A primer on Serbian names

Warning: I have zero tolerance for Serbophobia, particularly considering I’ve long had reason to suspect I might have some Serbian blood mixed in with my Slovakian blood. Any Serbophobic comments will be deleted.

The Jurić family of my hiatused WIP Newark Love Story are Serbian, and their culture is a big part of who they are. When 22-year-old Jozef Roblensky moves to Newark at the start of 1952, they adopt him as unofficial family, and he falls in love with 24-year-old Svetlana. He knows the Jurić women survived Jasenovac, the brutal Croatian Ustashi concentration-camp which turned even the Nazis’ stomachs, but not an even darker, more painful secret about what happened to Svetlana during the war. The Jurić brothers, and the oldest sister’s boyfriend (later husband), survived with the partisans in the woods.

Svetlana also appears in Cinnimin and a few of the postwar Shoah books spun off from my Atlantic City books.

Serbian alphabet:

The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet is one of the trickier Cyrillic alphabets to learn, since it has five letters not found in most other alphabets, and a few of its letters are transliterated differently than they are in other alphabets. As someone who learnt Russian Cyrillic first, it was super-easy to learn the Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Bulgarian alphabets. Not so with Serbian.

The easiest non-standard Cyrillic Serbian letter is J, which is pronounced like a Y just as it is in the other European languages. Then there are Љ (LJ), Њ (NJ), Ђ ђ (Đ đ, or dj), Ћ ħ (ć, called Tshe), and Џ џ (Dž, called Dzhe). Additionally, Ж (my favorite Cyrillic letter) transliterates as ž, not zh; Ц transliterates as C, not TS; Ч transliterates as Č, not CH; and Ш transliterates as Š, not SH.

Patronymics:

Historically, Serbians have had patronymics just as many other Slavs. In practice in modern times, however, the patronymic is generally only used on legal documents. For men, it’s created by adding -ović to the father’s name. I couldn’t find any real information on women’s patronymics, but it looks like they might be created by adding -a to the father’s name.

Surnames:

Serbian surnames overwhelmingly end in -ić, though there are some surnames which end in -a or take other not-that-common endings. Some Serbian surnames also take the Russian endings of -ov, -ev, -in, and -ski.

Some common names and their nickname forms:

Male:

Adam
Aleksandar (Aca, Aco, Saša)
Andrej, Andrija
Antonije
Blagoje
Bogdan (Boban, Boško)
Boris (Boro)
Borislav (Boro)
Borko
Božidar (Božo) (the progressive, left-handed tutor of my Russian novels, who’s half-Slovakian, half-Slovenian)
Branimir (Branko)
Branislav (Branko)
Bratislav
Čedomir
Cvetko
Dalibor (Svetlana’s younger brother)
Damir
Damjan (Demian, Damian)
Danijel, Danilo (Danko)
Darko
David
Davor
Dejan
Dimitrije, Dmitar
Đorđe, Đurađ, Đuro (George)
Dragan, Drago, Dragomir, Dragoslav, Dragutin (Draško)
Dražen
Dubravko
Dušan, Duško (Soul)
Emil (Svetlana’s father, publicly hanged by the occupying Ustashis)
Filip
Franjo (Francis)
Goran
Gordan
Igor
Ilija (Elijah)
Isaija (Isaiah)
Ivan (Ivo)
Jadran, Jadranko (Adrian)
Jakov
Javor
Josif
Jovan (John)
Konstantin
Kristijan
Kuzman
Ljuban
Ljubomir (Ljubo)
Luka
Marin (Marinko)
Marko (Svetlana’s next-oldest brother-in-law)
Matija, Mateja (Matthew)
Mihajlo, Mihailo (Mijo) (Michael)
Milan (Milenko)
Miloje (Milojica)
Milorad (Miloš)
Milovan (Miloš)
Miodrag
Miroslav (Mirko)
Mladen
Nebojša (Fearless)
Nedeljko (Sunday)
Nemanja
Nenad (Neno)
Nikola (Nikica)
Ninoslav
Obrad
Ognjan, Ognjen
Pavle (Paul)
Petar (Pero)
Plamen (Svetlana’s older brother) (Flame)
Predrag (Pedja)
Radmilo, Radomir, Radoslav, Raodvan
Ranko
Ratomir (Ratko)
Sava
Simo (Simon)
Siniša
Slaven, Slavko
Slavomir
Slobodan
Stanimir, Stanislav
Stefan, Stevan, Stjepan (Stevo)
Stojan
Svetomir
Teodor, Todor
Tihomir
Toma (Thomas)
Tomislav
Vartolomej (Bartholomew)
Vasilije (Vaso)
Vedran
Velibor, Velimir
Veselin, Veselko (Veljko)
Vikentije (Vincent)
Viktor
Vitomir
Vladimir (Vladan, Vlado, Vlatko)
Vladislav (Vladan, Vlado)
Vlastimir
Vuk (Wolf)
Zdravko
Želimir
Zlatan (Zlatko) (Svetlana’s oldest brother-in-law)
Zoran
Zvonimir (Zvonko) (My righteous Croatian who takes a stand against the Ustashis) (The sound of peace)

Female:

Adrijana
Agata (Jaga)
Agnija (Agnes)
Aleksandra (Saša)
Anastasija
Anna (Anja, Anka, Anica)
Antonija
Biljana
Biserka
Bojana
Božena
Božidarka
Branimira, Branislava
Branka (Brankica)
Cveta, Cvijeta
Daliborka
Danica
Darija
Davorka
Divna
Doroteja
Draga. Dragana, Dragica, Dragoslava
Dubravka
Dunja (Svetlana’s next-oldest sister)
Đurađa (Georgia)
Dušana, Dušanka (Dušica)
Emilija
Filipa
Goranka
Gordana
Irena
Isidora
Jadranka (Adriana)
Jagoda (Berry)
Jana
Jasna
Jelena (Jela, Jelica)
Jovana (Jovanka) (Joanna)
Julijana
Katarina
Kristina
Ksenija (Xenia)
Lidija
Ljiljana (Lilja) (Lillian)
Ljerka
Ljuba (Ljubica)
Magdalena (Manda)
Malina (Raspberry)
Maria, Marija (Maja)
Marina
Marta
Melanija
Mila
Milena, Milana, Milanka
Milica
Mirna (Svetlana’s mother) (Peaceful)
Miroslava
Mladenka
Nada, Nadežda (Nadica) (Hope)
Natalija
Nedeljka (Neda)
Nikolina
Olga (Olgica, Olja)
Petra
Rada, Radmila, Radomira, Radoslava
Rahela (Rachel)
Ruža (Rose)
Sanja (Dream)
Senka (Shadow)
Snežana, Snježana (Snowy)
Sofija
Suzana
Svetlana, Svjetlana (Sveta)
Tajana
Tamara
Tatjana
Teodora
Tihana
Tomislava
Valerija
Vedrana
Vera (Verica)
Vesna (Veca) (Svetlana’s oldest sister) (Spring)
Violeta
Višnja (Sour cherry)
Vlasta
Zdravka
Željka
Živka
Zlata
Zora (Zorica, Zorka) (Svetlana’s baby sister)
Zorana
Zvezdana
Zvonimira (Zvonka) (Svetlana’s next-youngest sister)

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One comment on “A primer on Serbian names

  1. Chrys Fey says:

    You’re so smart when it comes to other languages, Carrie-Anne. I wouldn’t be able to teach myself this, or understand it if someone tried teaching me. There are many beautiful Serbian names, though. I like Danica, Tamara, and Mila. 🙂

    Like

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