Female given names as a motivator for Croatian surnames

Female given names in Croatian surnames

Formation of Croatian family names based on female first names wasn’t a frequent occurence and is often difficult to discern that a surname is actually motivated by the first name of a woman.

Earlier in history, women would typically not bear a surname, but would use the name of a father, husband, brother or a son instead. A matronymic surname would be typically created using a name of a women who particularly excelled in a community, or was famous because of some fortunate or less fortunate circumstance like becoming a widow early in life or being pregnant out of wedlock.

Oldest Croatian female names

Croatian female given names are recorded in oldest historical records between 9th and 13th century AD. Some of those names are Alba (white, happy), Buna or Bona (kind, good), Demetria (goddess of the Earth), Rosana (a rose), Stella (a star), Viola (violet), all of which are of early Christian origin. There were also widespread old Croatian female names like Bela (white), Dobra (kind, good), Gruba (rough), Ljuba (a kiss), Kazimira (utterance, speak), Mira (peace), Stana…

Many centuries after, we find Croatian surnames which echo those old Croatian female given names: Belić, Bilić, Dobrić, Grubić, Ljubić, Mirić, Stanić etc.