians. Perhaps now you will take more notice to see if there are Armenians around you. You also now know more about the deep history and significance of Armenia!