Surnames can be weird in any language, and Armenian is not an exception. For example, there is a funny English surname called Bodycomb. Italian Bellagamba means “beautiful leg”. We have weird Armenian surnames too, and they will probably make you laugh. Modern Armenians inherited some names from the past that have already lost their original meaning, and acquired some unusual and, at times, funny connotations. Some have evolved as a way to categorize people into groups – by occupations, place of origin, clan affiliation, patronage, adoption, and even physical or human characteristics like having red hair or being generous.
Here are my favorite weird Armenian surnames.
You must have known that Armenian surnames mostly end in ”yan”. So, here you see two parts – ”boz” and ”yan”. The word ”boz” has two meanings. Firstly, it denotes gray color. But the second meaning is a ”bitch”. Yes, bitch! So, to have a family name with the word ”bitch” can be very embarrassing sometimes especially if you are a school teacher. Mrs. Bozoyan sounds quite funny!
”Garsevan” and ”yan”. What is so unusual or funny with ‘‘Garsevan’’? In fact, it is just a regular name but very often Garsevan is a character in our jokes so it is also kind of funny.
Doesn’t mean anything. Just the word ”Ptkunts” is unusual. I am sure those who have this family name had a hard time when they were children. It’s difficult to pronounce, it sounds weird, and it’s just an odd word.
What is ”tarap?” It is fish, particularly, sturgeon. This fish is popular in the rivers of Siberia, the Caspian Sea, Volga River, and Kur River. You may also happen to see it in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. It’s weird for an Armenian ear because it sounds similar to the word “tarapel” which means being anxious or suffering.
՛՛Jomard” is a colloquial word. It is used among ordinary people to denote someone who is generous. So if your family name is Jomardyan and you are a little bit stingy, you make people think. Yep, very jomard when you don’t even want to buy ice cream for your friend!
The discovery for me while writing this blog post was that Jomard is used not only in Armenian. Actually, this last name is most commonly held in France. According to Forebears, it is borne by around 1 in 8,454,230 people.There are 642 immigration records available for the last name Jomard in the USA and there are 3,000 census records available for the last name Jomard.
”Tsilvil” is the sound birds make “in Armenian”, like tweeting. Again, kind of a funny surname. Just think if your surname would be Hafhafyan like dogs do ”haf-haf”. So, Tsilvilyan is quite similar.
Most probably the root of this word – giozal – is not Armenian. It might have Turkish origin. It means “very very beautiful” or “priceless”. So, when you hear this surname, you immediately have high expectations of the owner of it.
While you may think that the word “klor” is connected with “chlorine”, this is not the case in Armenian! It means “round”! Yes, “round”. So, if you are a little bit “klorik” (a little bit heavy, round), this surname is exactly for you!
“Pstik” means “little”. You call a child “pstik” in Armenian. It’s not a very popular surname among Armenians but it is not a very unusual one either. I was surprised that ancestry.com found only 1 immigration record available for the last name Pstikyan but it found 3,000 census records available.
“Truchun” means “a bird” in Armenian. We even had an orphanage called ”House of Trchunyan”, most probably with the name of the benefactor.
The surname Trchunyan can be a bit embarrassing when you are a child because your friends start calling you ”Trchun” or a bird. But as an adult, you gotta get to appreciate it – I think it’s actually a pretty surname even though it’s not the easiest one to spell.
”Grsem” is a funny way of telling somebody ”I will kick you out”. If you are a teacher or a boss, you might be called Mr. Grsem. Normally, we shorten the family names very often and if your surname has a certain connotation, then you are in trouble, Mr. IWillKickYouOut. 🙂
”Brnadatvats” means ”inmate”. Hope you never get into prison with such a family name. Otherwise, your family name becomes fate.
Family names are something we do not choose like nationality or place of birth. Our ancestors play a role in what surname we will have. Some Armenian surnames (click to learn more about their meanings) are unusual because they have changed the original connotation. Others denote meanings like ”a bird” or ”an inmate”. This happens in all languages. So, take it easy! Want to know what unusual things these people with unusual surnames do in Armenia. Read my blog post on unusual things to do in Armenia! And don’t miss this one on impressive hidden gems in Yerevan. If you learned something funny from this post, share your thoughts with me on Twitter or Instagram with #ArmeniaTravelTips. You might know other weird surnames that I didn’t mention. It will be interesting to know.
Featured image credit: Photo by Dominik Vanyi on Unsplash