Armenian last names have repetitive, yet unique patterns. Every nation in the world has specific last names that are typical of that nation.
By knowing a persons’ last name, you can guess where they’re from a lot easier. As for Armenians, it’s much easier to recognize them by their last names as they have typical characteristics that can be found in every Armenian surname.
There have been extensive studies of Armenian surnames in the Armenian language, but many Armenians, especially born outside of Armenia, do not understand the meaning of their own family names.
The study of Armenian last names is a fascinating process.
It’s very important to understand not only the meaning of your own surname, but everyone’s in general. Virtually, every aspect of Armenian culture is reflected in surnames.
Characteristics of Armenian Surnames
After the Armenian Genocide in 1915, Armenians spread all around the world. Due to the tragic events, Armenian last names are now found both in Armenia and in the Armenian Diaspora communities throughout the world.
Armenian last names are a true reflection of the culture and heritage of the ancient civilization.
Like Armenian first names, some Armenian surnames are influenced by other civilizations they have lived and interacted with, for example, Persians, Georgians, Russians, Turks, Arabs and the Greeks.
Most Armenian last names have “ian” or “yan” at the end.
If you have met an Armenian or have an Armenian friend, you have probably thought about the meaning of “ian” at the end of their family name. Armenian surnames are easily recognized by their endings – “ian” or “yan”, meaning the “son of”.
In English, a similar pattern can be found. For example, “Peterson” means “son of Peter” in English. “Ian” or “yan” is the same in Armenian. The suffix -ian at the end of Armenian last names stands for the same.
Some Armenian family names do not have “ian” or “yan” and are not exclusive to Armenians
However, some Diasporans have changed these endings in order not to be recognized in their host countries. For example, in Turkey “oglu” often replaces “ian”. Russian Armenians may have changed the endings to “ov”; examples include Garry Kasparov and Sergei Parajanov.
However, names ending in “ian” are not always exclusive to Armenian. Although commonly found among Armenians, they can also be found among other nationalities.
5 categories of Armenian family names
Armenian last names generally fall into five specific categories: Aristocracy, Parent, Geography, Occupation or Physical Trait.
5 most common Armenian last names
Common Armenian last name No.1: Harutyunyan
This is probably the most common and usual Armenian surname you’ll come across in Armenia. It has other variations such as Harutyunian, Harutiunyan, Arutyunyan or Arutiunian.
‘Harutyun’ in Armenian has the meaning of ‘resurrection’.
Harutyunyan is a very widespread last name among Armenians and it is connected with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Mostly, this is because Armenians were the first to adopt Christianity as their state religion.
There is a great number of famous Armenians with this surname like Alexander Harutyunyan – world-famous Armenian composer and pianist widely known for his trumpet concerto.
Common Armenian last name No.2: Hovhannisyan
Hovhannisyan is an Armenian last name, meaning “son of Hovhannes”.
Hovhannes in Armenian is equivalent to John, therefore Hovhanissyan is Johnson. It is one of the most common surnames in Armenia.
A famous Armenian composer, Edgar Hovhannisyan, who experimented with various musical styles, including neo-classical, folk-based styles, and even jazz, had this family name.
Common Armenian last name No.3: Sargsyan
This surname is also spelt as Sarkisyan, ‘son of Sarkis’. The president of the Republic of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, has this surname too. This family name is also a very beloved one as prominent Armenian actor, director and writer, Sos Sargsyan, also had it.
Common Armenian last name No.4: Hakobyan
This is the Armenian equivalent of Jacob. Hakobyan means ‘son of Hakob’.
This name can be written in different ways, eg. Acopyan, Agopyan, Akopyan, Hagopian and Hakobian, which can sometimes confuse people.
An Armenian author, a prominent figure in 19th century’s Armenian literature, Hakob Melik Hakobian, better known by his pen name Raffi, had this family name.
Common Armenian last name No.5: Manukyan
‘Manuk’ means ‘child’ in Armenian.
Among the popular people with this surname is Aram Manukyan who was an Armenian revolutionary and statesman. He organized the defence against then advancing Turkish army at the Battle of Sardarabad (May 21–29, 1918), preventing the possible destruction of the Armenian nation.
Aram Manukyan also played an important role in the establishment of the First Republic of Armenia in 1918 and served as its first minister of internal affairs.
5 unique Armenian surnames
Unique Armenian last name No.1: Voskerchyan
Many Armenian last names were taken from the professions of an ancestor. It was because the tax collectors at that time needed to identify the professions of all individuals.
Voskerchyan means “son of a goldsmith”.
Unique Armenian last name No.2: Kardashian
Kardash means a stone sculptor in Armenian, while the original Turkish word, “kardeş”, means sibling.
Robert George Kardashian was an American businessman and attorney of Armenian descent and is the father of very famous 4 well-known children, Kim, Kourtney, Khloé and Robert Kardashians.
Unique Armenian last name No.3: Urfalian
Some Armenian last names are based on geographic origin and end in “lian” or “tsian”. Typical examples include Urfalian, “from Urfa” or Vanetzian,”from Van”, Sivaslian, “from Sivas.”
These family names were typically given to immigrants who migrated from a local region of Armenia. Though these are rare ones, some of them are still in use.
Unique Armenian last name No.4: Topalian
The most confusing, curious and unique surnames are those based on the trait of an ancestor. Typical examples include Topalian meaning “son of the cripple” and Dilsizian meaning “son of the tongueless”.
Unique Armenian last name No.5: Artsruni
Armenians who are direct descendants of nobility have last names ending with ‘uni’ such as Artsruni, Sasuni and Rshtuni. These surnames are still very popular and, at the same time, very rare and unique.
10 other common Armenian last names
Common Armenian last name 1: Petrosyan
Some Armenian surnames have originated from the first name of an ancestor.
This practice is very common among all nations in the world and the same can be found in some Armenian family names. A typical example is Petrosyan that means son of Petros.
Common Armenian last name 2: Gevorgyan
Sometimes, it’s also spelled as Gevorkian, meaning “son of Gevork”, which is equivalent of “son of George”.
The Western Armenian version is Kevorkian.
A well-known Armenian musician, composer and musical producer, Ara Gevorgyan, who still acts very successfully these days, has this family name.
Common Armenian last name 3: Karapetyan
Karapetyan is among the most widespread last names in Armenia and you meet people with this surname very frequently. It’s also spelt as Karapetian, Garabedian, or Garapedian.
People with this surname include Shavarsh Karapetyan, who is a retired Armenian finswimmer and was the world and European champion. What makes him famous and so loved is that he saved the lives of 20 people in an incident in Yerevan in 1976.
Common Armenian last name 4: Movsesyan
Movsesyan or Movsesian is also an Armenian surname meaning son of Moses.
One of the reasons this surname is so common is that a prominent Armenian playwright and novelist, Alexander Movsesyan, who has been better known by his pen name, Alexander Shirvanzade, had this family name.
Common Armenian last name 5: Khachaturyan
Khachatur means ‘cross bearer’ and the most famous Armenian with this name is Aram Khachaturian, a Soviet Armenian composer and conductor.
He is considered to be one of the leading Armenian composers and is best known for his ballet masterpieces, “Gayane” and “Spartacus”.
Common Armenian last name 6: Avetisyan
This last name is also very common today in Armenia standing stand for ‘good news’.
One of the notable people with this surname is Minas Avetisyan, an Armenian painter of the 20th century whose works entailed the theme of Armenian nature, religion, people, mountains and fields.
Common Armenian last name 7: Martirosyan
This surname means son of Martiros, ‘martyr’ in Armenian.
A prominent person with this last name in history was Flora Martirosyan. She was an Armenian folk singer, the founder of “Artists for Peace” Foundation, and initiator of the cultural movement, “Never Again”.
Common Armenian last name 8: Vardanyan
‘Vard’ means ‘rose’ in Armenian and a famous Armenian, Ani Vardanyan, has this last name. She is an Armenian figure skater and the Armenian national silver medalist of 2005.
Common Armenian last name 9: Sahakyan
Sahakyan or Sahakian is a fairly common family name in Armenia and is equivalent to Isaac.Sahakyan is translated as son of Isaac, or descendant of Isaac.
A noted Armenian poet, humorist, publicist and translator, Aramayis Sahakyan, had this surname.
Common Armenian last name 10: Mktrchyan
Mkrtich means ‘a baptist’ in Armenian and Mktrchyan means son of baptist.
When hearing this family name, nearly every Armenian person immediately remembers Mher Mkrthchyan, who is better known as Frunzik. He is considered as one of the greatest Armenian actors.
We can say it is hard to find a person, not only in Armenia, but also abroad, who hasn’t watched one of the films of this great and talented actor.
Other Related Posts
- Armenian Girl Names – Selection of female names for a baby girl!
- Armenian Boy Names Selection! Want to find a first name for boys?