Meaning of Names

For archive (Updated on January 26, 2019)

Last names

Some Last Names originally meant “son of“. They include

  • Johnson (son of John)
  • MacDonald (son of Donald)
  • McGee (son of Gee)
  • O’Neal (son of Neal)
  • bin Laden (son of Laden)
  • Fitzgerald (son of Gerald)

There are a few exceptions. Some Last Names mean

  • “father of”
  • “mother of”
  • “server/servant of”.

Some Last Names originally referred to work/occupation. They include

  • Carpenter
  • Thatcher
  • Smith
  • Goldsmith
  • Rider

Birth place

Two siblings have their place of birth in their names.

  • Dr. Khin Maung Lin (born in Nattalin), my SPHS classmate
  • Khin Maung Pun (born in Papun), one year junior at RIT


Names are studied by astrologers, and numerologists. One numerologist mentions the effect (good or bad) of changing names. He attributed the rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte to his name change : from the Italian sounding Corsican last name to comply with the French spelling. Napoleon was the first Corsican to attend the French Military school and rise to be the Emperor of France.

Variant spellings

 There is no unique way of spelling Burmese/Myanmar names in English text. The following are variants of the same Burmese/Myanmar name (or part of name)

  • Tun, Htun, Htoon
  • Min, Minn
  • Thein, Thane
  • Kyaw, Gyaw

Prefixes and Suffixes

Names can have prefixes and suffixes.  Sometimes, it is not clear if a word is a prefix or part of the name. For example,

  • Thura Tin Maung Aye (BAF) has a “Thura” award. 
  • Aung San Thuriya Hla Thaung is a school honoring the recipient of the highest military award. 
  • Thura Thant Zin is the son of Bohmu Thant Zin. Thura is part of the name. He is an engineer and a Past President of BASES.

   Monk names with their prefixes and suffixes are considered in detail in a separate post.

Name change

  • Maung Paw (Saya U Htin Paw aka Maung Htin Paw in his early years)
  • Khin Zaw (KMZ, Khin Maung Zaw, whose middle name is not mentioned by his non-Burmese colleagues)
  • San Lin Maung (several had “Maung” registered as their last name)
  • Several monks have to tell immigration that U, Ashin and Venerable are valid prefixes for monks.
  • Some have hyphenated names. e.g. Maung Tin-Wa
  • Some modified the names so that they can be pronounced easily by non-Burmese. e.g. Kai (for Khine), Kin (for Khin)

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