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Surnames are usually taken from the surname or the given name of the father and are generally monosyllabic. Cambodian surnames are sometimes identical to Chinese or Vietnamese surnames. Women keep their maiden names after marriage.
Origin and meanings
The meaning of Cambodian names are generally very simple and reference positive attributes. Cambodian people are called by their given names without a title (informal) or by their given names with a title (formal); surnames are not a usual form of address. (Surnames are used as a form of address, however, in the case of names that originated as revolutionary aliases.)[clarification needed]
Different naming traditions exist among ethnic groups other than the Khmer majority. The Cambodian population is 90% Buddhist and names are often taken from Buddhism. Among the Muslim minority, Arabic names are often used as family names.
Khmer names are usually pronounced with the stress (emphasis) placed on the last syllable. Khmer uses a glottal stop (the Cockney stop in "ten green bo'les") and other stops: p, t, c and k which may or may not occur with aspiration. In romanizations of Khmer script, aspiration (i.e., a breath sound) is usually marked with an h. Final r, d, g, s, b, and z sounds are not heard: Ngor is pronounced Ngow. Some final consonants are written but not pronounced.
List of some family names
Khmer "family" names are usually simply their father's given name and as such change with each generation. Other ethnic groups, particularly Chinese-Cambodians and Vietnamese-Cambodians may have a family name that is taken by each generation, in which case the name is pronounced similarly to the language of origin but within the bounds of Khmer phonology. Below is a list of some common family names some of which are also found as given names.
|កែវ||kaew||Keo||(2nd most popular surname in Cambodia) meaning glass or jewel or crystal|
|ខាយ||kʰaːy||Khay||凯 (triumphant, victorious)|
|ខ្លូត||kʰlout||Khlot||generic name for melon-like fruit|
|គឹម||kɨm||Kim||金 (Korean "Kim" / Mandarin Chinese "Jin", meaning gold)|
|ឃិន||Khin||Chinese 钦 (respect, admiration)|
|ចន្ទ||Chan/Chhan/Jan||Sanskrit word canda (चन्द) meaning moon|
|ចេន||ceːn||Chen/Jen||陳 (Given only to Cambodians of Chinese descent)|
|ឆន||cʰɑːn||Chhorn||終; whole, complete, entire.|
|ជាម||ciəm||Cheam||A type of bowl. Derived from Sanskrit jāma (जाम) or Chinese zhǎn (盞), both meaning cup or container.|
|ជ័យ||cɨj||Chey/Jey/Jay||Most popular surname in Cambodia, the Cambodian word "chey" meaning "victory" or "victorious", derived from Sanskrit Jaya (जय)|
|ឈិត||cʰit||Chhet/Chhit||奇 (odd, unusual)|
|ឈឹម||cʰəm||Chhim/Chhem||欽 (respect, admiration)|
|ញឹក||ɲɨk||Nhek||abbreviation of 涅槃 (Nirvana)|
|ដួង||duəŋ||Duong||beloved, dear, darling|
|ឌិត||dɨt||Dith||ḍita from Sanskrit Paṇḍita (पण्डित) meaning wise man or scholar; or Chinese 狄 ("Di")|
|ឌិន||dɨn||Din||from ḍina (डिन) in Pali meaning flight|
|ឌុល||dul||Dul||from ḍula (डुल) in Pali meaning earring or tremble|
|ឌួង||duəŋ||Duong||Chinese 東 (east)|
|តូច||touc ~ tuːc||Toch/Touch||Small or Tiny|
|ទេព||teːp||Tep||from Deva (देव), Sanskrit for god or divine|
|ប៊ុន||bun||Bun||本 (the four winds, from Vietnamese bốn)|
|ផាន||pʰaːn||Phan||潘 (to overflow; be abundant)|
|ភី||pʰiː||Phy||guardian, one of great importance|
|មា||maː||Ma||ม้า (Thai version of Chinese "Ma")|
|មាន||miən||Mean||rich or wealthy; or 緬 (nostalgic, distant)|
|មាស||miəh||Meas||Khmer for gold|
|មួយ||muəy||Muy/Muoy||the number 1|
|មេង||meːŋ||Meng||孟 (Chinese "Meng")|
|ម៉ៅ||maʋ||Mao||毛 (Chinese "Mao"), locals argue that it came from a spoken form of the Khmer word black or kmav (ខ្មៅ), but this word is reconstructed from Proto-Austro-Asiatic as *kVm and thus is unlikely to be so.|
|យុន||yun||Yun||尹 (Chinese "Yun")|
|យូ||yuː||Yu||尤 (Chinese "Yu")|
|លិម||lim||Lim||林 (Chinese "Lin", meaning forest)|
|វង្ស||ʋʊəŋ||Vong||Circle, line of descent. Derived from the Sanskrit word vaṃśa (वंश) meaning lineage.|
|សាង||saːŋ||Sang||常 (Variation of Chinese "Chang")|
|សុខ||sok||Sok||from Sanskrit sukha (सुख) meaning joy or happiness|
|ស៊ុយ||suy||Suy||隋 (Sui Dynasty)|
|សូ||soː||So||蘇 (Chinese "Sū")|
|ស៊ូ||suː||Su||蘇 (Chinese "Sū")|
|សៀង||sieŋ||Sieng/Seang||Soy or Shang (From Shang Hai City)|
|សោម||saom||Som||from Sanskrit soma (सोम) meaning moon or sky|
|ហូ||hou||Ho/Hu||胡 (Chinese "Hu")|
|ឡុង||loŋ||Long||龍 (Chinese "Long", meaning dragon)|
|អាង||aːŋ||Ang/Aang||吳 (Cantonese variation of surname "Wu")|
|អិម||ʔim||Im/Yim||任 (Hakka Chinese 'jim5')|
|អុង||ʔoŋ||Ong||王 (Chinese "Wang" (pronounced Ong in Hokkien dialect), meaning king)|
|អ៊ុំ||ʔum||Um||Aunt (Your parents older brother or sister)|
|ឯក||ʔaek||Ek/Aek||Self, Single; from Sanskrit eka (एक)|
|ឱម||ʔaom||Om||嚴 (Chinese "Yan")|
List of given names
|This section is missing information about Khmer script and IPA names. (April 2015)|
Unlike Cambodian family names, given names may have multiple syllables and differ greatly. Given names were influenced greatly by Sanskrit.
|Cheata||(chee-ay-tah) meaning birth, nation, origin|
|Cheng||鄭 (Variation of Chinese "Zheng")|
|Chheang||常 (Chinese "Chang")|
|Da||大 (Similar to Chinese "Da" but not related; Khmer meaning for "elder man")|
|ដារា||ɗɑːrɑː||Dara||Sanskrit, meaning star|
|Leng||梁 (Chinese "Liang")|
|Lo||羅 (Chinese "Luo")|
|Phuong||(poong) name of a kind of flower|
|ស្រី||Srey||(sareiy): (Khmer, meaning girl; from the Sanskrit strī́ [स्त्री])|
|Son||(sawn): 孫 (Variation of Chinese "Sun")|
|បុប្ផា||Bopha||(bohpa) meaning flower or blossom|
|ចិន្ដា||Chanda||(chahndah): (More popular Khmer names) meaning heart or mind|
|កុសល||Kosal||(kohsahl)meaning good deed|
|Lai||(lah-ee): 賴 (Chinese "Lai")|
|Lun Ang||(loom-ang): 倫 (Variations of Chinese "Lun" and "Wu")|
|Mey||(Mae) "妹" (Chinese "mèi" meaning "youngest" sister or "little" sister)|
|ម៉ាប់||Map||(mahp): Mập ("Fat" or "Chubby")|
|ផល្លា||Phalla||(pahlah): (More popular Khmer names) meaning fruit (फल्ला) in Pali|
|ពៅ||Poew||(pohew): youngest (sibling)|
|Rith||(rit) meaning power|
|សុផល||Sophal||(sohpahl): (More popular Khmer names)|
|Suon||(soo-in): meaning garden|
|Tren||(trayng): Trần (Vietnamese version of Chinese "Chen")|
|ទី||tiː||Thy||Thị (Chinese "弟" for "youngest" son or "little" brother)|
|Thuy||(toy-ee): Thủy (Vietnamese version of Chinese 水), meaning water|
|វណ្ណា||Vanna||(vahna): gold, golden, from Sanskrit varṇa (वर्ण)|
|វុឌ្ឍិ||vuttʰi||Vuthy||(voo-tee): meaning prosperity. Derived from the Sanskrit word vṛddhi (वृद्धि) which means growth.|
At times, many families combine shorter names to create a longer name. This happens often among the wealthier class of Cambodians.
- Sovanna (Combined "So" and "Vanna") means gold in Sanskrit
- Somally (Combined "So" and "Maly")
- Chandarith (Combined "Chanda" and "Rith")
- Cambodian Names Asian name pronunciation guide
- Cambodian names- Discover the beauty and significance of the Cambodian names and their meanings.
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- Kershaw, Roger. Monarchy in South-East Asia: The Faces of Tradition in Transition. Routledge (2001), p xiv. ISBN 0-415-18531-9.
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- Khmer Institute
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