Bulgarian name system has considerable similarities with most
other European name systems, and with those of other Slavic peoples
such as the Russian name system, though it has certain unique
Bulgarian names usually consist of a given name, which comes first, a
patronymic, which is second (and is usually omitted when referring to
the person), and a family name, which comes last.
1 Bulgarian given names
2 Bulgarian patronymics and family names
3 Most popular names
4 External links
Bulgarian given names
Traditionally, the Bulgarian given names are either of Slavic origin
or from Greek,
Latin or Hebrew when reflecting Christian faith (e.g.
Petar, Maria, Ivan, Teodora, Georgi, Nikolay, Mihail, Paraskeva,
Slavic names may describe the appearance or character of the
person, may constitute a wish or even stem from pre-Christian
conjuring rituals and meant not to attract the evil spirits. Below are
listed examples of Bulgarian
Slavic names and
Bulgarian names of
Greek, Latin, or Hebrew origin:
Ana, Aneliya, Aneta, Bilyana, Bisera, Blagorodna, Blaguna, Bonislava,
Bogdana, Borislava, Boyana, Boyka, Bozhidara, Branimira, Daniela,
Darina, Denitsa, Desislava, Diana, Dobromira, Elena, Elisaveta,
Emilia, Gergana, Grozda, Grozdana,Iliana, Ioana, Iordanka, Ivelina,
Kalina, Katerina, Krasimira, Lyudmila, Lyubov, Maia, Maria, Mariya,
Marina, Margarita, Mila, Milena, Mira, Monika, Nadeja, Nadezhda,
Natalia, Nedelya, Neli, Nevena, Nina, Ognyana, Nikolina, Nora,
Plamena, Rada, Radina, Radka, Radoslava, Radostina, Ralitsa, Rayna,
Rossitza, Roza, Rumyana, Stanislava, Snezhana, Stanka, Stoyanka,
Svetlana, Tanya, Tatyana, Trendafila, Tsveta, Tsvetanka, Tudora,
Valentina, Vasilka, Veselina, Viktoria, Violeta, Vladimira, Vyara,
Yana, Zhivka, Zlatka, Zora...
Andrei, Angel, Aleksandar, Atanas, Blagun, Bogdan, Bogomil, Bojidar,
Boris, Borislav, Boyan, Boiko, Branimir, Desislav, Dimo, Dragan,
Dragomir, Elian, Grozdan, Ivan, Ivo, Iyalko, Kiril, Kostadin,
Krasimir, Lyuben, Lyubomir, Milan, Milen, Miroslav, Mladen, Momchil,
Nayden, Nedelcho, Nedyalko, Nikola, Ognian, Ognyan, Petar, Plamen,
Radko, Radomir, Radoslav, Rayko, Spas, Stefan, Stanimir, Stanislav,
Stanko, Stoyan, Tihomir, Todor, Tsvetan, Valko, Vasil, Ventseslav,
Veselin, Vladimir, Vladislav, Yasen, Yavor, Zdravko, Zhelyazko,
Zhivko, Zlatan, Zlatko…
In addition, some
Bulgarian names may be of Thracian (e.g. Neno, Dako,
Boto, Geto) or Bulgar (Boris, Boyan, Biser) origin.
Bulgarian National Revival
Bulgarian National Revival and the
Liberation of Bulgaria
Liberation of Bulgaria in
1878 names of successful medieval Bulgarian rulers, like Asen,
Asparuh, Ivaylo, Samuil, Simeon or Krum, have also gained a lot of
Traditionally, the parents would often name their child after an older
relative, so that his/her name would live on in the family. Today,
however, these are not binding conditions and are often ignored:
parents often pick a name without conforming with these traditions,
however it is really up to the parents as still many of them continue
to observe these traditions. Traditions to name a child after the
parents' best man or maid of honor or the saint on whose name day the
child is born also exist.
Many Bulgarian given names have a diminutive and shorter version,
which is almost always used in an informal context. Following is an
example of some common diminutives:
Nadya, Nadka, Nadentse
Tosho, Toshko, Totyo
Gosho, Getza, Zhoro, Gogo
Often these diminutive names become independent and "official" given
Bulgarian patronymics and family names
Typically, a Bulgarian person inherits the last name of his father's
family (family name), as well as a patronymic based on his father's
given name, with a gender-agreeing suffix usually added. For example,
Georgiev Draganov would be the son of Georgi Petkov Draganov.
The same person's daughter would bear the names Georgieva Draganova.
Another way of preserving the family name and the name of a specific
ancestor would be the following circulating of the names: if the
father's name is Ivan Petrov Mihailov, the son is named
Mihailov. Then if
Petar has a son, his name will be Ivan Petrov
Mihailov, and so on.
Until recently, if the father's name was not a specific family name,
the child would take his patronymic as a family name, so names in a
chain of generations would shift. For example, the son of Petar
Stoyanov Ivanov would be Georgi Petrov Stoyanov, his son would be
Georgiev Petrov, his son would be Marin Ivaylov Georgiev. This
practice often caused confusion in the past, especially when dealing
for foreign institutions, since a child did not bear his father's
family name. However, the recent generation has all but abandoned this
When marrying, today a woman may choose either to adopt her husband's
family name, retain her maiden name or combine the two using a hyphen.
For instance, when marrying Nikolay Petrov, Maria Bogdanova could
become Petrova, remain Bogdanova or adopt Petrova-Bogdanova or
Bogdanova-Petrova. Historically, she would adopt her husband's name.
In any case, a woman retains her patronymic, which she has inherited
from her father.
The Family Code (Bulgarian law regulating wedlock, cohabitation and
family) allows the reverse as well: the husband may also take or add
his wife's family name.
Sometimes a person becomes well known with his patronymic, e.g. sci-fi
writer Lyuben Dilov's full name is
Lyuben Dilov Ivanov, while the
Bulgarian cosmonaut Georgi Ivanov's full name is Georgi Ivanov
Bulgarians in Serbia, as well as in other countries throughout
the world, the a ending of women's surnames is usually dropped,
resulting in names such as Elizabeta
Nikolov instead of Nikolova.
Other examples of changes in the family name of
abroad is how
Nikolov turns into Nikoloff.
In most cases (though by no means always), the etymology of Bulgarian
patronymics and family names closely corresponds to that of given
names. Many families bear the name of the family's founder, adding the
patronymic Slavic suffix "–ov/–ev" (men) or "–ova/–eva"
(women) (e.g. Ivanov, Radeva, Parvanov, Petrova, Asenov, Tsvetanova).
Family names may indicate the occupation of the founder, his nickname
or origin, in which case names of Ottoman Turkish or Greek etymology
can be found in addition to those of Slavic origin (e.g. Kolarov,
Kalaydzhieva, Popova, Cholakov, Kovacheva, Daskalov, Tepavicharov,
Most Bulgarian surnames end with "–ov(a)" or "–ev(a)". They work
the same way as the patrynomic (and are in fact derived from them),
and are possessive forms of given names. The "–ov/–ev" (masculine)
and "–ova/–eva" (feminine) suffixes are also extremely popular and
commonly used by
Russians and Macedonians. Consequently, the surnames
Ivanov(a), Petrov(a) and Borisov(a) are the three most common surnames
in Bulgaria. As these "–ov/–ev" surnames are indistinguishable
from patronymics, it is not uncommon for people to have the same
patronymic and surname; for instance the children of
Petrov would be Georgi Petrov Petrov and Lyudmila Petrova Petrova.
Although most popular, "–ov/–ev" and respectively "–ova/–eva"
are not the only patronymic and family name suffixes. The second most
popular suffix is "–ski/–ska" (sometimes "–ki/–ka") (e.g.
Zelenogorski, Stoykovska, Petrinska), which, besides often being
merely a version of an "–ov/–ev" or "-–ova/–eva" name, may
also often indicate origin (e.g. Sofianski — "from Sofia",
Stamboliyski — "from Istanbul"). This suffix is not only popular
Bulgarians but with most other Slavic people, such as Polish,
Russians (mosty often spelled as "-sky"),
Another suffix is "–in/–ina" (e.g. Kunin, Ganina, Radin). Unlike
all other Bulgarian patronymics and family names, these stem from a
female name (e.g. "of Kuna", "of Gana", "of Rada"). They are most
common in the region of Razlog and Bansko. The "–in" suffix is also
popular with Russians.
For these three most popular suffixes, there is also a plural form
used when referring to the family as a whole or several members of it
(as opposed to a single member). For "–ov/–ova" and "–ev/–eva"
it is "–ovi/–evi", for "–ski/–ska" it is "–ski" and for
"–in/–ina" the form is "–ini".
Historically, the universal suffix "–ovich" and "-evich" was quite
popular in some regions (bearers of such names include Gavril
Krastevich, Hristofor Zhefarovich,
Petar Parchevich, Kiril
Peychinovich, etc.), particularly among the Roman Catholic Bulgarians,
but has today largely fallen out of use and is more typical for the
Croatian name system (where it is usually spelled "-ić").
In addition, other suffixes also exist: for instance, names like
Tihanek, Kozlek, Lomek (suffixed "–ek") were historically dominant
in the town of Koprivshtitsa. (Internet Archive link)
Names lacking a suffix, though often foreign-sounding, have been more
popular in the past, but still exist today (e.g. Beron, Tomash),
despite being quite uncommon.
Most popular names
According to one study using telephone directory data, the five most
popular male given names are Ivan (43,882 holders), Georgi (40,288),
Dimitar (31,471) and
Petar (20,602). The most popular female names are
Maria (20,108), Ivanka (11,872) Elena (9,568), Yordanka (7,962) and
Penka (6,696). The top ten family names are Ivanov/a, Georgiev/a,
Dimitrov/a, Petrov/a, Nikolov/a, Hristov/a, Stoyanov/a, Todorov/a and
Name days in Bulgaria
Traditional and modern names among the Bulgarian Christian population
Bulgarian names — meaning, origin, name days, popularity,
BehindTheName.com - Bulgarian given names
BehindTheName.com - Bulgarian names, A website dedicated to Bulgarian
names and their etymology and meaning(s).
BehindTheName.com - The
Bulgarian name days
(in Bulgarian) Bulgarian names, 400 most popular names, origin,
meaning and name days calendar
(in Bulgarian) List of Slavic Bulgarian names
(in Bulgarian) Name and Destiny, article about
Bulgarian names and an
(in Bulgarian) The Bulgarian surnames - a source for the past and for
patriotism (Knowledge about the folk psychology which we find in our
(in Bulgarian) The Bulgarian surnames (origin)
(in Bulgarian) Origin and structure of the Bulgarian surnames (from
From the history of our linguistic construction by Lyubomir
(in Bulgarian) On the origin of 60 surnames (some of them of Bulgarian
origin)[permanent dead link]
(in Bulgarian) On the etymology and semantics of some rare Bulgarian
surnames (by Ivan Tanev Ivanov)
(in Bulgarian) Computer analysis of the surnames in the telephone book
Sofia for finding words of Bulgar or Thracian origin (by Y. Shopov,
L. T. Tsankov, T. Yalamov, S. Shopova, L. Nenchev, G. Kankanosyan)
(in Bulgarian) Dictionary of personal names and surnames of the
Bulgarians (by Stefan Ilchev)
(in Bulgarian) What do our (Bulgarian) surnames reveal? (article)
Personal names by culture
Saint Thomas Christian names
Ancient Tamil country