Greek Culture

Naming

Primary Author
Nina Evason,
  • Under Greek naming conventions, people have a first name, followed by a patronymic name and family name, e.g. Nikos Georgiou KYPIANOS.
  • The patronymic name is derived from the father’s personal name, usually with the suffix ‘-ou’ meaning ‘of’. For example, ‘Georgiou’ means ‘(son) of Georgios’.
  • People may have a second personal name as well as a patronymic name that acts as their middle name.
  • Greece enacted a law in 1983 that all women must keep their birth surname at marriage.
  • Family names are often abbreviated. For example, one might have the surname PAPPAS, instead of PAPACHRISTODOULOPOULOS.
  • Many Greeks are named after their grandparents, who are usually named after an Christian saint.
  • Many Greeks have names that correspond to a saint. In this case, the “name day” may be celebrated as though it were their birthday. This is the feast day of the saint that they are named after. For common names, there may be multiple days during the year to celebrate a saint, but Greeks usually pick one day to celebrate.
  • Some of the most common religious names are Giannis (St. John), Giorgos (St. George), Kostas (St. Konstantine), Eleni (St. Helen), Maria (Virgin Mary) and Dimitris (St. Dimitrios).

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