If you are having a baby, congratulations! This is wonderful news! Of course, there are many things to do and consider, but don’t let choosing a name for your child be something to stress about. Just start with a couple of simple questions and narrow it down as you go.
Have you thought about naming your child after a loved one, or would you prefer one that’s unique? Are traditional names more appealing, or maybe a trendy baby name could be a better fit?
Foreign names tick many boxes, and Bosnian might be exactly what you are looking for: beautiful, diverse, steeped in historical meaning and still sounding modern.
They originate from great ancient civilizations, some are Persian, Arabic, Turkish, others were born among the sunny islands that make up Greece, while more recent ones belong to melodic Slavic roots. Regardless of influence, Bosnian names are charming and choosing one for your baby may turn out to be an excellent decision.
At the crossroads between East and West, Bosnians value their tradition yet still follow modern trends. That is the case even with their popular names. Lots of people will pick a name that is hundreds of years old, while others will just choose a modern version instead. It’s fair to say that both contemporary and traditional names are represented almost equally.
Let’s start with female names:
Claiming dual heritage, Sara translates to “princess” or “noblewoman” in Hebrew, and “joy” or “delight” in Arabic.
A name of Turkish and Arabic descent, it signifies “true”, “reliable”, and “faithful”. One of Bosnia’s most famous authors, Aleksa Šantić, wrote a beautiful love poem about a girl named Emina, making this name even more popular.
The name Šejla can be found in various languages, so it has many different meanings. It has even been featured in works of art because of its popularity.
An Islamicized version of Mary, Merjem means “pure” and “innocent”. Other forms of this name are Merjema and Marjem.
Another name of Arab origin, Adna refers to the gardens in Jannah (heaven in Islam). It’s so lovely that it was given not only to baby girls, but also a species of spiders and a type of coral.
Many female names are derived from flowers, in this case from Yasmine, a symbol of love in Arabic. Another variation of this name is Jasminka, and both names have additional variants that signify beauty and elegance.
Ajla translates to “moonlight” in Turkish, but it can also mean “family”. It can be spelled Ajlin, and both forms are popular name choices in Bosnia.
Another Bosnian name of Arabic origin, Dženeta means “heaven”, “paradise”, or “garden”. Alternatives include Dženita, Dženata, Dženi, Đenita, etc.
This name has multiple very interesting connotations. Lamia was a beautiful queen from Ancient Libya that eventually became a night-haunting spirit. It means “shiny”, “brilliant”, and “bright” in Arabic, and “throat” in Latin. Another legend has it as name given to vampire-like legendary beings.
Marija is derived from Maria, which is the Latin version of the Hebrew name Miryam. For many religions, she was mother to Jesus, making it one of the most popular names around the world. Marija is also similar to Merjem, previously mentioned on this list.
Many people think that Iva is short for Ivana, a variant of the name Jovana, Johanna, Joana. However, that’s not true. Iva is actually Slavic for “willow”. The willow tree only appears weak, but is actually quite strong and resilient, infusing Iva with special meaning.
This can be short for either Emina or Emilija. Originally a very old Germanic name, it can be interpreted as “gorgeous”, “powerful”, and “divine”.
Hana, a name stemming from the Arabic language, translating as “wise woman”. Other similar options include Hanka, Hanija, and Hanča. Short and melodic, it sounds modern and has a rich history.
From the Latin word “valens”, as in “healthy” and “strong”. Probably the most famous instance of this name is St. Valentine, a holy person considered protector of those in love.
Another name that was derived from Latin, Lorena is thought to come from “Laurentius” (“person from Laurentuum” – ancient Roman city regarded as the original capital of Italy). However, some linguists believe that Lorena and its variants actually might stem from another Latin word, “aurus”, which means laurel, or bay leaf.
A name of Old-Hebrew origin, Matea signifies “God’s gift”. Mattitjah was one of Christ’s twelve apostles, and is a popular name in many nations.
Another Biblical name, Petra is of Greek origin. “Petros” means “rock” in Greek, so names based on this word suggest being “strong as a rock” and “unfaltering”.
It is presumed that Mia is a short version of Maria, but it could also come from a Latin word translating as “mine”, “only mine”, or even “the only one”.
Lana was most likely passed down from another Slavic name, Svetlana. It may also claim as origin the name of the flax plant, since it has a beige color when mature, similar to the dark blonde hair of many Slavic girls.
Most theories lead to believe that Lenka either comes from Magdalena or Helena/Jelena. The most famous Lenka was a tragic muse of the famous poet Laza Kostić. He wrote “Santa Maria della Salute” in her honor, as they couldn’t be together. She died on her 25th birthday, some say of a broken heart. Nonetheless, their love is forever immortalized in what is considered one of the most beautiful love poems ever written.
Dunja is thought to be a reinterpretation of a Greek name, Eudoxia, implying “good fame or judgement”. It’s also the name for a fragrant quince fruit, and a beloved female name in Bosnia. Both in Turkish and Arabic it means “the world”
This is probably one of the most common names among Bosnian Serbs. From the Serbian word “mila”, as in “dear”. However, in can can also refer to “governess” or “female ruler”, after the famous Princess Milica Hrebeljanović. Check out this article for more recommendations on popular Serbian names.
Meaning “wisdom” in Greek, this name is popular all around the world, due to how elegant and sophisticated it sounds.
Another name of Greek origin, Teodora signifies “the gift from God”, and it was often given to the long-awaited children.
One of the most common names in Bosnia and surrounding countries, Jelena came from the Greek word “helios”, interpreted as “sun”, “sunshine”, and “sunlight”. This is a mythical name, as the Trojan war was sparked by Hellen of Troy’s beauty.
Let’s now move to names for boys:
This name can be traced to Arabic and Hindu languages, and has various meanings. It can stand for “long-lived”, “pious”, and “omen”.
An Islamic version of the name Aaron, meaning “sublime”, but also “a messenger”. Aaron was a brother of the Jewish prophet Moses, hence the popularity in many countries that follow Abrahamic religions.
Originating from the Arabic word “din”(“faith”), this name is exclusively Bosnian, and one of the most popular choices for newborns.
Tarik draws from Arabic languages, and has different meanings depending on how you write and pronounce it. It can mean “the one that knocks”, “a visitor”, or “northern star”.
This is another name with a beautiful meaning in the Arabic world, refering to “sympathy”, “love”, and “affection”.
The most common name worldwide, Muhamed was a prophet and founder of Islam. In Arabic, this name means “celebrated” and “praised”. It’s considered to have the highest number of English spelling variants in the world. From the same root, these include Mahmud, Ahmed, Hamed, Tahmid and Hamid, just to name a few.
A biblical name, where it’s mentioned as a descendant of Seth. One interpretation is that it means “hidden”, while others suggest that it’s a name referring to where it originated, the Kaanan region in the Middle East.
Benjamin or Benajmin, this name comes from the Old Hebrew, and translates as “a son of the right hand”, “son of the south”, or “son of the fortune”.
The meaning of this popular Bosnian name is “guardian”, “plowman”, and “lion”.
Josip is a Slavic version of the Hebrew name Josef. Several Biblical figures were called so, including the husband of Mary, mother of Jesus. The most famous person to hold this name was former Yugoslavian president Josip Broz Tito.
This name is a tribute to the Greek god Dionisys, master of wine, fertility, and hedonism.
Another name of Greek origin, Leon means “lion”, and as such, represents strength, pride, and courage.
The exact ancestry of this name is uncertain, but theories suggest that it came with the Normans to England, and later spread throughout the whole of Europe, including Bosnia.
The name can be traced back to the Old German language, where it means “man” or “husband”, but also “free” in Scandinavian.
A beautiful name of Persian origin, Eldar means “master”, “lord”, “one that rules”. It can also be found in Nordic countries.
From Old Hebrew, Jakov translates as “heel”. According to the Bible, Jakov grabbed his twin brother by the heel while they were being born, and that’s how he got his name.
There are several variants of this name, Andra, Andrija, and Andreja, including the female variants Andrea, Andreja, and Andrijana. It means “courageous” and “masculine” in Greek.
Another name with Biblical origins and international popularity, David is a quite common name in Bosnia and means “one that is loved”. Some other variants of this name are Davud and Daut. David is also a popular male name in Romania and other Balkan countries.
This name is derived from the Old Roman surname “Sergius”. It spread across the whole of Europe and still remains especially popular among Slavic countries, including Bosnia.
A very prevalent male name not only in Bosnia but also in many parts of the world, Marko is derived from the Roman god of war, Mars. It is usually given to boys born in March.
Similar to the female version Milica, Miloš is an old Slavic name created from the word “mio”, meaning “dear”. One of the most popular Serbian historic figures is called Miloš Obilić.
Originating from the Greek word “Phillipos”, meaning “friend of the horses”. Filip was one of Christ’s apostles, and the name of Alexander the Great’s own father. Several medieval French monarchs were also named Filip, leading to its spread throughout the whole of Europe.
Similar to Leon, Lav means “lion”, and is one of the most popular male names over the last several years.
Once again, a name with roots in Greek culture, Luka means “light” and is experiencing a rise in popularity.
This is the only name on the list that comes from Hungary. It was only given to children of Serbian noble families in the Middle Ages, but is now immensely popular among the general public.
There are many lovely Bosnian names and they all have interesting and beautiful explanations. The majority of them are influenced by Arabic and Turkish languages, or by Old Hebrew Biblical ancestry. This clearly demonstrates that, although having lives similar to the rest of Europe, Bosnians remain deeply rooted in their culture. Even the modern names trace their roots in tradition. This is the exact nature of Bosnia: forever embedded between East and West, old and new.