Names are an important element of our personal identity and can play a significant role in shaping how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. Just like individual people, names have their own unique characteristics and qualities that make them stand out from one another. Each name has its own history, cultural context, and meaning, and can influence how we interact with the person who bears it.
This is why the Armenian people, proud of their heritage and longstanding values, are striving to preserve their special names for future generations, especially in the diaspora. They reflect the language, customs, and ideals of Armenians everywhere, and often carry deep interpretations and symbolism.
Same as for every other modern society, there has been a trend of adopting common international names. However, a recent local movement is trying to reconnect new parents with traditional and authentic Armenian names, to make them popular again and continue the legacy of their ancestors.
Whether you are expecting a child and searching for that perfect name, just interested in genealogy, or simply curious about the Armenian culture, here are some wonderful Armenian names to pique your interest.
Popular Armenian names for girls
For centuries, Armenian women have fought side by side with men, so their names illustrate not only purity, modesty, and fragility, but also bravery, courage, and a fighting spirit.
Anahit was the most beloved and revered goddess of Armenia – the Mother Goddess. She was the analogue of Artemis from Greek mythology, and had a similar cult of creation. The ancient Armenians believed that the will of Anahit created the Armenian world.
The name became very popular, in part thanks to a very famous Armenian folk tale, where the main character Anahit is portrayed by a simple Armenian woman with a great sense of dignity. There’s also a prince, and a marriage proposal, which gets denied because he does not know a trade…anyway, not to spoil the ending, but it’s a great story to tell your children.
Another Armenian goddess, Astghik, symbolized love, beauty, and water. She also has an equivalent in Greek mythology, being similar to Aphrodite and Ishtar from Mesopotamian legends. Although, if you speak Armenian, you know that “astgh” means “star” and “astghik” means “asterisk”, but this is not related to the goddess.
These are examples of how society changed its attitude towards the name over time. Some parents call their girls Astghik because that is the name of the goddess. Others like it for the root of the word “star”. By the way, the ending “-ik” is often used in names as diminutive to mean “small” and make them sound cute.
Hasmik is a traditional Armenian name that has gained much popularity in recent years. It means “jasmine” and is often used to describe someone with a sweet, delicate nature. Hasmik is a versatile name that can be paired with many middle names, and is frequently chosen for its simplicity and elegance. The word for jasmine is a common name in many other countries.
The name Mariam is derived from the Hebrew Maryam. It has conflicting meanings: “sea of bitterness” or “beloved”, “desirable”. Spread through Christianity, it’s now common in many countries. In Armenia, you may now find many forms of this name: Marush, Maro, Mari, Maria etc.
Aghavni is a name that represents peace and harmony. It comes from a medieval village in the Syunik region of Armenia, and translates as “dove”, a traditional Christian peace symbol. This is an elegant but uncommon name outside of Armenia. It is belied that a dove sitting on the window sill brings good news, prosperity, and positivity.
Ani is a diminutive of the name Anna, which translates as “beautiful” from Hebrew, but in Armenian it means “warrior”. Ani was also the name of a city in Armenia, a center of culture, commerce, and learning during the medieval period.
Renowned for its beautiful architecture and artistic heritage, it remains a symbol of Armenian identity to this day. You can’t go wrong with this short and sweet Armenian girl name.
A name that may trace its roots all the way back to Gaia, the goddess of the earth in Greek mythology. For Armenians, this is a sacred name because the woman who bore it became a Christian martyr and saint, now celebrated by the Armenian Apostolic Church. It is a popular name associated with the virtues of kindness, compassion, and inner strength. You might be surprised to know, but Kourtney Kardashian was in fact baptized Gayane.
Likely derived from several sources, including Hebrew, Arabic and Greek, the initial interpretation was “immortal”. Over time, this word changed its meaning and now refers to something being “pleasant”, and “sweet”. For the Armenian vocabulary, it plays a lexical role in creating various other female names: Haykanush, Vardanush, Tsaghkanush, Hranush, Vehanush, Geghanush, Vaskanush, Armanush, Perchanush etc.
It can also translate as “beautiful morning” and “star” in Armenian, which is why it has a poetic tradition in arts.
Shushanik is a name is often linked to the Armenian princess who lived in the 5th century. She was known for her devotion to Christianity and her courage in the face of adversity, eventually becoming a martyr. Shushanik means “lily” or “rose” in Armenian and is linked with beauty, purity, and grace.
A diminutive of Shoshannah with the cute suffix “-ik”, it’s among the oldest recorded names, but still very widespread. Just like with most other communities, there are many personal names derived from words describing flowers, such as Shushanik, Hasmik, and Nargiz.
Borrowed from the Persian word “guhar”, Gohar has been used as a personal name since the 12th century. It translates as “jewel” or “precious stone”, and is often associated with beauty, elegance, and grace. Gemma is a pretty close equivalent in English. The name Gohar has also been used in literature and art, and is a popular choice among Armenian families. Other forms include Gohar, Goga, and Goharik.
Araks is derived from the name of the Aras (Arax) River, which flows through Armenia, Turkey, and Iran. For centuries, communities thrived in the valleys of the Kura and Aras, which is why they referred to the river as “Mother Arax”. Araks translates as “Daughter of Arax” and is a name synonymous with strength, power, resilience, but also beauty. You may also find the name in the form Araksya.
Popular Armenian names for boys
As for boys, Armenian parents want to see their sons strong, brave, and wise. This is why they frequently choose the names of powerful Armenian kings, generals, and saints for their children.
The brave general Andranik is famous in Armenian history for his commitment to achieving independence for the country. People are still inspired by his heroic efforts and praise his memory by picking this name. A rough translation would be “elder, great, first”, so it’s commonly given to the firstborn son of the family. In 1920, The Literary Digest, an American publication of the time, described Andranik as “the Armenian’s Robin Hood, Garibaldi, and Washington, all in one”. That sounds pretty impressive.
Ara the Handsome, so legendary for his beauty that Semiramis, queen of the Assyrians, ordered him captured and brought to her. He was a mythical hero and king in Armenian literature, so it’s only natural for this ancient name to be popular even today. Etymologically, Ara signifies “forest, field”, being connected to the God of spring, vegetation, harvest, and later also of war and strength.
Within the Armenian pantheon of mythical names, we also find David of Sassoon, hero of the national epic Daredevils of Sassoun. The poem is filled with epic exploits, where David proves his might and his cunning (though there are also humorous moments). The name David, sometimes Davit, means “beloved”. For many, it represents wisdom, strength, and compassion, and remains a favored choice for Armenian parents.
The name comes from the Armenian word “vard” meaning “rose”, in turn derived from Persian and Arabic. Despite referring to a flower, this is a common boy’s name. Another historical figure might be the reason for this. Vardan Mamikonian is remembered as a hero and a martyr for his sacrifice during the Battle of Avarayr (in 451 B.C.), again in an attempt to free his nation. This name resonates both beauty and heroism.
Grigor Narekatsi (Gregory of Narek) and his famous Narek prayer book, called Book of Lamentations or “Matyan Voghbergutyan” poem, are often cited as the source for this name. He was an Armenian monk, theologian and poet, now celebrated as a saint. In fact, Pope Francis declared him a Doctor of the Church in 2015. It remains a prominent name associated with spirituality and wisdom.
According to folklore, Hayk was the legendary founder of the Armenian nation, defeating the Babylonian king Bel and establishing his own kingdom in the Armenian Highlands. Great tales speak of his giant stature and unrivaled skill as a warrior, leading some to believe it grants strength, courage, and determination and signify “head of the family”. He is also considered a descendant of Noah’s.
The debate continues whether he is the reason for the name of the Armenian community. The Armenian word for “hay” actually translates as Armenian. Regardless of how the nation came to be called Armenia, the name Hayk should always persist.
Artavazd was the name of several kings of the Artaxiad dynasty, which ruled Armenia from 189 BC to 12 AD. In Old Persian, “arta” means “truth, right, righteous” and Artavazd roughly translates as “lasting justice” or “persevering through truth”. Under their rule, Armenia flourished and extended its influence. Artavazd is still a popular name in Armenia, supporting historic and royal connotations.
Hovhannes, an analogue to John in Christian communities, is a common Armenian name that means “God is gracious”. Many important figures in Armenian history and culture have borne this name. It can be a unique alternative to a name that is already popular, while still maintaining its significance.
Before the influence of Zoroastrianism and Greek culture, Areg was the heathen God of the Sun. “With fire-light butterflies, resting at night at the bottom of the Vana Sea in his golden bed”, is how the mythical Areg is described by esteemed Armenian novelist, Raffi. According to prominent historian Movses Khorenatsi, there were statues of the Sun and the Moon erected in the capital Armavir, and most of the temples built by King Vagharshak, dedicate to this ancient deity.
Now, this simple yet venerable name represents warmth, light, and positivity.
Saint Gregory the Illuminator is the patron saint of Armenia, from when he converted the nation to Christianity in the 4th century AD. Derived from the Greek word “gregorios”, it means “watchful” or “vigilant”. Grigoryan is the most popular surname in Armenia. This religious name can also bring blessings to your little sons.
The Armenian nation has a rich history of over 3000 years and an incredibly sophisticated culture. They were also the first Christian nation in the world. Naturally, most of the names today have been influenced either by Christianity, through Greek or Persian infusion, or from their long and eventful past.
From kings, to gods, to flowery names, hopefully you have found some inspiration.