Skip to main content

Updated October 20, 2022

Like many cultures, Cambodian surnames are passed down and shared via families. One significant difference, however, between Cambodian and western cultures is that the family name goes first, followed by the given name. 

Surnames in Cambodia primarily come from Chinese, Khmer, Sanskrit, Thai, Vietnamese, and Pali and often contain prefixes like Sok, Kim, Chan, Chea, and Seang.

Women often take their husbands’ last names, and many Cambodians, both Chinese and Vietnamese, often pass the father’s last name to the child.

10 of the Most Common Cambodian Surnames and Meanings 

  1. Chan - Chinese. Snow.
  2. Chea - Khmer. To be well.
  3. Heng- Chinese. Constant and steady.
  4. Kong - Chinese. Bright. Sky or heaven.
  5. Li - Chinese. Pretty or powerful. 
  6. Phan - Vietnamese. One who shares with others.
  7. Sam - Hebrew/English. Told by God.
  8. San - Chinese. Sun.
  9. Seng - Chinese. It has multiple meanings: to exhibit, to tell, to accomplish, to become.
  10. Sok/Suk - Pali/Khmer. The last name on this Top 10 list is Cambodia's most common surname. It means happiness, joy, or pleasure. 

Khmer Surnames and Meanings 

Khmer is the official language of Cambodia, with 90% of the population speaking it. Other languages spoken include French, English, Cham, and Vietnamese. Some Khmer surnames are also used as baby names and may have been derived from Sanskrit as nicknames or variations of words from the ancient language. 

  1. Bopha - Khmer. Flower or blossom.
  2. Borey - Khmer. City.
  3. Chantrea - Khmer. Moonlight. Often used as a girl’s name.
  4. Chea - Khmer. Healthy. 
  5. Chey - Khmer. Victory. 
  6. Chhay - Khmer. Attractive.
  7. Keo - Khmer. Glass.
  8. Lao - Khmer. Consoling and rewarding.
  9. Phoung - Khmer. Garden or bouquet. 
  10. Pich - Khmer. Diamond.
  11. Samnang - Khmer. Luck or fortune. 
  12. Socheata - Khmer. Wellborn. 
  13. Sokha - Khmer. Gladness, delightful, happiness, joyfulness.
  14. Sopheap - Khmer. Gentle and proper.
  15. Soun - Khmer. Garden. 
  16. Soth - Khmer. Pure or clean.
  17. Srey - Khmer. Srey is used for girl names as a personal female pronoun. It translates as woman, girl, or sister. 
  18. Tola - Khmer. October. 
  19. Vibol - Khmer. Abundant or vast. 

Chinese-Cambodian Surnames and Meanings 

There is a sizeable Chinese-Cambodian population; therefore, many common surnames in Cambodia are also found in China and other Asian countries. 

  1. Cheng - Mandarin. Accomplished. 
  2. Chin -Chinese. Golden. A popular Southeast Asian surname.
  3. Eng -  Chinese. It has many meanings depending on how it is spelled: yellow, to fall through, a regional name referring to Southern China, to cope, elderly man, the number five.
  4. Kim - Chinese. Golden. The most common Korean surname. 
  5. Leng - Mandarin. Too look distracted.
  6. Lim - Chinese. Forest. 
  7. Ung - Chinese. A variation of Wang. 
  8. Yan - Chinese. Pretty colors or a swallow bird.

Cambodian Surnames Derived from Other Languages

Below are some Cambodian surnames derived from other Asian and Middle Eastern languages. 

  1. Botum - Pal/Sanskirti. Lotus
  2. Chim - Vietanesme. Bird. Another spelling is Chym.
  3. Chon - Korean. Complete or perfect. 
  4. Dara - Persian. Well off, rich.
  5. Duong - Vietnamese. Popular.
  6. Khim - Thai. A stringed musical instrument.
  7. Kolab - Persian. Rose. 
  8. Long - Vietnamese. Dragon. 
  9. Mony - Arabic. WIsh or adviser.
  10. Moau - Japanese. King. 
  11. Phi - Vietnamese. Friend or strength. 
  12. Rath - Sanskrit. A diminutive form of the Sanskrit word ratha that means kingdom or country. 
  13. Sat - Sanskrit. Real. 

L. Elizabeth Forry

About L. Elizabeth Forry

L. Elizabeth Forry is an Early Childhood Educator with 15 years of classroom… Read more

Subscribe to Family Education

Your partner in parenting from baby name inspiration to college planning.