Turkish Last Names
Prior to the Surname Law in 1934, Turkish citizens did not have official last names. At that point, however, all individuals had to adopt a family name, many of which steemed from patrilineal lines.
In addition, the law stated that all last names must come from the Turkish language and could not relate to their tribe, military rank, foreign races, or be offensive. Turkish people with different cultural backgrounds altered their last names so that they became Turkish names.
Even before the Surname Law took effect, individuals usually used their father’s first name with the suffix -oğlu’ to differentiate themselves. Other Turkish last names come from an individual's profession or status within society. Last names are also derived from Turkic languages, Persian and Arabic.
If you want to discover the meaning of your or your partner’s last name or are simply curious about Turkish culture, check out our list of Turkish last names and meanings!
Common Turkish Surnames and Meanings
- Akbas - White head.
- Aksoy - Ancestry, lineage.
- Arslan - Lion. It is a Turkish and Persian name sometimes used for boys. A variation of the name Aslan is used in the famous C.S. Lewis book The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.
- Ataturk - An ancient name that means the Father of Turks.
- Aydin - Enlightened or bright. It is also spelled Ayden.
- Bulut - This airy name means cloud.
- Cetin - Tough or robust.
- Dogan - Hawk.
- Erdogan - Warrior or Hawk. Often used as a Muslim boy name in Arabic-speaking countries. It is the surname of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
- Kaplan- Tiger.
- Kartal - Eagle.
- Kaya - Rock.
- Kemal - A Persian name that means beauty, perfection, and excellence.
- Kilic - Sword.
- Koc - Little. It is also the Polish word for a blanket.
- Kose - Beardless. Also used in Germany and other Central European countries.
- Kucuk - Small or tiny; this name probably stems from a nickname.
- Macar - The Turkish surname for Hungarians who settled in Turkey.
- Osman - An Arabic name that means son of a snake or tender youth. Prince Osman was the founder of the Ottoman Empire, whose capital, Constantinople, is modern-day Istanbul in Turkey.
- Ozdemir - Pure iron. This surname is also found in France with some popularity.
- Ozuturk - Pure Turk.
- Sahin - Falcon
- Sakarya - A place name. The Sakarya river was an important place during the Turkish War of Independence.
- Simsek - Lightening.
- Sydin - Enlightened one, ruler, influencer, good person.
- Ulusoy - Supreme lineage or ancestry.
- Yavuz - Resolute or ferocious.
- Yildirim - Friendly, charismatic, the most excellent.
- Yildiz - Star.
- Yilmaz - Dauntless.
Popular Occupational Turkish Last Names
- Avci - Hunter.
- Baig - Chief or commander.
- Balik - Fish. Possibly used for fisherman. It is also used in Polish and Slovak.
- Binci - Horseman or horse rider.
- Bardakci - It comes from the Turkish word for glass Bardak and means glassmaker.
- Demir - Iron. A Turkish surname for an ironworker.
- Demirci - Blacksmith.
- Ekmekci - Baker.
- Ersoy - Descendants or ancestors of soldiers.
- Nacar - Carpenter.
- Mataraci - Debated meaning. Some sources say it means bottle maker others say it refers to a friendly or outgoing person.
- Pasha - An honorary title that stems back to the Ottoman Empire.
- Peynirci - Cheese or cheesemaker.
- Polat - Steel or metal. It has Persian roots.
- Reis - Boss or chief. A derivative of the Greek name Reizis.
Patronymic Last Names with Turkish Origins
- Abacıogul - Son of the dressmaker.
- Ademoglu - Religious, son of Adam.
- Besteoglu - Refers to music composition or masterpiece.
- Canakicoglu - Son of the pot maker
- Deryaoglu - Refers to the sea or ocean. Perhaps the child of a fisherman or boater.
- Guloglu - It comes from the Turkish word for rose.
- Gocmenoglu - In reference to someone whose father was an immigrant.
- Hancioglu - Son of the innkeeper.
- Oksuzoglu - Orphan
- Yumisoglu - Stems from the word for dolphin.
About L. Elizabeth Forry
L. Elizabeth Forry is an Early Childhood Educator with 15 years of classroom experience.