Hungarian Names


Hungarian Names

Hungarian names includes both surnames, given names and (sometimes) middle names, or "second given names". When speaking or writing the Hungarian language these names invariably use the "Eastern name order", or family name followed by given name, except in foreign language text. The Hungarian language is the only major national language of a European and Western country to use this order, though some regional languages like the Basque language and the Alemannic German dialect sometimes also do this.[1]


Modern Hungarian orthography is slightly simpler than that of the 18th and 19th centuries, but many Hungarians still use the older spelling for their names. For example, the letter 'c' is often written as 'cz'. Letters such as Q, W, X, or Y, which are usually only ever seen in foreign words, can also be seen in these older spellings of names, especially in old noble family names which stem from the Middle Ages. Some family names refer to a place of origin, and may be written ending in "Y" instead of "I". So someone from Szolnok may spell his family name "Szolnoky" instead of "Szolnoki", but only if the chosen Y variant of the family name is not a protected name of a historically documented noble family. Unless acknowledged officially, such spelling variants cannot be used as legal names. Except in special cases, to change one's name to any historical or old-style written name is not and will not be permitted.[2]

Hungarian surnames

The Hungarian language normally puts family names first, except for foreign names, in Hungarian speech and text.[3] Some Hungarian surnames relate to professions, for example Szabó "tailor," Kovács "smith," Halász "fisher." Other surnames relate to non-Magyar ethnic origin. For example common Hungarian surnames include Németh "German," Horvát "Croat," Tóth an outdated term for "Slovak" (now Szlovák in modern Hungarian), Oláh an outdated term for "Romanian", and Lengyel "Polish."[4] During the Austro-Hungarian empire, in the kingdom of Hungary non-Hungarian ethnic people such as Jews, Germans and Slovaks were encouraged to adopt Hungarian surnames.[5] Some people with German names translated them directly into Hungarian.[6]

A few given names are also used as family names, and this practice may confuse even a native Hungarian speaker. For example, in the unlikely case that a Hungarian speaker has never heard of Attila József, they would be unable to tell which of the two was his family name, because it could be either.

Hungarian given names

As in all cultures, the origin of Hungarian names is closely related to the religious and dynastic history of the country. Many saints names and royal names have English equivalents.

Girl's names

Boy's names

  • András: becoming popular after the King Andrew I of Hungary. This name was given to three monarchs and to several princes.
  • Attila: Because the Hungarian monarchs considered themselves direct descendents of Attila the King of the Huns, the name formed part of the popular culture.
  • Béla: The name of pagan origin was given to four medieval Kings of Hungary and nowadays is still commonly used.
  • Csaba: He was one of the sons of Attila, the King of the Huns.
  • Géza: The name of pagan origin was given to two medieval Kings of Hungary and to many princes, and nowadays is still popular.
  • György: The King (and Saint) Stephen I of Hungary not only honored Saint Martin of Tours, but also Saint George was since Hungary's early times one of the most important holy characters.
  • István: The first King of Hungary was Saint Stephen I of Hungary.
  • Imre: King Stephen's son was Saint Emeric of Hungary.
  • János: After John the Apostle.
  • József: After the Biblical characters called Joseph.
  • Károly: After the King of French origin Charles I of Hungary.
  • Lajos: After the King of French origin Louis I of Hungary.
  • László: The same happened with Saint Ladislas I of Hungary.
  • Márk: After the evangelist Saint Mark.
  • Márton: After Saint Martin of Tours, who was born in the early Middle Ages in the territory of modern-day Hungary, before it existed as a country.
  • Mátyás: After the Christian Saint, name that became even more popular after the reign of the King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1458–1490).
  • Sándor: Alexander the Great's history was translated in medieval Hungary and made extremely popular during the XIV century.
  • Tamás: After the biblical figure Saint Thomas.
  • Zoltán: A popular name of pagan origin very common in modern times, Zoltán of Hungary was a tribal chief at the beginning of the 10th century.
  • Zsigmond: After the King Sigismund of Hungary, member of the House of Luxemburg and at the end of his life Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

Middle names and religious names

Hungarians do not commonly use middle names (called second given names because of the Eastern name order) or their corresponding initials. While it is increasingly frequent that they are given one, they tend to choose one they prefer to use.

When baptised, a child can get an additional name (baptismal name), especially if there is no saint who bears their name so they need a name a patron saint is associated with. In confirmation, children receive another given name, but it is not used. Both the baptismal and the confirmation names have religious significance only, and they are not on any official records.

Married names

There is a wide range of selection of a married name. Up to about the 18th century noblewomen kept their names at marriage and their children received their father's name. (Poor people usually did not have a last name at all[citation needed]; it became compulsory only under the reign of Joseph II). When Hungary was under Habsburg rule and became influenced by Western European traditions, women became known by their husbands' names. So for example Szendrey Júlia, marrying Petőfi Sándor, became Petőfi Sándorné (the -né suffix approximately means "wife of", and this is the Hungarian equivalent of "Mrs." as in "Mrs. John Smith"). This was both the law and the tradition until the 1950s. During the Communist rule of Hungary, great emphasis was put upon the equality of women and men, and from that time women could either choose to keep their maiden name or take that of their husband. But most women did take their husbands' names; most of the exceptions were artists.[citation needed]

Nowadays the alternatives for a woman when she marries are as shown below (using the examples of Szendrey Júlia and Petőfi Sándor – Júlia and Sándor are their given names):

  • Júlia can keep her maiden name, as Szendrey Júlia (now very popular, especially among more-educated women).
  • Júlia gives up her name, adds the suffix -né to her husband's full name, and will be called Petőfi Sándorné.
  • Júlia adds the suffix -né to her husband's family name, adds her full name and will be called Petőfiné Szendrey Júlia.
  • Júlia adds the suffix -né to her husband's full name, adds her full name and will be called Petőfi Sándorné Szendrey Júlia (less popular these days, because it is long to write).
  • Júlia takes her husband's family name, keeps her given name "Júlia" and will be called Petőfi Júlia.

The applicable law,[7] which used to give substantially different sets of options to women and men, was declared sexist and unconstitutional. The ensuing amendment, in force since 2004, also lists options for men. Thus:

  • Sándor can keep his birth name, as Petőfi Sándor (the most common choice).
  • Sándor takes his wife's family name, keeps his given name "Sándor" and will be called Szendrey Sándor (often considered when the wife's family name sounds remarkably better than the husband's one).
  • A further new option is hyphenation. In our example, the family name Petőfi-Szendrey or Szendrey-Petőfi will be introduced for one or both parties. A sole party not assuming the hyphenated form keeps his or her original family name.

Note that using opposing hyphenations (i.e. Szendrey-Petőfi Sándor and Petőfi-Szendrey Júlia) and exchanging names (i.e. Petőfi Sándor and Szendrey Júlia become Szendrey Sándor and Petőfi Júlia) are not allowed. Also, one can have a maximum of two last names. If one or both partners-to-be come to the marriage with more than one surname, they will have to agree which ones to keep.

Both the bride and groom have to declare at the wedding which name they will use; and they have to declare which family name their children will get (which can be changed until the birth of the first child). Children can get either parent's surname, if it is on the marriage certificate, but all children must have the same surname. Since 2004 they can also get a hyphenated name, but only if both parents kept their birth names at least as one part of their new name. Children usually get their father's surname, but hyphenated names are becoming more common.

People of the same sex are not allowed to marry in Hungary, so they cannot legally use each other's names[8] unless they change their names through a deed of change of name.

Women's names in everyday life

When a woman takes her husband's name in the traditional way, as in Petőfi Sándorné, her female first name no longer forms part of her official name, yet this is the name she will be called by even after her wedding, in all but the most formal contexts. Thus, Hungarian radio speakers and others often resort to a compromise like Kovács Jánosné, Juli néni (Mrs. János Kovács, aunt Juli) to indicate how the woman should be called by others. (Néni and bácsi, "aunt" and "uncle", are traditional polite forms to address older people, and, for children, to address all adults; it does not indicate a family relationship.)

Some women who officially bear the -né form will nevertheless introduce themselves with their husband's family name and their own first name (in our example, Kovács Júlia or Kovácsné Júlia, rather than Kovács Jánosné), to avoid confusion about how to address them.

If the woman takes her husband's full name, the couple can easily be referred to in writing as Petőfi Sándor és neje (Sándor Petőfi and wife), equivalent to the English form "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith". This can be seen on older tombstones in Hungarian cemeteries.

Hungarian law on names

By law, children born as Hungarian citizens may bear no more than two surnames (most people have only one; those who have two may hyphenate them). They can also have only one or two given names (religious names not included, see below). Given names can be chosen by the parents from an official list of several thousand names (technically, one list for each gender).[9][10] If the intended name is not on the list, the parents need to apply for approval. Applications are considered by the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences following a set of principles.[11] Thus, names are approved if they are not derogatory or overly diminutive, can be written and pronounced easily, can be recognised as either male or female, etc. Approved names expand the official list, the newest edition of which is regularly published. A lot of recent additions are foreign names, which, however, must be spelled following Hungarian phonetics, e.g. Jennifer becomes Dzsenifer or Joe becomes Dzsó.

Those who belong to an officially recognized minority in Hungary can also choose names from their own culture, whereby a register of given names maintained by the respective minority governance must be observed.

If one or both parents of a child to be named are foreign citizens, the given name(s) may be chosen in accordance with the respective foreign law.[12]

Treatment of Hungarian names in English and other languages

Outside Hungary, Hungarian names are usually rendered by the Western convention of other European languages. In English language academic publishing, archiving and cataloguing, different manual of styles treat Hungarian names in different ways. The Chicago Manual of Style 16th Edition (2010) reverses the Hungarian order to put given name first, but allows all diacritics on the name:

When indexing names, Hungarian names are re-inverted so the surname comes first in English indexes, the same as English names.[13]

Hungarian treatment of foreign names in Hungarian

This way of writing names is not used for people who are not Hungarian (or not from another country where Eastern name order is used). For example, "Tony Blair" will stay as "Tony Blair" in Hungarian texts. However names with an important tradition actually are translated and written in the Hungarian way, like Kálvin János for John Calvin.

Leaders of countries are translated only in the case of Monarchs and members of their family. For example, Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom becomes II. Erzsébet, and Pope Benedict XVI becomes XVI. Benedek pápa, but Fidel Castro remains the way.

The names of some people born before the twentieth century have been Magyarized. For example Jules Verne's name is often written as Verne Gyula, and has Hungarian pronunciation.

Most common Hungarian surnames

Hungarian Names 101


Most Common Hungarian Names



2011 Surname Meaning
Rank #
1 235,400 (2.4%) Nagy Large/Grand (=tall / well-built)
2 217,359 (2.2%) Kovács Smith
3 212,987 (2.1%) Tóth Slovak/Slavic
4 209,549 (2.1%) Szabó Tailor
5 199,573 (2%) Horváth Croat
6 137,847 (1.4%) Varga Leatherworker
7 131,435 (1.3%) Kiss Little/Small (=small built)
8 106,942 (1.1%) Molnár Miller
9 91,878 (0.9%) Németh German/Germanic
10 83,188 (0.8%) Farkas Wolf
11 80,575 (0.8%) Balogh Left-handed
12 52,766 (0.5%) Papp Priest
13 52,131 (0.5%) Takács Weaver
14 51,224 (0.5%) Juhász Shepherd
15 47,151 (0.5%) Lakatos Locksmith
16 40,079 (0.4%) Mészáros Butcher
17 38,330 (0.4%) Oláh Vlach/Romanic
18 37,960 (0.4%) Simon Simon (also a given name)
19 35,008 (0.4%) Rácz Serb/South Slavic
20 34,496 (0.3%) Fekete Black(-haired)

According to Népességnyilvántartó Hivatal (Bureau of Population Registration) all of the top 100 surnames of Hungary have ethnic Hungarian (Magyar) origin. 2,095,788 individuals (21%) bearing the top 20 names, while 3,347,493 individuals (33.5%) bearing the top 100 names.



Anna (given name)

Anna is a Latin form of the Greek name Greek Ἄννα and the Hebrew name Hannah (Hebrew: חַנָּה Ḥannāh‎, meaning "favor" or "grace"). Anna is in wide use in countries across the world as are its variants Anne, originally a French version of the name, though in use in English speaking countries for hundreds of years, and Ann, which was originally the English spelling. Saint Anne was traditionally the name of the mother of the Virgin Mary, which accounts for its wide use and popularity among Christians. The name has also been used for numerous saints and queens.

In the Frisian language it is also used as a male name, in which case it is derived from the old Germanic word element arn, meaning "eagle."[1] The mid-seventh century King Anna of East Anglia was one such male Anna. A modern example is Anne de Vries.

Saint Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary

depicted instructing her daughter in this painting 

by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The popularity 

of the name Anne is largely due to this saint.


Pronunciation English: /ˈćnə/
Gender Female
Language(s) Hebrew, Greek, Latin
Meaning full of grace, Favor, Eagle
Other names
See also Ana, Ann, Anne, Annie, Annette





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