A primer on Bosnian names

Happy Chanukah and Boxing Day!

A Bosnian connection in my writing came in the form of some unplanned characters in my fourth Russian historical (which is entirely set in the U.S., Canada, and Japan, though called such because almost all of the characters are of Russian origin). Sonyechka, Lyuba and Ivan’s penultimate child, makes friends with a fellow outcast in her new town, Kleopatra Novak.

Kleopatra and her older brother Fridrik were hidden by a Bosnian Muslim family during WWII, with the false names Amra and Ferida, respectably. For extra safety, they spent most of their time in the women’s room, so Fridrik had to pretend to be a girl as well. Their parent are Communists; their Serbian mother, a surgeon who kept her surname, was with the partisans in the woods, while their Croatian father, an archaeology professor, survived Jasenovac.

Bosnian alphabet:

Bosnian uses the Roman alphabet, with the same sounds as Serbian and Croatian. Letters unfamiliar to most Anglophones are Dž (Dzhe, like the G in “gin”), Š (SH), Č (CH), Ž (ZH), Đ đ (Dj, like the J in “jack”), Lj (as in million), Nj (Ny, like the Italian GN or Spanish Ñ), and Ć (Tshe). J is pronounced like Y.

Name sources:

Though Bosnian is a Slavic language, it differs from its sisters Serbian and Croatian in the great number of loan words and names from Arabic, Persian, and Turkish. There are also many names of Illyrian origin.

As in most other European languages, many names are native forms of Greek and Roman names. Many names have also been adopted from the neighbouring Slavic cultures. Somewhat less common are names of Germanic origin, mostly found among those calling themselves Bosniaks instead of Bosnians. (Long, complicated story!)

Surnames:

Similarly, many Bosnian surnames are similar to Serbian and Croatian (i.e., ending in -ić, -čić, and -ović), but with Arabic, Persian, or Turkic twists. Names of this type include Rakić, Sušić, Terzić, Predojević, Bešić, Delić, Babić, Abadžić, Hodžić, and Jahić. Other surnames include Gudelj, Kopanja, Kurjak, Čejvan, Divjak, and Sidran.

Sample names:

Female:

Abasa (Austere)
Abida
Adana
Adiba (Scholar)
Adla (Fair, just, honest)
Adna, Adnana (Settler)
Advija (Swift, fast)
Afifa (Chaste)
Aiša, Ajša (Aisha) (Alive)
Ajda (Visitor, returning)
Ajlin (Moon halo)
Alejina (Alina)
Alja (Sky, heaven, loftiness)
Almedina, Elmedina (The city)
Almina
Amila (Aspirations, hopes)
Amra, Emra (To live a long life)
Anela
Anesa, Ernesa (Friend, friendly)
Anida
Armana
Arnela
Arnesa
Asija, Asja
Asmira
Azemina

Badema (Almond)
Belkisa
Belma

Dalija (Dahlia)
Dalila (Guide)
Danira
Derviša
Duša (Soul)
Džana, Ðana (Life, soul)
Džejlana
Dželila (Jalila) (Exalted, important)
Džemila, Džemala, Ðemila (Jamila) (Beautiful)
Dženana (Soul or Heart)

Edina
Ejna
Eldina
Elisava
Elvedina
Elzana
Emana (Safety, peace)
Emela (Desire)
Envera (Brighter, more luminous)
Ervina
Esmina
Ezana

Fahreta (Pride of the religion)
Fatima (Fata)
Feba (Phoebe)
Fedra (Phaedra)
Ferida (Precious, unique)
Fetija (Conqueror)
Fikreta, Fikrija (Thought, opinion, idea)

Halida (Eternal)
Hana (Hanka)
Hatidža (Khadijah) (Premature child)
Hestija
Hipatija

Ilhana
Irfana (Learning, awareness, knowledge)
Izida (Isis)

Kanita (Devout, obedient)
Kerima (Noble, generous)
Kjara (Clara)

Lejla, Lajla (Ejla)

Maida
Majra
Mediha (Eulogy, praise)
Medina (The city)
Medisa
Meldina
Mensura (Victorious)
Merima, Merjem, Merjema, Merjemi (Mary)
Mersada
Mersiha
Mileva
Milijana
Minela
Munisa

Nadija, Nadža (Tender, delicate)
Najla, Nejla (Attainer)
Nedžana
Nedžla
Nedžma, Nudžejma (Happy, tranquil, at ease)
Nejra
Nermina (Soft)
Nuredina (Light of religion)

Paks (Pax) (Peace)
Pemba (Pink)
Perzefona (Persephone)
Prozerpina

Rabija (Rapka) (Springtime or Fourth)
Reja (Rhea)
Rejhana (Basil)
Ruvejda

Sadeta (Luck, happiness)
Sadika (Obedient, faithful, loyal)
Safija (Pure)
Sajra (Traveller)
Salacija (Salt)
Samra (Dark-skinned, brunette)
Sanija, Senija (Splendid, brilliant)
Saraja (My princess)
Šeherezada, Šeherzada (Šehi, Šeh) (Scheherazade)
Šejla (Ejla)
Semira (Companion in evening talk)
Šemsa (Sun)
Senada (Support)
Soraja
Suada
Sumeja (High above)
Suzana (Zana)

Tajma (Secret)
Tajra
Talija (Dew from God)
Tetija (Grandmother)

Umihana

Valida (Newborn)

Zalina
Zejneba, Zejneb, Zeineb (Beauty)
Zekija
Zerina (Golden)
Zijada (Growth)
Zineta (Ornament)
Zulejha, Zulejka (Brilliant beauty)
Zumreta (Emerald)

Male:

Abaz
Abid
Adam
Adian
Adil
Adin
Adis
Admir (To wonder/admire)
Adnan
Afan (Immortal)
Agan
Ahmed
Ajnur
Akif
Aladin
Alem
Alija
Alim
Aliosman
Almas
Almedin, Elmedin
Almir
Amar
Amel, Amil
Amer, Amir
Amsal
Anel
Anes
Ardian
Arhimed
Arif
Arnel
Arslan
Asif
Asim
Asklepije
Asmir
Atif
Atik
Azudin
Azam, Azem, Azim
Azer
Aziz
Azrudin
Azur

Badem
Bahrudin
Belmin
Beriz
Bizas

Ćazim
Cezarion

Danin
Danir
Danis
Daris
Derviš
Dioklecijan
Diomed
Džan
Džavid
Džemal
Džemaludin (Beauty of religion)
Dženan
Džibril (Gabriel)

Edin
Ejub (Job) (Persecuted)
Eldin
Elvedin
Elvir
Elzen
Eman
Emir
Emrah
Emran
Emsel
Eneja (Aeneas)
Ensar
Epiemtej
Eratosten
Ereb
Ermin
Ernad
Esad
Esmin
Evarist
Ezan

Fabije
Fahret, Fahrudin, Fajrudin (Fahro)
Fikret, Fikrija
Frontin

Hadrijan
Hajrudin (Best of the religion)
Halid (Khalid)
Heraklit
Herodot

Ibrahim (Ibrica)
Ishak (Isaac)
Izet

Jasin
Jusuf

Kalistrat
Karloman
Kasiodor
Kerim
Kvintilije (Quintilius)

Leukip
Lizimah
Lomar

Maid
Mak (Poppy)
Mehmed (Meho, Meša)
Menelaj
Merkur
Miralem
Mirvet
Mirza (Prince)

Naser
Nedim
Nedžad
Neptun
Neron
Nidal (Struggle)
Nihad (Legacy)
Nuredin

Odisej
Okean (Ocean)
Oktavije
Omer
Orfej
Oziris

Pegaz (Pegasus)
Pelagije
Pertinaks
Perzej (Perseus)
Pir (Pyrrhus)
Plinije
Polideuk
Posejdon
Prijam
Prokopije
Prometej
Protej
Publije

Radamant
Redžep (Respect)
Reijan
Resmin
Rijad
Romul
Rusmir

Šaban
Sadik (Faithful, loyal, obedient)
Said
Salko (Virtuous)
Sekund
Seleuk
Semezdin, Šemsudin
Semir
Śemso (Sun)
Senad, Senijad (Support)
Servije
Šit (Seth)
Slađan
Sokrat
Suad
Sulejman

Tarik
Tamer
Teodozije
Tezej
Tiberije
Trankvil

Valerije
Vedad
Ver
Vergilije
Vespazijan

Zaim (Leader)
Zijad (Growth)
Zinaid

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