A primer on Georgian names

Like the rest of the installments of my “A primer on ________________ names” series, this too is probably destined more for people doing research on search engines than my regular readers.

Kartvelophilia really snuck up on me, and only seriously struck when I was writing Chapter 26, “Trouble in Transcaucasia,” of Journey Through a Dark Forest. I’d had no plans to use former orphanage girl Alina Petropashvili or her Armenian friends in the third book, but you know what they say about the best-laid plans. While I was researching the city of Kutaisi, Georgian cuisine, and the history of Georgia during the Great Terror, I just began falling more and more in love with the culture, history, language, food, and people.

Georgian is a Kartvelian language, not Indo–European, and as such, most of its words and names will be thoroughly unfamiliar to the typical Westerner. It’s also a notoriously tongue-twisting language, with numerous consonants in a row. Interesting trivia fact: The Georgian words for mother and father are switched from most Indo–European languages’ words. Deda is “mother” and Mama is “father.”

Surnames:

Most people are probably familiar with the two most common Georgian surname endings, -dze and -shvili. E.g., Koridze, Lomidze, Beridze, Nozadze, Bolkvadze, Gelashvili, Dzhugashvili, Ivanishvili, Zotikishvili, Sologashvili, Manvelishvili. Some surnames end in -eli, -ia, -uri, -uli, -ani, -shi, -khi, -ti, -oni, and -kva. Like the names in many other languages, Georgian surnames too originated in reference to profession, physical characteristics, social status, regional origin, and patronymic.

I’ve heard the claim that Stalin was secretly Jewish, or of Jewish ancestry, based on his birth name, Dzhugashvili. First off, that name does NOT mean “Jewish” in Georgian, and secondly, Jewish and Christian Georgian surnames equally end in -shvili or -dze. It smacks of urban myth to say -shvili names are Jewish only. Plus he was studying for the priesthood prior to turning to atheism, and his final planned purge, The Doctors’ Plot, targeted Jewish doctors and was only aborted because he died. There’s documented evidence Lenin’s great-grandpap was Jewish, but no such proof has ever surfaced for Stalin.

Though a number of names used in modern Georgia are adapted loan names from the surrounding cultures, particularly Russian and Persian, I’m focusing on the native Georgian names. My apologies for any inadvertent misspellings or mistranslations!

Common names and their meanings, when known:

Male:

Adam
Aleksandre (Sandro)
Ambrosi
Amiran, Amirani
Andria (Andro) (Andrew)
Anzori, Anzor (Noble)
Armaz
Avtandil (Avto) (Heart’s sunshine; Sunshine of the heart)
Badri (Full Moon)
Bagrat (God-given)
Baram
Basil, Vasil (Vaso)
Batcha (Child)
Batchana (Undersized)
Bakhar, Bakar
Bakhva (Stocky)
Bebur
Bekha (Senior)
Bidzina (Uncle’s fellow)
Birtveli
Botchia
Botso (Fat man)
Bukhuti
Datshi
Davit, Daviti (David)
Dzaglika (Dog)
Ghvinia
Giga, Gigi, Gigla, Gigo
Giorgi (Goga) (George)
Glakhuna
Gorda
Gotsha
Grigol (Gregory)
Gvtisavar (I’m God’s man)
Iakob (Koba) (Jakob)
Imeda (Hope)
Ioseb (Soso) (Joseph)
Irakli (Hercules)
Iveri
Kakhaberi
Kartlos
Katsia
Khobuli
Khveli (Generous)
Kokhta (Harmonious)
Koki
Kukuri (Rosebud)
Kvarkvare (Lovely)
Kviria (Sunday)
Lasha (Light)
Levan (Leon)
Liparit
Lukhum
Makhare
Malkhari
Malkhazi, Malkhaz (Youthful, Elegant, Beautiful)
Mamuka
Mate (Matthew)
Merab
Mgelika (Wolf)
Mikheil (Misho) (Michael)
Mindia
Mukhran (Oak)
Murad
Murtaz
Mushni
Mzechabuki (Sun’s fellow)
Mzekhar (You are the Sun)
Naskhida
Nikoloz (Nika, Nikusha) (Nicholas)
Nukri
Okhropir (Gold mouth)
Orbeli
Otar (Meadow, Pasture)
Pavle (Paul)
Petre (Peter)
Pridon, Pridoni (The third)
Ramaz, Ramazi
Revaz, Revazi (Reziko) (Successful, Wealthy)
Rostom
Sachino (Prominent, Visible, Clear)
Sakvarela (Lovely)
Sekhnia, Sekhna (Namesake)
Sesa
Shalva (Peace)
Shavleg (Black)
Shevardena (Falcon)
Shota
Simon, Simoni
Sosana (Lily)
Stepane
Sula (Soul)
Taka, Takha
Tamaz, Tamazi (Brave horse)
Toma (Thomas)
Torgva
Tshalkhia
Tsotne (Little)
Ushisha (Fearless)
Uta
Utcha (Dark, Swarthy)
Vepkhia (Vepkho) (Tiger)
Zakaria
Zezva
Zviad, Zviadi (Haughty, Arrogant, Proud)

Female:

Agnesa
Bedisa (Fate)
Borena
Chiora (Bird)
Dali
Dedika (Mother’s daughter)
Dedisimedi (Mother’s hope)
Denola
Dodo, Duda
Dudukhana (Fat girl)
Dzabuli (Girl)
Dzidzia
Ekaterine (Eka) (Catherine)
Eldhino
Elene (Helen)
Elisabed (Eliso) (Elizabeth)
Endzela (Snowdrop flower)
Eteri (Air, Ether)
Firimtvasa (Moon’s mouth)
Firimzisa (Sun’s mouth)
Fotola (Leaf)
Gedia (Swam)
Gogutsa (Little girl)
Gulikho
Gulisa (Little heart)
Gulsunda (Heart’s need)
Gultamze (Heart’s Sun)
Gulvardi (Heart’s rose)
Gvantsa (Wild, Crazy)
Iatamze (Sun of violets)
Irema (Deer)
Irine (Irene)
Izolda
Kekela (Beautiful)
Khaltamze (Women’s Sun)
Khareba (Like an ikon)
Lali (Ruby)
Lamara (the Svanetian dialect’s form of Mary)
Lamzira (Place of prayer)
Lela
Maguli (Similar)
Maisa (Born in May)
Makha
Makvala (Blackberry)
Manana (Heather)
Mariam, Mariami
Marine
Medea
Minadora
Mtvarisa (Moon’s girl)
Mzekhar (You’re the Sun)
Mzeona (Sunny)
Mzetamze (Sun of Suns)
Mzia (Sun)
Mzissadari (Like the Sun)
Mzistvala (Sun’s eye)
Nana (Nani, Nanuli)
Natela (Natia) (Light, Bright)
Nestan, Nestani
Nino (saint who brought Christianity to Georgia) (Nina)
Nugesha (Hope)
Pepela (Butterfly)
Pikria (Thinking woman)
Sanata (Shine)
Sandua (Principal)
Shorena (Remote)
Shukhia (Light)
Sulikho (Soul)
Tamar, Tamari
Tanana
Taplo (Honey)
Tatuli
Tinatini (Sunbeam, Sun)
Tsaguli
Tsaro
Tshinara (Smile)
Tsiala (Celestial)
Tsira (Girl)
Turpa (Lovely)
Vardo (Rose)

Advertisements

Share your thoughts respectfully

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s