What do you think are the most common names in your country? Can you hazard a guess? Greece and Cyprus, where naming customs follow a widely-used pattern of naming a child after their grandparents, are known for having a list of four or five iconic names for each gender. But do you know the most common Greek and Cypriot last names?
Despite differences in the customs surrounding them, proper names are found in nearly all cultures around the world. Names are important aspects of our identity, differentiating us from others while connecting us with our ancestors.
Whether your name is common or entirely unique, it speaks to your history, culture, and identity. Dale Carnegie, author of the iconic book How to Win Friends and Influence People expresses the importance of names: “names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
In Greece, the most common family name is Papadopoulos, followed by Pappas, Karagiannis, and Vlachos. In Cyprus, it is Georgiou, with Charalambous, Ioannou, and Constantinou ranking next on the list of common last names.
Most Greek last names are topographical, meaning that they refer to a specific place of origin.
Place of origin can be shown by including the name of the region in the name. For example, Maniatis comes from Mani, the region in the Peloponnese. Topographical names can also include certain characteristics indicate ancestral location, such as last names ending in -idis or -akis, from Pontus and Crete, respectively.
Another common category of Greek family names includes those that show the profession of an ancestor. Such names include Psaras (fisherman) and Samaras (sandal maker).
Do you know any Greek women named Maria, Eleni, or Katerina? Probably at least one, if not more, as they are the most common first names among Greek women. In Cyprus, the list is nearly the same, with Maria and Eleni ranking as the most common, followed by Androula.
Wondering about male names in Greece and Cyprus? If you have a certain list in mind, you may (or may not) be surprised—Andreas, Giorgos and Costas are the most common first name for Cypriot men, while Giorgos, Yiannis, and Dimitris are found most frequently in Greece.
Τα δημοφιλέστερα ονόματα στην #Ελλάδα ως ποσοστό (%) του μόνιμου πληθυσμού των αντρών και των γυναικών.
— ELSTAT (@StatisticsGR) May 21, 2019
Smith, of English origin, is the most common name in America and Australia. Johnson, Williams, and Brown follow Smith in terms of last names in America. Following Smith in Australia are Jones, Williams, and Brown. The similar list in both countries reflects their shared history as former British colonies.
While the lists of the most common first names in Greece and Cyprus remain relatively similar, due to naming customs, popular first names in America can widely from year to year, owing to trends.
According to the U.S Social Security Administration, the most popular names for American men over the past 100 years are James, John, Robert, and Micheal, while for women they are Mary, Patricia, Jennifer, and Linda.
Does your first or last name rank among the most common in Greece, Cyprus, America, or Australia?