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What’s in an Armenian Name ?

“The way Armenian names are rendered across cultures, in different parts of the diaspora, may also reveal some secrets.”

- Nareg Seferian

I got an e-mail forward on Armenian surnames from a friend some time ago. The e-mail categorized them under four groups: surnames based on the name of an ancestor (such as Garabedian, Petrosian); surnames based on the name of a place (like Marashlian, Istanboulian); surnames based on a profession (Najarian, “carpenter,” Kouyoumjian. “jeweler”); and surnames indicating special characteristics (Geozebouyoukian, “big-eyed,” Mavisakhalian, “blue beard”). Of course, the above examples are derived more from Turkish and pertain to Armenians from the former Ottoman Empire to a greater degree, but nevertheless, they apply to Eastern Armenians as well, especially after a lot of movement across borders—voluntary or otherwise—which took place over the last century.


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