Mongolian Naming Practices
Articles > Names

Mongolian Naming Practices

Marta as tu Mika-Mysliwy, Brickbat Herald

Published in KWHS Proceedings, 1998; web version, 2010
©1998, 2010 by Linda M. Miku. All rights reserved.

Like their historical forbears, Creative Anachronists with European personae must contend with visitors from the East from time to time. The individual who desires an Arabic, Chinese, or Japanese persona is sometimes met with a dearth of information concerning naming practices of those cultures, not because the information is absent but because it is usually presented in languages with which the incipient Saracen or budding samurai are unfamiliar.

The person who desires a Mongolian name appears to be in this company, as most references to Mongol naming practices remain in the native language or have been translated only into languages of cultures that have had long cultural or political dealings with this nomadic society (e.g., Chinese and Russian). This paper hopes to inform anyone who might have an interest in early Mongolian naming practices to learn what given names are available and the relative ease by which one can form an accurate Mongolian name to attach to a Mongolian persona.

John Krueger's 1962 paper on Mongolian personal names focuses on those names adopted by the Mongols of the 16th Century, a time when "medieval" shamanistic beliefs were being replaced by Buddhism. Like Latin in Western Europe, Tibetan and its Sanskrit influence became the sacred language of the Mongols, and naming practices in late period adopted a decidedly Tibetan flavor. For those who wish to base a Mongolian persona in the 1500's, I recommend Krueger's paper; its information on Mongolian adaptation of foreign names and titles is also interesting.

I suspect that the majority of people who wish Mongolian persona are those who want to be associated with the nomadic tribes preceding the establishment of the Mongol Empire, and with the culture and time period of the Mongol Empire itself. For them, Krueger's article is of little use. Instead, manuscripts and histories that tell of those time periods are helpful, and from them can be drawn names and naming practices that are associated with these much earlier Mongols. Difficulties that might be encountered here include a lack of written histories' differences between the modern and ancient Mongol languages, and the transliteration of those existing texts into languages that do not share a common alphabet. (One of the most obvious transliteration faux pas is the title which Temujin, the founder of the Mongol Empire, adopted as a young man. While more accurately translated as Chingis, the usual Genghis or Genghiz spelling is based on Persian chronicles. Arabic lacks the -ch- sound, and so this name was originally recorded as Jingis, eventually mutating into Genghis. Recent writers tend to use forms that more closely represents the original Oriental pronunciation, hence the appearance Chingis.)

There are nine languages in the Altaic language family (the Altaic family of languages is comprised of three major groups, Mongolian; Turkic, or Turko-Tatar; and Manchurian, or Tungus), and the language known in modern times as "Mongolian" is the one associated with the tribes and clans of Chingis Khan (the major Mongolian dialects are Khalkha, Buryat, Oriat, Ordos and Chahar). Mongolian is a written language as far back as the time of Chingis Khan, when the vertical cursive script of the Uighurs was adopted by Mongolian scribes in 1204, according to Mongol tradition. In 1269, during the reign of Khubilai Khan, Chingis Khan's grandson, an attempt to introduce a "square" script, based on a modified Tibetan script, was made; this is known as 'Phags-pa (Tibetan term) or dorgeljin (Mongolian term). It was used until the mid-14th Century, when it was abandoned in favor of the older, easier to use vertical style.

Prior to the spread of Buddhism and its influence on Mongolian life, the Mongols generally held shamanistic beliefs which were tied closely to the earth and to natural phenomenon found therein. This gave rise to the purely descriptive name. Because of this, the names given to newborn children are often reminiscent of personal names used by North American Indian tribes. Krueger notes that such descriptive names, while uncommon in modern Mongolian society, do occasionally appear in the 20th Century (a famous Mongolian revolutionary is Suke Bator, "Axe Hero" or "a hero as sharp and powerful as an axe"). Armed with a English-Mongolian dictionary, this type of descriptive name can be constructed successfully and with little difficulty, since there are only a few guidelines in the formation of such a name.

Period Mongolian names consist of two words, usually a noun and its modifier, although Nicholas Poppe notes that a noun may have more than one attribute or modifier. In the case of a common noun being modified by an adjective, the adjective precedes the noun. Hence, historical figures have names such as Yeke Nidun, "Big Eyes", and Yesen Tege, "Nine Spans". The researcher should keep in mind the culture of these people and draw on objects that were of significance in their lives. Sechen Jagchid's Mongolia's Culture and Society lists general categories that reflect Mongolian naming practices. These include

  • names which represent a special occasion, such as a victory or conquest;
  • animal names, due to the culture's close association with hunting and herding, and with the skills of riding and horsemanship (the unlikely name Seger Sandalitu, "Neck Seat", may be a description of how one sits on horseback);
  • names derived from terms for the foreign people with whom the Mongols had contact in their migrations and military campaigns;
  • names that reflect desirable qualities in life (Batu, "confident, immovable");
  • names that represent characteristics of strength, durability or physical value (Temur, "iron", and Altan, "gold");
  • names that are associated with metal tools and weaponry (Kete, "steel for striking a fire");
  • names that are derived from color or from beautiful objects (Koko, "blue");
  • and names that have religious meaning, usually associated with the Buddhist influence in the 1500's.

It was not uncommon, however, for Mongols living in a newly-conquered land to adopt both the religion and naming practices of those people whom they had overcome and now had commerce. As a result, a Mongol persona living during the time of the Mongol Empire could have a Chinese name, or have converted to Islam (Uzbek, a Muslim saint) or to Nestorian Christianity (Gorgis, Anton, or Nichola) and subsequently adopted a religious name to reflect these newly-embraced beliefs! It appears that leaders in the Mongolian Empire often adopted Islamic, Nestorian or Russian names, possibly to appear more "fraternal" to their foreign subjects.

Jagchid also notes a category of names influenced by numbers and numerals, be it the birth order of siblings (Tabudai and Jirghadai, "fifth" and "sixth"), the age of the father when the child was conceived (Nayan, "eighty"), or lucky numbers. The number nine (yesun) is considered especially lucky and represents adundance, hence the names Yesun and Yesun Tege. A final name category suggests objects or qualities that are undesirable (Eljigetei, "donkey", or Bujir, "dirty, filthy"). Such names were not given to degrade or demean the child, but to protect it from evil spirits; the shamanistic Mongol believed that a child who was wellnamed or was physically attractive could be the unfortunate target of wicked spirits' attentions. Careful parents might safeguard their offspring by bestowing "bad names" upon them. A boy baby might even receive the name Keuken, "girl", since male offspring had much greater value than female children--no doubt this value was shared by inhabitants of the spirit world. While most names that have a translation available reflect tangible items, names based on abstract concepts (Erke, "power", Ilugei, "profit", and Chagan, "white/richness") also exist.

The second type of personal name is the given name. Given names are considered proper nouns. In the Mongolian language, a word that modifies a proper noun follows the noun, and this is apparent in the names Duua Sokhur, "Duua the Blind", and Korichar Mergen, "Korichar the Clever". Most modifiers are adjectives, but nouns can also be used (Nayaga Biljigur, "Nayaga the Lark"), and some modifying words can serve as either an adjective or a noun, depending on the translation (Buri Boko is alternately translated as "Buri the Strong" and "Buri the Athlete"; Altan translates as "Gold", but Altan Arasen means "Golden Skin"). In most cases, the modifier-given name word order is the rule, but in several manuscripts, the adjective precedes a proper noun. This may be due to poetic license, as Mongolian verse (the manner in which The Secret History of the Mongols and other manuscripts were written) attempts to alliterate at the beginning of each verse. As a result, if inverting a name allows alliteration, it may have been done to achieve a pleasing, aesthetic result.

Most names found in period texts can be considered proper names and are rarely translated. No doubt most of them are traceable to common nouns and adjectives, but trying to determine this is hampered by having to deal with changes in a language over several centuries (not unlike trying to compare modern English with Middle English) and by nonstandard transliteration of Mongolian terms into other languages. (While the references used in this article translate Mongolian texts from Chinese or directly from Mongolian into English, the dictionaries used in an attempt to translate the names are based on the Russian Cyrillic alphabet, Mongolia's official alphabet since the 1940's, further confusing the issue!) Many western world name elements have lost their original meanings over a long period of use, usually not to the detriment of the name or the person bearing it. Some proper names are adjectives (Yeke, "big", or Yesun, "nine"), and can be found as a simple single name or as a combination name, serving as the modifier (Yeke Negurin, "Big Journey", and Yesun Tege, "Nine Spans"); in the latter case, the adjective assumes the first position.

Modifiers which describe a given name can be epithets that reflect physical characteristics, such as khara, "dark, black", or targhurai, "fat". Epithets may be occupational, such as Guchugur Mochi, "Guchugur the carpenter". Although a familial term can be attached to a given name (Eke Onan, "Mother Onan"), the modifier only describes one's relationship to a family or group (e.g., an elder brother or an old man). There is no evidence of a patronymic epithet in period manuscripts--if there is such a relationship, it is described in the body of the text, not in the individual's personal name. It also involves some knowledge of Mongolian grammar because nouns undergo declension. This is true of clan and tribal associations as well. The simple "modifier + given name" combination not only is an accurate method of forming a period Mongolian name, but it also prevents one from having to become overly involved in learning Mongolian grammar and syntax. Of course, one can choose a name that is not completely rendered into Mongol, but succeeds in demonstrating a clan or tribal relationship without requiring knowledge of Mongolian grammar (e.g., Jebe of the Dorben).

There appears to be no segregation of particular period names based on sex (for example, Maral is found both as a masculine and as a feminine name). Sex-influenced names appear to be a late period practice, with a number of female religious-based names being goddesses of the Buddhist pantheon.

The most useful source for period Mongolian names is undoubtedly The Secret History of the Mongols. It is both the oldest Mongolian heroic epic and the oldest Mongolian literary work known. To this date, it is also the only period Mongolian manuscript, and most of what is known of Chingis Khan is derived from it. (If other period Mongolian works were written, it appears that they were destroyed during the Ming Dynasty of China.) The text was written in 1240 AD, less than two decades after Chingis Khan's death in 1227. It is probably the collective effort of several authors, likely including men who were eyewitness to the events described in the history or who were contemporaries of Chingis Khan. Although no manuscript of the original Mongolian version is known, and while it has been translated into several languages (the Russian Orthodox priest Palladius, serving as an ambassador of his faith in Peking and who was the first Westerner to see a copy of the manuscript in the mid-19th Century, itself a phonetic rendering of antique literary Mongolian rendered into Chinese characters, called his Russian translation An Ancient Mongolian Legend), the Chinese version, Yuan Ch'ao Pi Shih, is considered by scholars to be the most complete translation of the original text. It was translated into Chinese in 1392 during the Ming Dynasty. Whether it should be viewed more as an historical chronicle or as a mythic work, depicting the formation of the Mongolian Empire with extravagant imagination, is a question that has yet to be resolved. It should be noted that almost immediately after his death, Chingis Khan was elevated to a cult figure, as noted by the Persian historian Aladin Juzjani, the Franciscan emissary John Plano Carpini, and perhaps even Geoffrey Chaucer (the reference to a conqueror called Cambynskan in "The Squire's Tale" might allude to Chingis Khan). It should be no surprise that The Secret History of the Mongols treats its main character both as a historical figure and as a legend, along with serving as an official account of the Mongolian ruling class and as a genealogy for the royal family. Considering that it became known to Western civilization only within the last 150 years (the German scholar Erich Haenisch was the first to publish a full European--undoubtedly German--translation in 1940), the manuscript may have been intended for the use and education of the royal family alone.

The Secret History begins with the ancestral Mongols coming across the "inland sea" of Tenggis (Lake Baikal). Depending on the particular translation, the "Adam and Eve" of the Mongolian people are either a wolf and a deer, or a man and a woman who have names based on natural phenomenon (he is Borte Chinua, "brindled wolf," and she is Ghoa Maral, "beautiful doe"). The Secret History contains a lengthy genealogy of Chingis Khan's line, the important events of his life, the formation of the Mongol Empire, and a short narrative about the rule of Ogedei, Chingis Khan's successor.

A second name source is The Bejewelled Summary of the Origin of the Khans. Written in 1662 by the Ordos Mongol prince Sagang Sechen (Sagang the Wise), this manuscript is a generally accurate history, but it also contains much religious writing, indicative of the profound Tibetan Buddhist influence of the 1500's. It contains many historical names, both proper and descriptive, and it includes Buddhist-influenced names given to historical figures in later period. Although this text also chronicles the events of Chingis Khan's life, names of the same figure are often spelled differently. This is the result of different translators' attempts to match sound values of Mongolian words in a language that doesn't share the same alphabet.

While "important" figures populate these historical manuscripts, it is unreasonable that any given name should be prohibited from SCA use. Even Temujin, Chingis Khan's birth name, comes from Temujin Uge, who was an enemy taken captive by his father Yesugei; so impressed was Yesugei by the man's honor and noble mien that he named his newborn son after him (this is an excellent example of of a commemorative name as well). Unquestionably, some epithets should be restricted, such as titles, and those epithets that might suggest an individual is trying to claim a historic figure's identity (e.g., Temujin the Conqueror). The use of rulers' names (Mongke, Khubilai or Temur) or the offspring of rulers (Tolui, Jochi, Chagatai, or Ogedei) should not face the possibility of restriction as long as the rest of the name does not attempt to claim familial, clan, tribal or presumptive relationships with those historic persons. Bagatur, the word for valiant or brave man, has restricted use in the SCA, used as the Mongolian equivalent of "knight", although the Mongols did not have knights in the European sense. (Ivor Montagu cites the Mongolian word tej to mean knight, but I have not been able to corroborate it as an appropriate title with other works or dictionaries.) Chingis/Chinggis is another epithet that seems unique enough to prevent registration as an element of a Mongolian name. It is said to represent the call of a fabulously-colored, lark-like bird that appeared one morning in front of Temujin's ger and whose wonderful singing seemed to foretell the influence and power that Temujin would exert on his world. (Sagang Sechen's account of this event also notes that the white stone upon which the bird perched split open, revealing a jade seal with a design of a tortoise charged with two entwined dragons; this design was said to have been worn extensively and completely "upon a thousand banners," representing the forces of Chingis Khan). While the translation of Chingis continues to be debated, it is an epithet associated with Chingis Khan alone.

The use of an English-Mongolian dictionary will help in constructing a purely Mongolian descriptive name or in finding appropriate epithets to modify a given name. The methods described here to create a name for a Mongolian persona should result in a name that is satisfactory and "in period" for a persona who might have lived between the eighth and fifteenth Centuries AD.

There is no standard method for transliterating Mongolian into English; according to Gronbech and Krueger, even in Mongolian literature, the substitution of one vowel for another or one consonant for another is common, similar to the non-standardized spelling in early modern English. Of four translations reviewed (three being various versions of The Secret History of the Mongols), translated by four English-speaking authors, significant differences in the use of diacritical marks and consonant combinations are seen. The first names listed are based primarily on the translation style used by Paul Kahn in his adaptation of The Secret History. Although Kahn avoids the use of diacritics by substituting less exact but roughly equivalent English consonants combinations (-ch- for -c-, -kh- for -q-, -sh- for -s-, and -g- for a glottal stop), his transliteration of names is straightforward and should result in fairly accurate and consistent pronunciation by most English speakers. (Khachigun is less likely to be mispronounced than Qaci'un.) I believe that substituting -kh- for -q- is taking this pronunciation solution to extremes, since the initial sound found in quilt only occurs with a -qu- combination. Because of this, a few Kh- initial names are listed with a Q- initial spelling to demonstrate the variation in spelling that can be applied to similar names. Both single and double element names are listed, since both types are found in manuscripts and may help to show how "complete" Mongolian names are formed.

Alternative spellings come from Cleaves' translation of The Secret History of the Mongols; Krueger's translation of The Bejewelled Summary of the Origin of the Khans; Jagchid's Mongolia's Culture and Society; Phillip's history, The Mongols (P); Heissig's The Religions of Mongolia (H); Severin's In Search of Genghis Khan (S); and Dawson's The Mongol Mission, which provides both historical background (D) and the translated journals from Franciscan missionaries William of Rubrick (R) and John of Plano Carpini (C). Additional alternative spellings are taken from Sanders (2), Stuart (N) and Storm from the East (M). (I doubt that I'll expand further upon alternative spellings, as most recent publications are using one form or another of a particular name--how many ways can you spell Ogodei? Quite a few, and some Mongolian persona's version could be as reasonable as those that appear in published works.) Whenever possible, I have included a translation of the name, taken from these manuscripts. Those with a question mark come from my uncertain attempts to find translations in a Mongolian-English dictionary.

According to Gronbech and Krueger, stress or emphasis is usually placed on the first syllable of a word, but even this shifts freely. The plural of a noun is usually not used unless it is to avoid ambiguity, and they are only very rarely used after numerals or quantitative adjectives (bars = tiger; olan bars = many tigers). To show possession, the -un genitive ending is used for all words ending in a consonant except -n (bars = tiger; barsun nidun = tiger's eye); those words' use the possessive ending -u (naran = sun; naranu gerel = sun's light). For those words ending in a vowel, the possessive suffix -yin is used (eke = mother; ekeyin noghon = mother's boy).

Pronunciation Guide (from Cleaves)

a as in father
ai as in eye
ch as in church
e as in net
ei as in hay
g as in get
h as in hall
i as in machine
j as in jest
k as in kitchen
o as in cost
oi as in boy
q as ch in German noch (k as in kitchen is reasonable)
s as in sun
sh as in show
ts as ch in chair
u as in moon
w as in wine
y as in year

Note: Heissing cites 99 Tngri, "heavenly beings" (gods) in some Mongolian religions, and some of their names are listed below; the chief of the Tngri is Koke Mongke Tngri. I suspect a tngri name could be used as a human name, given the use of many name sources and the eventual adoption of the names of Buddhist deities.

Men's Names

Abaka (Abaqa M) [hunter, trapper?]
Achigh Shirun
Adya 2 [the sun, Sunday]
Agasiletai N
Agsaldai N
Agujam (Achujim) [great, vast]
Achujam Bugural ["Vast Grey"]
Ajir N [water bird]
Ajirai H [tngri (heavenly being) name]
Alagh [dappled]
Alagh Yid
Alchidai (Alchi, Elchi)
Alchigh (Aljai P)
Aljai Temur P
Alghu (Alghuy P)
Altan [gold, golden]
Altun Ashugh
Amal (Amel)
Amasandji P
Ambaghai (Ambagai)
Anarba H
Aragibal S
Arasen [leather, hide, skin]
Argasar (H) [tngri (heavenly being) name]
Arabuccha R
Argat N
Argun (Arghun P)
Arin Tasai
Arik (Arig M)
Arik Boge P
Ariq Boke M
Arik Buka R
Ariunbold T ["True Steel"]
Arsi (H) ["hermit", tnigri name]
Aruktai P
Argasun Qorchi
Arkhai Khasar
Arslan (Arslang) [lion]
Aruci H [tngri name]
Asha Gambu
Ashigh Temur
Asugbal 2
Bai Shingor
Baidar (Baidur P) [dark, distant?]
Baidu P
Baiju P
Baltu R
Bartu P
Baasan 2 [Friday]
Baavgai 2 [bear]
Batachikhan (Batacaciqan M) [son of the Mongolian Eve, Ghoa Maral]
Bati C
Batu (Baatu R, Bat 2) [true, loyal, confident]
Bayan [rich, wealthy; fertile]
Bayan Cagan Tengri (H) [Tngri of White Riches]
Bayan Olgei S [rich cradle? 2]
Bayar S [happy]
Begter [coat of mail?]
Belgeltei (Belgutei)
Berke (Berca C, Berh 2) [hard, strong, difficult]
Bilig [knowledge; intelligent]
Boge P
Esen Boge P
Arik Boge P
Boshigt S [fundamental]
Bor 2 [grey]
Bora C
Borachu [greyling]
Boroldai Suyalbi
Borte Chinua [brindled/blue-grey wolf]
Bortei P
Bughu Khatagi (Khadagi)
Bughutu Salji
Bujeg (Budjek M)
Bujir [filthy]
Bukha [bull, ox]
Arik Buka R
Ked-Buqa M
Qoribucha 2 [twenty oxen]
Bulaqadar (Bolqadar, Bulqadar)
Bultger 2 [pop-eye]
Buri [muddy, dark?]
Buri Bulchiru
Burim C
Burkhan Khaldun S [place name: "Mountain of the Spirit Shaman", where Chingis Khan is buried]
Buyant N
Buyantu P
Carbon C
Cyriacus Buyirugh
Chagadai (Jagadai, Chaghadai M, Chagatai 2, Tsagaday 2)
Chaghagan (Chaghan) [white, pure, richness]
Cagan Ebugen H [White Old Man, a Tngri folk god]
Chaghagan Khoga
Chaghagan Uua
Chapar P
Charakha (Charakhai, Caragai C)
Chilagun [rock]
Chiluku P
Chimbai Dargan
Chingay C (Chinqai M)
Chingkim P
Choban P
Chormakhan (Chormagan P, Chormaghun M)
Chuacenur C
Dalantai N
Dash 2 [good luck]
Dayan [enemy?]
Dayir (Dair)
Dayir Usun (compound name)
Degei [younger brother?]
Delbeg 2
Delger S ["Broad Good", abundance 2]
Devet Berdi
Dinget C
Dogar N
Dogshin (Doghshin) [wild]
Dokholkhu (Dokholhu)
Dori Bukha
Durulji Tayiji
Edigu P
Eguden Yeke (H) [Tnigri Great God of the Door]
Elbek P (Elbeg 2)
Eldegai C
Eljigidei (Eljigetei) [donkey]
Emlig [steed]
Enx 2 [peace]
Erdeni (Erdene) [jewels, precious]
Erke [power]
Erke Khara
Erketu (H) [mighty]
Esen Boge P
Esen Taij P
Esen Taysh 2
Esugen P
Gal 2 [fire]
Galdan P
Caikhatu P (Geikhatu/Gayhatu 2)
Gerel S [light]
Geser N
Geser Khan N (a folk hero's name)
Ghazan (Gazan S)
Ghunan [three-year-old tiger or bull]
Guchlug (Guchulug)
Guchu (Kuchu)
Guntomor S
Guyug (Guyuk, Cuyuc C, Guyug 2)
Hooshal 2 (Qoshila 2)
Hulegu (Hulgu 2)
Huslen 2
Huslen Hutagt 2
Hutagt 2 [incarnation or living Buddha, often head of a monastery or temple--appears to be more of a title than a name]
Hychyt N
Ile [clear, perceptible?]
Ilugei [gain, profit]
Inancha Bilge
Iturgen (Idurgen)
Jakha Gambu
Jaghatai P (Jagatay D; Chiaaday C)
Jali Bukha [crafty bull]
Jamugha (Jamuka P, Jamukha M)
Jebe (Jebei 2 [arrowpoint, weapon]
Jebein Noyan M
Jelme P
Jenkshi P
Jirandai (Jirantai N) [sixty]
Jirghadai [sixth, as in birth order]
Jetei (Jedei)
Jochi (Juchi, Zuchi/Juji 2) [guest]
Jochi Khasar (compound name)
Kara S [black]
Kara Hekegu ["Black/Dark Helegu"]
Kepek P
Ketboge P
Kete [steel for striking fire]
Keuken [girl]
Khabichi (Qabiji)
Khabul (Qabal)
Khadagan Daldurkhan
Khadagan Tasai
Khadagh (Kadac C)
Khadan (Cadan C; Kadan P) [rock, cliff]
Khagatai Darmala
Khaidu (Kaidu P)
Khaishan P
Khaji Kulug (Qaji Kulug)
Khajigin (Qajigin)
Khali Kharchu (Qali Qarchu)
Khara Gulug ["Black Puppy"]
Qara Budang ["Black Bear"]
Khasar (Qasar) ["Terrible Dog", Chingis Khan's brother; Qasar and Qusar also names for dogs N]
Khashin (Kashin P)
Khorichar (Qorichar, Qoricar M)
Qoricar Mergan
Khori Shilemun Taisi
Khori Subechi
Khoridai (Qoridai)
Khubilai (Qubilai; Kubilai P; Hubilai C)
Khudus Khalkhan
Khulan [wild horse = wild ass Equus hemionus]
Khuril Ashigh
Khutughtu (Khutugh) [blessed]
Kinggiyadai Bukha
Kogsegu Sabragh
Kekchu P
Koko [blue]
Koko Chos
Koko Mongke (H) [chief of the Tngri]
Kokochu Kirsagan
Kokochu Teb Tenggeri
Kopek P
Kotyan P
Kundek P
Kus Bulad ["Bluish Horse"]
Kutlugh P
Temur Kutlugh P
Kuzhuk S
Labakha (Lablakha)
Ligdan P
Luvsan 2 [sound sense]
Magnai S
Mahamu P
Maqa Tudan
Maral [deer species; constellation Orion]
Mauci C
Menggei [birthmark, sign?]
Menggulig (Munglig)
Molon 2
Mengu C
Mergen, Merkus, Mergurges 2
Mongke (Mongge, Mongu C, Mangu R, Monh 2) [everlasting, eternal; silver?]
Mongke Temur P
Monke Temur/Mohntomor 2
Tode Mongke 2
Tuda Mongke P
Yesu Mongke P
Monx 2
Mukhali (Muquli; Mukali P)
Munokhoi ["Bad Dog"]
Myagmar 2 [the planet Mars, Tuesday]
Nachin [falcon, eagle]
Nakhu (Naqu)
Narin [thin, slender; secret]
Narin Kegen
Narin Togoril
Nayan [eighty]
Nayantai N
Jebei Noyan M
Nekun (Negun)
Nekun Taisi
Nogai (Noqai G) [dog]
Nongrot C
Odchigin (Ochigin) [fire-prince/hearth ruler, name for the youngest son]
Odchigin Abaga
Temuge Otchigin S [Chingis Khan's brother]
Ogodei (Ogadei, Ugedei; Occadai C, Ogedai/Ogodey/Ogdai 2)
Okin Barkhagh
Olai Anda
Ozbeg 2
Olzii 2 [happiness]
Olziytomor 2
Oljeitu P
Ordu Coronartai
Osol 2 [increase]
Oyuun 2 [wisdom]
Ozbeg S
Qobolta N
Qoribuqa 2 [twenty oxen]
Qorisubechi 2 [twenty pass]
Qoriqacha 2 [twenty flank]
Sagra N
Sain 2 [good]
Sanchir 2 [the planet Saturn, Saturday]
Sartak (Cartakh P, Sartach R, Sartaq/Sartag 2)
Seger Sandalitu ["Neck Seat"]
Senggum (Sengum P)
Shager N (19th C. folk hero)
Shigi Khutukhu
Shiban P (Syban C)
Shigi-Qutuqu 2 (Shihihutag 2)
Shiramun P (Siremon R, Sirenum C, Shiremun M)
Sibaguchu ["Bird-Man"]
Sorkhan Shira
Sorkhatu Jurki
Subetei (Subegedei, Subegetei, Subegeti; Subudei P, Sibedei C, Subuday D, Subutay D, Subodai/Suvedey 2)
Sugar 2 [the planet Venus, Friday]
Suke [axe]
Sukhebaatar S (Suke Bator) ["Axe Hero", 20th C. freedom fighter]
Tabudai [fifth, as in birth order]
Tabur N
Tahar N
Tamachi (Tamacha)
Taragai P
Tarmashirin P
Tatar P
Tatatunga 2 [Uighur name; the scribe who adapted U. script for writing Mongolian]
Teb Tengri [13th C. shaman]
Tekuder P
Teguder Ahmad 2
Teleboge P
Temuge Otichigin S [Chingis Khan's brother]
Temujin (Temuchin M, Temujin S) [iron-man, ironsmith]
Temujin Uge ["Iron-Man Word"]
Temur [iron] (Temer C, Timur P)
Aljai Temur P
Ashigh Temur P
Durra Timur P
Timur Molie P
Tokur Temur P
Togha Timur P
Temur Kutlugh P
Temur Oljeitu M
Toghon Temur/Toggontomor 2
Bash Timur P
Mongke Temur P
Thaube C
Todogen Girte
Togh P (Toq S)
Togh Temur P
Toq Temur/Tugtomor/Tugtemur 2
Togos Temur 2
Toghon [pot] (Toghan P)
Toghon Temur [pot iron; continuous development]
Toghoril (Toghrul P)
Toghtoga (Togtungga)
Togtoobuh 2
Tokhuchar (Toquchar S)
Tokhta P (Toctay D)
Tokhtamysh P (Tokhtamish 2)
Tole-Buqa 2
Tolui (Tului, Tuluy/Tule 2) [mirror]
Tomor Olziyt 2
Torbi Tashi
Torgan Sira [yellow silk]
Tseren 2 [long life]
Tsolmon 2 [the planet Venus]
Tuda Mongke P
Tudan P
Tugan P (perhaps Togoon S)
Tuge (Tege) [span]
Tuva P
Yesun Tuva P
Ulagchi P (Ulaghchi 2)
Uran Cenggui
Urchger 2 [wrinkled]
Urgamal 2 [plant]
Urus P
Uriangkadai P
Usun [water; hair?]
Xangai 2 [forest]
Xartsaga 2 [falcon]
Xorxoi 2 [insect]
Yalavech (Yalawachi) [messenger]
Yargai 2 [cherry]
Yasavur P
Yedi Tublugh
Yerentai N
Yesugei (Yisugei)
Yeke [big, mighty]
Yeke Cheren
Yeke Chiledu
Yeke Couru
Yeke Nidun ["Big Eyes"]
Yeki Negurin ["Big Journey"]
Yesu Mongke P
Yesun [nine]
Yesun Tege ["Nine Spans"]
Yesun Temur P
Yesun Tuva P
Zayaat N
Zhims 2 [berries]


Women's Names

Alagh Yid
Alan (Alun) [red]
Alan Ghoa ["Red Beautiful Woman"]
Altani [golden]
Altun (Al Altan, Al Altun) [gold]
Boragchin (Borogchin)
Borte Jusin
Botokhui Targhun
Chambui (Chabi M) [Kublai Khan's wife]
Cirina R
Cota R
Cotota R
Dokuz Khatum P (Doquz-Khatun M)
Ergene P
Etugen Eke (H) ["Earth Mother"; deity consisting of 77 levels or earth-mothers]
Ghoa [beautiful; beautiful woman]
Hogelun (Ogelen, Ho'elun M) [Chingis Khan's mother]
Khulan (Qulan) [wild ass, E. hemionus]
Mide N
Mongoljin (Monggoljin, Monggulum)
Narengawa N
Oghul/Ogul 2
Ogul Gaimysh P (Ogul Gamish R, Oghul Ghaimish/Ogul Gaymish 2)
Samga S
Sayin Maral Qayag
Sechen N [girl?; a girl raised by a tiger in folklore]
Silugukhan Qatakhan ["Little Straightforward and Hardy"]
Silun Gorgelji
Sorkhaghtani (Surkukteni P)
Sorghaghtani Beki M [Beki is probably a title for a female chieftain]
Sorocan P
Temulun Abagai
Togene P
Toragana D (Toregene 2 and M, Dorgono 2)
Turakina D
Yisu Qatun
Yisugei Qatun
Yesuntei (H) [Chingis' second wife]


Clan/Tribal Names

Abag(nar) (Avga) 1
Adarkin (cl.)
Alchi Tatar (tr.)
Aluqai Tatar (tr.)
Ar Horqin 1
Ayirigud Buirugud Tatar (tr.)
Bagarin (cl.)
Bairin S
Barga/Barag 1 (eastern Mongolian ethnic group)
Barghun (people)
Barulas (tr.)
Bayagud (tr.)
Bayid (Bayad/Bait/Bayit 1) (western Mongolian people)
Belgunud (cl.)
Besud (cl.)
Bolar (people)
Borjigin (cl.)
Budagad (cl.)
Bugunud (cl.)
Buriat, Buriyad (Buriad/Buryad/Buryaad, Buryat 1) (northern Mongolian people)
Chaghan Tatar (tr.)
Chagshighud (tr.)
Chahar/Tsahar/Qahar 2 (group near Chinese border)
Dalad 2
Darhad/Darhat 2 (Mongolized Turkish ethnic group)
Dariganga 2 (southeastern Mongolian people)
Daur/Dakhur/Kagor/Daguur 2
Dongkhayid (tr.)
Dorben (cl.)
Dorvod/Dorbod 2
Dutaghud Tatar (tr.)
Ebugejin (tr.)
Ejine 2
Erdemtu Barula (cl.)
Geniges (cl.)
Gorolas (Gorulas, Gorlos 2) (tr.)
Harachin/Harqin/Horchin/Horqin 2
Hoshuud/Hoshut 2 (western Mongolian group)
Hotgoyd/Khotogotis 2
Hotoh 2 (Turkic ethnic group)
Ikires (tr.)
Jadaran (cl.)
Je(u)ghureyid (cl.)
Jirgin (tr.)
Jungar 2
Jurud/Jarud 2
Jurkin (tr.)
Kazahg/Hasag 2 (Turkic ethnic group)
Kerait (tr.)
Kerel (people)
Kereyid (Gereyid) (tr.)
Kesdiyim (people)
Khatagin (Khatugin) (tr.)
Khori Tuman (later, the Khorilar)
Kiyad (Borjigin subclan)
Manghud (Mangut) (tr.)
Menen Bagarin
Merkid (Merkit) (tr.)
Monguor/Mongor 2
Myangad/Mingat 2 (western Mongolian group)
Naiman (Nayman 2) (tr.)
Oirat (Oyrd/Oyrad/Oirat 2) (western Mongolian tr.)
Onniud/Ognuud 2
Oold 2 (western Mongolian group)
Ordos/Urdus 2
Sant 2
Shar Uygar 2 (the Yellow Uighur)
Taijut (tr.)
Tatar (tr.)
Torguud/Torgut 2 (western Mongolian group)
Tsaatan/Tsaatanguud 2 ("Reindeer People" of Turkic Urianhay or Tuva)
Tsagaan 2 (the White Mongols)
Tumd/Tumet 2
Tuvans/Soyot Tannu Urianhay 2 (Turkic ethnic group, the Tuvans)
Uriangkhai (part of the Jarchigud clan)
Urit (Urad/Urat 2) (tr.)
Uzemchin/Ujimqin 2
Zahchin/Dzakhohin 2 (western Mongolian group)


Common Epithets from Primary Sources

alan: red
aqa: elder brother
bagatur: brave; valiant man (used as title for an SCA knights)
bayan: wealthy
bogol: slave
boko: strong; strong man, athlete
baugurchi/bagurchi: a cook
bodo/bogdo: holy one
chaghan: white, pure
degu: younger brother
doghshin/dogshin: wild, fierce
doyi: younger sister
ebugen: old man
echige: father
eji: grandmother H
eke: mother
emegen: old woman
gejige: succourer, rescuer
ghoa/guua: fair, beautiful
gurigen: son-in-law
koghun: son
koko: blue, everlasting
kulug: hero
khara/qara: black, dark
khatun/qatun: Mlady (often in reference to the Khan's wife)
khorchi/qorchi: quiver-bearer
mergen: clever, sharp
mochi: carpenter
mungkhagh: fool
oki: daughter
sechen: wise
sokhur: blind
targhutai: fat, "fatty"
ucugen: little
yeke: big, great, mighty


Epithets and Modifiers from Other Sources

alt: golden
anggir: yellow, orange
arat: herdsman
arban: ten
boljigchi: dancer
bor: grey
cherig: soldier; army; war
daisun: enemy
dalan: seventy
dologan: seven (incredibly unlucky!)
dochin: forty
dorben: four
dotoger: fourth
gan: steel
gergei: wife
guchin: thirty
gurban: three
gutagar: third
jagun: hundred
jirgugan: six
jiran: sixty
khorin/qorin: twenty
khos/qos: pair, couple
khoyadugar/qoyadugar: second
khoyar/qoyar: two
khuda/quda: bother-in-law; cousin
kumun: human, man
minghgan/myangan: thousand
mongo: silver
naiman: eight
nayan: eighty
nigen: one
nogon: boy
sadu: close friend
saikhan: beautiful, pretty
shine: new
shira/shar: yellow
shizir: refined gold
shur: coral
suvd: pearl
tabin: fifty
tabtagar, tabudagar: fifth
tabun: five
teneg: foolish, stupid
tsagaan: white
tsenxer: blue
tumen: ten thousand
ukhagatai: intelligent
ulan/ulaan: red
yagaan: pink, rose, purple
yisun: nine (very lucky!)
yeren: ninety
zuun: hundred


Common Titles from Primary Sources

bek: chieftain, priest (from Turkish)
beki: female chieftain, priestess
cherbi: steward (official title bestowed on Chinggis' men)
cherbin: female steward
gur kha: "universal emperor"
khad: emperor-prince
khan/kha: king
khatun: queen
noyan: prince
ong: prince (from Chinese wang)
taiji: heir apparent, prince (from Chinese tai-tzu)
ujin: lady


Chambers, James. The Devil's Horsemen. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1979.

A history of the Mongol invasion of Europe, after the time of Chingis Khan and the formation of the Mongol Empire; a number of Mongolian names can be found here, most of them of important historical figures (descendants of Chingis Khan and famous military and political leaders). This book appears to be the most popular source of Mongolian names currently used by SCA folks, and so extreme care should be exercised if a name is taken from this book, to avoid presumptive claims (translations of The Secret History of the Mongols seem to be fairly accessible in large public libraries or college libraries and offer far more names that are less likely to cause this kind of problem). The author avoids using potentially-confusing diacritical marks and includes a very short glossary of Mongolian terms. DS19.C45. 1988.

Bedur, Jasper. The Lost Country: Mongolia Revisited. Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1992.

This is a great modern history of Mongolia after 1989 and the fall of Communism. It contains information on the history of the Mongols and Chingis Khan, The Secret History of the Mongols, and shamanism, in addition to modern expeditions to the Gobi (in search of fossils) and the attempt to locate Chingis Khan's tomb. Given its recent publication date, copies may be easy to locate through book searches or used book stores.

Cleaves, Francis M. (translator and editor). The Secret History of the Mongols, Vol. 1. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 1982.

This is an English translation from the Chinese, completely translated in the first volume. There is an extensive index of given names and place names and a small glossary of Mongolian terms. DS19.Y7813. 1984.

Dawson, Christopher, editor. The Mongol Mission: Narrative and Letters of the Franciscan Missionaries in the 13th and 14th Centuries. Translated (from Latin) by a nun of Stanbrook Nunnery. Sheed and Ward, NY, 1955.

An invaluable resource, not so much for name documentation, but for primary source journals of Western Europeans living among and observing Mongol culture (complete with their European biases!). The book includes writings of John of Plano Carpini (dates of writings: 1245-1247), Brother Benedict the Pole, William of Rubruck, John of Monte Corvino, Brother Peregrine, and Andrew of Perugia. DS798.2.lM63. 1980.

Gilmour, James. Among the Mongols and More About the Mongols. Religious Tract Society, 1883 (reprinted 1970).

While this account of Mongol culture is very post-period (Gilmour lived from 1843-1891), this Scottish missionary spent nearly half of his life among the Mongols, visiting all segments of Mongol civilization. His careful observation demonstrates that Mongol tradition and lifestyle had not changed much since the time of Chingis Khan. (It is interesting to note that Gilmour's presentation of this decidedly non-Christian culture is extremely even-handed and non-prejudicial; he himself writes that he is unsure whether he ever succeeded in converting any Mongol to Christianity, although most of the people he encountered were eager to listen to his stories of a man that could rise from the dead.) DS 793.M7.G4. 1970.; DS 793.M7.E4. 1935.

Gronbech, Kaare, and John Krueger. Introduction to Classical (Literary) Mongolian.

This is a small, out-of-print book that is worth copying if interested in learning basic grammar (other modern language texts appear to use texts in conjunction with audio tapes or other aids). It includes a concise history of the languages (ancient Mongolian, that prior to 1600, and classical, post-1600), clear concepts on the grammar and a 1000-word glossary with many terms suitable for name use and a minimum of unusual diacritical marks. PL403.G7. 1976.

Hangin, J.G. Basic Course in Mongolian. Indiana University Publications, Uralic and Altaic Series, Vol. 73, Bloomington IN, 1968.

This book contains a Mongolian-English glossary which is sometimes difficult to use unless you are familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet. PL403.H33. 1968.

Hangin, J.G. A Concise English-Mongolian Dictionary. Indiana University Publications, Bloomington IN, 1970.

Again Hangin uses the Cyrillic alphabet for Mongolian terms, but this is the only large English-Mongolian dictionary I have been able to find (I have also been unable to locate a Mongolian-English English-Mongolian dictionary in a single volume). PL406.H34. 1970.

Jagchid, Senchen. Mongolia's Culture and Society.

I have only photocopies of the naming practices section of this book, hence the lack of bibliographic information. The author appears to be Mongolian.

Kahn, Paul. The Secret History of the Mongols: The Origin of Chingis Khan. North Point Press, San Francisco CA, 1984.

This is an adaptation of Cleaves' translation rather than a translation itself, it reads easily and gives a good overview of the people and events of Chingis Khan's time. The epithets used tend to be translated into English and the author avoids using diacritical marks, so the unusual names are not quite as intimidating.

Krueger, John (translator and editor). "The Bejewelled Summary of the Origin of the Khan: A History of the Eastern Mongols to 1662", Part 1. Publications of the Mongolia Society, Vol. 3, No. 2. The Mongolia Society, Bloomington IN, 1964.

This manuscript extends beyond the time period covered by The Secret History of the Mongols and is translated from Mongolian. D5798.M575. No. 2. 1964.

Krueger, John. "Mongolian Personal Names". Names, Journal of the American Name Society. Vol. 10, No. 2, June 1962, pp. 81-86.

A good source only for late period names (16th Century) and the influence of Buddhist expansion among the Mongols.

Lessing, F.D. Mongolian-English Dictionary. University of California Press, Los Angeles, 1960.

The Mongolian terms are written in Cyrillic; nevertheless, this is a very extensive dictionary and contains terms written in the traditional Mongolian script, 'Phags-pa. PL406.L4. 1982.

McCloskey, Mildred (writing as Catriona Cattanach). The Compleat Anachronist #54: The Mongols. The Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc., Milpitas, CA, 1991.

It's an SCA publication! It's also a nice and tidy introduction to the Mongol culture, the land, people, history, laws and basic costuming. If the budget is tight (reprints are available from the SCA Stock Clerk) or you live out on the steppes, far from libraries and bookstores, this is a fine start to learning about this culture without a large finacial investment.

Marshall, Robert. Storm from the East. BBC Books, London.

This is a tie-in for the BBC mini-series of the same name; like similar volumes, it draws from many sources and is filled with photographs of period artifacts, illustrations, and modern recreations used for the series.

Montagu, Ivor. Land of Blue Sky: A Portrait of Modern Mongolia. Dennis Dobson, London, 1956.

Although this cannot be considered a recent reference, this book explains many aspects of historical and traditional Mongolian lifestyle (dress, music, recreation, etc.) that can help develop a Mongolian persona. DS 793.M7M63. 1956.

Phillips, E.D. The Mongols. 1969.

Another book that explores period Mongol culture, relying on the Franciscan Carpini and Rubrick but expanding and explaining their commentary in more detail; there are good geneaologies of the different Mongol rulers through 17th C, and a number of plates that depict Mongols in period art. There are several names not found in other sources, in addition to spelling variations of those names in other sources.

Poppe, Nicholas. Mongolian Language Handbook. Center for Applied Linguistics, Washinton DC, 1970.

Amaze your friends and confound your enemies by learning Mongolian phrases ("How are you? How is your family? How are your cattle?"). It contains extensive syntax and some historical background on culture and linguistics. PL 401.P6.

Sanders, Alan J.K. Historical Dictionary of Mongolia. Asian Historical Dictionaries, No. 19. The Scarecrow Press, Inc., London, 1996.

The author covered Mongolia for Far Eastern Economics Review. This book features an extensive chronology 1162-1994 (the fall of Soviet Communism in Mongolia); a dictionary that focuses on more modern economic and political issues than historical; and what is most valuable, an extensive bibliography, divided into general, cultural, economic, historical, scientific/technological and sociological categories. There is a small section on the sources of Mongolian names (cultural, religious and from the natural world). This is one of the most recent publications dealing with Mongolia. DS 798.5.S36.

Severin, Tim. In Search of Genghis Khan. Atheneum, New York, 1992.

This is one of my favorite secondary sources (and not just because I own a copy). Severin attempts to recreate a Mongolian courier's journey to the edge of Europe, sort of a mini-invasion, in 1990, and discovers that while much has changed in Mongolia in recent history, just as much has not. This has an extensive history of Chingis Khan and his people, and their modern culture reported first-hand. The author also works to discredit some notions of the Mongols formed by other historians that he feels are undeserved. [Severin is also responsible for recreating the Atlantic voyage of St. Brendan, following a Crusader's path to Jerusalem on horseback, and investigating the journeys that might have been taken by famous travelers Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, and Ulysses.] DS 798.2.S49.

Street, J.C. The Language of the Secret History of the Mongols. American Oriental Society, New Haven CT, 1957.

Stuart, Kevin, editor. "Mongol Oral Narratives: Gods, Tricksters, Heroes and Horses." Publications of the Mongolia Society, Occasional Papers No. 16. The Mongolian Society, Inc., Indiana University, Bloomington IN, 1995.

This is a nice collection of folk tales; a few names are included in the names list, although it is sometimes difficult to determine what names are "real" names (i.e., I doubt that a Western European woman ever had the name Rapunzel or Cinderella--some of the character names found here might be unique to those characters), or whether the names of monsters influenced normal naming practices. Many of the names also reflect later Tibetan Buddhist influence. DS 798.M575.No. 16.

Turnbull, S.R. Osprey Men-at-Arms Series #105: The Mongols. Osprey Publishing Company, London, 1980.

Nice color plates, many period illustrations, and the lifestyle of the Mongols from a military viewpoint (strategies, armor and arms, conquests) make this the typical valuable resource offered by the Osprey series.