This article features the naming culture of personal names of ethnic Serbs and the Serbian language. Serbian names are rendered in the "Western name order" with the surname placed after the given name. "Eastern name order" may be used when multiple names appear in a sorted list, particularly in official notes and legal documents when the last name is capitalized (e.g. MILOVANOVIĆ Janko).
As with most European cultures, a child is given a first name chosen by their parents or is chosen by godparents. The given name comes first, the surname last, e.g. "Željko Popović", where "Željko" is a first name and "Popović" is a family name.
Serbian first names largely originate from Slavic roots: e.g. Slobodan, Miroslav, Vladimir, Zoran, Ljubomir, Vesna, Radmila, Dragan, Milan, Goran, Radomir, Vukašin, Miomir, Branimir, Budimir; see also Slavic names, or the list of Slavic names in the Serbian)
Some may be non-Slavic but chosen to reflect Christian faith. Names of this nature may often originate from Hebrew for Biblical reasons. Christian names include: e.g. Nikola, Ivan, Jovan, Marija, Ana, Mihailo. Along similar lines of non-Slavic names among Christians, the origins for many such names are Greek: e.g. Aleksandar,Andrej, Filip, Jelena, Sofija, Katarina, Nikola, Đorđe, Stefan, Petar, Vasilije, Todor. Names of Latin origin include: e.g. Marko, Anđelka, Antonije, Pavle, Srđan, Marina, Natalija, Kornelije. Names of Germanic origin, entering through Russian, include: e.g. Igor, Oliver, Olga.
Most Serbian surnames have the surname suffix -ić (-ић) ([itɕ]). This can sometimes further be transcribed as -ic, but in history, Serbian names have often been transcribed with a phonetic ending, -ich or -itch.
This form is often associated with Serbs from before the early 20th century: hence Milutin Milanković is usually referred to, for historical reasons, as Milutin Milankovitch, and Mileva Marić, born in Vojvodina (then a part of Hungary) has sometimes been rendered as Marity (e.g. in the claim of "Einstein-Marity" theory).
Most Serbian surnames are paternal (father), maternal (mother), occupational, or derived from personal traits.
Other common surname suffixes are -ov, -ev, -in and -ski which is the Slavic possessive case suffix, thus Nikola's son becomes Nikolin, Petar's son Petrov, and Jovan's son Jovanov. The two suffixes are often combined, most commonly as -ović. Other, less common suffices are -alj/olj/elj, -ija, -ica, -ar/ac/an, .
When marrying, the woman most often adopts her husband's family name, though she can also keep both of her last names or not change her last name at all.
It is estimated that some two thirds of all Serbian surnames end in -ić. The ten most common surnames in Serbia, in order, are Jovanović, Petrović, Nikolić, Marković, Đorđević, Stojanović, Ilić, Stanković, Pavlović and Milošević.
Demetrios Chomatenos (Archbishop of Ohrid from 1216 to 1236) registered the naming culture of the South Slavs in Byzantine lands. In the 11th and 12th century, family names became more common and stable in Byzantium, adapted by the majority of people in Byzantine Macedonia, Epirus and other regions (including women, sometimes even monks), not only aristocrats. The South Slavs, however, maintained the tradition of only giving a personal name, sometimes with a Patronymic. There are only 2 cases of family names used by South Slavs during this time; Bogdanopoulos and Serbopoulos, both Serbian names with the Greek suffix -opoulos (όπουλος, originating in Peloponnese in the 10th century)
In older naming convention which was common in Serbia up until the mid 19th century a person's name would consist of three distinct parts: the person's given name, the patronymic derived from father's personal name, and the family name, as seen in for example in the name of language reformer Vuk Stefanović Karadžić.
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