Sometimes it can be hard to identify a person as being Greek based on their first name or appearance. I have Greek friends who look nothing like a person born of Mediterranean blood. Some are named Ethan, or Olivia, or Ike, or Nadia, or even Jonathan (like me!).
However, one way you can be guaranteed to find out if a person is Greek or not is by finding out their last name. Should it end in an ‘s’ or ‘ou’ then chances are they’re of Greek descent. And here’s another way for you to dig even deeper into their surname to discover exactly where in Greece they’re from…
(Most of the time) if their last name ends with:
- “akis” they’re from Crete.
- “poulos” or “eas” they’re from Peloponese.
- “as” they’re from Epirus.
- “idis” they’re a Pontus.
- “oglu” they’re from Asia Minor.
Again, the above examples don’t always apply when it comes to connecting a Greek last name to its area of origin, but it’s a decent indicator.
Another thing to remember about Greek family names is that – much like English last names – there are those which are common, those which are uncommon, and those which offer up a good chuckle. Most of these names come from a particular meaning, as well (again, much like English). For example, the name “Carpenter” in English likely comes from a family whose great-great-great-great-great grandfather was very handy and into carpentry and woodwork. Equally in Greek, the name “Maragos” (which also means carpenter) could stem from similar circumstances.
Some common Greek last names include: Papadakis, Economou, Stavropoulos, Ioannou, Georgiou, Papadopoulos, and Christopoulos. Then, of course, there’s a large number of uncommon last names which stand alone.
But for today’s post I’ve decided to delve into some unusual real Greek last names; names which have a funny meaning or which are difficult to pronounce. Each of them are amusing (or not), and no offence should be taken by those who might coincidentally be from a long line of the ones I’ve provided. As a matter of fact, if it offers any consolation, my last name in Greek apparently means the inedible piece of fat on a slab of meat. So there you go. (Save your jokes for the comment section, please).
Here’s the list:
Mike Moustakas = Mike Moustache
Demetri Kafes = Demetri Coffee
George Patsasoglou = George “Son of a Patsa maker” (a Greek delicacy made of cow feet and innards).
Niko Portokalis = Nick Oranges
Gus Maroulis = Gus Lettuce
George Kolokithas = George Zucchini
Alekos Tsounis = Alex Wiener
John Katsikis = John Goats
Chris Rapsomanikis = Chris Sewsleeves
Vasilis Psiris = Bill Lice
Lenny Psofimis = Lenny Deadly
Jim Vrakas = Jim Longjohns
Tom Karpouzis = Tom Watermelon
Peter Skordas = Peter Garlic
Frank Spirakis = Frank Pimple
Andreas Kefalas = Andy Bighead
Taso Koufodimos = Taso Defmayor
Ted Psarris = Ted Fish
Tony Vlahos = Tony Villager
Nick Koulouris = Nick Cookie
Are there any funny surnames we might have missed? If so, let us know in the comment section below.
By – Jonathan Bliangas