Hungary Personal Names

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Understanding customs used in surnames and given names can help you identify your ancestors in records. Learn to recognize name variations and see clues in names.

Online Tools[edit | edit source]

Surnames[edit | edit source]

Name Order[edit | edit source]

Hungarian names usually consist of a single given name and a single surname (family name). The surname is used before the given name. For example:

Hungarian Name
SURNAME - Given Name
English Name
Given Name - Surname
NAGY János John Nagy
KOVÁCS Mária Mary Smith

On FamilySearch Family Tree if Hungarian is selected in a person name field, the name will be displayed in Hungarian order: surname before given name. Selecting German or English changes the display order. Enter the surname and given name in the relevant field and select the most appropriate language. The most appropriate language generally reflects the language community in which the person lived most of their life.

Surname Origins[edit | edit source]

Surnames were usually derived from common sources such as trades, characteristics, ethnic origins, place names, etc.

Source Hungarian English
Occupation SZABÓ Ferenc Frank Taylor
Occupation MOLNÁR Lajos Louis Miller
Characteristic KIS Mihály Michael Little
Characteristic FEHÉR Erzsébet Elizabeth White
Origin TÖRÖK Katalin Catherine Turk

Nobility[edit | edit source]

A title of nobility is placed before the surname:

Hungarian English
gróf NAGY János Count John Nagy

Married Women[edit | edit source]

In Hungary women keep their birth name throughout their life, married or not. There is no married name and maiden name in the sense familiar to Americans.

Given Names[edit | edit source]

Suffixes[edit | edit source]

In Hungarian language certain family relationships are expressed by attaching a suffix to a given name. These suffixes are part of the grammar of the language, not naming conventions.

Suffix -fi, -fia, -fy, or fÿ[edit | edit source]

To refer to a man as his father's son, the suffix -fi or variant is attached to his father's given name. For example:

  • Fodor Jákobfi, meaning Theodore, son of Jacob
  • Domokos Bertoldfia, meaning Domokos, son of Bertold
  • Miklós Oszkárfy, meaning Nicholas, son of Oscar
  • Simon Vilmosfÿ, meaning Simon, son of Vilmos

The father's name with suffix attached may be used as a byname.

Suffix -né[edit | edit source]

To refer to a married woman as her husband's wife, the suffix -né is attached to her husband's given name. For example:

Hungarian English
Klausenberger Ignácz Bival Rosália Rosália Bival, wife of Ignácz Klausenberger

Although Nagy Jánosné resembles the American formal Mrs. John Nagy, use of -né is not a traditional Hungarian naming convention. Historical records naming Hungarian women in this American style are rare. Most prevalent are 19th century and early 20th century United States immigration records and, in recent decades, grave markers in Hungary. Example of this on a grave marker:

Hungarian English
Nagy Lajos
1914 – 1984
Lajos Nagy
1914 – 1984
Nagy Lajosné
1923 – 2001
Mrs. Lajos Nagy
1923 – 2001

See more about "-né" on Wiktionary.

Second given names and religious names[edit | edit source]

  • Hungarians do not commonly use second given names, nor their corresponding initials. While it is increasingly frequent that they are given one, they tend to choose one they prefer to use.
  • When baptized, a child can get an additional name (baptismal name), especially if there is no saint who bears their name, so they take a name associated with a patron saint. In confirmation, children receive another given name, but it is not used. Both baptismal and confirmation names have religious significance only, and they are not on any official records.[1]

Name Days[edit | edit source]

Hungarians, like Swedes, also celebrate name days. Each day in the calendar has one or more designated personal names.[2]

Bynames and Patronymics[edit | edit source]

As a rule, in Hungary bynames--including patronymic bynames-- did not enter use as surnames.

  • Hungarians use a "byname" to help distinguish people with the same given names.
  • The byname might be created from the father's given name (as a patronymic name) by attaching a suffix.
  • Other bynames might be created from an occupation or even a physical description.
  • The byname might be used within the village or town, but were not fixed surnames.
  • Further, a person might be known by one byname in a town, and be called by a different byname when traveling (referring to where they are from.)
  • Bynames were not hereditary.

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Hungarian names", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungarian_names, accessed 28 February 2021.
  2. "Hungarian names", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungarian_names, accessed 28 February 2021.