Turkish Last Names And Meanings

Team Hoo
4th February 2021

For many, their last name (or surname) reflects their family roots and the lineage of their family members, with some even holding a unique cultural message within them. While Turks make up one of the most prominent sections of the European continent, it may be surprising to learn that Turkish citizens didn’t even have a surname until 1934, when the Surname Law's introduction came into effect on the 21st of June.

Before this, those in the Ottoman Empire carried titles that defined their formal profession or status within society.

With the introduction of this law, it meant a radical change occurred in Turkey. Not only did this law mean Turkish citizens had official surnames, but also stipulated that the names were Turkish and taken from the Turkish language. However, these names could not relate to a military rank, tribe foreign races or be offensive. As a result, many Greeks, Kurds, Bulgarians and Jews were forced to adopt Turkish last names, altering their original name and replacing parts to ensure it was Turkish. The Surname Law stipulated the name must follow their proper name and was to be used when it came to signing, speaking and writing. 

Because of this, the heads of every household over the country were asked and required to try and find the most suitable surname for their family for use, while not being a duplicate of anyone in the same district. Due to this ruling, it meant that the family who registered first had the right to keep the claimed name, meaning there were lots of names with different stories behind them. 

Below, we have listed some of the most popular Turkish surnames and what their meanings are.

The Most Common 20 Turkish Last Names And Meanings

Some surnames are more popular with some adopting surnames related to their ancestors and historical events than others. Here are twenty common Turkish names and their meanings.

Akbas
Meaning: White head.

Aksoy 
Meaning: Ancestry or Lineage.

Avci
Meaning: Hunter

Aydin 
Meaning: Intellectual or Intelligent.

Demir 
Meaning: An ironworker.

Demirci 
Meaning: A Blacksmith.

Erdoğan 
Meaning: A Brave Warrior, Hawk or Fighter.

Kaplan
Meaning: Tiger.

Kaya
Meaning: Rock.

Kılıç 
Meaning: Sword 

Köse
Meaning: Beardless.

Kucuk 
Meaning: Small or Tiny.

Osman
Meaning: Son of Snake or Founder of the Ottoman Empire

Özdemir
Meaning: Pure iron.

Polat 
Meaning: Steel or Metal.

Şahin
Meaning: Falcon.

Sakarya
Meaning: Named after Sakarya River, where the historic Turkish War of Independence took place

Sydin
Meaning: The Enlightened One 

Ulusoy 
Meaning: Supreme lineage or Ancestry.

Yıldırım
Meaning: Lightning.

Yılmaz
Meaning: Unbeatable or Brave

More Turkish Last Names And Meanings

Although there are a lot of common Turkish names, with many of them carrying a legacy, there are many surnames that are derived from occupations, living things, and more. Here are some more Turkish last names with their meanings. 

Arslan 
Meaning: A lion.

Bardakci 
Meaning: a glassmaker.

Badem 
Meaning: Almond. 

Balik 
Meaning: Fish.

Barak
Meaning: Shaggy-Haired. 

Binici
Meaning: Horseman or Rider. 

Bulut
Meaning: Cloud.

Can
Meaning: Spirit or Heart.

Çetin
Meaning: Tough or Robust.

Demirci 
Meaning: A Blacksmith.

Durmaz
Meaning: To persist, or stop

Ekmekci
Meaning: A baker

Ersoy
Meaning: Descendants or ancestors of soldiers

Karga
Meaning: Crow

Kartal 
Meaning: Eagle.

Kiraz
Meaning: Cherry. This is also often used as a first name too. 

Koc or Koca or Kocak
Meaning: All of these names mean ‘Little’.

Nacar
Meaning: A Carpenter

Pasha
Meaning: An honorary title in the military, and one of the oldest Ottoman Turkish names. 

Pehlivan
Meaning: Wrestler 

Peynirci
Meaning: Cheese

Reis
Meaning: Chef.

Sadik
Meaning: True, and comes from the given name Sadiq in Arabic

Şimşek
Meaning: Lightning.

Tilki
Meaning: A Fox 

Tiryaki
Meaning: Stubborn.

Yavuz
Meaning: Resolute or ferocious.

Yıldız 
Meaning: Star.

Zorlu
Meaning: Powerful and Strong. 

Turkish last names stand out and are out of the ordinary with such unique and even unheard of names. The history attached to them, making them even more special to the family members who use them, as they carry their past proudly each time they sign their name. With an abundance of meanings, which one is your favourite? 


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