Bulgarian name

Bulgarian name

Compared to other systems, the Bulgarian name system can be said to be rather simple. As a whole, it has considerable similarities with most other European name systems, and with those of other Slavic peoples in particular.

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.

Bulgarian given names

Traditionally, the Bulgarian given names are either of Slavic (e.g. Radoslava, Zhelyazko, Dobri, Ralitsa, Lyubomir, Svetla, Zhivko, Nayden) or Christian origin (e.g. Petar, Mariya, Ivan, Teodora, Georgi, Nikolay, Mihail, Paraskeva, Dimitar) from Greek, Latin or Hebrew. The 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. In addition, some Bulgarian names are theorized to be of Thracian (e.g. Neno, Dako, Boto, Geto) or Bulgar (Boris, Boyan, Biser) origin.

Since the Bulgarian National Revival and the Liberation of Bulgaria in 1878 names of successful medieval Bulgarian rulers, like Asen, Asparuh, Ivaylo, Samuil or Krum, have also gained a lot of popularity.

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.

Many Bulgarian given names have a diminutive and shorter version, which is almost always used in an informal context. For example, the diminutive of Nadezhda is Nadya, of Todor — Toshko, of Nikolay — Niki or Kolyo, of Georgi — Gosho, Zhoro or Gogo, of Hristo — Itso, of Ivayla — Iva, of Lyubomir — Lyubo, of Ivan — Vanka, etc. Often these diminutive names become independent and "official" given names.

Bulgarian patronymics and family names


Typically, a Bulgarian person would inherit 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, Stoyan "Georgiev" "Draganov" would be the son of "Georgi" Petkov "Draganov". The same person's daughter would bear the names "Georgieva" "Draganova".

When marrying, today a woman may often 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, Mariya 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.


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, Uzunova).


Although most popular, "–ov/–ev" and respectively "–ova/–eva" are not the only patronymic and given 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. Sofiyanski — "from Sofia", Stamboliyski — "from Istanbul").

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.

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 "–ich" 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 Serbo-Croatian name system.

In addition, other suffixes also existed: for instance, names like Tihanek, Kozlek, Lomek (suffixed "–ek") were historically dominant in the town of Koprivshtitsa. [http://web.archive.org/web/20070827060123/www.koprivshtitza.com/index_eng.html] (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 ten most popular given names are Ivan, Georgi, Dimitar, Petar, Mariya, Hristo, Todor, Nikolay, Vasil and Stefan. The top ten family names are Ivanov/a, Georgiev/a, Dimitrov/a, Petrov/a, Nikolov/a, Hristov/a, Stoyanov/a, Todorov/a, Iliev/a and Vasilev/a. [http://georgi.unixsol.org/diary/archive.php/2006-01-19]

According to a different study, the most popular names given to babies born in the first half of 2006 were: [http://www.beberon.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=57]
*Male: Georgi (674 babies), Aleksandar (616), Martin (577), Ivan (551), Dimitar (433)
*Female: Viktoriya (510), Mariya (474), Aleksandra (347)

ee also

* Bulgarian language
* Bulgarians

External links

* [http://web.archive.org/web/20070215073936/http://free.bol.bg/slavpagan/imena.html List of Slavic Bulgarian names (Internet Archive)] bg icon
* [http://www.imena.hit.bg/ime_sudba.htm Name and Destiny] , article about Bulgarian names and an alphabetical database bg icon
* [http://www.visittobulgaria.com/faq/Dir.asp?d=FAQ-Bulgarian_Names FAQ about Bulgarian names] — meaning, origin, name days, popularity, statistics, etc.

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