A Tatar personal name, being strongly influenced by Russian tradition, consists of two main elements: isem (given name) and familia (family name), and also patronymic. Given name was traditional for Tatars for centuries, family name appeared in the end of the 19th century, when it replaced patronymic. In fact, usage of family name appeared when Russian scribers gave documents to Tatars. Later, being adapted to Soviet tradition, Tatars started to use patronymic as third element, especially in informal communication.
As in Western cultures, a person has a first name chosen by his or her parents. The first name is used before the last name (surname) in most cases and is given so into the main European languages. For usage in other cases see: Names in Russian Empire, Soviet Union and CIS countries.
For Tatars living or born in Russia, every Tatar name has a transliteration in Russian language, due Tatarstan citizens use passports where their names are written in both official languages, Tatar and Russian. Russian version of Tatar name could significantly differ from original Tatar pronunciation, it also could be transliterated into different ways. So, English spelling depends on language from which text is translated. This situations isn't common for all non-Slavic people of Russia. Chuvashes and Keräşen Tatars, for example, use Russian (Orthodox Christian) names as official, but they also has their own renderings, that they use as informal.
Modern Tatar names could be divided into several groups by their origin: Turkic names, Oriental names, European names, "revolutionary" names, that appeared in the early Soviet Union, but are still popular. The usage of Slavic or Christian name is uncommon.
Examples (most popular) are shown later. Cyrillic and various Russian variants of names are shown in brackets. Translation or some comments are given later.
Turkic names are names that could be translated from Turkic languages. Sometimes Mongolian and the earliest Arabic and other loans also are described as Turkic. A significant part of those names were used since pre-history. After the islamization of Volga Bulgaria Arab names were spread among nobility, but some of them also had Turkic names. Example is a gravestone of noble woman Altın Börtek (Golden Grift) that was found in Qaban settlement and dates back to the 12th century. Often some person has two names. The real name was probably Islamic, but Turkic name was used to scare away spirits, that may plunge child into woe. Some of those Turkic names that are still in common use could mean that this child is strong and healthy. For example, name Mintimer could be translated as I'm iron. During the 19th century Turkic names were dislodged by Perso-Arab names. In the 1920s during the repressions of religion Tatars returned to Turkic names (some of them were just now invented, such as Aygöl). In modern history the most popularity of Turkic names had fallen on 1980s-1990s.
Oriental names include names of Arab and Persian origin, and also Jewish and some antique names in Arabian transcription. Those names appeared in the 10th century, but the peak of their popularity had fallen in the 19th century. Those names were often complex and mostly related to religious terms. Male names often ended with -ulla (Allah), -din (religion), -abd (slave of the God), -can /spells: -jun/ (soul): Xäliulla, Islametdin, Sabircan. Also popular were different variants of the name Mohammad: Dinmöxämmäd, Möxämmätsafa, Möxämmätcan. Female names often were chosen from Mohammad's wives' and daughters' names: Ğäyşä, Zäynäp, Fatíma. Other names mostly had complex suffixes -bibi, -bikä, -banu (lady, princess), -nisa (woman), -camal /spell jah-MUL/ (beauty): Bibiğäyşä, Ğäyşäbikä, Xabibcamal, Şamsinisa.
The main tendency was to name a child with a name that no other has in neighborhood. One family also tended to name with consonance with other members of this family. Usually relatives had same endings of their names.
After 1917, during de-islamization of Tatars many names, which were uncommon for Tatar culture, became popular. A major part of them were names of famous persons, so the name Albert became popular after Albert Einstein. Sometimes names or surnames of revolutionaries were chosen as given name, such as Ernest after Ernst Thälmann or Fidel after Fidel Castro Ruz. Some of them, such as Erot, Adolf, Klara and Roald, are no longer popular, others were adopted and non-Tatar populations refer to those names as Tatar names.
Urban legend says that European names were loaded from a group of Genoese merchants, which merged with Tatars in the Middle Ages.
After October Revolution lots of Russian revolutionary names appeared with the renovation of traditions. Originating from Russian abbreviations, they corresponded well to Tatar phonetics and became popular. Interestingly some of these names also coincided with already existing ones.
Those names are often given for children that were born in Tatar-Russian mixed marriage.
Some names were popular among the majority of non-Slavic population of USSR. Some of them were inspired by Russian culture, but they are not Russian traditional names. Sometimes this names were given for child, that born in intermarriage with another non-Russian nationality.