Thanks to the never-to-be-sufficiently-praised aldiboronti at Wordorigins, I hereby present to all and sundry the Lexicon of Greek Personal Names.

The Lexicon of Greek Personal Names (LGPN) was established to collect and publish all ancient Greek personal names, drawing on the full range of written sources from the 8th century B.C. down to the late Roman Empire… The work thus starts with the period of epichoric scripts, embraces the classical and hellenistic periods of Greek history, following dialect and the development of koine, and continues through the period of the Roman Empire when Greek nomenclature underwent changes as a result of Roman rule, and religious, social and other factors. Excluded names include mythological and heroic names, Mycenaean names, later Byzantine names and geographical names.

The search page explains the two different searches available [2024: Now replaced by this page with a single search option], and the Greek names section [2024: New version] includes

an introduction to Greek personal names themselves, how they were formed and used, and how we know about them… Although LGPN is concerned with Greek names in antiquity, we are aware that many modern Greeks are interested in our site, and contact us with questions about their names. Although we must stress that this is not our area of expertise, we add here some paragraphs on how modern Greek name-giving has been influenced by the past, and how some ancient names came through to be used in the modern world.

A wonderful resource; may it thrive and expand!


  1. It goes without saying that Greek and Roman personal names endure in the western world and even in Russia down to this day. Two of these names Phillip (Lover of Horses) and Alexander (Defender of Men) were certainly made popular by two Macedonian conquerors with these names. Everybody likes a winner and a conqueror or victorious general’s name will usually take hold.
    Other Greek names were disseminated throughout Europe by the Christian church as in the case of Nicholas which has been translated variously as “conqueror of the people”, “victorious” and “victorious” with the people. The words “conquering” and “victorious” in this context however mean in a saintly sense rather than a military sense according to the experts.
    Nicolopoulos means “Son of Nicholas” in Greek. Today almost every European country has a variation of the name Nikolaiyev, Nicolescu, Niccoli, Nilsson, Nelson, Nicholson, McNichol even Nixon.

  2. Not to mention Nickles, Nissen, Mikula, and a bunch of forms that have dropped the first syllable: Cole, Colson, Collett, Collins, Class, Colley, Clayson, Clausen, Klaus, Klass, Lassen, and Colonna.

  3. Jimmy Ho says

    This is fine most certainly, and I wouldn’t dare to claim one tenth of the authors’ scholarship. That being said, I could never use a ressource that seems to consider accents as a frivolity.
    You, LH, talk about hundreds of other languages besides Greek yet you still manage to put the stress accent on Greek words; Greek is their main topic, but they wouldn’t care enough? This is not asking too much (I would never say they had to write in polytonic, because I tried it and I know it doesn’t work properly on any browser).

  4. Jimmy Ho says

    (This sounds harsher than I meant, and I know it probably looks like a detail. None the less, I still think it had to be mentioned at least once.)

  5. Well, to be fair, they’re often working from sources that don’t show accents, and they probably don’t feel right adding them even if they know where they should go. But I agree it’s annoying.

  6. What do you mean, Brian, by “even in Russia?” Not “even” but “especially” — few Russian names are of Slavic or Nordic origin. On the contrary, the German and English name pools have retained a host of indigenous names like Alfred, Albert, Gertrude, Rosamunde, etc.

  7. Alexei,
    Re: What do you mean, Brian, by “even in Russia?”
    This is a reference to the fact that Russia is not part of the Western World. The famous British historian Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) discusses this subject in several of his books (including “The World and the West” (Oxford University Press 1953) and says that Russia is part of the Byzantine World instead. He goes on further to say that the Western adaptations of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great and even Communism (invented in Germany) were not true signs of Westernization in Russia but rather attempts by Russia to stay competitive with the West. At heart, Russia has retained a Greek Orthodox Christian culture inherited from Byzantium (Cyril & Methodius etc.)One that has been at odds with the West since the Great Schism of 1054.
    The most popular Slavic name in Russia seems to be Vladimir “Ruler of World”, a cognate with ancient Gallic vlati- “to rule” and Vlatos “Prnice” also Old Irish Flaith “Lord; prince” and Latin valentia “power”; valere “to be strong.”
    Otherwise, you are right. Most Russian names are not Slavic. The majority are actually derived from the names of saints in the Greek Orthodox Church.

  8. Exactly, Brian: if you accept Toynbee’s perspective (Russia as a successor to Christian Greek culture), you should expect Greek personal names to have endured in Russia and even the West to this day.

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