Iraqi Culture


Primary Author
Nina Evason,

In Iraq, the lineage of names is passed through the male side of their family in Iraq. Children will be named after their father, grandfather, etc. However, Iraqi women traditionally do not adopt their husband’s names when they marry. Some may do so in Western societies, but it is not typical. Other naming conventions can vary depending on the person’s


Arab Names

  • Most Iraqi Arabs use Arabic naming conventions. This is formatted as: [personal name] [father’s personal name] [grandfather’s personal name]. For example, Ahmad Hussain Khalil (male), Zeena Hussain Khalil (female). It is important to understand that this naming convention does not involve the use of a surname. 
  • Occasionally, people may add a fourth name that is their great grandfather’s from their father’s side of the family: [personal name] [father’s personal name] [grandfather’s personal name] [great grandfather’s name]. 
  • People’s family name (laqab) does not always appear on documents. This is a name inherited from the father that relates to the heritage of the family. In some cases, Iraqis may use it instead of their grandfather’s personal name to fit western naming conventions: [personal name] [father’s personal name] [FAMILY NAME]. For example, Ahmad Hussain AL-SHAMMARI.
  • Arabic names can be translated into English in various ways. For example, the same name can be written as "Majid", "Majeed", or "Mejeed". The spelling can also differ depending on whether one uses contractions. For example, “Saladdin” could also be spelt “Sal-ad-Din” or “Sal-Addin”.
  • In Iraq, only the Arabic versions of names (written in Arabic characters) are considered official and have standardised spellings. Therefore, some people's names may even appear different on official documents such as passports, when translated into the Roman alphabet.


Kurdish Names

  • Many Kurds have adopted the Arabic naming custom described above.
  • Traditionally, Kurds have a family name that relates to their tribe or region of origin. This often serves the purpose of a surname: [personal name] [FAMILY NAME]. For example, Haval BARZANI (male), Serav BARZANI (female).
  • Some people may use a relative’s personal name as their middle name. 
  • Traditional Kurdish names include Diaco, Kochar, Redoir, Roj, Jochar and Sherko (men), as well as Aveen, Awat, Dilsoz, Sidar and Zhian (female).

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