Cambodian name

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Cambodian names usually consist of two elements, a family name followed by a given name.[1][2] (In Western sources the two are sometimes reversed).[3] Every Khmer name has a meaning.

Given names[edit]

Generally, women are given names relating to beauty, while men are given names of virtues.[4][5] Some Cambodian given names are unisex names.


Surnames are usually taken from the surname or the given name of the father[1] and are generally monosyllabic.[6] Cambodian surnames are sometimes identical to Chinese or Vietnamese surnames.[6] Women keep their maiden names after marriage.[4]

Origin and meanings[edit]

The meaning of Cambodian names are generally very simple and reference positive attributes.[7] 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.[2][4] (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.[1]


Khmer names are usually pronounced with the stress (emphasis) placed on the last syllable.[8] 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 written but not pronounced.[9]

List of some family names[edit]

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[10] some of which are also found as given names.

Khmer IPA Romanization Origin
កែវ kaew Keo (2nd most popular surname in Cambodia) meaning glass or jewel or crystal
ខាត់ kʰat Khat Chinese (triumphant, victorious)
ខាយ kʰaːy Khay Chinese (triumphant, victorious)
ខៀវ kʰiəw Khiev blue
ខ្លូត kʰlout Khlot generic name for melon-like fruit
គិម kim Kim (Korean "Kim" / Chinese "Jin")
គីម kiːm Kim (Korean "Kim" / Chinese "Jin")
គឹម kɨm Kim (Korean "Kim" / Chinese "Jin")
ឃិន Khin Chinese (respect, admiration)
ចន្ទ can Chan/Chhan/Jan Sanskrit word canda (चन्द) meaning moon
ចេន ceːn Chen/Jen (Given only to Cambodians of Chinese descent)
ឆន cʰɑːn Chhorn from Chinese ; whole, complete, entire.
ជ័យ cɨj Chey/Jey/Jay Most popular surname in Cambodia, the Cambodian word "chey" meaning "victory" or "victorious", derived from Sanskrit Jaya (जय)
ជា ciə Chea (gratitude)
ជិន cin Chin/Jin
ជឹម cɨm Chim/Choem
ឈិត cʰit Chhet/Chhit Chinese (odd, unusual)
ឈឹម cʰəm Chhim/Chhem (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 ("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 (east)
តាង taːŋ Tang
តាត taːt Tat
តូច touc ~ tuːc Toch/Touch Khmer for small or tiny
ទី tiː Ty
ទេព teːp Tep from Deva (देव), Sanskrit for god or devine
ធី tʰiː Thy
ប៉ាង paːŋ Pang
ប៉ែន paen Pen/Ben (guest/visitor)
ប៉ុក pok Pok (Bo)
ប៊ុន bun Bun (the four winds, from Vietnamese bốn)
ផាន pʰaːn Phan (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 (nostalgic, distant)
មាស miəh Meas Khmer for gold
មូល muːl Mul round
មួយ muəy Muy/Muoy the number 1
មេង meːŋ Meng (Chinese "Meng")
ម៉ៅ maʋ Mao (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.
យស់ yuəh Yos/Yous
យុន yun Yun (Chinese "Yun")
យូ yuː Yu (Chinese "Yu")
រស់ rʊəh Ros to live
លិម lim Lim (Chinese "Lin")
លីម liːm Lim (Chinese "Lin")
លឹម lɨm Lim (Chinese "Lin")
វ៉ាង ʋaaŋ Vang
sɑː Sor/Sar white
សម sɑːm Sam
សរ sɑː Sor/Sar
សង sɑːŋ Sang
សាង saːŋ Sang (Variation of Chinese "Chang")
សាត saːt Sat
សាន saːn San
សាយ saːj Say
សិន sɨn Sin ; forest
ស៊ិន sin Sin ; forest
សឺន səɨn Son
សុខ sok Sok from Sanskrit sukha (सुख) meaning joy or happiness
សុង soŋ Song
សុន son Son
ស៊ុយ suy Suy from Chinese
សូ soː So (Chinese "Sū")
ស៊ូ suː Su (Chinese "Sū")
សួន suən Soun
សៀង sieŋ Sieng/Seang
សេង seiŋ Seng
សេន sein Sen
សោម saom Som from Sanskrit soma (सोम) meaning moon or sky
ហុង hoŋ Hong (Chinese "Hong", uncommon name for Cambodians)
ហ៊ុន hun Hun
ហូ hou Ho/Hu (Chinese "Hu", most uncommon name for Cambodians)
ឡុង loŋ Long (Chinese "Long")
អាង aːŋ Ang/Aang (Cantonese variation of surname "Wu")
អិម ʔim Im/Yim (Hakka Chinese 'jim5')
ឣ៊ីម ʔiːm Im/Yim (Hakka Chinese 'jim5')
អឹម ʔəm Im/Yim (Hakka Chinese 'jim5')
អុង ʔoŋ Ong (Chinese "Wang" pronounced Ong in Hokkien dialect)
អ៊ុច ʔuc Uch/Ouch
អ៊ុយ ʔuj Uy
អ៊ុំ ʔum Um
អៀម ʔiəm Eam/Iem/Iam
អៀវ ʔieʋ Iv/Eav Chinese (one)
ឯក ʔaek Ek/Aek self, single; from Sanskrit eka (एक)
ឱក ʔaok Ok/Aok Chinese (jade)
ឱម ʔaom Om (Chinese "Yan")

List of given names[edit]

Unlike Cambodian family names, given names may have multiple syllables and differ greatly. Given names were influenced greatly by Sanskrit.

  • Balin (bah-lin)
  • Chea (chee-ah) It means good health
  • Cheata (chee-ay-tah) meaning birth, nation, origin
  • Chheng cheng: (Variation of Chinese "Zheng")
  • Chheang: (Chinese "Chang")
  • Da: (Similar to Chinese "Da" but not related)
  • Dara dah-rah: (Sanskrit, meaning "Star")
  • Leng (leng): (Chinese "Liang")
  • Lo (Lo): (Chinese "Luo")
  • Narong (nah-rong)
  • Naroeung (nahroong)
  • Phuong (poong) name of the kind of flower
  • Saroeung (sah-roong)
  • Srey (sareiy): (Khmer, meaning girl; from the Sanskrit strī́ [स्त्री])
  • Son (sawn): (Variation of Chinese "Sun"
  • Bopha (bohpa) meaning flower
  • Chanda (chahndah): (More popular Khmer names) meaning heart or mind
  • Chhoun (choo-en)
  • Khan (kahn)
  • Kosal (kohsahl)meaning good deed
  • Kunthea (kunt-hee-ah)
  • Lai (lah-ee): (Chinese "Lai")
  • Lun Ang (loom-ang): (Variations of Chinese "Lun" and "Wu")
  • Maly (mahlee)
  • Mey (Mae)
  • Map (mahp): Mập ("Fat")
  • Moeuk (mew)
  • Phalla (pahlah): (More popular Khmer names) meaning fruit (फल्ला) in Pali
  • Phireak (pee-re)
  • Poew (pohew): youngest (sibling)
  • Rith (rit) mean power
  • Ry (ree)
  • Samnang (Lucky)
  • Sarit (sahrit)
  • Sophal (sohpahl): (More popular Khmer names)
  • Suon (soo-in): meaning garden
  • Tren (trayng): Trần (Vietnamese version of Chinese "Chen")
  • Thy (tee): Thị
  • Thuy (toy-ee): Thủy (Vietnamese version of Chinese )
  • Vanna (vahna): gold, golden, from Sanskrit varṇa (वर्ण)

Compound names[edit]

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")

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Naming systems of the world" (self-published). Citing Huffman, Franklin Eugene. Cambodian names and titles. Institute of Far Eastern Languages, Yale University (1968). OCLC 20035170.
  2. ^ a b Short, Philip. Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare. Macmillan (2006), p xv. ISBN 0-8050-8006-6.
  3. ^ Kershaw, Roger. Monarchy in South-East Asia: The Faces of Tradition in Transition. Routledge (2001), p xiv. ISBN 0-415-18531-9.
  4. ^ a b c Valerie Ooka Pang & Li-Rong Lilly Cheng. Struggling to Be Heard: The Unmet Needs of Asian Pacific American Children. SUNY Press (1998), p51. ISBN 0-7914-3839-2.
  5. ^ Asian American Community Mental Health Training Center. Bridging Cultures: Southeast Asian Refugees in America. University of Michigan (1983), p98. OCLC 10431338.
  6. ^ a b Mary Fong & Rueyling Chuang. Communicating Ethnic and Cultural Identity. Rowman & Littlefield (2003), p40. ISBN 0-7425-1739-X.
  7. ^ Cambodian names The significance and beauty of Cambodian names
  8. ^ Khmer Institute
  9. ^
  10. ^ What Language Does He Speak? Asian Last Name Guide