Iran 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]

Persian last names may be:

  • Simple nouns; e.g. Afshar ("Of Afsharid dynasty"), Bahar, Khayyam
  • Noun plus a suffix; e.g. Golzaar (Gol + -zaar), Amouzgaar (Amouz + -gaar), Daadgar (Daad + -gar)
  • More complex compound nouns; e.g. Bolurforushan (Bolur + forush + -an), Ahmedinejad (Ahmed + -i + -nejad), Farshchian (Farsh + -chi + -an)
  • Two or more nouns; e.g. Mostafavi Musavi Khomeini, Hashemi Rafsanjani

Suffixes include: -an (plural suffix), -i ("of"), -zad/-zadeh ("born of"), -pur ("son of"), -nejad ("from the race of"), -nia ("descendant of"), -mand ("having or pertaining to"), -vand ("succeeding"), -far ("holder of"), -doost ("-phile"), -khah ("seeking of"), -manesh ("having the manner of"), -ian/-yan, -gar and -chi ("whose vocation pertains").

  • An example is names of geographical locations plus "-i": Irani ("Iranian"), Gilani ("of Gilan province"), Tabrizi ("of the city of Tabriz").
  • Another example is last names that indicate relation to religious groups such as Zoroastrian (e.g. Goshtaspi, Namiranian, Azargoshasp), Jewish (e.g. Yaghubian [Jacobean], Hayyem [Life], Shaul [Saul]) or Muslim (e.g. Alavi, Islamnia, Montazeri)

Last names are arbitrary; their holder need not to have any relation with their meaning.

Traditionally in Iran, the wife does not take her husband's surname, although children take the surname of their father. Individual reactions notwithstanding, it is possible to call a married woman by her husband's surname. This is facilitated by the fact that English words "Mrs.", "Miss", "Woman", "Lady" and "Wife (of)" in a polite context are all translated into "خانم" (Khaanom). Context, however, is important: "خانم گلدوست" (Khaanom Goldust) may, for instance, refer to the daughter of Mr. Goldust instead of his wife.

When most of Iranian surnames are used with a name, the name will be ended with a suffix _E or _ie (of) such as Hasan_e roshan (Hasan is name and roshan is surname) that means Hasan of Roshan or Mosa_ie saiidi (Muses of saiidi). The _e is not for surname and it is difficult to say it is a part of surname.</ref>[1]

Given Names[edit | edit source]

Since the Muslim conquest of Persia, some names in Iran have been derived from Arabic, although the majority are Persian in origin. Persian Christians have Arabic names indistinguishable from their Muslim neighbors. They can also use Arabic derivations of Christian names (such as saints' names), or Greek, Neo-Aramaic, or Armenian names, as most Christian Iranians are Iranian Armenians, although there are also Iranian Assyrians and Iranian Georgians.

Many Persian names come from the Persian literature book, the Shahnameh or "Epic of Kings". It was composed in the 10th century by Ferdowsi and is considered by many the masterpiece of Persian literature. Approximately 10%-15% of all Persian names are from Shahnameh. A few examples are Abtin, Ardeshir, Armeen, Arzhang, Babak (Papak), Bijan, Bizhan, Bozorgmehr, Darab, Dariush (Darius), Esfandiar/Esfandyar, Javid, Faramarz, Farhad, Fariborz, Farshid, Farzad, Sam and Yazdan.<ref>"Persian name", in Wikipedia,, accessed 11 March 2021.

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

  • "Persian name", in Wikipedia, gives lists of common female and male given names and common surnames.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Surnames by country", in Wikipedia,, accessed 11 March 29021.