A few years ago I met a couple named Anoush and Harout, (who, predictably, had a last name ending in ian, the Armenian patronymic meaning ‘son of”) and was immediately intrigued by the rich sounds of their names. That, plus the lingering memory of the characters in William Saroyan‘s My Name is Aram–Arak, Dikran, Jorgi, Garro–piqued my interest in Armenian names. It’s an ethnicity that has made few inroads into mainstream American nomenclature, but, while most of these names are destined to remain confined to the Armenian community, there are definitely some candidates eligible for wider circulation.
Many of these names date back to antiquity, some coming from the Bible (eg. Sahak for Isaac) or relating to nature (Shoushan, meaning lily), and there are a number that are close cousins to more familiar appellations, such as Hanna, Rouben, Ester, Yulia–variations with their own distinctive charm. (And note that since Armenia does not use the Latin alphabet but has a 36-letter alphabet of its own, transliterations bring about wide variations in spellings.)
Here, some of the most appealing Armenian choices:
ANOUSH (means sweet)
ARAX, ARAXI, ARAXIA, ARAXIE
PEROUZE (means turquoise)
ZABELLE, ZABEL, ZOBEL