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 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.
Given first name
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 peoples 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 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 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.
- Alim (Алим) - Wise
- Almas (Алмас), sometimes could be confused with Almaz, that has Arabic origin and means brilliant. Almas is a Tatar for it will not take (away). The same name had the first Muslim elteber of Volga Bulgaria.
- Arslan (Арслан) - Lion
- Aydar (Айдар) - Turkic word for Settler
- Aynur (Айнур) – Moonlight beam. -nur is an Arabic loan.
- Ayrat (Айрат) – unclear. Probably from Arabic hayrat – astonishment of Mongolian for forest people
- Azat (Азат) – Free; this word is of Persian origin
- İldar (Илдар; Ильдар) – Ruler (has Persian ending)
- İldus (Илдус; Ильдус) – Friend of Motherland
- İlgiz (Илгиз; Ильгиз) - Traveller
- İlşat (Илшат; Ильшат) – Gladness of Motherland
- İrek (Ирек; Ирек, Ирик) – Free
- Timer (Тимер; Тимур) - Iron
- Alsu (Алсу) - Rose water
- Aygöl (Айгөл; Айгуль) – Moon Flower
- Aysılu (Айсылу) – Beauty as Moon
- Çulpan (Чулпан) – Turkic for Venus.
- Gölçäçäk (Гөлчәчәк; Гульчачак) – Flower (göl is a Persian, çäçäk is a Turkic for flower)
- Güzäl, Güzäliä (Гүзәл, Гүзәлия; Гузель, Гузалия) - Beauty
- Tañsılu (Таңсылу; Тансылу) – Beauty as Evening-red
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.
- Ğabdulla (Габдулла, Абдулла) – Tatar variant of Abdullah
- Äxmät (Әхмәт; Ахмет, Ахмед) – Tatar variant of Ahmad; both names are no longer popular among Tatars, but neighboring peoples sometimes refer them as "typically Tatar names".
- Ämir (Әмир; Амир) – Emir, Arab
- Färit (Фәрит; Фарид) – Farid, Arab
- Ğädel (Гадел; Адель) – Arabian 'Adl, sometimes could be confused with Adelia of European origin, nevertheless this name is fermal
- Ğäskär (Гаскәр; Аскар) – Arab
- İlyas (Ильяс) – Jewish Elijah
- İskändär (Искәндәр; Искандер) – rendering of Alexander the Great
- Kamil (Камил; Камиль) – Kamil, Arab
- Kärim (Кәрим; Карим) – Karim, Arab
- Nail (Наил; Наиль) - Arab
- Radiq (Радик(ъ); Радик), Arab, sometimes could be written as Radiy, which corresponds to Russian for radium
- Rail (Раил; Раиль), Arab
- Ramil (Рамил; Рамиль), Arab
- Räşit (Рәшит; Рашид), Arab
- Rawil (Равил; Равиль), Arab
- Rişat (Ришат), probably Arabic rendering of Richard the Lionheart
- Röstäm or Rustam (Рөстәм; Рустам, Рустем), Persian (epic) hero; strong or powerful man
- Ruşan (Рушан), Persian
- Şamil (Шамил; Шамиль), Arab
- Tahir (Таһир; Тагир), Arab
- Zöfär (Зөфәр; Зуфар), Arab
- Älfiä (Әлфия; Альфия), Arab
- Asiä (Асия), Arab
- Dinara (Динара), Arab
- Färidä (Фәридә; Фарида), Arab
- Ğäliä, Äliä (Галия, Алия), Arab
- Gölnara (Гөлнара; Гульнара, Гюльнара, Гёльнара), Persian
- Gölnaz (Гөлназ; Гульназ), Persian
- Märyäm (Мәрьям; Марьям), Jewish Maria
- Miläwşä (Миләүшә; Миляуша), Persian for violet
- Zöhrä (Зөһрә; Зухра), Arab
European and revolutionary 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.
- Albert (Альберт)
- Alfred (Альфред)
- Artur (Артур)
- Edward, Eduard (Эдвард, Эдуард)
- Emil (Эмиль)
- Erik (Эрик)
- Ferdinand/Ferdinant (Фердинанд, Фердинант)
- Marsel (Марсель), became popular after Marcel Cachin
- Rafael/Rafail (Рафаэль; Рафаил)
- Robert (Роберт)
- Rudolf (Рудольф)
- Damir (Дамир; Да здравствует мировая революция! – Long life world revolution!)
- Engel (Энгель) after Friedrich Engels.
- Lenar, Linar (Ленар – Ленинская Армия – Lenin's Army)
- Marat (Марат) after Jean-Paul Marat, also could be confused with Morat, Tatar analogy of Murad.
- Rinat, Renat (Ренат, Ринат – Революция, народ, труд. –Revolution. People. Labor), it coincided with Latin name.
- Vilen (Вилен) (after Vladimir Ilyich Lenin)
- Adelina (Adelä; Аделина, Аделя)
- Albinä (Альбина)
- Alinä (Алинә; Алина)
- Alisä (Алисә; Алиса)
- Dana (Дана), also has Persian origin
- Elina (Элина)
- Elvirä (Эльвира)
- Elza (Эльза)
- Kamilla (Камилла)
- Regina (Регина)
- Rezidä, Rezeda (Резидә, Резеда)
- Roza (Роза), popular after Rosa Luxemburg
- Yana (Яна) (originates from Jean)
- Yuliä (Юлия) – Russian variant of Julia.
- Leniza (Лениза Ленинские заветы – Lenin's testaments), coincided with Arab name
- Renata (Рената: see Rinat)
Common non-Russian names
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.
- Çıñğız (Чингиз) after Genghis Khan
- Elbrus (Эльбрус) after mountain of Caucasus
- Kazbek (Казбек) after mountain of Caucasus
- Ruslan (Руслан), after Pushkin's personage of Ruslan and Lyudmila. Nevertheless, Ruslan may be a Russian rendering of Turkic name Arslan, although this has not been substantiated
- Timur (Тимур) after Tamerlane and Arkady Gaidar's personage Timur.
- Aida (Аида; after Verdi's opera)
- Indira (Индира; after Indira Gandhi)
- Lälä (Ляля) – Persian Lale – tulip
- Liä (Лия)
- Liana (Лиана)
- Zemfira (Земфира) is said to be a Romani name.