Lithuanian Names


Each weekend I will do an installation of names from different categories. I would have liked to preferably do Saturday, but I was running late this week 😉

Lithuania  is a country that lies in Northeast Europe, bordering Poland, Latvia, Belarus and Kaliningrad.

Once the largest country in Europe (during the 17th-century), she now only consists of 3.3 million people, the majority of whom are Lithuanian by ethnicity.

I will not bore you with intricate details of Lithuania’s rich history, but to make a long story short, Lithuania has been occupied by Poland and Russia and has resisted German occupation several times. She was one of the last countries in Europe to accept Christianity as their official religion (circ. 1385) and in the Middle Ages, she formed a powerful commonwealth with Poland.

One of the most interesting features of Lithuania is their language. Lithuanian is considered one of the oldest and one of the most pure derivations of Indo-European. Famous French linguist, Antoine Meillet, once said that “anyone wishing to hear how Indo-Europeans spoke should come and listen to a Lithuanian peasant” (Antoine Meillet)

Since Lithuanian is thought to be the closest form of Proto-Indo-European in modern linguistics, linguists are able to compare modern Lithuanian words with Sanskrit. Some words are identical in both languages, for instance, sunus (son) >(Sanskrit; Lithuanian). Words that are almost identical but slightly different include: (LIT stands for Lithuanian while SKT stands for Sanskrit).

  • LIT dūmas; SKT dhumas  (smoke)
  • LIT vyras; SKT vira (man; hero)
  • LIT dantys; SKT dantas (teeth)
  • LIT naktys; SKT nakt (night)

Lithuanian masculine names are usually formed by ending in the suffix-as; -ys; -is while feminine names usually end in -a or

It is interesting to note that if one studies the top 10 most popular female names in Lithuania, there seems to be a strong preference for names that end in , compare that to the top 10 of a previous generation, where all the names had a tendency to end in an -a.

Top 10 Most Popular Female Names (Total Population, 2008)

Ona

Irena

Janina

Kristina

Danutė

Lina

Regina

Aldona

Rasa

Daiva

Top 10 Most Popular Female Names (babies, 2009)

Emilija

Gabija

Urtė

Ugnė

Gabrielė

Kamilė

Austėja

Goda

Ieva

Viltė

Janina is a definite Polish borrowing, something which is often seen in Lithuanian names. Irena, Ona, Kristina and Regina are all saints names, which would not be surprising to see in Catholic Lithuania, even during Soviet times. Names like Danutė, Lina, Aldona, Rasa and Daiva, are all native Lithuanian names with no English equivalents.

Danutė in particular is a classic that has been used at least since the 14th-century. It is a name of uncertain derivation, but is also found in Poland in the form of Danuta.

Aldona is another choice that has been in usage for centuries which is of uncertain meaning or origin. Some sources contend that it is an archaic Belarusian form of Eudocia.

Lina is the feminine form of Linas which comes directly from the Lithuanian word for “flax.” Rasa (dew) and Daiva (deity) are also Lithuanian word names.

Names from nature and Lithuanian mythology seem to be popular choices. Gabija and Austėja both reflect this (see the earlier entries for Gabija and Austėja-soon to come). Ugnė is pulled from nature, meaning “fire”, Viltė is from the Lithuanian word for hope and Goda seems to be a name related to an action, possibly derived from the Lithuanian verb godyti meaning “to anticipate.”

Emilija (Emily), Kamilė (Camilla), Ieva (Eve), Urtė (Dorothy) and Gabrielė (Gabriella) are all Lithuanian equivalents to a saint’s name or a Biblical name.

Since Lithuanians are fiercely proud of their language and culture, it is no wonder that they have a tendency to choose names that are distinctively Lithuanian, unlike other EU members who currently have a tendency to pick names that do not reflect a particular language of origin, as can be reflected in the Top Names of other countries.

Some of the most popular masculine names include, (when possible, equivalents are in parenthesis):

Top 10 Male Names (total population, 2008)

Jonas (John)

Vytautas

Antanas (Anthony)

Tomas (Thomas)

Juozas (Joseph)

Mindaugas

Kęstutis

Darius

Andrius (Andrew)

Saulius

Top Ten Male Names (for babies, 2009)

Matas (Mathias)

Lukas (Lucas)

Nojus

Kajus (Caius)

Dovydas (David)

Dominykas (Dominic)

Mantas

Rokas (Rock)

Jokūbas

Augustas

Catholic saints names are definitely more preferred for males, still, names like Vytautas, Mantas, Nojus, Mindaugas and Kęstutis are very ancient Lithuanian names with no equivalents in any other language.

Since I am most likely writing to an Anglo-phone audience, you must be wondering if there are any authentic Lithuanian names compatible with the English language. Many parents are often on the look out for unique and unusual names, and Lithuanian names definitely have hundreds of possibilities to offer, some however, might be a pain in the neck for English speakers to pronounce, others, on the other hand, should be given consideration.

I have compiled a list of cool but similar alternatives of very popular names in North American and the United Kingdom

Instead of Madison/Madeleine go with Medeina

Instead of Ava go with Aiva (I-vah)

Instead of Chloe try Chloja (KLOY-a)

Instead of Samantha you might like Mantė (MAHN-tay; MAHN-te)

Instead of Grace you might like Gražina (grah-ZHIH-nah)

Instead of Gabriella try Gabija.

Instead of Audrey try Audra.

Instead of Miley try Meilė

Instead of Esme try Esmilė

Instead of Lily you might like Lelija (LEH-lee-yah)

Instead of Maximilian try Maksas

Finally, if you are one who is infatuated with Nevaeh and are daring enough to constantly correct people, then you might like the Lithuanian Danguolė (heaven; sky).

In the United Kingdom and the States, nature names seem to be on the rise, some parents may like the idea of using a word name, but are not daring enough to choose an obvious one. Choosing a word name from another language is a good way to hide the obviousness of a name from nature. Here is a selection of Lithuanian nature names that should not pose a problem with English-speakers:

Female

Indrė (name of a type of rush)

Lina (flax)

Mėta (mint)

Rasa (dew)

Svalia (name of a river)

Vaiva (rainbow)

Vėtra (tempest)


Male

Aras (eagle)

Joris (foliage green)

Tauras (Ox)

Vėjas (wind)

Names compatible with English:

Female

Dalia

Galia

Katrė

Milnora

Naura

Skaidra

Tulė

Vaida

Male

Danas

Grantas

Kastas

Mintas

Rimas

Vilnius

And finally, here are some Lithuanian equivalents to common English given names:

Female

Amber=Gintarė

Anna=Ona

Elizabeth=Elzbieta

Emma=Ema

Emily=Emilija

Jane=Joana

Katherine-Kotryna

Mary=Marija

Natalie=Natalija

Olivia=Olivija

Rose=Rozė

Summer=Vasarė

Male

Alexander=Aleksandras

Anthony=Antanas

Christopher=Kristofas

Daniel=Danielis

Jacob=Jokūbas

John=Jonas

Michael=Michaelas

Paul=Paulius

Thomas=Tomas

William=Vilimas

What are your favorite Lithuanian names? Would you use any in the above list?

Stay tuned for next weeks International Name Overview


Sources

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24 thoughts on “Lithuanian Names

  1. Superb entry!! I think you really need to write a book!

    I have become very enamored of Lithuanian names in the last few years. Will come back to post some favorites later.

  2. Fascinating! I hope you write more of these type posts… I particulary like the idea of listing names that work in both languages.

    I once met a Lithuanian girl – her name was Viktorija – and I always thought she had the prettiest name. The language was pretty interesting as well, though I’m afraid I have forgotten the little she thought me! I particulary like nature/concept names like Ugnė and Viltė.

  3. This is an excellent post. I enjoyed it very much.
    In particular I like
    Girls: Austėja, Chloja, Danutė (Polish form Danuta), Lelija, Skaidra, Svalia, Tulė, Ugnė, Urtė
    Boys: Grantas, Jonas, Kajus, Maksas, Nojus, Rimas, Rokas.
    I am already hooked and looking forward to reading more of your upcoming International Name Overview posts. 😀

    • I have tons of favorites. One I actually plan to use is Vasarė. I also love Gintarė but I also have a bad association with it, so it would be a bit awkward to actually use. I’d only use these as middle names.

  4. I like the name Aras, but I am unsure how it is pronounced in Lithuanian. Could someone help me with the proper pronunciation? Is it (Air us) or is the A pronounced with an (I) sound? I would appreciate your assisstance with this.

  5. My great grandfather was Lithuanian. His last name is hard for me to remember how to spell, maybe you could help? Appinitas? Does that look right?

  6. I absolutely love this. Thank you so much for your hard (and accurate) work! It is so true that Lithuanians really take pride in their language and their own names, I am currently looking for names for my soon-to-be daughter and named my son Leonas.

  7. My boyfriend is Lithuanian and we went to Lithuania together in September 🙂 It really truly is a beautiful place and the language fascinates me, so much I’m trying to ask him to teach me the language 😀 You’re certainly right about pride in the language, though a lot of people appreciate how hard it is and will be happy that a person is making an effort to speak their language (or at least that’s what my boyfriend and his Dad told me. 🙂

  8. in 1919 a lithuanian r.c. church in new jersey spelled my great grandmother’s name josephae which i’m thinking is latinized. what would that be in lithuanian? thanks for your response.

    • Hi Deb:

      Depending on when and where your great grandmother came from in Lithuania there are a few possibilities.

      1. If she came from an area of Lithuania that was Polish-speaking and she was an ethnic Pole, there is a possibility that her name may have been Józefa. Józefa was a fairly popular female name in early 20th-century Poland.

      2. If she was a Lithuanian-speaking her name may have been Juozė or Juzefa. The former is pronounced (YWAH-zay) and is the feminine form of Juozas or Juazapas, the Lithuanian forms of Joseph.

  9. Thank you for this website.
    If you can help, I would like to know the meaning and origin of the following names:
    Arnoldas
    Vidas
    Arvidas
    These are first names used by my husband’s Lithuanian family.

    • Arnoldas is the Lithuanian form of Arnold. Arnold is a German name composed of the ancient Germanic elements arn (eagle) and wald (power). The name was most likely introduced into Lithuanian via the Teutonic Knights. The same goes for Arvidas, which is just the Lithuanian form of Arvid, an Old Norse name meaning “eagle tree.”

      Vidas is either a contraction of Arvidas, the Lithuanian form of the Latin Vitus meaning (life), or the Lithuanian form of the ancient Germanic male name, Wido.

  10. There is also an ancient boy name that is very popular in Lithuania but somehow you did not mention it in here.

    Gediminas – named after one what now is considered best rulers of Lithuanian kingdom/dukedom. I find it sounds very beautiful however it may be tough to pronounce for english speaker.

    Other few other ancient boy names to mention:
    Aringas, Algirdas, Algardas
    Dangiris
    Erdvilas
    Margiris, Montvilas
    Rasas, Ringoldas, Rimgaudas
    Vykintas

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