Turkey Personal Names

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Understanding customs used in surnames and given names can help you identify your ancestors in records. Learn to recognize name variations and see clues in names.

Online Tools[edit | edit source]

Surnames[edit | edit source]

  • Until the introduction of the Surname Law in 1934, most Turks had no surnames.
  • Before that, male Turks often used their father's name followed by -oğlu ("son of"), or a nickname of the family, before their given name (e.g. Mustafa-oğlu Mehmet, Köselerin Hasan).
  • Before this, the traditional practice was for wives and children to take their husband’s/father’s personal name as a last name.[1]
  • A family name ending in –OĞLU is Turkish. The –OĞLU ending is sometimes written separately from the preceding part of the family name, but both parts are needed to record the correct family name. For example:
SARCOĞLU or SARC OĞLU
SULEYMANOĞLU or SULEYMAN OĞLU
  • When women marry, they typically replace their own family name with their husband’s. However, some women use a combination of both family names. For example, if Fatma KARABACAK married Mehmet KEÇELI, she could be known as Fatma KARABACAK KEÇELI or just Fatma KEÇELI.
  • Children typically take the father’s family name.[2]

Given Names[edit | edit source]

  • At least one name, often two but very rarely more, are given to a person at birth. Newly given names are allowed up to three words.
  • Most names are gender-specific: Oğuz is strictly for males, Tuğçe only for females. But there are many Turkish names which are unisex.
  • Turkish names are often words with specific meanings in the Turkish language.
  • Since 1928, only letters in the Turkish alphabet may be used on birth certificates.
  • Turkish alphabet has no Q, W, or X. Names including those be cannot be officially given unless they are transliterated into Turkish.
  • Some religious families give second names of Arabic origin, which can be names of important figures in the religion of Islam such as Muhammed and Ali. Some of these names have evolved in time, differentiating from the Arabic original, as in the case of Mehmet (the original name (Muhammed).[3]

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch Library[edit | edit source]

Additional sources are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Turkish name", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_name, 6 March 2021.
  2. "A GUIDE TO NAMES AND NAMING PRACTICES, UK Names Guide", by UK Government, https://www.fbiic.gov/public/2008/nov/Naming_practice_guide_UK_2006.pdf, accessed 6 March 2021.
  3. "Turkish name", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_name, 6 March 2021.