Category Archives: Armenian Names

Armenian Names: Mnatsagan

The most dreaded disaster for  any family would be the illness of a baby, especially in older times where the medical care we know today was virtually nonexistent. Women would bear numerous children, expecting to bury too many of them. They would bear consecutive pregnancies, knowing that 3-4 out of 10 children would not survive. One method to avoid infant mortality was to give a child the “right” name. In desperation, many mothers would opt to naming their children Mnatsagan, meaning “the one who stays” in Armenian. They would also sow several seeds and give each a name, watching for the one that grew fastest. Thus the child would be given the name of the healthiest seed. The name of a well-growing flower was considered lucky and using foreign, including Turkish, names was believed to confuse evil spirits that might prey on the little ones.

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Anoush!

Anoush is probably the sweetest word in Armenian, encompassing everything that is good, nice or sweet. The ancient literal meaning is “immortal” but over time became to mean “sweet”. It is often used in phrases to do with food and drink. In drinking rituals, the word is used in a context meaning “let it go down well”. It is used for sleep as well as hygiene, the most common one being “Anoush Paghnik” or “your bath is anoush”. The Anoush Opera’s plot, however, shows that one cannot have sweetness without sadness, as the heroine ends the story by throwing herself off a cliff; definitely not an anoush ending.

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.

Armenian Names: Anushavan

Anushavan is an Armenian name possibly meaning Prince of Anu (an Assyrian deity), where Anu is the god and avan is a variant of ishkhan, meaning prince. This conclusion was by Ellis (1862- The Armenian Origin of the Estrucans) and Gulian (1902- Elementary Modern Armenian Grammar). According to Chamchian-Avtaliandz’s History of Armenia (1827), ” … Cardus, surnamed Arah succeeded to the throne of Armenia at the death of his father, under the auspices of Semiramis.  This prince, on attaining maturity, married, and had one son named Anushavan, who, (through a superstitious idea that those trees were the favourite terrestrial residences of the gods) was solemnly dedicated to the poplars planted around Armavir by king Armenac.  People at that period imagined that those who were thus offered to the gods would become the special objects of their care.”

According to Movses Khorenatsi, it was the name of Ara’s grandson. Hyubshman connects this word with Zend anaoso ”immortal” and urvan ”soul” i.e. ”immortal soul”. N. Adonts and H. Ajaryaan are of the same opinion considering it to be consisted of nos ”cypress” and avan ”presented”. Thus the name is translated as ”presented with cypress”. It can also be formed of Arm. anush ”sweet” and avan ”settlement”.

Anushavan was known prior to 1969 as Parni, Pokr Parni, Parni Sultan and Bekyand. It is a village in the Shirak Province of Armenia. The town was renamed in honor of Dr. Anushavan Galoyan, a World War II hero. The National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia (ARMSTAT) reported its population was 2,185 in 2010, up from 1,983 at the 2001 census.

Armenian Names: Alpiar

Alpiar or Arpiar was a name commonly used in Western Armenia, where Alp means giant or hero and iar/yar means family/relative. Thus, the name means “an individual who is either a giant or commits heroic acts. Surprisingly, it qappears to have little to nothing to do with the name “Arpi” meaning sun. A famous Armenian with the name is Harutiun Alpiar, born july 12, 1864, in smyrna and an armenian journalist/humorous writer.