Turkish Names Delight and Inspire

Turkish Names Delight and Inspire

Turkish names are quietly rising on the American charts. Take a peek into this beautiful, sometimes overlooked corner of the baby name world.

The most popular names in Turkey reflect the country’s rich cultural mix, with influences from several directions. Many come from the Turkish and/or Persian languages, such as Masal (“fairy tale, fable” in Turkish) and Umut (“hope”, derived from the Persian word name Omid). Turkey’s minority languages, like Kurdish and Zazaki, also have their own names.

Names from these traditions are used right across Central Asia, but are may look unfamiliar if you're used to European name traditions — although there are some accidental similarities. For example, Ada, meaning "island", is unrelated to the Germanic name Ada, but makes a good culture-crossing option.

Most of Turkey's population is Muslim, so there are also plenty of Arabic names in use — sometimes in their best-known international form, like Muhammed, and sometimes the Turkish variation, like Mehmet.

A few popular names in Turkey come from Greek/Mediterranean traditions and feel more familiar to English speakers, such as Atlas and Defne.

And because names are endlessly variable and creative, there are glorious mashups like Ayşegül, which combines Ayşe — the Turkish form of the Arabic name Aisha — with a Persian-origin word meaning “flower” or “rose” that is common in names.

Turkish names rank highly in some European countries, like Germany and the Netherlands, but they make less of an impact in the US, where the Turkish population is relatively small.

But that could be changing, as several of the most popular baby names in Turkey are rising fast in the States too. Here, we take a closer look at the ones you might see sometime soon, or choices you might consider if you’re looking for a stylish name with Turkish connections.

Top Baby Names in Turkey

The number one girl name in Turkey in 2022 is on a rising trend in the States. Zeynep, the Turkish form of Zainab, was given to 138 girls in 2022, making it more popular now than ever before. Alparslan, meaning "heroic lion", is much rarer: in 2022 it was chosen for just 6 baby boy, and this is only the second year it has appeared on the charts.

Of Turkey's the top 5 boy names, Yusuf is by far the most popular in the US, ranking consistently in the 500s since 2014. Alparslan, Miraç and Eymen all debuted in the US in the last twelve years and are still rare.

Turkey's number 4 name is actually the double name Ömer Asaf, meaning "flourishing collector", but it's difficult to see if this is being used in the States. America's charts don't count double names or diacritics, making it impossible to tell it apart from the Hebrew name Omer.

Some of the other Top 5 girl names are also making big leaps in the States. Elif, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, is the most popular it has ever been: it was given to 106 girls in 2022. Defne, the Turkish form of Daphne, has also been used more in the last decade than ever before.

Asel, meaning "honey", is rarer, as is Zümra, which means "emerald" — but both of these short, sweet names are waiting to be discovered.

International Turkish Names

Some popular Turkish names travel around the world with ease, because they are shared across cultures or have multiple roots in different languages.

Ela is not just a variant of Ella, but also means "hazel-colored" in Turkish. Atlas, one of the fastest-rising mythological names for English speakers, is in Turkey both the mythical figure and a word meaning “satin”.

And Arabic names like Leyla and Musa are well-used by Muslims all over the world (and, in Leyla’s case, non-Muslims too).

On the other hand, some names travel less easily. They include those where the pronunciation is not intuitive to non-Turkish speakers, such as Can — which means "soul" and sounds similar to John — and those whose spelling and sounds are very different from anything on the US charts, like Öykü (meaning “story”). We're not saying you shouldn't use them — but it explains why some Turkish names are more popular in the States than others.

If you're looking for a name that's Turkish and international, the following names are well-used in Turkey, and are also in the US Top 1000.

Rising Turkish Names

Here are more names commonly used in Turkey that have seen a notable rise — or have made their debut — in the States in the last decade. The raw numbers may be small, but together, over the years, they amount to thousands of American children with terrific Turkish names.



Got a name story to tell? If you'd like to write about your personal experience with your own name, your child's name, names in your family or your culture, we'd love to consider your story for publication on Nameberry. Email us a sentence or two about your idea at clare@nameberry.com

About the Author

Clare Green

Clare Green

Clare Green has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, covering everything from names peaking right now to feminist baby names, and keeping up-to-date with international baby name rankings. Her work has featured in publications such as The Independent and HuffPost. Clare has a background in linguistics and librarianship, and recently completed an MA dissertation researching names in multilingual families. She lives in England with her husband and son. You can reach her at clare@nameberry.com