Previously, we have covered how names work in Thai, as well as some examples of Thai nicknames. Now, we can have a look at some common Thai names. I think this is an important step for learning Thai, as names are commonly used in daily conversation. Like every country, Thailand has its own group of popular names or names of Thai origin. Learning about these names makes for an interesting look into the culture of the country, which is why it is such a great topic to cover and learn. Anyway, let’s see some examples of Thai names that you may come across during your stay.
We have spoken before about how surnames in Thai are generally long due to their sudden introduction and the requirement that they are unique. We have also discussed how Thai nicknames are often used more than real names, to the point that friends may not know each other’s real first names.
Middle names are very uncommon in Thai if used at all. When it comes to first names, some things are very similar to English names. They have different meanings behind them (often archaic) which may be a reason why the name is chosen.
On the other hand, Thai names work a bit differently, again linked to the wider use of nicknames in day to day life. For official documents or occasions, the real given name would be used.
There is a mixture of unisex and gender-specific names, usually determined by the meaning. For example, a certain common male name in Thai (which we will look at a little bit further down) actually contains the word ‘man’ when translated. Certain prefixes and suffixes are common too, including the noble ‘som-’ (สม), meaning worth or worthiness in English and the eye-catching ‘porn-’ (พร) which means blessing in English.
The true meaning or translation of these names is not exact, so take these translations with a grain of salt. They should just give you an idea of the meaning behind the words. With that said, let’s move on to some common Thai names and their meanings.
Starting with male’s names in Thai, there are a few that are quite popular.
Somchai (สมชาย) – Real Man or Man of Worth
If you look up any list of common Thai names for males, you will come across this one. That is because this is by far one of the most popular names for males in Thailand. You can see the prefix ‘som’ (สม) that we mentioned earlier here – in this case together with the word ‘chai’ (ชาย) meaning male.
Somsak (สมศักดิ์) – Worthy of Honor
The name Somsak is another of the more popular Thai names for males. As you can probably see, it is very similar to the name above. It once again reflects that the bearer of the name if worthy of something – honor or prestige in this case.
Arthit (อาทิตย์) – Sun
Those of you who are familiar with the names of the planets in Thai will know that Arthit means Sun (yes, I realize that the Sun is not a planet). While that would be a deep enough meaning alone, the name for the Sun in Thai is itself derived from the name of a Hindu god (and the word for Sunday).
Kittisak (กิตติศักดิ์) – Renowned, Powerful
As with most Thai names, this one shows that you have high hopes for your child. The two parts of the name together mean something like renowned power, which would mean they are particularly strong. I would imagine a lot of guys would like this to be their name.
Just as there are many common Thai names for males, there are many common names specifically for females too.
Malee (มะลิ) – Flower/Jasmine
Flowers and beauty are concepts often associated with femininity, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the word for flower is a common Thai name for girls. Specifically, it refers to Jasmine, grown throughout Thailand for tea and rice.
Anong (อนงค์) – Beautiful
This is a nice name as it means beautiful. They say that children grow into their names to reflect its meaning and the supposed traits it conveys, so choosing a name with this meaning should be easy to understand. It is used as a female name due to some connotations for the meaning.
Pornthip (พรทิพย์) – Divine Blessing
If it wasn’t obvious yet, the meaning of this common Thai name should make it so. Thai names often have really intense meanings. This one is even a bit religious. But yes, this is where the porn prefix comes into play. Together with the word ‘thip’ (ทิพย์), which means divine or divinity, you get a really beautiful name.
Praew (แพรว) – Shining
The name Praew is another that is meant to convey beauty. It can be understood as shining or gleaming, which I believe to be signs of beauty. The pronunciation is a bit unique in that English speakers may not be able to say it correctly right away, but you will get used to it over time.
What do you think of these names? These are just some of the common Thai names and their meanings, but there is so much variety outside of these. I think there are some nice sounding ones here, but you will likely come across some more interesting ones when visiting Thailand. That is if you are able to find out peoples’ real names rather than their nicknames.
Either way, they make for interesting conversation. If you want to make some of your own names in Thai, you should use the Ling Thai app to pump up your vocabulary and find the right words for the perfect name.