Albanian names are names that are used by Albanians in Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, or the diaspora. In Albania, a full name usually consists of a given name (Albanian: emri); the given name of the individual's father (Albanian: atësia), which is seldom included except in official documents; and a (most commonly patrilineal) family name or surname (Albanian: mbiemri). They are invariably given in the Western name order, with the given name being followed by the family name.

Albanian given names are traditionally originally-Albanian names or religious names (Islamic or Christian). During the Communist regime, supposedly-Illyrian names, based on the theory of the Illyrian origin of the Albanians, were constructed as appropriate names instead of religious ones. The government issued a decree ordering people to change their religious names to "pure Albanian names", and newborns had to receive non-religious names.

Albanian names have changed dramatically, with more opting for foreign, English or Romance names in recent times than the traditional Balkan names. In addition, Albanians from Albania tend to focus on names that are Greek,[1] Italian or Western European, as opposed to those in Kosovo, North Macedonia and elsewhere that are religious, local, geographic or traditional. According to recent statistics some of the most common baby names in Albania are Amelia, Leandra and Ambra for girls, and Noel, Aron and Roan are the most common names for boys.

Given names

While in Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia, Albanian ("Illyrian") and religious names are quite common, in Albania proper, Albanian or Muslim names are rarely given. That is the result of the high net emigration rate of Albania and the desire of most Albanian emigrants to assimilate internationally. Another factor is the secularisation that took place during the communist rule, which discouraged explicitly Christian or Muslim given names. In 2014, among the 20 most commonly used given names for newborn children in Albania was not a single Albanian name. Instead, "international" (Christian or English) names were most popular.[2]

Traditionally, given names in Albania did not have Albanian origins because they were religious names, either Christian or Islamic. During Communist Albania, an Illyrian origin of the Albanians (without denying "Pelasgian roots",[3] a theory that has been revitalized today[4]) continued to play a significant role in Albanian nationalism, resulting in a revival of given names supposedly of Illyrian origin, at the expense of given names associated with Christianity or Islam. The trend originated with the 19th century Rilindja, but became more common after 1944, when it became the government's policy to heavily discourage religious given names. Ideologically-acceptable names were listed in the Fjalor me emra njerëzish (1982). They could be native Albanian words like Flutur ("butterfly"), ideologically communist ones like Marenglen (Marx-Engels-Lenin), or "Illyrian" ones compiled from epigraphy: from the necropolis at Dyrrhachion excavated in 1958 to 2960.[5]


Many surnames in Albania have Islamic and Christian roots.[6]

Common last name endings include -aj, as well as common definite Albanian nominative singular endings: hence -i for originally masculine last names except for those previously ending in k, g, h or i, which add -u; that is replaced by -a/-ja for feminine names.

Many last names were originally surnames, many of them being either Muslim (Ahmeti, Rexhepi, etc.), Bektashi (Bektashi itself as a surname, Dervishi, Shehu, etc.) or Christian (Kristo(ja), Evangjeli, etc.), but a large number are neither simply come from old Albanian secular names (Zogolli, Dushku, Shkoza etc.). Albanians frequently have surnames that do not match their actual religious identity, often because of recent secularization, religious intermarriage, relatively recent conversion in late Ottoman times (many Muslims have Christian names for that reason, and after the fall of communism, some Albanians with Muslim ancestry have become practicing Christians and vice versa) or the practice of Ottoman Christians taking Muslim names because of Muslim dominance of society during those times. Names starting with Papa- usually indicate Christian origin, but there are cases of them being followed by a Muslim element (i.e. Papazisi, a name held by Albanians of both Christian and Muslim heritage).

Another major source of Albanian last names are place names- Albanians sometimes took their hometowns as surnames,[7] and especially when a family moved to another place, they often took their former residence as a surname, leading to somewhat well known last names such as Frashëri, Përmeti, Shkodra, Kelmendi, Shkreli, Delvina, Prishtina, etc.). In the North and in Kosovo, clan names are also very prominent, most notably the names of widespread clans such as Krasniqi, Berisha and Gashi. The surnames Gega, Gegprifti, Gegaj etc. probably indicate Northern (Gheg) origins, as Toska and Toskaj do for Southerners. In addition, many names, even if not explicitly, are strongly identified with certain regions and Albanians can often tell another Albanian's regional origin from their last name. Surnames based on occupation are less common than in other countries but nevertheless the surnames Hoxha (mullah, either Bektashi or Sunni) and Prifti (priest, used by both Catholics and Orthodox) remain very common.

Arvanite and pre- modern Albanian surnames are also common. Many Arvanite surnames are found in Albania, in the modern Albanian form. For example, the word in Arvanitika (Arbërisht) for "brave" or "pallikari" (in Greek) being "çanavar" (Turkish canavar meaning "monster") or its shortened form "çavar" was pronounced "tzanavar" or "tzavar" giving birth to Arvanitic family names like "Tzanavaras" and/or "Tzavaras". This is a link between Albanian and Greek names. The Arvanite surname "Κριεζής" (Kriezis) is a very common Albanian surname. "Kryezi" means "Blackhead" in Albanian (hence same meaning in Arbërisht/Arvanitika).

Orthodox Christian names tend to be heavily Greek, including last names which have counterparts in the Greek language.


Communist-era Albania

According to a decree issued in 1966, Muslims in Albania had to change their names to Albanian names, and newborn Albanians had to receive non-religious names.[8] In a decree of November 1975, all the citizens of Albania whose names were considered objectionable by the Albanian Communist Party were ordered to change their names to "pure Albanian names" by the end of the year.[9][10]


Albanians form the largest migrant group in Greece and the second-largest migrant group in Italy.[11] Many modern names are thus Greek or Italian.[11][need quotation to verify] In Greece and likewise in Italy, many Albanian newcomers change their Albanian names to Greek or Italian ones and their religion, if Islam, to Christianity.[11]


  1. ^ Albanian Greek Names
  2. ^ "Craze For Foreign Names Alarms Albanian Patriots". Retrieved 2017-10-31.
  3. ^ Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers, Bernd Jürgen Fischer, Albanian Identities: Myth and History, Indiana University Press, 2002, ISBN 978-0-253-34189-1, page 96, "but when Enver Hoxha declared that their origin was Illyrian (without denying their Pelasgian roots), no one dared participate in further discussion of the question".
  4. ^ Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, 2009, Gilles de Rapper.
  5. ^ ISBN 960-210-279-9 Miranda Vickers, The Albanians Chapter 9. "Albania Isolates itself" page 196, "From time to time the state gave out lists with pagan, supposed Illyrian or newly constructed names that would be proper for the new generation of revolutionaries."
  6. ^ Carmichael, Cathie (27 August 2003). Ethnic Cleansing in the Balkans: Nationalism and the Destruction of Tradition. Routledge. p. 58. ISBN 978-1-134-47953-5.
  7. ^ Di Lellio, Ana (2009). "The battle of Kosovo 1389." An Albanian epic. London: IB Tauris. pp. 26–27. ISBN 9781848850941. "the custom of taking their native village names as surnames was and is still common among Albanians..."
  8. ^ Waardenburg, Jacques (1 January 2003). Muslims and Others: Relations in Context. Walter de Gruyter. p. 387. ISBN 978-3-11-020095-9. Since the late 1960s, newborn Albanians of any religion had to receive non-religious names, and Muslims here had to change their names to properly Albanian names.
  9. ^ Prifti, Peter R. (1978). Socialist Albania since 1944: domestic and foreign developments. MIT Press. p. 164. ISBN 978-0-262-16070-4. ...a decree dated September 23, 1975, and published in Gazeta zyrtare inTirane on November 11, 1975
  10. ^ Gianaris, Nicholas V. (1996). Geopolitical and Economic Changes in the Balkan Countries. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-275-95541-0. However, the government ordered name changes for the citizens and the villages (Administrative Decree 5339, 1975, and other decrees) to "pure Albanian names"
  11. ^ a b c Armand Feka (2013-07-16). "Griechenlands verborgene Albaner". Wiener Zeitung. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-03-02. Er lächelt und antwortet in einwandfreiem Griechisch: ‚Ich bin eigentlich auch ein Albaner.'

Further reading