Greek name

In the modern world, personal names among people of Greek language and culture generally consist of a given name, a patronymic, and a family name.


Ancient Greeks generally had a single name, often qualified with a patronymic, a clan or tribe, or a place of origin. Married women were identified by the name of their husbands, not their fathers.

Hereditary family names or surnames began to be used by elites in the Byzantine period. Well into the 9th century, they were rare. But by the 11th and 12th centuries, elite families often used family names.[1][2] Family names came from placenames, nicknames, or occupations.[3]

It is not clear when stable family surnames became widely used. Though elite families often had stable family names, many of the "last names" used by Greeks into the 19th century were either patronymics or nicknames. It is also possible that family names were simply not recorded because Ottoman administrative practice preferred patronymics, and did not require surnames.[4]

In the 19th century, patronymic surnames became common.

For personal names, from the first century CE until the nineteenth century CE, pagan names from antiquity were mostly replaced by names from Christian scriptures and tradition. With the Modern Greek Enlightenment and the development of Greek nationalism, names from antiquity became popular again.[5]

Family names may be patronymic in origin or else based on occupation, location, or personal characteristic. These origins are often indicated by prefixes or suffixes. Traditionally a woman used a feminine version of her father's family name, replacing it with a feminine version of her husband's family name on marriage. In modern Greece, a woman keeps her father's family name for life but may use a husband's name.

In official documents in modern Greece, people are given three names: a given name, a patronymic and a family name.

Given names

Until the late 18th century, almost all Christian Greeks were named for Orthodox saints from the Old and New Testaments and early Christian tradition. Since then, names of both deities and mortals from antiquity have been popular as well.[5]

Male names usually end in -ας, -ης, and -ος, but sometimes ancient forms are also used. Female names almost always end in -α and -η, though a few end in -ώ with -ου being possible.

Since antiquity, there has been a strong tradition of naming the first son after the paternal grandfather and the second after the maternal grandfather.[6] This results in a continuation of names in the family line.

There is a strong clustering of first names by locality according to patron saints, famous churches or monasteries. Examples include:

  • Spyridon and Spyridoula in Corfu,
  • Gerasimos in Kefalonia,
  • Dionysia and Dionysios in Zakynthos,
  • Andreas and Andriana in Patras,
  • Markella and Markos in Chios
  • Savvas among families from Asia Minor,
  • Emmanuel or Manolis, Joseph or Sifis, Manousos, and Minas in Crete.
  • Tsambikos or Tsampika/Mika in Rhodes.

When Greek names are used in other languages, they are sometimes rendered phonetically, such as Eleni for Ἑλένη, and sometimes by their equivalents, like Helen in English or Hélène in French. In the United States, there are also conventional anglicizations based on phonetic similarity rather than etymology, for example James or Jimmy for Δημήτρης/Dimitris (nickname Ντίμης/Dimi, hence Jimmy), when the English name James is a derivative of Ἰάκωβος/ Iakovos.

Family names

Greek family names are most commonly patronymics but may also be based on occupation, personal characteristics or location. The feminine version is usually the genitive of the family name of the woman's father or husband; so, for example, Mr. Yannatos and Mrs. Yannatou.

As a result of their codification in the Modern Greek state, surnames have Katharevousa forms even though Katharevousa is no longer the official standard. Thus, the Ancient Greek name Eleutherios forms the Modern Greek proper name Lefteris. In the past, people in speaking used the family name followed by the given name, so John Eleutherios was called Leftero-giannis. In modern practice he is called Giannis Eleftheriou, where Giannis is the popular form of the formal Ioannis but Eleftheriou is an archaic genitive. For women the surname is usually a Katharevousa genitive of a male name, whereas back in Byzantine times there were separate feminine forms of male surnames, such as Palaiologína for Palaiológos which nowadays would be Palaiológou.[7][8]

In the past, women would change their surname on first marrying to that of their husband in the genitive case, so marking the change of dependence to husband from father. In early Modern Greek society, women were named with -aina as a feminine suffix on the husband's given name, for example "Giorgaina" signifying "wife of George". Nowadays, a woman's surname does not change upon marriage but she can use the husband's surname socially. Children usually receive the paternal surname, though some children receive the maternal surname in addition or exclusively.[9]

In official documents, the father's name in the genitive will be inserted between a person's first and last names. For example, if John Papadopoulos has a daughter named Mary and a son named Andrew, they will be referred to as María Ioánnou Papadopoúlou and Andréas Ioánnou Papadópoulos. If Mary then marries George Demetriádes, she may retain her original name or choose to be called María Geōrgíou Demetriádou. If she is widowed, she will revert to her father's patronymic but retain her husband's surname to become María Ioánnou Demetriádou.

Examples of given names

Ancient names

  1. Acamas (Ἀκάμας)
  2. Achaeus (Ἀχαιός)
  3. Achilles (Ἀχιλλεύς)
  4. Adonis (Ἄδωνις)
  5. Aeneas (Αἰνείας)
  6. Agamemnon (Αγαμέμνων)
  7. Agathocles (Ἀγαθοκλῆς)
  8. Agenor (Ἀγήνωρ)
  9. Alcaeus (Ἀλκαῖος)
  10. Alcibiades (Ἀλκιβιάδης)
  11. Alcman (Ἀλκμάν)
  12. Alcyone (Ἀλκυόνη)
  13. Alexander (Ἀλέξανδρος)
  14. Amyntas (Ἀμύντας)
  15. Anacreon (Ἀνακρέων)
  16. Anaximandros (Ἀναξίμανδρος)
  17. Antenor (Ἀντήνωρ)
  18. Antiochus (Ἀντίoχoς)
  19. Androcles (Ἀνδροκλῆς)
  20. Andromache (Ἀνδρομάχη)
  21. Andronicus (Ἀνδρόνικος)
  22. Andromeda (Ἀνδρομέδα)
  23. Antigone (Ἀντιγόνη)
  24. Aphrodite (Ἀφροδίτη)
  25. Apollonius (Ἀπολλώνιος)
  26. Arcesilaus (Ἀρκεσίλαος)
  27. Archelaus (Ἀρχέλαος)
  28. Archelochus (Ἀρχέλοχος)
  29. Archimedes (Ἀρχιμήδης)
  30. Arete (Ἀρήτη)
  31. Argus (Ἀργός)
  32. Ariadne (Ἀριάδνη)
  33. Aristarchus (Ἀρίσταρχος)
  34. Aristides (Ἀριστείδης)
  35. Aristippus (Ἀρίστιππος)
  36. Aristo (Ἀρίστων)
  37. Aristocles (Ἀριστοκλῆς)
  38. Aristophanes (Ἀριστοφάνης)
  39. Aristotle (Ἀριστοτέλης)
  40. Artemis (Ἄρτεμις)
  41. Arion (Ἀρίων)
  42. Aspasia (Ἀσπασία)
  43. Athena (Ἀθηνᾶ)
  44. Athenodoros (Ἀθηνόδωρος)
  45. Atreus (Ἀτρεύς)
  46. Berenice (Βερενίκη)
  47. Calchas (Κάλχας)
  48. Calliope (Καλλιόπη)
  49. Callirrhoe (Καλλιρρόη)
  50. Cassandra (Κασσάνδρα)
  51. Cassiopeia (Κασσιόπεια)
  52. Chryses (Χρύσης)
  53. Cleanthes (Κλεάνθης)
  54. Cleopatra (Κλεοπάτρα)
  55. Clio (Κλειώ)
  56. Clymenus (Κλύμενος)
  57. Clytaemnestra (Κλυταιμνήστρα)
  58. Coön (Κόων)
  59. Creon (Κρέων)
  60. Crino (Κρινώ)
  61. Daedalus (Δαίδαλος)
  62. Danaë (Δανάη)
  63. Daphne (Δάφνη)
  64. Demeter (Δημήτηρ)
  65. Democritus (Δημόκριτος)
  66. Demoleon (Δημολέων)
  67. Demosthenes (Δημοσθένης)
  68. Despina (Δέσποινα)
  69. Diocles (Διοκλῆς)
  70. Diodorus (Διόδωρος)
  71. Diogenes (Διογένης)
  72. Diomedes (Διομήδης)
  73. Dionysios (Διονύσιος)
  74. Dionysus (Διόνυσος)
  75. Electra (Ἡλέκτρα)
  76. Eleni (Ἑλένη)
  77. Empedocles (Ἐμπεδοκλῆς)
  78. Epictetus (Ἐπίκτητος)
  79. Epicurus (Ἐπίκουρος)
  80. Eratosthenes (Ἐρατοσθένης)
  81. Eteocles (Ἐτεοκλῆς)
  82. Euthydemus (Εὐθύδημος)
  83. Euthymia (Εὐθυμία)
  84. Euclid (Εὐκλείδης)
  85. Eucratides (Εὐκρατίδης)
  86. Euripides (Εὐριπίδης)
  87. Europa (Εὐρώπη)
  88. Eurydice (Εὐρυδίκη)
  89. Eurymachus (Εὐρύμαχος)
  90. Gaea (Γαῖα)
  91. Glaucus (Γλαῦκος)
  92. Gorgias (Γοργίας)
  93. Harmonia (Ἁρμονία)
  94. Hector (Ἕκτωρ)
  95. Helianthe (Ἡλιάνθη)
  96. Helicaon (Ἑλικάων)
  97. Heliodorus (Ἡλιόδωρος)
  98. Hera (Ἥρα)
  99. Heracles (Ἡρακλῆς)
  100. Hermes (Ἑρμῆς)
  101. Hermione (Ἑρμιόνη)
  102. Herodotus (Ἡρόδοτος)
  103. Hesiod (Ἡσίοδος)
  104. Hippocrates (Ἱπποκράτης)
  105. Hippolyta (Ἱππολύτη)
  106. Hippolytus (Ἱππόλυτος)
  107. Homer (Ὅμηρος)
  108. Hyacinth (Ὑάκινθος)
  109. Hypatia (Ὑπατία)
  110. Ianthe (Ἰάνθη)
  111. Icarus (Ἴκαρος)
  112. Idomeneus (Ἰδομενεύς)
  113. Ino (Ἰνώ)
  114. Ion (Ἴων)
  115. Iphidamas (Ἰφιδάμας)
  116. Iphigenia (Ἰφιγένεια)
  117. Irene/Irini (Εἰρήνη)
  118. Ismene (Ἰσμήνη)
  119. Jason (Ἰάσων)
  120. Jocasta (Ἰοκάστη)
  121. Laodamas (Λαοδάμας)
  122. Laodice (Λαοδίκη)
  123. Leonidas (Λεωνίδας)
  124. Leto (Λητώ)
  125. Lycurgus (Λυκοῦργος)
  126. Medea (Μήδεια)
  127. Melpomene (Μελπομένη)
  128. Menander (Μένανδρος)
  129. Menelaus (Μενέλαος)
  130. Metrodorus (Μητρόδωρος)
  131. Miltiades (Μιλτιάδης)
  132. Myron (Μύρων)
  133. Narcissus (Νάρκισσος)
  134. Neoptolemus (Νεοπτόλεμος)
  135. Nestor (Νέστωρ)
  136. Nicander (Νίκανδρος)
  137. Nicanor (Nικάνωρ)
  138. Nicodemus (Νικόδημος)
  139. Nike (Νίκη)
  140. Nikolaos (Νικόλαος)
  141. Oceanus (Ὠκεανός)
  142. Odysseus (Ὀδυσσεύς)
  143. Oedipus (Οἰδίπους)
  144. Olympias (Ὀλυμπιάς)
  145. Orestis (Ὀρέστης)
  146. Orpheus (Ὀρφεύς)
  147. Pandora (Πανδώρα)
  148. Pantaleon (Πανταλέων)
  149. Paris (Πάρις)
  150. Patroclus (Πάτροκλος)
  151. Pausanias (Παυσανίας)
  152. Peleus (Πηλεύς)
  153. Penelope (Πηνελόπη)
  154. Pericles (Περικλῆς)
  155. Phaethon (Φαίδων)
  156. Pheidias or Phidias (Φειδίας)
  157. Philippos (Φίλιππος)
  158. Philoctetes (Φιλοκτήτης)
  159. Philon (Φίλων)
  160. Phoebe (Φοίβη)
  161. Phyllis (Φυλλίς)
  162. Pindar (Πίνδαρος)
  163. Plato (Πλάτων)
  164. Polemon (Πολέμωνος)
  165. Polybus (Πόλυβος)
  166. Polynices (Πολυνείκης)
  167. Polybios (Πολύβιος)
  168. Priam (Πρίαμος)
  169. Ptolemy (Πτολεμαῖος)
  170. Pythagoras (Πυθαγόρας)
  171. Pyrrhus (Πύρρος)
  172. Rhea (Ῥέα)
  173. Selene (Σελήνη)
  174. Seleucus (Σέλευκος)
  175. Simonides (Σιμωνίδης)
  176. Socrates (Σωκράτης)
  177. Sofia (Σοφία)
  178. Solon (Σόλων)
  179. Sophocles (Σοφοκλῆς)
  180. Strato (Στράτων)
  181. Talthybius (Ταλθύβιος)
  182. Telemachus (Τηλέμαχος)
  183. Tethys (Τηθύς)
  184. Thaleia (Θάλεια)
  185. Theano (Θεανώ)
  186. Thekla (Θέκλα)
  187. Themistocles (Θεμιστοκλῆς)
  188. Theodoros (Θεόδωρος)
  189. Theophrastus (Θεόφραστος)
  190. Theseus (Θησεύς)
  191. Therion (θηρίον)
  192. Thestor (Θέστωρ)
  193. Thetis (Θέτις)
  194. Thraso (Θράσων)
  195. Thrasybulus (Θρασύβουλος)
  196. Thrasymachus (Θρασύμαχος)
  197. Thucydides (Θουκυδίδης)
  198. Thyrien (Θυελπίζω)
  199. Urania (Οὐρανία)
  200. Uranus (Οὐρανός)
  201. Xanthippe (Ξανθίππη)
  202. Xenocrates (Ξενοκράτης)
  203. Xenophon (Ξενοφῶν)
  204. Zeno (Ζήνων)

Biblical names

Examples of family names

Common prefixes

  • Archi-: meaning "superior" or "boss".
  • Chondro-: meaning "fat".
  • Gero-: meaning "old" or "wise".
  • Hadji-: the Arabic honorific for one who has made the Hadj or pilgrimage, used in the case of Christians for a voyage to Jerusalem, for example "Hatzipanagis".
  • Kara-: the Greek word for "cart" and the Turkish word for "black",[10][failed verification][11] for example "Karatasos".
  • Konto-: meaning "short".
  • Makro-: meaning "tall" or "long".
  • Mastro-: meaning "artisan" or "workman".
  • Palaio-: meaning "old" or "wise".
  • Papa-: indicating descent from a papas, a priest. So Papakostas is the "son of Kostas, the priest".

Common suffixes


See also


  1. ^ Nicol, Donald M. (1994). The Byzantine Lady: Ten Portraits, 1250–1500. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 3. ISBN 0-521-45531-6.
  2. ^ Alexander P. Kazhdan, Michael McCormick, "Social Composition of the Byzantine Court", in Henry Maguire, ed., Byzantine Court Culture from 829 to 1204, 2004, ISBN 0884023087, p. 168
  3. ^ Patrick Hanks, Richard Coates, Peter McClure, The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, 2016, ISBN 0192527479, p. lii
  4. ^ Hamish Forbes, "Early modern Greece: liquid landscapes and fluid populations" Hesperia Supplements 40: 111-135 (2007)
  5. ^ a b [[cite|Peter Mackridge, Language and National Identity in Greece, 1766-1976, Oxford, 2009, p. 21}}
  6. ^ "Naming practices" in British Academy and Oxford University, Lexicon of Greek Personal Names, online
  7. ^ Hart, Anne (2004). Search Your Middle Eastern And European Genealogy: In The Former Ottoman Empire's Records And Online. ASJA Press. p. 123. ISBN 0-595-31811-8.
  8. ^ "Main page". Database of Greek surnames. Dimitrios J. Archived from the original on 22 January 2009. Retrieved 19 December 2008.
  9. ^ a b "The Transition of Modern Greek Names". Lexicon of Greek Personal Names. Oxford University. Retrieved 19 December 2008.
  10. ^ Davis, Jack E.; Fariba Zarinebaf; Bennet, John (2005). A historical and economic geography of Ottoman Greece: the southwestern Morea in the 18th century. Princeton, N.J: American School of Classical Studies at Athens. p. 286. ISBN 0-87661-534-5.
  11. ^ Greek Personal Names, Central Intelligence Agency, revised and updated by Anastasia Parianou, 2007.
  12. ^ Nick Nicholas, "Greek Family Names", in Patrick Hanks, ed., Dictionary of American Family Names, 2003, ISBN 0199771693, p. lxxiv
  13. ^ Il Corriere della Sera (Sept 15, 2006), L'Italia è il regno dei cognomi & La provenienza geografica dei cognomi
  14. ^ Kendrick, Tertius T. C. (1822). The Ionian islands: Manners and customs. J. Haldane. p. 106. Retrieved 8 February 2011.

External links

  • Lexicon of Greek Personal Names, a Major Research Project of the British Academy, Oxford, contains over 35,000 published Greek names up to the 6th century.

Further reading

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