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.
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.
Meaning: White head.
Meaning: Ancestry or Lineage.
Meaning: Intellectual or Intelligent.
Meaning: An ironworker.
Meaning: A Blacksmith.
Meaning: A Brave Warrior, Hawk or Fighter.
Meaning: Small or Tiny.
Meaning: Son of Snake or Founder of the Ottoman Empire
Meaning: Pure iron.
Meaning: Steel or Metal.
Meaning: Named after Sakarya River, where the historic Turkish War of Independence took place
Meaning: The Enlightened One
Meaning: Supreme lineage or Ancestry.
Meaning: Unbeatable or Brave
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.
Meaning: A lion.
Meaning: a glassmaker.
Meaning: Horseman or Rider.
Meaning: Spirit or Heart.
Meaning: Tough or Robust.
Meaning: A Blacksmith.
Meaning: To persist, or stop
Meaning: A baker
Meaning: Descendants or ancestors of soldiers
Meaning: Cherry. This is also often used as a first name too.
Koc or Koca or Kocak
Meaning: All of these names mean ‘Little’.
Meaning: A Carpenter
Meaning: An honorary title in the military, and one of the oldest Ottoman Turkish names.
Meaning: True, and comes from the given name Sadiq in Arabic
Meaning: A Fox
Meaning: Resolute or ferocious.
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?