A primer on Albanian names

I don’t have any ethnically Albanian characters to date, but I do have some characters with an Albanian connection. General Varlam Hagopian of my Atlantic City books was born in Albania (his mother, Aghavni, died giving birth to him), and in spite of being a proud Armenian, he maintains the Albanian language throughout his life. He reads an Albanian newspaper every single day, and serves as president of the Albanian Club in the school’s language program. Near the end of WWII, he becomes old enough to enlist, and is wounded while fighting in the Pacific Theatre. Later on, he ends up as Cinni and Levon’s neighbor on base.

Levon Kevorkian and his siblings, Rebecca and Shavash, also briefly live in Vlorë before coming to America. Their hometown is Vratsa, Bulgaria, but they also spend some time in Albania and Italy until Tiffany Seward brings them to America in 1942.

Albanian alphabet:

Albanian, one of the few isolated branches of the Indo–European language family, uses the Roman alphabet. However, they have many sounds which are unfamiliar to the average Westerner. C is pronounced like TS; Ç is like the CH in “chat”; DH is like the English TH sound; Ë is like a short U; GJ is like the J in “join”; J is pronounced like a Y; LL is like the LL in “balloon”; NJ is like the Spanish Ñ or Italian GN; Q is like the CH in “churn”; RR is a rolled R; X is like the DZ in “adz”; and XH is like the J in Jupiter.

Albanian surnames, middle names, and other issues:

Albanian surnames tend to be either Muslim or Christian in origin. Due to the tiny country’s proximity to and long interaction with the Slavic peoples, many Albanian surnames end in -ović, -ić, or -ovit.

Instead of true middle names, Albanians have the middle slot filled by their father’s name (atësia). However, this name is by and large only used on official documents.

Starting in 1944, Albania’s new government adopted a policy of rooting out any names of Christian or Muslim origin. Because it was believed the Albanian people descended from Illyrians, alleged Illyrian names were considered and promoted as the only appropriate names. In 1966, a decree was issued to force people to change religious names. Newborns had to receive secular names. In November 1975, another decree was issued, forcing anyone who still had a religious or otherwise “objectionable” name to change it by the end of the year.

Some common Albanian names:


Admir (To admire/wonder)
Afrim (Approach)
Agim, Agon (Dawn)
Agron (an Illyrian king)
Alban, Albion
Aleksander (Skender, Sandër)
Altin (Gold)
Ani (Son of the spirit)
Arald, Erald (Harold)
Arbën, Arbër, Arbnor, Arbri (Albania’s name in the Middle Ages)
Ardian, Ardi (an Illyrian tribe)
Ardit (Golden day)
Arlind (Born from gold)
Armend (Golden mind)
Arsim (Education)
Avni (Helpful)
Bardh (White)
Bardhyl (White star)
Bashkim (Unity)
Behar (Summer)
Bekim (Blessing)
Besart (Golden faith)
Besfort (Strong faith)
Besmir, Besmiri (Good faith)
Besnik (Faithful)
Betim (Oath)
Blerim (Greenery)
Bujar (Generous)
Burim (Spring)
Clirim (To set free)
Defrim (Fun)
Dhimtër (Demetrius, Dmitriy)
Diell (Sun)
Drini (Albania’s longest river)
Dritan, Driton (Light)
Edon (He loves)
Egzon (He enjoys)
Endrit (Light)
Engjëll (Angel)
Ermal (Wind)
Fatjon (Our luck)
Fatlind (To bring forth destiny)
Fatmir (Lucky)
Fatos (Daring man)
Feta (Brave)
Fisnik (Of noble stock)
Flamur (Flag)
Florin (Piece of gold)
Gentius (To beget)
Gjergj (George)
Gjon, Xhon (John)
Guxim (Courage)
Hënor (Lunar)
Jetmir (Good life)
Kostandin (Constantine)
Kreshnik (Knight)
Kujtim (Memory)
Kushtim (Devotion)
Lavdrim (Praise)
Ledion (Caress)
Liridon (Desire for freedom)
Loran, Lorenc
Lorik (Quail)
Luan (Lion)
Mëhill (Michael)
Meriton (Deserving)
Mirlind (Good birth)
Nderim (Respect; Honor)
Olsi (the name of a prince)
Pal, Pali, Pavli (Paul)
Pëllumb (Dove)
Perparim (Progress)
Petrit (Hawk)
Pjetër (Pjer)
Qëndrim (Stance)
Ramiz (A noble person)
Rexhep (Respect)
Rezart (Golden ray)
Rilind (Regenerate)
Rinor (Youth)
Shkelqim (To shine)
Sokol (Hawk)
Spartak, Sparti
Ujk (Wolf)
Valdrin (Wave of the River Drin)
Vendin (Decision; Resolution)
Veprim (Action; To act)
Veton (Thunderbolt; Flash of lightning)
Vllaznim (Brotherhood)
Xhavit (Jewel)
Xhemal, Qemal, Xhemil
Ylli (Star)
Zamir (Good/sweet voice)


Afërdita (possibly a form of Aphrodite)
Anda (Loved by soul)
Arbena, Arbërie
Ardita (Gold day)
Arjeta (Golden life)
Arlinda (Golden birth)
Besa (To keep the promise)
Blerta, Blerina (Green)
Bleta (Bee)
Bora (Snow)
Bukuroshe (Beauty)
Dafina (Daphne)
Dëborake (Snow)
Dieliza (Sun)
Dita (Day)
Donjeta (Desire for life)
Doruntina, Dorentina (the shero of Albania’s great national ballad Kostandini dhe Doruntina)
Drita (Light)
Edlira (Pure)
Elira (To be free)
Entela (Perfect)
Enriketa (Henrietta)
Era (Wind)
Eralda (feminine form of Erald [Harold])
Erblina (Linden tree scent)
Ermira (Good scent)
Ervjollca (Violet scent)
Fatjona (Our luck)
Fatlinda (To bring forth destiny)
Fatmire (Lucky)
Fitore (Victory)
Fjolla (Snowflake)
Flaka (Flame)
Flutura (Butterfly)
Gentiana, Gentjana
Gonxha (Flower bud)
Hana (Moon or Monday)
Jehona (Echo)
Jera (Gertrude)
Jonida (Ionian Sea)
Kaltrina (Katuj) (Blue)
Krenare (Proud)
Kujtime (Recollection)
Lauresha (Skylark)
Ledina, Lëndina (Meadow)
Lindita (The day is born)
Liri, Lirija (Freedom)
Liridona (Desire for freedom)
Lule (Flower)
Lulëzime (Blossoming)
Luljeta (Flower of life)
Lumturija (Happiness)
Luriana (a mountain)
Majlinda (Born in May)
Manjola (Magnolia)
Manushaqe (Violet)
Marsela (Born in March)
Medija (Medea)
Merjem, Merjeme (Mariam)
Mira (Good)
Mirjeta (Good life)
Mirlinda (Good birth)
Mjellma (Swan)
Natyra (Nature)
Ndrita (To shine)
Odeta (Ocean)
Pranvera (Spring)
Rexhina (Regina)
Rovena (Rowena)
Saranda (name of a city)
Selvi (Cypress)
Shpresa (Hope)
Shqipe (Eagle)
Sihana (Moon)
Teuta (Queen)
Thëllëza (Patridge)
Valbona (name of a river)
Valdete (Sea wave)
Valmira (Good wave)
Venera (Venus)
Vera, Verë, Verianë (Summer)
Vesa (Dew)
Vjollca (Violet)
Vjosa (name of a river)
Xhemile (Jamila)
Xheneta (Paradise)
Xhevahire (Jewel)
Xhulia (Julia)
Xhuliana (Juliana)
Xhyljeta (Juliet)
Xixëllime (Sparkling)
Xixëllore (To twinkle)
Yeta (Life)
Ylbere (Rainbow)
Yllka, Yllita (Star)
Zana (Fairy)
Zjarrta (Fiery; Fire)

Author: Carrie-Anne

Writer of historical fiction sagas and series, with elements of women's fiction, romance, and Bildungsroman. Born in the wrong generation on several fronts.

8 thoughts on “A primer on Albanian names”

  1. I love seeing the meaning of names — many of these are so pretty! The only thing I really knew about Albania before this post is from a song on Cheers: “Albania, Albania, you’re bordered by the Adriatic.” WHY do I still remember that??


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