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Here comes the sun: Passion, spring and other Turkish names


© aNadventures (It should have been “Romina” but they didn’t get it right.)

When you think of Turkish names, the ones popping up in your mind are probably Fatma, Ayşe, Mustafa and Ahmet. But there are so many more. Most Turks are proud of their name. At least that’s what I’ve come to sense throughout my one-and-a-half year Turkey experience. Every name has a meaning, too. Here’s a selection:


The sky is the limit

Güneş – sun (f)

Bulut – cloud (m)

Yağmur – rain (m & f)

Aynur – moon light (f)

Feray – radiance of the moon (f)

İlkay – new moon (m & f)

Nuray – bright moon (f)

Hilal – crescent (f)

Ufuk – horizon (m)


Gül – rose (f)

Lale – tulip (f)

Müge – lily of the valley (f)

Ҫiğdem – crocus (f)



Damla – water drop (f)

Nehir – river (f)

Deniz – sea (m & f)

Derya – sea, ocean (f)

Meltem – sea wind (f)

Cansu – water of life (f)


Some more nature

Volkan – volcano (m)

Ekin – harvest (f)

Peace and other positive stuff

Barış – peace (m)

Bayram – celebration (m)

Ezgi – melody (f)

Burcu – sweet fragrance (f)

Can – soul, life (m)

Gamze – dimple (f)

İpek – silk (f)

Güvenç – trust (m)

Hediye – gift (f)

Hülya – daydream (f)


Let’s get emotional

Dilek – wish, desire (f)

Dilara – lover (f)

Duygu – emotion, sensation (f)

Fusun – charm (f)

Onur – honour (m)

Sevgi – love (f)

Sinem – my bosom, my breast (f)

Tutku – passion (m & f)

Umut – hope (m & f)

More stuff from up above

Kader – faith, destiny (f)

Melek – angel (f)

People see people

Ece – queen (f)

Emre – friend (m)

Alp – hero (m)

Banu – lady (f)

Nedim – drinking companion (m)

Just the way I am

Mutlu – happy (m & f)

Berna – young (f)

Berk – strong (m)

Bilge – wise (m & f)

Eda – well-mannered (f)

Egemen – dominant (m)

Erol – brave (m)

Gözde – favourite (f)

Mert – brave (m)

Metin – strong (m)

Özgür – free (m)

Öztürk – pure Turk (m)

Semih – generous (m)

Şirin – sweet (f)

Yeter – enough, sufficient (f)

Zeki – intelligent (m)

Months and seasons

Nisan – April (f)

Eylül – September (f)

Ekim – October (m)

Kasım – November (m)

Bahar – spring (f)


Aslan – lion (m)

Ceren – young gazelle (f)

Buğra – baby camel

Biblical names

Adem – Adam (m)

Havva – Eve (f)

Musa – Moses (m)

Yakup – Jakob (m)

Yusuf – Joseph (m)

Meryem – Miriam / Mary (f)

İsa – Jesus (m)



Tolga – helmet (m)

Demir – iron (m)

Ebru – paper marbling (f)

Nurten – radiant skin (f)

Gizem – mistery (f)

Whenever someone introduced themselves to me in Turkish, I generally had some difficulty retaining their name. But asking for the meaning was a strategy I found quite useful since this served as a mnemonic. Next time I saw the person, I already had an association. Since many of the names listed above are quite common, remembering them got easier after some time, once I’d created the above classifications (or others) in my head.

Another thing I did was creating my very own mnemonics out of already known concepts. My flat mate’s mum is called Nezahat, which I now know means prosperity, holiness. But at the time I just couldn’t get it right so I simply called her Pizza Hut. And it worked fine as well.

Yet another strategy you can use is to just call everyone abi (big brother) or abla (big sister). Or if they’re a little older: amca (uncle) or teyze (aunt).

How about YOUR name retention strategies? And is there a name in Turkish or in any other language whose meaning you find particularly appealing? Feel free to share your experiences in the comment section.

From → Turkey

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