About Hungarian names

After editing this video I realised there are some things I would like to add. If there’s anything else you find interesting about Hungarian names, let us know in the comment section 🙂

10 most common Hungarian family names

  1. Nagy [ great, big ]
  2. Kovács [ blacksmith ]
  3. Tóth [ older word for Slovak ]
  4. Szabó [ tailor ]
  5. Horváth [ Croatian ]
  6. Varga [ shoemaker ]
  7. Kiss [ little ]
  8. Molnár [ miller ]
  9. Németh [ German ]
  10. Farkas [ wolf ]

You can see that they are either an adjective, an occupation or nationality. Nationalities are usually written with a +h letter in family names. Just the nationality or the language would be ‘horvát’ (Croatian), but in family names it’s Horváth. German = német, but if it’s a family name it can be Németh.

5 most common Hungarian male first names

  1. László (Leslie)
  2. István (Stephan)
  3. József (Joseph)
  4. János (John)
  5. Zoltán (no English version, it comes from the Turkish word sultan)

5 most common Hungarian female first names

  1. Mária (Maria)
  2. Anna (Anne)
  3. Katalin (Kate)
  4. Éva (Eve)
  5. Zsófia (Sophia)

Family name + first name

In Hungary family name is placed before given names, just like in Japan for example. Whenever I was abroad and they were asking what’s my first name, I just couldn’t get used to it, I’d always make a very confused face, thinking if they want to know my family name or given name. And then I was worried that they’ll think I’m that stupid I don’t even know what’s my name and I need time to think it over. And I always ended up explaining why I had to think, cause it’s different in my country. #TooMuchStress

How women’s name can change after marriage

Let’s have the same example as in the video. Tóth Krisztina [ Slovak Christina ] gets married to Kiss András [ Little Andrew ]. She can keep her name with her dad’s family name or she can choose from these options:

  • Kissné Tóth Krisztina
  • Kiss Andrásné
  • Kiss-Tóth Krisztina

I think the most common choice nowadays is using both family names like ‘Kiss-Tóth’. If you see the -né ending after someone’s name, it means that that person is married.

Children get the family name of the father.

Name days

In Hungary we celebrate name days. You can check it in the calendar when is your name’s day. It’s common to give chocolate or flowers as a present. It’s not such a big celebration as a birthday, just a nice message saying ‘Boldog névnapot!’ (Happy name day!) can be enough as well. It depends on personal preferences.

A little grammar

family name + -ék ending

Ex. Tóthék – if you say this then you refer to the whole Tóth family.

  • Ott vannak a Tóthék! – Tóth’s are there!
  • Megyünk a Tóthékhoz hétvégén – We’re visiting the Tóth family at the weekend.
  • Itt vagyunk Tóthéknál – We’re at the Tóth family’s house.
  • Találkoztunk Tóthékkal hétvégén – We met the Tóth family at the weekend.
  • Veszek ajándékot Tóthéknak – I’ll buy a present for the Tóth family.

You can also use this ending with given names. Ex. Dani – Daniék. It means Dani and the others.

Dani’s family, more friends, Dani’s girlfriend, Dani’s roommates. The person you’re talking to will have an idea who are you gonna meet. If you say ‘megyek Daniékhoz’ it means you’re going to Dani’s place, Dani’s house.

Ex. I have three good friends from university: Anna, Kata and Zsófi. And it’s always the four of us when we meet. If I tell my mom ‘ találkozom Annáékkal ‘ (I’m meeting Anna and the others), she will know it’s more people not only Anna and probably common friends.

  • Átmegyek Katiékhoz – I’m going over to Kati’s place
  • Találkozom Petiékkel – I’m meeting Pete and his friends / girlfriend / family

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  1. Great post! I have a few questions which may help others too…
    1. What is the English version of your name?
    2. Is it still the case that in Hungary you have an approved lust of names to choose from, and if you want to choose a different name you have to get written consent?
    3. Do any historical figures, both good and bad still have an impact on deciding a name (examples – Nagy Imre, Rákosi Mátyás, Gerő Ernő, Rubik Ernő, Puskás Ferenc)?

    1. Thank you!
      1. My name is Szilvia, but everyone always called me Sziszi 🙂
      2. Yes, it is still the case. There’s a list approved by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Department of Theoretical Linguistics) where you can choose from around 4000 names. It changes each year, they add around 5-10 new names. And if you want to choose a rather international name, like Jennifer for example, you can only have it written the Hungarian way like ‘Dzsenifer’. If you want a different name that’s not on the list you can hand in a petition. They answer in maximum 30 days. If they approve it, they add it to the list.
      3. I think yes, but it depends on the family and personal preferences. But I doubt that anyone would name their child Rákosi Mátyás, it’d be very weird.

    2. Sya,nagyon elvezzuk a musoraid,de kijavitanek egy hibat;a Toth nev eredete az “idegen”.Vagyis,mindenkit Toth nevvel illettek,aki idegenbol telepult Magyarorszagra.A tot,mint etnikum,csak így irva helyes es ertelmezheto..udv,Zoltan

      1. Szia! Köszönöm, örülök! Köszi a hozzászólást! Sokat olvastam erről, de csak intereneten. Ezt nem láttam sehol, nagyon érdekes. De sokféle elmélet van. Sokféleképpen is értelmezték, hogy kik a tótok az évek során. Én csak azt adtam meg fordításnak, ahogy a 18. századtól kezdve használjuk / értelmezzük általában.

  2. You forgot Tamás. Every third man here called so😄

  3. Szia! I really like your blog, I find it very useful in my self-teaching of Hungarian language! <3

    And I have a question about those names after getting married – if Toth Kristina chooses "Kiss Andrásné" version, she doesn't use her name (Kristina) anymore? I'm just curious 🙂

    1. Szia! Köszi, nagyon örülök 🙂

      Everyone still calls her Krisztina, but Kiss Andrásné would be on her ID and she signs papers like this. So this is her official name, but people don’t call you Andrásné. It can happen, when you talk about someone else with someone (ex. neighbour). But it is kinda weird, everyone would still call you Krisztina 🙂

      1. Wow, so a woman changes her name, wow 😮 I didn’t know that is possible 😮 Thank you very much for your answer!
        And köszönom szépen for your work! It helps me so much! <3

        1. Köszi, nagyon örülök 🙂 Yes, but it’s optional, you can keep your name as well 🙂 She can choose from these options what I mentioned. Thanks for being here!

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