Despite a growing tendency to give unusual and unique names, most Lithuanians embrace their Baltic heritage by choosing a traditional one. A traditional Lithuanian name has a meaning which is connected to thousands of years of history.
The table below contains some of the most common names found in Lithuania. Not all of these names are of Lithuanian origin. (This table is continued at the end of the article)
|Lithuanian female name||Lithuanian male name|
Male and female Lithuanian names can usually be distinguished by their endings: masculine endings (-as, -is, -us) apply to male names, and Lithuanian names which end in vowels are usually female. There are few exceptions to this pattern, but a well-known exception is the male name Jogaila: Jogaila was a Grand Duke and the last pagan ruler of medieval Lithuania. This name which means“strong and determined” remained popular over the centuries.
Most ancient Lithuanian names of pre-christian origin are still widely used in Lithuania: some examples are Algirdas, Gediminas, Kęstutis, and Vytautas. These are the names of the most admired historical leaders and Grand Dukes that came back to popularity after Lithuania regained independence in 1918. After 100 years of Russian occupation, these honorable names were back in use and they are still popular to this day.
Gediminas is the name of the knight who founded Vilnius (the Lithuanian capital) in the 14th century. There is a statue of him and his horse in the central square and the main avenue of Vilnius is named in his honor. According to statistics, around 2000 boys were given this name in the last 20 years in Lithuania.
Another typical Lithuanian name is Mindaugas. Mindaugas was the Grand Duke and the only King of Lithuania. He is considered to be the founder of the Lithuanian state. Given that Mindaugas has established worldwide recognition of the country and moved it towards Western civilization, his accomplishments are undeniable. Being an honored historical figure, Mindaugas and his name remain popular.
Not many female names from pre-christian times have remained, however, those that are known are widely used these days, such as Birutė, Aldona, Ona. These are the names of the wives and daughters of Dukes. Both male and female pre-christian names continued to be given to children during the Soviet period as a form of anti-Soviet statement and an attempt to preserve Lithuanian heritage.
Some typical Lithuanian names come from pagan era when it was common to use nature-related words as names.
In recent years, nature-inspired names have become extremely popular in Lithuania: the girl name Liepa (meaning “linden tree”) has been among the top 10 most popular names for a decade. There are other Lithuanian names which originate from tree names, for example Ąžuolas meaning “oak”, and Eglė meaning “spruce”.
It is fascinating how some of the typical names can be changed over time, for example, a boy name Ąžuolas has recently started to be used in the form Ąžuolė as a girl name.
Flower names are the origin of some Lithuanian names such as Ramunė (“chamomile”) and Mėta (“mint”). Other Lithuanian names originate from elements of nature such as Audra for “storm”, Rasa for “dew”, Saulė for the “sun” or Gintaras for “amber”. These names came back to popularity in the beginning of the 20th century and are widely used due to their simplicity and uniqueness.
During 20th century in Lithuania there has been a tendency to give children two names: a christian name and a Lithuanian name, for example Jonas Vytautas, or Marija Birutė. This way parents could combine the loyalty to their national identity as well as religion. This tradition was later broken, however, it came back to use at the beginning of the 21st century.
The first president of a re-independent post-Soviet Lithuania was Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas. The common double names nowadays include Ana Marija, Vytautas Antanas, Milda Kotryna and don’t necessarily have to be christian or traditional lithuanian: parents are free to choose the names they prefer and the combination of which sounds good.
Literature has an impact on Lithuanian names: some of typical names such as Jūratė, Kąstytis, Žilvinas are the characters of famous novels. For example, “Jūratė” has originated from the mythological goddess and became popular thanks to a novel by a prominent lithuanian author Maironis called “Jūratė and Kąstytis”. Also, thanks to novelist Vincas Krevė the name Šarūnas became popular.
Lithuanian mythology is the source of some of the most beautiful Lithuanian names. When Lithuania converted to christianity in 1387, the mythology survived thanks to preserved written sources. The pagan gods were transformed into folklore which is a part of Lithuania’s cultural heritage.
Lithuanian names originating from mythology include:
The Lithuanian forms of Biblical names are also extremely common, for example: Marija (St. Mary), Jekaterina (St. Catherine), Jurgis (St. George), Jonas (St. John), Paulius (St. Paul). The popularity of these names is easily explained by the fact that they can be easily adapted abroad when traveling or moving to other countries.
However, more and more names that do not follow the Lithuanian language system appear lately, especially within Lithuanian families that live in other countries. Also, families living abroad tend to choose names without Lithuanian vowels to make it simple for their child and the society they live in. Such names include Markas, Lukas, Matas, Kristina, Monika, Julija.
Also, these names can be easily adapted into English or certain other foreign languages. These names are not of Lithuanian origin, e.g. Matas is “a God’s gift” in Hebrew and Kristina stands for “follower of Christ” and originates in Scandinavia. One of the most popular boy names in the USA has been Jacob, while the Lithuanian version of it, Jokūbas, is also widely used in Lithuania for the last couple of years. Such common Lithuanian names as Mija and Benas are also often used in Germany (Mia and Ben).
Some Lithuanized German names are used in modern Lithuania as well. The reason behind it is the fact that German names were common in the region of Lithuania minor (part of East Prussia). Among those names these days are Vilius (Wilhelm in German), Grėtė or Greta (Gretchen), Lukas (Lucas), Laura (Laura).
When it comes to the circle of relatives or close friends, it is not unusual to use diminutives where it is possible to create one by adding a suffix. For example, Kristina can be turned into Kristė, Kęstutis into Kęstas, Gediminas into Gedas, Jurgita - Jurga.
Our conversation style shows what we mean and explains our attitude so these forms of address should only be used in informal situations to express tenderness to an adult or when talking to children.
Depending on the level of social distance, lithuanians pay great attention to addressing people in the correct way. Also, diminutives are not restricted to names and can also be used with numerous subjects or abstract entities.
Other currently popular names of Lithuanian origin are Aistė, Auksė, Goda, Miglė, Skaistė, Aurimas, Giedrius, Mantvydas, Naglis, Žygimantas and they always make it into the top of the most common names. Most of the popular names can have diminutives created from them.
Lithuanian is the oldest surviving Indo-European language written in a Latin script and has remained mostly unchanged due to insignificant outside influence. That is also the reason the Lithuanian language seems to be very complex: it has not simplified over centuries and its Proto-Indo-European features are not impaired. The Lithuanian language is related to Ancient Greek, Latin and Sanskrit. It is curious that “God” is translated as “Dievas” in Lithuanian and “Deva” in Sanskrit.
As can be seen in some of the names appearing in this article, the Lithuanian language has additional vowels and decorated consonants such as letters ą, ė, ę, į, ų, ū, č, š, ž.
Surprisingly, these letters are easily recognized by people who speak Esperanto. However, pronunciation of some Lithuanian letters differs significantly from the English ones:
Lithuanian has eleven different vowels which are separated into two types, one is a “short” one and the other one is the “long” vowel. “Short” ones are pronounced short (for example, letters “i”, “u”) and “long” ones are pronounced longer (“ū”, “ę”, etc). Because of that rule the name Šarūnas is pronounced as [:sharoonas]. It is important to mention that palatalization is also often used in the Lithuanian language and is its essential component.The bottom line
There are a wide variety of Lithuanian names, some of them are inspired by the history of Lithuania, while others are inspired by elements of nature, mythology or religion.
Some Lithuanian names contain special letters which are specific to the Lithuanian language, while others have a spelling which does not include such letters.
Below is the 2nd half of the table from the beginning of the article containing some of the most common Lithuanian names:
|Lithuanian female name||Lithuanian male name|