Armenian Names: Aznavur

There are 2 variations as to the meaning of Aznavur, one where Azn is the root and means a giant man, or where it’s azniv as the root, meaning an honourable man. The name with a slight variant is also used by Georgians. For the most part, the name is found in Armenian surnames today. The word has existed in Turkish since 14th century but it does not date back further. This proves that it is a loanword borrowed from Anatolian languages. The word is regarded as Armenian by some scholars (Robert Dankoff, Tietze, Eren) and as Georgian by Sevan Nishanian (that current Turkish dictionary [TDK Türkçe Sözlük] defines it as Georgian loanword). Nishanian, moreover, indicates the middle-persian variant azna:var (< azn ‘ancestry’ + a:var ‘bring’) and he adds that Armenian aznvavor ‘noble’ is borrowed from Persian. Even though the donor languages have it in the meaning “noble”, Turkish has had it in the negative meaning such as “strong, enormous; mad, rude”.

Famous Armenians with the surname include:

Charles Aznavour (Shahnour Vaghenag Aznavourian) is an Armenian-French singer, songwriter, actor, public activist and diplomat. Besides being one of France’s most popular and enduring singers, he is also one of the best-known singers in the world. Charles Aznavour (pronounced in French as Sharl Aznavoor) is known for his unique tenor voice: clear and ringing in its upper reaches, with gravelly and profound low notes. He has appeared in more than sixty movies, composed about a thousand songs (including 150 at least in English, 100 in Italian, 70 in Spanish, and 50 in German), and sold well over 100 million records. In 1998, Charles Aznavour was named Entertainer of the Century by CNN and users of Time Online from around the globe. He was recognized as the century’s outstanding performer, with nearly 18% of the total vote, edging out Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. He has sung for presidents, popes, and royalty, as well as at humanitarian events, and is the founder of the charitable organization Aznavour for Armenia along with his long-time friend impresario Levon Sayan. In 2009 he was appointed ambassador of Armenia to Switzerland, as well as Armenia’s permanent delegate to the United Nations at Geneva. He started his new Aznavour en Toute Intimité tour in 2011.

Hovsep Aznavur was an Ottoman Armenian architect. He is noted for his construction plans for the Bulgarian St. Stephen Church of Istanbul,Turkey. Born in London in 1854, Aznavur’s family moved to Constantinople in 1867. Aznavur completed his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. He was active in Armenian community life. In 1921, he became a founding member of the Ramgavar Party, one of the three major historic Armenian political parties. He escaped from Constantinople after the Armenian Genocide and died at the end of June 1935 in Cairo, Egypt.

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