Turkish names and their meanings

When I first came to Turkey I was amazed at how many different Turkish names there are. Prior to arriving I thought that the number of names would be limited as Turkey was not as diverse as, say, Australia. People also ask me what my name means. My first name is easy to explain as it is the equivalent of ‘Yusuf’ (a common name here). However, my second name is more difficult for the locals to understand as ‘it is probably named after an Irish river’.

The variety of names and expectation of names with meanings both come from the fact that many Turkish names are every-day words with meanings. A selection of names and their equivalent meaning in English are listed below. This post was inspired by exult’s question on the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree discussion board.

Which Turkish name sounds the best?

Imagine if the English equivalents were regular names…
Alkim – rainbow
Aslan – lion
Arzu – desire
Aziz – saint (male)
Azize – saint (female)
Baris – peace
Bilgin – scholar
Bora – tempest
Buket – bouquet
Can – soul, life
Canan – beloved
Cenk – battle
Cigdem – crocus
Cagdas – contemporary
Damla – drop
Demir – iron, anchor
Deniz – sea
Derya – sea
Devrim – revolution
Dogan – falcon
Duygu – feeling
Eda – manner
Ege – Aegean
Emin – secure
Funda – heather
Gizem – mystery
Goksel – celestial
Gul – rose
Gunes – sunshine
Hakan – khan
Harika – wonderful
Hilal – crescent
Iklim – climate
Latif – pleasing
Melek – angel
Mert – brave
Metin – strong
Murat – wish
Mutlu – happy
Nil – Nile
Nilufer – water lily
Nur – light
Onur – honour
Oya – embroidery
Ozge – uncommon
Ozgur – free
Ozlem – aspiration
Pinar – spring
Saadet – happiness
Savas – war
Seda – voice
Selim – benignant
Seref – honour
Sevda – passion
Sevgi – love
Ufuk – horizon
Ugur – good luck
Umit – hope
Umut – hope
Uran – industry
Yalin – bare
Zafer – victory

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