Written by: Milica Bokšan

There is a significant number of Serbian names and surnames.

We probably couldn’t list them all even if we dedicated three articles like this to them!

In this blog post, we will mention only the most popular Serbian names, as well as some old ones.

Who knows, you might like a certain name so much that this article becomes more useful than you expected! 😉

How Serbs Give Names to Their Kids

Expectant parents are most often asked the following question ﹘ what will your baby’s name be?

Considering the Latin proverb Nomen est omen, the answer to this question is not easy.

Parents think in advance about what they will name their child.

Some people have favorite names since childhood!

Be that as it may, in Serbian culture, it is customary for the child to be named by the parents or the godfather.

(We have already mentioned that the godfather plays an important role at a Serbian wedding. Here, we’re talking about the person who will be the child’s godfather or godmother at krštenje (= christening)).

Before, the name was given after the family’s ancestor.

Often, that family member was a grandmother, grandfather, or even older ancestor. This custom is intended to show respect and preserve the memory of a family member. 

Today, this is a rare practice, but many Serbs still name their children that way.

Another way to choose a name is simply based on whether the parents like the name or not. In modern times, this is a much more popular practice of naming kids.

However, it can be hard to decide on a name.

Parents sometimes give the second child a name that begins with the same letter as the first child’s name.

For example:

Marko and Marija


Tijana and Tomislav

This actually eliminates many other names, making the choice easier.

Of course, this is not always done for this reason only. 

In a way, it connects children from the same family, so parents find it nice to call their children by names that share the same initial letter.

Meaning of Serbian Names

Like in other cultures, in Serbian culture, many names have their own meanings, too.

It is often important to parents that, apart from being pretty, their kid’s name also carries some important meaning.

Here are some examples:

  • Vuk 

It is a popular Serbian name for boys. It means “Wolf,’’ literally.

According to popular belief, people thought that such a strong name would protect the child from ghosts and witches.

From the name Vuk, other Serbian names for boys, such as Vukan or Vukašin, were created.

All three names are very old. Important Serbian rulers also bore these names almost 1000 years ago. Also, the famous Serbian reformer Vuk Stefanović Karadžić bore this name. Allegedly, his family had a low infant survival rate, thus he was named Vuk so that witches and evil spirits would not hurt him.

  • Dušan

This Serbian name for boys used to be given only to those of noble birth.

Etymologically, Dušan comes from the word duša (= soul) or duh (= spirit), which is associated with the Serbian holiday Duhovi

It is related to the meaning of beauty and longevity, something that is God-given.

The name Dušan has also become a synonym for those who are strong and brave.

This is another Serbian name that has been used by numerous Serbian rulers throughout history, of which the most famous one was Stefan Dušan, also known as Dušan Silni (Dušan The Mighty).

  • Milica

Milica is an old Serbian name for girls and means mila (= sweet) or draga (= dear).

The root of the word mio, mili is very common in Serbian names.

This name was often borne by women belonging to ruling families.

  • Nada

Nowadays, less popular, but extremely beautiful, is also the female name Nada. It means “Hope.’’

At the time when the name Nada was popular, girls were also given the name Vera. It means “Faith.’’

By the way, do you know the famous Serbian spy who was a woman? Her name was Vera Pešić, and she was known as Serbian Mata Hari.

Biblical names are also very important in Serbian culture, such as:

  • Miroslav (mir = peace, slava = celebration)
  • Luka
  • Jovan
  • Mateja
  • Ana
  • Marija
  • Nastasija

The Most Popular Serbian Names for Girls

popular serbian names serbian names for girls

Most Serbian names for girls end with the vowel –a.

Here is a list of some of the most popular Serbian names for girls:

  • Milica
  • Sofija
  • Dunja
  • Maša
  • Una
  • Lena
  • Katarina
  • Anastasija
  • Petra
  • Nađa
  • Jelena
  • Teodora
  • Sara
  • Mila 
  • Nikolina
  • Helena

As trends change, so does the choice of name.

For example, a couple of decades ago, the most common female names were:

  • Ljiljana
  • Snežana
  • Radmila
  • Jelena
  • Jovana
  • Milica
  • Dragana
  • Marija

Then followed the trend of short names like:

  • Una
  • Lea
  • Mia
  • Lana
  • Lena

Currently, short names of only a few letters are in fashion, but traditional longer names are also making a comeback.

Milica and Jelena are some of the few names that have remained popular for many decades.

Although Serbian names for girls usually end in -a, some foreign female names ending in other letters are sometimes given to female children in Serbia.

There are not many such names, but some of them are:

  • Iris
  • Ines
  • Melani
  • Tifani

Aside from ending differently from traditional Serbian names for girls, foreign female names ending in a consonant do not change their cases.

The Most Popular Serbian Names for Boys

popular serbian names serbian names for boys

Most Serbian names for boys end in a consonant or the vowels –e or –o, and rarely in -a.

The most popular Serbian names for boys are:

  • Luka
  • Vasilije
  • Vukašin
  • Vuk
  • Vukan
  • Bogdan
  • Lazar
  • Aleksa (it’s not a female name for Serbs!)
  • Pavle
  • Stefan
  • Relja
  • Strahinja
  • Uroš
  • Andrej
  • Andrija
  • Marko

Most of these names on the list are traditional Serbian names for boys and they have been around for a long time.

In addition to them, traditional names that have recently regained popularity are:

  • Dušan
  • Nikola (it’s not a female name for Serbs!)
  • Đorđe
  • Mihajlo
  • Gavrilo

Universal Serbian Names

There are some Serbian names that can be names for both boys and girls, but they are very few.

Some of those names are Vanja or Saša.

In addition to them, there are also universal names Matea and Andrea. However, Andrea is far more used for girls than boys.

Depending on whether they are given to a boy or a girl, the syllables of the name are stressed differently.

Serbian Nicknames

Nicknames are very common in Serbian culture.

In the past, nicknames were often given according to some characteristic that a certain person had, for example, Brzi (= Fast) or Srećko (= Lucky). 

It was also not uncommon for a person’s appearance or a certain internal characteristic to be associated with the animal they resembled!

That’s how nicknames such as Pacov (= Rat), Zmija (= Snake), Zeka (= Bunny), and many others were formed.

Nowadays, nicknames are mostly based on the name.

For example:

Name: Dušan – Nicknames: Dule, Duki

Name: Pavle – Nicknames: Paja, Paki

Name: Milica – Nickname: Mica

Name: Jelena – Nicknames: Jeca, Jela

Name: Nikola – Nicknames: Nidža, Džoni

Name: Nebojša – Nicknames: Neša, Šone

Name: Vladimir – Nicknames: Vlada

Name: Nevena – Nicknames: Nena

Name: Aleksandar – Nicknames: Saša

Name: Aleksandra – Nicknames: Saška

Name: Emilija – Nicknames: Ema

Name: Sonja – Nicknames: Coka

Name: Marija – Nicknames: Mara, Maki

Name: Momčilo – Nicknames: Moma

Name: Mirjana – Nicknames: Mira

Name: Lazar – Nicknames: Laza

Name: Đorđe – Nicknames: Đole, Đoka

Name: Vasilije – Nicknames: Vasa

Name: Andrija/Andrej – Nicknames: Aki

Name: Bojan/Boris/Bogdan – Nicknames: Boki

Name: Vuk/Vukašin – Nicknames: Vule

Name: Dragana – Nicknames: Gaga

Name: Jovan – Nicknames: Joca

While most people get these common nicknames soon after they are born, some of them acquire some of those more creative ones in their later years.

Serbian Surnames

Most Serbian surnames end with a suffix –

The most popular Serbian surnames end exactly like that:

  • Jovanović 
  • Petrović
  • Nikolić
  • Marković
  • Đorđević
  • Stojanović
  • Ilić
  • Stanković

Fun fact: The most common combinations of names and surnames in Serbia are Dragan Jovanović and Jelena Jovanović.

You may have already noticed that there is a slight similarity between Serbian names for boys and Serbian surnames.

This is because surnames were mostly constructed from the name of a male ancestor and the suffix -ić that denotes youth or smallness.

In this way, it is indicated that all those who bear a surname derived from the name of a certain ancestor and the mentioned suffix are their descendants.

For example:

Jovan + ić = Jovanović (Jovanov – of Jovan)

Marko + ić = Marković (Markov – of Marko)

Luka + ić = Lukić (Lukin – of Luka)

Neda + ić = Nedić (Nedin – of Neda)

Due to historical changes and the former pressure of Austria-Hungary, the suffix -ić was removed from certain surnames, which is how surnames ending in -ov or -ev were created.

For example:


Ivanović Ivanov



In addition to these, there are also Serbian surnames with the suffix –in

It is considered that they originated in Vojvodina. 

Once again, the suffix -ić was dropped from Serbian surnames, but this time the Serbian possessive suffix -in was added to the parent’s name:


Marić Marin 


During the existence of the Kneževina Srbija (= Principality of Serbia), knez Aleksandar Karađorđević issued a decree in 1851 on the immutability of Serbian surnames.

Since then, permanent surnames have been used after the most important and oldest ancestors.

Fun fact: It is interesting that, in Serbia, there are also some very strange surnames.

Here are a couple of them: 

  • Vještica (meaning witch)
  • Guzina
  • Guzić
  • Dronjak
  • Ćuk (type of owl)
  • Osoba (meaning person)

Some of them have vulgar meanings like Guzina or Guzić (derived from the word “ass’’) or derogatory like Dronjak (derived from “rags’’).

popular serbian names girl phone laughing

These surnames are not originally Serbian but were brought by people who immigrated from surrounding areas to Serbia.

There is even one strange anecdote, but there is no historical evidence for it.

Allegedly, during the Austro-Hungarian occupation, a population census was conducted. So out of rebellion, people invented mocking surnames.

Moreover, such surnames have been preserved even today, but to a very small extent.


All those names and surnames are part of Serbian culture and history.

It is interesting how some forgotten Serbian names became popular again over time. Maybe that’s evidence that people never actually forget their roots and traditions.

Would you love to find out more about Serbian culture? The best way to explore it is to learn the Serbian language!

Now you have an opportunity to talk with native Serbian speakers and learn Serbian even faster. Just schedule your Serbian classes online and enjoy the process!