Greek Surnames

Greek surnames are complicated for most foreigners; not to mention how weird they sound!

The origins of Greek surnames, roots and etymology vary a lot; in fact you can find some very typical Greek last names, or very common ones, while others are funny, bizarre or even insulting.

In Greece every period has its own characteristics in name giving or surname creation.

It is historically known that ancient Greeks did not have official  last names, but they did have some patronymic characteristic; i.e. Achilles was Achilles Pileidis (from his father Pileas).

The surnames as we know them today appeared towards the end of the 15th century.

Roots and Origins of the Greek Surnames

The vast majority of Greek surnames are known to be patronymics; this means that Greek surnames usually come from the genitive of the first name of the father of the family. Of course you have to go back a few centuries to find who started the tradition, but that is how it goes. So if someone’s last name is Demetriou, that means that the surname came from a man named Demetrios. This was actually an innovation in Grammar, because in their initial form the surnames for women were just a feminine respective of the original masculine name.

This means that the wife or daughter of a man named Bouboulis would be named Bouboulina. It is interesting that the position of women throughout history has been associated with the use of surnames as well; until a few years ago women were obliged to substitute their surname with the one of their husband- later, they were able to keep both surnames, and today, they are free to choose whether they want to keep their surname or add the one of their husband as well (complete substitution is prohibited).

The origins of Greek surnames vary significantly; you can find the patronymics we mentioned earlier, the matronymic ones referring to those that come from mothers’ name, the national or toponymic ones referring to surnames created by names of towns, prefectures and so on. There are also Greek surnames referring to a profession, or the paronymic ones, referring to different abilities, or even animals.

Suffixes and Prefixes in Greek Surnames

In most cases you can recognize the origin of the name and its bearer from the suffix of the surname. For instance, if you see a Greek surname ending in –akis, the person comes from Crete. Not all Cretans have a surname ending in –akis, and not all people with an –akis in their surname are from Crete, but this is very common characteristic and suffix.

Similarly, surnames ending in –ellis come from the island of Lesbos, -opoulos from the Peloponnese peninsula, -idis from Pontus or Asia minor, -iadis from Messinia or Lakonia, -oudas from Macedonia (North Greece).

Prefixes can also give you some information on the origin of the surname:

A last name starting with Kara- means that it comes from the East, or the Asia minor, as “kara” means black in Turkish. Kondo- means short and was very common in islands, Papa- means that once upon a time there was a priest (papas) in the family.

Of course these are generalizations and today due to the vast mixture of names, origins and generations, you cannot rely on these rules. However, it is good to know them since they are part of the Greek tradition and have a lot to do with the old and original roots of most names today.

Common Surnames in Greece

Some of the most common Greek surnames you can find are: Papadopoulos (don’t even try to count how many men named Giorgos Papadopoulos exist in Greece), Papadakis, Ioannou, Georgiou, Demetriou and more.

246 thoughts on “Greek Surnames

  1. I could not find it on this site, nor can I find it anywhere else. So if you can please find me information of my last name. My father told me it was Greek. It ends with S and many people say it sounds Greek. I, however, cannot find anything about it.
    My father passed away so I cannot ask him more, also his father passed away, thus I cannot find any of the Lambos’ in my family.

    Any help would be great! I thank you for your time!

    • Hey there,
      about the Lambos surname i know that Lambos was a First name of a well known man from Troy (in greek mythology).
      As a surname it’s known in Greece but i don’t think it has a specific meaning. It was first used in the place of Elatovrysi at north Nafpaktos.
      The name was Lambovos but then it was paraphrased to Lampos.
      That’s all the information i found after my research 🙂

  2. I’m researching the Goussetis family. An obituary I have of a family member says they were born on the island of Aegina, Greece. I have his father’s name, but I can’t find anything on him. Only someone with the same name but from another part of Greece.
    Is there a website I can use to find info on the father? I don’t know where else to look. I tried familysearch.org & ancestry.com.

  3. Hello 🙂
    Well it means nothing at all in Greek and I’m also sure is not a greek-origin name.
    It sounds Russian or Romanian to me!!

    • Hey, I’m from Sweden, and my last name is Tioukalias. My grandfather is greek.
      Do you know if that is a common name in Greece, and what it means?
      I know my family comes from northern Greece, near Thessaloniki, but I just want to know what Tioukalias means, and if it tells a special tale about my family.
      Efcharisto!

  4. Hello guys,
    I really like to see people looking up for their origin.
    I’m greek and i would be really happy to help some of you (if u want to). Ι could translate names or surnames or help u find the origins of each one.
    Ιf there’s anyone interested, let me know 😀

    • Hello Aphrodite,I’m pretty curious does Kishkilov mean something?I’m pretty sure this is not a bulgarian family name because it just doesn’t sound bulgarian and we are the only family in the entire country with such a name.

  5. Hey, I’m from Sweden, and my last name is Tioukalias. My grandfather is greek.
    Does anybody know if that is a common name in Greece, and what it means?
    I know my family comes from northern Greece, near Thessaloniki, but I just want to know what Tioukalias means, and if it tells a special tale about my family.

    Efcharisto!

  6. Bonjour
    Mon nom de famille est ZIRIMIS. Mon père est né en Roumanie et je crois que mon arrière grand père a quitté la Grèce pour y commercer. Je suis le seul en France et je n’ai plus qu’une tante en Grèce et quelques petits neveux en Roumanie. Il y a une vingtaine de ZIRIMIS sur la côte Est des Etats Unis.Je crois savoir que ce nom vient de l’ile de Tinos dans les Cyclades mais je n’en suis pas sur. Je ne sais pas si mon arrière grand père a quitté la Grèce ou si il était “Ponthique” ou “Micrasiate”.
    Si vous avez un éclairage, je vous en serai très reconnaissant.
    Merci

  7. Hello everyone.3 years ago i went to Greece for the first time on vacation in Keramoti and i had a really great time and i didn’t want to leave.
    Anyways,when i got there i noticed something very strange: i was able to read everything and understand some of the stuff they were saying. We went there with a friend who is greek and he was amazed that i was capable of reading everything perfectly and understanding like 40% of the sentences since i have never actually studied greek!!
    Anyways when got back to Bulgaria i decided to ask my dad if we have some greek origin or something he told me that there was something but he didn’t know a lot about it…..
    i think i need to go to the city archives to check this out because i’m really curious about all of this.
    Oh and my first and last names are Constantine Kishkilov. If someone could help me clear all of this it would be greatly appreciated.

    • Constantine,

      Congratulations on showing interest in your genealogy. What I would recommend is to start with your immediate family. Collect when/where people were born.
      You probably know about of grandparents. Ask your father of his grandparents. If you are lucky, he may remember of his great-grandparents.
      Once you have exhausted living memory, time to switch the historic archives. First in Bulgaria and see where that leads to. Birth certificate are the most useful, as they bind the child with the parents, sometimes grandparents as well.

      Good hunting.

  8. Wow stumbled upon this after looking for more info on my greek side of the family. They shortened the name to Cores when they came here but recently was told the full name is actually Koroyogus and they were from Tripoli, Greece. Now that the census of 1930 is free on Ancestry right now I found out my great great grandfathers name was Jarue. So his name would be Jarue Koroyogus. But I can NOT find anything explaining the last name or now what the first name means. I want to find out more about my family, so if anyone knows anything about this, please share your knowledge. Thank you so much!
    Heather

  9. Hello,
    I know that my grandfather came to America with a french family year unknown. I was told that he took on the last name of the french family “Lazare” my father had mentioned that our last name was (sorry this is the best american spelling I came up with based on sounding it out) lolekos? Grandfather was born in Istanbul when it was still part of Greece I have a copy of his nationalization papers but they really have no real information other than name and birthday.
    If anyone has any ideas feel free to email me istillbtiggerrr@yahoo.com

    Thank you,

    Tamara

  10. Hello,
    My last name is Sarangoulis. My grandfather came to the US from Lesvos in the early 1900’s. I think our family is the only one left – all those in Greece named Sarangoulis are dead, although there are probably cousins on my grandfather’s mother’s side. I would like to know the origin and meaning of my last name. You can reply here or email me at lindalees512@yahoo.com
    Thank You,
    Linda

  11. Hi,

    I was interested in finding out where my family surnames Antonaras, Milios & Paraskevas from the island of Rhodos, Greece come from, if they are truly Greek or if a long time ago we migrated from somewhere else. If anyone has any information, please let me know!

    Thank you 🙂

  12. Ok, hello my name is Shatona, I am trying to find my husbands birth father for him, he has not seen him since he was born.
    I hope i can spell this right, but all we know is the following: His name was Constantine Skopolopakis or something to that fact.
    My husbands mom said his fathers parents owned a greek restauraunt in Providence Rhode island.

    I really want my husband to know his father and tell his father he has 3 grand kids. I wish I knew more, but i don’t, and I’m afraid if my son does a family history report he wont know what to put for his fathers side.

    Please get back to me and let me know if i spelled the last name right, I’m open to options.

    • Hi Shatona,
      Skopolopakis looks like a Greek last name. It could be slightly different though, for example “Skolopakis”, which sounds more right than “Skopolopakis”.
      In the island of Crete, “skolopa” is the bird owl.

      Yannis

  13. I’m researching my family history. We come from the island of Kefalonia, specifically what is today known as Eriso around the port of Fiskardo.
    So far over 2000 people in our tree, including family names: Antipas, Barzoukas, Germenis, Matsoukis, Prokopis, Tselentis, Vandoros.
    If you are interested in helping out let me know – thanks!

    • My last name is Vandoros. i searched about my name and roots and this name seems to be a sefardic – jewish name of family, who came from Spain to Cefalonia five centuries ago.
      They had changed their religion to survive. If somebody has further details please let me know.

      thanks,
      Vassilis

      • hi Vassili,

        The Vandoros family is prominent in Kefalonia – one of the noble Venetian families mentioned in the “libre d’ or’ published in 1926 by Eugene Rizo Rangabe.
        Kefalonian birth/marriage/death records are available back to at least 1840.

        The precise name in Rangabe’s book is “Vandoro”, but beyond mentioning that the Vandoro family was a ruling venetian family when Venetians ceded Kefalonia to the French in early 1800s.

        The consequence of the Vandoro/s family being a noble ruling family is that there are records of the Vandoros family sprinkled throughout the island, including the Fiskardo area where my research is centered.

        If you need a copy of the book, or wish to exchange genealogy records, contact me at matsoukis@yahoo.com.

        take care,
        Sam

  14. Are you able to assist please, looking for my friend Stamati Savastano from Lefkada. Last saw him 1989 in Johannesburg South Africa.

  15. any one help with my ancestry? I like to know more about grand and great grandparents. both sides coming from village like bithayakya??

  16. Hi,
    My pappou and yiayia immigrated to Canada from Greece around 50 years ago.
    My yiayia was from Kallithea and grew up in Athens, her maiden name was Marie Mariantou.
    My pappou was from Palaio Faliro in Piraeus, his last name was Sarafopoulos and his first name Nikolaos, he changed it when he came to Canada of course.
    Just wondering if anyone knew anything about the meanings of their last names or if you recognize the names.

    thx

  17. Hiiii, My name is Mónica Macas and Im writing from Equador.
    Maybe u can respond to to me about people from Kastoria with the last name some “Plaumistaki” or “Ploumistaki”.
    I would like to know how is the correct form, because I am searching for a good friend from there…

    Thanx your help

  18. Hope this tidbit can help someone else.

    “Sari” is a prefix used in Greek names, but it comes from Turkey. During some period or other of Turkish influence, it got introduced to the process of developing more surnames aside from direct patronymics. “Sari” means “fair haired.”

    So, in the case of our Greek last name, “Sariyannis” = “fair haired John’s son.” Took FOREVER to find this one tidbit of information…

    Also, if it’s any help to fellow family members that may float in – our branch of the family came to the US in the early 1910’s.
    They came from a village in the Peloponnese, near Tripolis.

    • We also have a Sarighannis ancestor, from Psara. We would love to read more about how you learned about the name. We were told by current Psariotes that some Sarighannis folks were known to have blue eyes (our ancestor didn’t), and that would seem to go with “fair-haired.” But we would love to read more. Many thanks!

  19. Hi, my ex husband’s grandfather was from Greese and lived in Chicago. When his grandfater was killed his “non” greek mother and the kids (his father and aunt) last name was changed to “Lamp” and they were asked to leave the area. He thinks their family last name used to be “Lamp-er-deed-ous” or something like that. I would like to find out for my daughter. I know my family from generations back but know nothing of my ex-husbands family.
    Does anyone know????

    • I think you need to research into your family history because there are various derivatives of a Greek name beginning with “Lam.” I know people who have the last names Lampros and Lambropoulos.

      The word lampros means ‘brilliant’, ‘radiant’, ‘luminous’. This name is given to commemorate Easter, which is known colloquially as Lambri ‘the bright (day)’. There is a bread made at Easter called “Lambropsomo.

  20. My grandfather came to the U.S. from Sparta before the turn of the last century.
    I see from my aunts obituary the family name is listed as Nouchalis.
    Would anyone care to comment if this sounds correct to them? Τhe family name was changed to Nichols.

  21. Hi averyone, my name is Andreas Tassakis and I would love to have some info about my last name. I tried to find out about it online but there isn’t much.
    I believe tasaki means ashtray (which I’m really hoping isn’t the origin of my name!!!).
    Does anyone have any info or idea about the origins of this last name? would it be possible to come from a similar last name and got messed up due to migration from Greece to America?
    any infor would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks!
    Andreas

  22. I am researching the last name Bakogianni for a persona for the group that I am involved with. I am an active member in the SCA and we recreate the middle ages. I am trying to establish a Greek persona and found the last name Bakogianni and fell in love with the name. I am trying to find out if the name was around during the time of 600ad to 1600ad.

    Could you be of some assistance to me in my research or do you know of someone who might be of assistance to me?

    Any help or information that you can give me is greatly appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Penny v

  23. Hi !

    My grandfather came to Canada in the early 1920.
    Is name is Bariaktaris.
    Please tell me from witch par of Greece does he come from.

    • Is it maybe Bairaktaris? Ιt is hard to say for sure where he comes from, but name Bairaktaris is found in Agrinio (mainland Greece) and the areas of Messinia in the Peloponnese Peninsula of Greece.

      • Bairaktaris comes out from the turkish word “Bairak” that means “flag”. So bairaktaris in Greek means “the flag keeper”

  24. Hi (Yassou)

    I am trying to find the origin of my grandfather’s surname – Zampetides. He was born in Constantinople and I believe he migrated to Piraeus in the Great Exchange with Turkey. He then married and migrated to Australia. This appears to be a very unusual/unique surname. Am I right in saying that?

    My grandmother’s surname was Stavrou and her family comes from Chios.

    Any information would be great.

    Thanks (efharisto)

  25. hi many questions from greeks in other countriesso i can’t answer all of them .

    what i can tell you since im greek i live in greece and i fond of history.

    stelios -karachalios is from the words kara(black in Turkish) and xalios (halia =mess) so your name is black mess .

    Duana. lavida means pliers in greek.

    christina both names are mostly used in pelloponisos. poulos means bird and it was usually uses on people that left and the first name(i.e.papadopous =papas (priest) that left.)

    melissa try voulocheris or voylokeris (sealing wax)

    ksenia your name means ΞΕΝΙΑ (xenos means “someone i dont know” or some times o man from elsewhere)lukis is maybe derived from lakis or lykios i dont atuly know.

    any question my mail is vonkain@gmail.com although i am not an expert

    • -POULOS doesn’t mean a bird. Used as a suffix means “the son of..”.
      So Papadopoulos means “son of papa(priest”
      Nikolopoulos means “son of Nikos”
      Georgopoulos means “son of George”
      etc

  26. Does anyone know where the name Perogamvrakis comes from? My dad told me it originated from Lesbos or Crete, so which one is it??

  27. Hi?
    Does anyone know of Zapheriou?
    My Great-Grandad’s last name was Zapheriou.
    My Nan has no idea of him since he left when she was little but her surname was changed due to him leaving.
    On her birth certificate it says Natasha Zapheriou.

    hmm? for some reason i though it was siberian or croat, but i cant find any other ethnic to match it with. i see ou a lot in greek surnames!!! so i just thought maybe.

    PLEASE HELP? 🙂

  28. My last name is Kontomitras. I am the only one in the United States. I know we came from Tripoli.
    Any help on the meaning would be great

  29. I just found out today that my birth parents (from Athens) name was Lavida. I was adopted in 1957 by Greek Americans and until today had no clue what my pre-adoption first name or surname was. That surname does not even sound Greek! Any thoughts out there? This day feels surreal. Thank you.

  30. Prompt, please, something about the surname Paspalitatis (or may be Paspaletatis)? Where can I look for the roots of this surname?

  31. hello.
    i had a great grandfather from Greece who came to California in the 1910’s but was deported when my great grandmother was pregnant in 1914 or 1915.
    He shortened his name to Kallas, it was said that it was originally something longer along the lines of “Papanikoullas or Papadakallis” .
    My great grandmother died a few years after my grandfather was born and he was orphaned and he never knew the original name.

    Are those actual Greek family names that i could research? maybe checking backwards from deportation records from either New York or San Francisco?

    thanks so much/ efkharisto!
    Christina

  32. Hey everyone my last name is Kontos and I was trying to find the origin of that name. I thought it was a common name but turns out it isn’t and our Kontos family tree leads back to only 1890 (too many females )
    Any ideas?

    Efkharisto

  33. I am trying to find the origin of my grandfather’s name Buluheris. I have also found spellings as Boulouheris, Bouloheris.
    He was born in Apidea Greece in the 1890s.

    Can anyone shed some light on this surname?

    Efharisto!

  34. Hiya, I love the blog! I live in Sydney, Australia and my last name is Kalopedis. My grandfather came from Greece (Kythira) and when he got here he changed the spelling so it was easier to pronounce, lol. Apparently it was originally pronounced Kalipaedes, which means Good Child apparently. I have no idea how to spell it properly since I have no knowledge of the Greek language. My grandad died when I was 8 so I didnt get a chance to ask about relatives in Greece or anything about his heritage 🙁

    Whenever I searched for the name on the internet, all I get is that Kalopedis jewellery company which I dont think has anything to do with us. I have relatives in Greece (I assume) but also some of them moved to the USA, New York I think it is (but I’m not sure).

    If anyone reads this and it rings any bells for them, you are welcome to send me a message at xunter7@hotmail.com. I would LOVE to find out more about my family because the internet is seeming to be a bit of a dead end! 🙂

    • Hi Karen!
      Normally your name would be Καλοπαίδης (Kalopedis) or Καλιπαίδης (Kalipaedes) in Greek. But I cannot tell you anything else for now, I will look for it though!

  35. Hi. My surname is Tsoumbos. My father was born in Athens and I was wondering what it means. My middle name is Aristotelis, which is my grandfather’s name. I have some insight as to what that means… but I’m real curious about Tsoumbos. Thanks!

  36. hi, my name is Kseniya. I`m from Ukraine but my great-grandfather is from Greece.
    What about sirname Lukis (i dont know for a 100%, because surname has changed in times of USSR
    If you know something about pedigree of Lukis
    please write on my e-mail ksenfreyd@mail.ru.
    sorry for my english)..

  37. My mother’s maiden name was Tokatlidis. They were originally from the Pontus, Asia Minor area and migrated to Greece in 1920. They settled in Melanthion, Kastoria. While looking for my Uncle in Australia, I looked up Tokatlidis in the white pages and found pages and pages of Tokatlidises in Melbourne. Phoned one listing and got a elderly man who said hecame from our village and was my grandfather’s 2nd cousin.

  38. Hi, my great-grandfather came to Atlanta, Georgia USA around 1915 and his name was changed to Bannister?!. He moved to Pennsylvania and maybe Boston. I have heard many versions of his real name. Most often something like Blastok or Balastop. Also Banon. Is that a name like any of you may have heard? I have tried many surname sites in vain.

    Alice

    • In general, Greek surnames end in -is, -os, -as, -idis, -akis, -ou…
      You will not find a Greek surname like Blastok or Balastop.. the suffix is not “Greek”.. so there must be some other version of the name, which sounds more Greek ..

  39. Malama means gold. My mom’s family on her mother’s side was Malamatos also, from Kalymnos. Some of my grandmother’s Malamatos brothers ended up in Argentina, one in the US and another stayed behind in Kalymnos.
    Maria

  40. hi my name is kaitie, i am doing a project for my social studis class an needed some info i hope this web page i went to works 🙂

  41. Hi, asked earlier but I guess you missed me. Our last name is Houllis. I know we’re from Kalymnos on my father’s side. Any idea where our name came from?

    My mother’s side is Malamatos, also from Kalymnos don’t kow what their name means either.

  42. Hello everyone… Came across this blog and have been reading with interest.

    My name is Dimitrios Alexakis and I live in Sydney, Australia. There are between 30 to 50 individuals with the surname “Alexakis” in Sydney alone. The great majority of these come from the village of Sykea (near Molai) situated in the prefecture of Laconia (SE region of the Peloponese).

    Within the village of Sykea, the surname “Alexakis” is very common as are other named ending with “akis”. As according to family knowledge, there have been people with the surname “Alexakis” living in Sykea at the time of Greece’s independence (1830).

    There is a belief -however not substantiated- that perhaps there was internal migration from Crete to neighbouring regions such as the Peloponese for a varous reasons. Some of the possible explanations include, fugitives, or those who were subject to strong family expectations (honour killings, etc) in years gone by.

    I have also met others with surnames ending in “akis” from various Greek islands.

    Does anybody know for sure on the history of the name “Alexakis”?

    Many thanks!
    ________

    E-mail: messagemedirect@yahoo.com.au

    • Hi there. I also belong to the Sykea branch of the Alexakis family. Have you found more about our history? I have heard a version of the Crete->Laconia migration story where two Alexakis brothers from the Region of Agios Nikolaos on Crete went fugitive after killing one or more Turks (honour killings ?) and settled in Laconia in rthe early 19th century. According to this story, all Laconian Alexakis are descended from these two.
      Another unconfirmed rumour is of an Alexakis cousin that did (or let do) some ancestry research and got information trailing back to a rather renowned trader family “Alexiou” in Constantinople before the Ottoman invasion.

  43. Hey everyone,
    My name is Rachael and I’m just trying to locate my family in Greece. I know I have cousins/aunts/uncles there still. I just don’t know how to find them ??!
    I believe my grandfather was from Athens. His name was Demetrius Dekas. (It’s actually longer but since he came to USA he shortened it.)
    I’ve never met him to ask but I’m really interested in my culture and just want to know where I really came from..
    if anyone has information on the last name DEKAS please let me know.
    Thanks 🙂

    • You need to look for the original version, if you ever have a chance in finding it. Look up his records. I know Eikosidekas, here in Chicago, originally from Kandyla village, in Arcadia, Peloponnese

    • Dear Rachael,
      My boyfriend is named Demetrius Dekas and supposedly, there is only one Demetrius Dekas. It is possible that he could be your grandfather.
      Please write me and we can figure this out. And if he turns out not to be your grandfather, I will pray to God that you are able to find him soon. Because every girl deserves to know her grandfather.
      My email is atrosst@yahoo.com

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