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Armenian Last Names

Armenian last names, mirroring the culture they represent, boast a rich history and diverse heritage. Approximately 60,000 unique surnames exist in Armenia. Among the most common Armenian last names are Harutyunyan, Hovhannisyan, Hakobyan, Sargsyan, Gevorgyan, Davtyan, Petrosyan, Grigoryan, Abrahamyan, Avetisyan etc. This article is about the history and formation of Armenian last names.

The evolution of surnames is intricately tied to the development of production relations. In ancient and medieval times, noble families carried surnames such as Mamikonians, Artsruni, Pahlavuni, Bagratuni, etc.

 

Prominent families in medieval Armenia often had words like "nation (ազգն - azgn in Armenia)" or "house (տուն - tun in Armenia)" added to their common surname, indicating their lineage: "azgn Mamikonyats," "Azgn Rshtunyats," "Tunn Artsrunyats," and so forth.

 

During this period, some people adopted surnames based on their birthplace or main activity, functioning as both a name and a surname (e.g., Movses Khorenatsi, Grigor Narekatsi, Mkhitar Gosh).

 

The modern era marked the widespread use of surnames, often derived from the ancestor's name with a prefix or suffix expressing kinship. Armenians, for example, commonly use the suffix "yan – յան in Armenian," or “ian – յան in Armenia” traceable in historical sources from the 5th century and widely adopted in the 19th century.

 

Armenian surnames may also stem from occupation (Darbinyan, Voskerchyan), nicknames, or place names (Cholakyan, Baiburtyan, Yerevantsyan, Shirakyan). Some are formed from a woman's name, highlighting her notable activities (Shushanyan, Sirunyan).

 


Dictionary of Armenian last names by Tigran Avetisyan


The Grabar (classical Armenian from 5-18th centuries) suffixes used in Armenian surnames are called relative or dynastic suffixes, including atsi, eri, yan, yanz.

Completing the topic, let us state the following that structure of Armenian surnames consists of a base plus a surname-forming suffix (-ian, -iants, -unts/-ents/-onts/-ants, -uni, -akan).

 

In conclusion, Armenian last names are not mere identifiers; they narrate stories of people, occupations, ancestors, and origins. Whether you bear an Aghabekyan, Harutyunyan or Grigoryan surname, it signifies a vibrant chapter in Armenian culture's rich history. Therefore, the next time you encounter an Armenian surname, recognize it as more than a label - it is a doorway to a unique story, waiting to be explored. With each name, a new chapter in Armenia's history and culture unfolds.

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