Kyrgyzstan 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]

Kyrgyz personal names traditionally consist of two elements:

(1) the given name and
(2) a patronymic formed from the name of the father of the name bearer and a particle -- uulu (“son of”) for males or kyzy (“daughter of”) for females.

Historically, the patronymic precedes the given name so that the general structure has taken the form:

Father’s name + uulu/kyzy + Given name of the name bearer.
Sarpek uulu Kamyrza = Son-of-Sarpek Kamyrza
Du̇ĭshȯn kyzy Maĭram = Daughter-of-Du̇ĭshȯn Maĭram

In more recent times, the order of the elements has increasingly come to be inverted so that the structure takes the form:

Given name + Father’s name + uulu/kyzy
Note that male names taking this form sometimes feature the patronymic particle tegin (“descendent of”) rather than “uulu”.
Kamyrza Sarpek uulu = Kamyrza Son-of-Sarpek
Maĭram Du̇ĭshȯn kyzy = Maĭram Daughter-of-Du̇ĭshȯn
Kanybek Nur tegin = Kanybek, Descendent-of-Nur

In cases where the given name precedes the father’s name, it is currently becoming common to drop the patronymic particle from the name, so that the structure of the name becomes:

Given name + Father’s name
Kamzyra Sarpek
Maĭram Du̇ĭshȯn

Western-language renderings[edit | edit source]

  • The inverted form of given name + patronymic, which is the one most often used in Western-language renderings of traditional Kyrgyz names, follows the common Western pattern of given name followed by surname.
  • Although, strictly speaking, the final element is a patronymic, it is used in a manner analogous to a surname.
  • One indication of this is that when the patronymic particle “uulu”, “tegin” or “kyzy” is used, it is sometimes attached directly to the preceding name to form a single word (e.g., Dinar Baĭkyzy; Tynchtykbek Chorotegin).

Russification and De-russification[edit | edit source]

  • During the Soviet period, Kyrgyz names became russified.
  • The patronymic consisting of father's name + the particle “uulu” or “kyzy” was converted to a Russian-style patronymic, in which the patronymic suffixes (-ovich/-evich for men) and (-ovna/-evna for women) were added to paternal names.
  • At the same time, new surnames, featuring the suffixes -ov/-ev for men and -ova/-eva for women, were introduced, so that names now consisted of three elements in the following order:
(1) given name, (2) patronymic, and (3) surname:
Chingiz Torekulovich Aĭtmatov
Roza Isakovna Otunbayeva

  • After Kyrgyzstan became an independent state in 1991, the Kyrgyz government undertook an initiative to promote the de-russification of Kyrgyz names.
  • Kyrgyz people were encouraged to drop the Russian forms of patronymic ending in “-ovich/-evich” or “-ovna/-evna” and the non-traditional surnames ending in “-ov/-ev” or “-ova/-eva” in favor of the traditional patronymic form consisting of Father’s Name + “uulu”, “tegin”, or “kyzy”.
  • Parents were given the option of giving their children traditional Kyrgyz forms of names as their legal names on their birth certificates and passports. Many parents chose to exercise this option, so that the traditional naming pattern enjoyed a renaissance, albeit with the difference that the traditional patronymic form now tended to be used as a surname and, moreover, patronymic endings were sometimes dropped entirely from the name.
  • Yet, russified forms of name have also continued to remain in use. People born prior to 1991 tended to retain these forms of their names. Moreover, in recent years, many citizens of Kyrgyzstan have opted to give their children russified names as being more international in nature and creating fewer administrative problems for the Kyrgyz diaspora in the Russian Federation and other Russian-speaking countries.
  • As a consequence of these recent trends, both the traditional and the russified forms of name are very much in use among Kyrgyz people at present. [1]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Kyrgyz Personal Names", in Slavic Cataloging Manual,, accessed 12 March 2021.