Fifty Viss

a collection of thoughts and writings on Burma

Part 3: Burmese personal names – Male names

This is the third in a 4 part installment on Burmese personal names — [1] Introduction | [2] Miscellany | [3] Male Names | [4] Female Names.

Burmese personal names: Male names

Word cloud of the most commonly used words in Burmese male names

The most commonly shared names were Thiha Aung (သီဟအောင်), by 5 individuals, and Zin Min Htet (ဇင်မင်းထက်), shared by 4. As compared to the females, male students had a higher chance of sharing the same name than girls. About 9% of males shared the same names in this sample.

Common naming patterns

NUMBER OF WORDS:

With regard to the structure of a typical male name, almost 2/3 of males had 3 word names (e.g., Swe Lin Aung). A little more than 1/5 had 2 word names (e.g., Zeyar Htet), while 1 in 10 had a four word name (e.g., Zin Maung Maung Than).

WORD ORIGINS:

The first and second words in the given name are predominantly native Burmese words. The following is an exhaustive list of all the Indic loan words used in the sample, 19 in total. The overwhelming majority of these loans were from Pali, and almost exclusively used by males (with the exception of Phone and Thawda).

Word Common Spellings Etymology Word Common Spellings Etymology
ဇော်  Zaw  Sanskrit yogi “pre-eminent” ဇော  Zaw  Pali javana “passion”
သီဟ  Thiha  Pali sīha “lion” ဗိုလ်  Bo  Pali bala “strength”
ဉာဏ်  Nyan  Pali ñāṇa “wisdom” ဝဏ္ဏ  Wunna  Pali vaṇṇa “gold”
ဘုန်း  Phone  Sanskrit bhaga “glory” သော်တာ  Thawda  Sanskrit ? “moon”
ထွဋ်  Htut  ? အာကာ  Arkar  Pali ākāsa “sky”
ယံ  Yan  Pali yāma “night”? ကံ  Kan  Pali kamma “fortune”
ဇေယျာ, ဇေယျ  Zeyar, Zeya  Pali jaya “victory” စိန်  Sein  Pali vajira “diamond”
သုတ  Thuta  Pali suta “knowledge” သူရိန်  Thurein  Pali suriya “sun”
သူရ  Thura  Pali sura “bravery” ရာဇာ  Yaza, Yarzar  Pali raja “king”
ဇာနည်  Zarni  Pali ājāniya “hero”

Most frequently used words

Using the frequencies below, the most common male name would presumably be Aung Min Aung (အောင်မင်းအောင်).

Overall – Top 25 words used in male names

Rank Word Common Spellings Meaning % of Names
1 အောင် Aung, Ag success 10.2%
2 ထက် Htet sharp 5.4%
3 ကျော် Kyaw famous 4.4%
4 မင်း Min king (aristocratic title) 3.5%
4 လင်း Lin bright 3.5%
6 ဖြိုး Phyo bountiful 3.2%
7 ကောင်း Kaung, Kg good 2.8%
8 ဇော် Zaw pre-eminent 2.8%
9 စိုး Soe rule 2.5%
9 ထွန်း Htun, Tun shine 2.5%
11 မောင် Maung younger brother (kinship term) 2.2%
12 နိုင် Naing conquer 2.0%
12 မြတ် Myat noble 2.0%
14 ဝင်း Win bright 1.9%
14 ဦး U eldest, first 1.9%
16 ဝေ Wai abundant 1.7%
16 သီဟ Thiha lion 1.7%
18 ကို Ko elder brother (kinship term) 1.6%
18 ဇင် Zin orchid 1.6%
18 မျိုး Myo family, lineage 1.6%
18 မြင့် Myint high 1.6%
18 သက် Thet life 1.6%
23 ရဲ Ye brave 1.5%
23 ဟိန်း Hein grand 1.5%
25 ခန့် Khant elegant 1.3%

First word

Rank Word Common Spellings Meaning % of Names
1 အောင် Aung, Ag 9.2%
2 ကျော် Kyaw 8.3%
3 ကောင်း Kaung, Kg 7.5%
4 သက် Thet 3.8%
5 ဖြိုး Phyo, Phyoe 3.3%
6 ရဲ Ye 2.9%
6 မျိုး Myo 2.9%
8 ဇင် Zin 2.5%
8 ဝေ Wai 2.5%
8 သီဟ Thiha 2.5%
8 ပြည့် Pyay, Pyae complete 2.5%
8 ထက် Htet 2.5%
13 ဉာဏ် Nyan wisdom 2.1%
13 ဇော် Zaw 2.1%
13 စိုး Soe 2.1%
13 ဟိန်း Hein 2.1%

Second word

Rank Word Common Spellings Meaning % of Names
1 မင်း Min 7.9%
2 ထက် Htet 7.5%
3 အောင် Aung 6.3%
4 လင်း Lin, Linn 5.9%
5 ဖြိုး Phyo 4.2%
6 မြတ် Myat 3.8%
7 ခန့် Khant 2.9%
8 ကို Ko 2.5%
8 သီဟ Thiha 2.5%
8 ဇော် Zaw 2.5%
11 မြင့် Myint 2.1%
11 ဇင် Zin 2.1%
11 စိုး Soe 2.1%
14 ခိုင် Khaing, Khine sturdy 1.7%
14 ဝေ Wai 1.7%
14 မောင် Maung, Mg 1.7%
14 မျိုး Myo 1.7%
14 သန့် Thant  pristine 1.7%
14 နိုင် Naing 1.7%
14 သူ Thu  person 1.7%

Third word

Rank Word Common Spellings Meaning % of Names
1 အောင် Aung, Ag 16.2%
2 ထွန်း Htun, Tun 6.5%
2 ထက် Htet 6.5%
4 ဦး U 5.4%
5 ဇော် Zaw 4.3%
6 စိုး Soe 3.8%
6 လင်း Lin 3.8%
8 မောင် Maung, Mg 3.2%
8 နိုင် Naing 3.2%
8 ကျော် Kyaw 3.2%
11 မြင့် Myint 2.7%
11 ကို Ko 2.7%
13 ဖြိုး Phyo 2.2%
13 ဟိန်း Hein 2.2%
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12 comments on “Part 3: Burmese personal names – Male names

  1. Wagaung
    1 June 2014

    Not surprising to see how Aung and Kyaw remain very popular, but interesting how the newcomer Htet has made it among the top three. The film star Htet Htet Moe U might have something to do with it.

    Htut comes from a htut (pinnacle) or a htut a hteik (top).

    Yan is rather counter-intuitive, meaning adversity, and generally occurs with a ‘complement’ as in Yangon (end of strife), or in personal names Yan Aung ( Bo Yan Aung was one of the legendary Thirty Comrades, there was also a famous author and film director, and Yan Gyi Aung was one of the five historical names of Shwebo), Yan Naing, Kyaw Yan/Yan Kyaw or rarely Yan Win. Chinese tend to use it as a close approximation to Yang I guess as in Yan Sein.

    • Aung Kyaw
      2 June 2014

      So Htut (ထွဋ်), spelled with tatalingyeik + athat, is just a variant spelling of ထွတ် and not cognate to a Pali/Sanskrit word?

      • Wagaung
        2 June 2014

        Not sure of the etymological root. It can be spelled both ways but the former more commonly for names like Shin Ye Htut who became the empire builder Bayinnaung, Bo Ye Htut (the last survivor of the Thirty Comrades who died last year), the presidential spokesman of the same name, Maj Aung Linn Htut the MI defector from the Washington embassy, U Htut Saing the paediatric surgeon are well known. In my time after Ye Htut,Tin Htut and Than Htut were common.

        On the other hand nu nu htut htut (young and tender) is usually spelled with the simple ta unlike a htut a hteik and a htut a myat (best, choicest).

  2. Wagaung
    1 June 2014

    Bo Yan Naing, like Bo Yan Aung, was another of the more famous members of the Thirty Comrades.

    Yan tends to feature more commonly as you can imagine in the names/titles of countless pagodas as in probably the most popular name Yan Aung Myin up and down the country.

  3. Wagaung
    2 June 2014

    One other not uncommon name among the older generation with Yan is Yan Shinn similar in meaning to Yangon. Yan also seems to be exclusively male like Pe, Ba and Po which Zaw, Maung and Ko no longer appear to be perhaps because they come to be included like a ‘surname’ at the end.

  4. Wagaung
    4 June 2014

    I misread Yan with ya petlet thay thay tin for ya gauk na that, sorry. I would guess it comes from way yan/arkar yan meaning sky, and not thagaung yan (midnight).

    Zaw is certainly the superhero of myth and legend Zawgyi, also used as a superlative, not a Sanskrit/Pali derivation.

    • Aung Kyaw
      9 June 2014

      Ah, thanks for pointing that out. I’ve corrected that on my table above.

      As for ဇော် (Zaw), the Burmese-English dictionary [link] reports that both Zaw and Zawgyi are derived from Sanskrit ယောဂီ (yogi).

  5. Pingback: Burmese Personal Names at Fifty Viss | Burmese Names

  6. Pingback: Part 1: Burmese personal names – Introduction | Fifty Viss

  7. Pingback: Part 2: Burmese personal names – Miscellany | Fifty Viss

  8. Pingback: Part 4: Burmese personal names – Female names | Fifty Viss

  9. Pingback: What’s Colonial in a Name? | Jonathan Saha

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This entry was posted on 1 June 2014 by in Burma, Culture, Language and tagged , , , .

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