Recently, I heard a funny but somewhat accurate saying: “You don’t even know how many people you dislike until you start thinking about baby names”. It sounds a bit mean and rude, but let’s be honest: who wants their child to remind them of a high-school bully or annoying colleague?
In Serbia, it was customary for children to receive traditional names, perhaps at times slightly updated to sound modern. However, in recent years, the trend has shifted to either short and unusual names, or something rather archaic and historical in connotation.
Fortunately, there are many wonderful options out there, and if you and your partner are looking for inspiration, you should maybe consider one of the many great Serbian names. Perhaps you have Serbian or Slavic origins, or just want your kid to stand out, here is a list with 50 of the most popular choices.
We’ll start with names for girls:
The meaning of this name is obvious – “angel”, “angelic”. It has several variations, including Anđa, Anđelka, Anđelina, Anđelija, as well as the male counterpart: Anđelko.
There are many explanations for this name, most connected to the old legends. In Roman mythology, Maia was a goddess of spring, plants, nature, and fertile land. In Greek mythology, Maia was one of seven Pleiads, daughters of the titan Atlas and sea-nymph Pleione.
Tatjana is a name usually connected to Russia, but also quite popular in Serbia and surrounding countries. It is believed to originate from the Roman name “Titus/Tatius”.
This name is of purely Slavic influence, derived from the word “želja”, meaning “desire” or “wish”, and often given to long-awaited children. Željana and Želimirka are other variations of this beautiful name.
Originating from the Latin word “natalis,” which means “day of birth”, Nataša was traditionally chosen for baby girls born on or around Christmas. Still, today it is a widely popular name in Serbia, Russia, and other Slavic places. Different variants include Natalija, Natali, and Nata.
Many people think the root of this name is “suze”, which means “tears” in many Slavic languages. However, that is incorrect, as it’s actually stemming from the popular Hebrew name, “Shoshana”. Another tidbit of information: this is also the name of the Madonna lily flower.
Old Slavic name created from how the morning star was called. It means “day”, “dawn”, “light”, “bright”, or “spotless”. Another well known version of this name is Dana.
Once more, a name of Greek origin, Anastasija means “the resurrected one”. According to tradition, it was customary for baby girls born around Easter. Some other variants of this name are Nastasja, Anastazija, Asja, Naca etc.
This name can be traced back to the Slavic word “ljubav”, as in “love”. Other connotations include “the loved one” and “kissed”. Ljubica is a somewhat archaic name, but in the last few years it has been experiencing a revival.
Tea is of Greek descent, and it means “goddess”. Sometimes short for Teodora, it can be a separate name just as well. For parents who would like a short and modern-sounding name, this could be a great choice.
Like Tea, Una is another example of a modern and short pick. This time, the roots are found in Latin, where it stands for “the only one”, “one”, or even “unique”. The beauty of this name is that it’s somewhat ambiguous, and different ethnicities can use this name for their offsprings.
Very popular a few decades ago, Vesna steadily drifted out of fashion. At the moment, it’s seeing a resurgence, partially because it was the name of the Slavic goddess of spring.
This name could be a short version of Laura, but is believed to actually derive from the name Larisa (or Laris), a term for Roman household gods, as it meant “the one that protects”.
A beautiful name with an interesting meaning, Iskra, translates to “spark” in Serbian. So, if you want your daughter to be bright and energetic, Iskra will be the perfect name.
One of the rare animal names, Srna means “doe”, and is supposed to portray elegance, fragility, shyness, and sensitivity.
This name comes from Latin and has aquatic significance: can be interpreted as “from the sea” or “related to the sea”. Marina was one of the nicknames for Aphrodite, who was considered to be a protector of sailors.
This is a Russian version of the name Sophia, which in Greek means “love of wisdom”. It quickly spread to other European countries, including Serbia and is similar to Sanja, although the two have entirely different meanings.
An exact origin of this name cannot be found, but is considered to be derived from the Avari language, and signify “rich” or “successful”. Still, there are some who believe it has Slavic connections in fact, either from the word “boja” (“color”) or from “bojati” (“to be scared”). The male version of this name is Bojan.
Many Serbian names are constructed from the particle “mio”, as in “dear”. Such is the case with Mila. Other variants include Milica, Milana, Milena, Mia, Milosava, Radmila etc.
You’ve heard of Nike, right? Well, this name is partly based on that very word, which means “victory” in Greek, and “laos” standing for “people”. Those two combined to give Nikolija the meaning “victory of the people”. Nikolina and Nina are close variants.
From the Slavic word “dar”, like “gift” or “present”. It could also have originated from the Persian language, where “dara” means “to own something”. Other variations are Daria, Dara, Darinka, and Darijana.
Quite a simple name to track down, Kristina has its source in the Greek “Christos”, a word for “christian”. This explains why it’s so popular worldwide.
Perhaps an unusual name, Tijana comes from the old Slavic word “tih” that translates to “silent”. There is another theory, however, with claims that it actually originated from the word “tia”, which means “fragrant tree”. Among the alternatives: Tihana, Tiana, Tia, and Tina.
This name is a variant of the more popular “Ana”. Both are linked with the Hebrew name “Hanna” as in “thankful”. Ana (or Hanna) was the name of the Virgin Mary’s mother.
While we know the exact origin of the name, from the Greek word “Haikaterine”, there is no clear definition of what it refers to. Most probably it comes from another Greek word, “katharos”, defined as “catharsis” or “emotional cleansing.”
Now that we went over female names, let’s take a look at male Serbian names:
A name with Biblical implications, drawn from the Old Hebrew “Gabriel”, it stands for “strong and powerful man”. It’s the name of one of God’s seven archangels.
Meaning “crown” or “wreath”, it has Greek roots and is associated with the name Stefanos. Many European countries have their own variant of this name.
The name Lazar was formed through the Old Hebrew “el azar”, which in turn was based on the Aramaic word “azarya”. In fact, they both meant “God is the help”. In Serbia, this name became particularly popular because of Lazar Hrebeljanović, a Serbian prince killed during the infamous Battle of Kosovo in 1389.
This is an ancient Panslavic name derived from the word “borba”, meaning “fight”. Boris was considered a warrior’s name, and it’s the most popular choice in Serbia, Bulgaria, and Russia.
Another Slavic name, Vladimir, is composed of two words: “vladati” (which means “to rule”) and “mir” (which means “peace”). Traditionally, this name was chosen by parents who wanted a well-behaved and peaceful child.
This is a variant of Aleksandar, common in many other countries as well. It stems from the Greek word “Aleksandros”, as in “protector of the people”. Other variants are Aco, Sandro, Saša etc.
Similar to the female name Nikolija, Nikola is a composite of two Greek words, creating the connotation “victory of the people”.
This name’s exact origin and meaning are unclear, though we assume that “davor” was a cry of surprise, happiness, sadness, or threat among Slavic tribes. Also, Davor is the alternative name for the Slavic God of war, Rugovit.
Nebojša is a Slavic name resulting from the merger of “ne”, meaning “no”, and “bojati”, meaning “to be scared”. So, this name basically spells out “the one that has no fear”.
This is a variant of Aleksandar. Sometimes, it is used as a nickname, but it can be a name of its own. Interestingly, it can be used for both male and female babies.
Another name that could be both male or female, Vanja, is derived from the names Ivan and Ivana, which in turn are obtained from the names Jovan and Jovana.
A variant of the Greek Georgios, or “the one that plows the land”, this beautiful name was and remained extremely popular throughout the whole of Serbian history. Đorđe is always a good option when naming your newborn.
Short and easy to pronounce, Vid is Old Slavic for “videti”, translating as “to see”. It could also be coming from “vita”, Latin for “life.” Other variants of this name are Vidoje and Vidan, with female versions Vidanka and Vida.
Originating from the Slavic word “duša”, which means “soul”, this is a synonym for “kindness” and “beauty”. Other variants include Dule and Dušan, which was the name of Dušan Silni (Dušan the Mighty), the most famous Serbian emperor.
A male version of the name Daria, “gift” or “the one that owns something”. Another form of this name is Darijo.
“Masculine” and “courageous”, from the Greek word “arsenos”. A fitting name for a boy.
Name to one of Batman’s fiercest adversaries, Bane actually has positive connotations. It’s a variant of the Branko, from the Slavic word “braniti”, which means “to defend”. Some other forms are Brane, Branislav, and Branimir. Perhaps Bane’s image is misrepresented and he is really a hero.
A name of Serbian and Montenegrian origin, Balša means “strong, powerful, and big guy”. It’s an old name that has been getting increasingly popular recently, especially in the Serbian capital city, Belgrade.
The variant of the Serbian name Vuk, as in “wolf”. In the past, this name was given to children to scare away evil spirits that would otherwise bring harm to them.
“Marigold flower”, this is what Neven means in Serbian. Parents would regularly opt for flower names because they wanted their children to be gentle, elegant, and beautiful as flowers. The female version of this name is Nevena.
Another name with Serbian and Montenegrian origins, Njegoš is derived from the word “njegovati”, meaning “to nurture”. Other variants are Njegosav, Njego, Njeguš etc.
A shorter version of the name Čedomir, the root being “čedo”, a Serbian word of endearment when talking about one’s child.
Similar to Daria and Dario, the name Darko could mean “gift”, “the one that gives”, or “gift from heaven”.
The root of the name Zoran is “zora”, which signifies “dawn” in Slavic. The female versions of this name are Zorica, Zorana, and Zora, the last one being the name of the goddess of dawn and dawn break.
Similar to Tijana, Tihomir is a name obtained from the word “tih”, as in “silent”, and “mir”, which means “peace”. As a whole, it can be roughly translated as “silent peace”.
It’s fascinating how all the personal names we hear and use daily have deeper meanings that we don’t think too much about. Many of them were used for centuries, if not thousands of years. By giving our children one of those names, we connect with our ancestors in some way, keep the tradition alive, and hope that future generations will not forget our words and names.