Thai names follow the same pattern as Western European names. The given (first) name comes first and is followed by a family name (surname), which is opposite to most other East Asian countries. Thai names are more diverse and longer than other East Asian names.
Thai Surnames (Family Names)
Before the 20th century, Thai people didn’t use a family name. Given names were used in their daily life. It wasn’t until around 1913, that King Vajiravudh declared that surnames be given and recorded across the whole country.
Common Thai surnames are often long. They can be named after their ancestors’ names, places of residence, or even a profession. For example, the surname “Tedsungnoen” is related to the place name Sung Noen District.
In Thailand, there are many Thais of Chinese descent. They often use their Chinese surnames or some hint of them in their Thai surnames. For example, a former Prime Minister of Thailand was called Banharn Silpa-archa, and the Thai word archa means ‘horse’. ‘Horse’ (马 Ma) is a common surname in China.
Thai women change their surnames to their husband’s after marriage as in the West. Common people seldom change their surnames otherwise, as it requires permission from the head of a family, such as father, mother, or grandparents.
Thai Given Names (First Names)
Like names in other languages, Thai given names tend to have positive and good meanings. Parents often get their inspiration for given names from flowers, nature, gems, and spirituality. Many Thai people change their given names frequently so that they can get rid of bad luck!
Thai Nick Names
Nicknames play an important role in a Thai’s life. Thai parents will give a nickname to their babies at birth. Different from other Asian countries, nicknames are used more often than formal (recorded) given names in the family, school, workplace, and other social situations. It is common for two close friends not to know each other’s real names in Thailand.
It is said that the use of a nickname can protect a newborn baby from evil spirits, which would be confused by the use of a nickname instead of the child's real name.
The Most Popular Thai Names and Their Meanings
If you are choosing a Thai name for your baby boy(s) and/or girl(s), then you have come to the right place. Here we will introduce some of the most popular and beautiful names for girls and boys.
50 Popular Thai Female/Girl Names
Most Thai names for girls are related to beauty, love, a flower, the moon, sweetness, and so on. Here are some of the most popular names for girls.
|Achara||Pretty or beautiful angel|
|Beam||Ray of light|
|Dara||Star at night|
|Dok Ban Yen||Petunia flower|
|Dok Mai||Flower of a plant|
|Dok Phi Sua||Carnation flower|
|Duangkamol||Right from the heart|
|Kanokwan||‘Gold’ and ‘sweet’|
|Karnchana||Beautiful and lovely|
|Khun Mae||Great mother|
|Malai||A garland of flowers|
|May||A hawthorn flower|
|Pakpao||A flying kite|
|Phaibun||Prosper and flourish|
|Ploy||Precious stone or gem|
50 Popular Thai Male/Boy Names
Like names in many other languages, Thai names for boys are related to power, strength, happiness, victory, wisdom, and so on. Here are some of the most popular Thai names for boys.
|Aroon||Sun or dawn|
|Kamnan||Leader of a village|
|Kla Han||Brave man|
|Kob Sook||Happy heart|
|Mee Noi||Little bear|
20 Unisex Thai names
|Makok||From Makok town|
FAQs about Thai Names
1. Why are Thai names are so long?
Firstly, most Thais have first names, last names, and nicknames, which are written in a long line. Secondly, family names are long and unique, because families (clans) don’t want the same last names with someone who is not a relative. Thirdly, they can change their family names or given names to look different from others by the agreement of the family leaders.
2. Why are Thai names so weird?
In Thailand, people would like to use their nicknames at school, the workplace, or other social occasions, so much so that two friends often don’t know each other’s real names. Parents give a nickname to their newborns at birth, as it is said that the use of nicknames can protect newborn babies from evil spirits, which would then be confused as to the child's real name.
3. How do Thai names work?
The Thai name pattern is like in Western Europe: first name(s) or given name(s) then last name (surname or family name). Most parents give a nickname to their babies at birth, which is often used in daily life.
4. How should Thais be addressed?
In Thailand, as a formal means of address, people often use the title Khun (‘Mr/Mrs/Miss’) before a name, e.g., 'Khun Chai'. It is also common to use a person’s occupation as a title before a Thai name, e.g., Kruu (‘teacher’) or Moh (‘doctor’).
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