Names in Cambodia differ in many ways to their Western counterparts. For a start, the way names are presented are the opposite, with the family name traditionally coming first, followed by the given name.
The other major difference is unlike in the West, where generations have the same family name passed down from the father’s side, in Cambodia, children’s family names are the given name of their father or grandfather.
Another way they differ is how people are addressed. Rather than Mr, Mrs or Miss followed by the family name, in Cambodia it is replaced with the given name. And when it comes to nicknames, in contrast to the first syllable of a given name being used, it is usually the last. So, for example, Sreylark would be shortened to Lark.
The majority of Cambodian names derive from Hindu or Buddhist words and carry a special meaning. Names are usually chosen to bring prosperity and good fortune for the baby.
Names can also be joined together. For example, Chhanny is Chhan (moon) and Ny (light) fused together to create moonlight.
While there are specific male and female names, many are unisex so it’s not uncommon for men and women to carry the same name. It is also worth noting that Cambodians put the emphasis on the last syllable of the name.
This is a female name that translates to flowers.
This is a male name that means clever or magical.
This is another male name that translates to good fortune or success.
Mony is a female name and refers to a precious stone or gem.
Narith is a male name and means masculine or manly.
This traditionally male name means flawless.
Pich is a unisex name and means diamond.
Generally used as a male name, Pisey translates as little darling or beloved.
While there is a male variation of the same name, with different spelling and meaning, the female version means shining and sparkling.
Rathana / Rathanak
These male names mean precious stones or jewels.
Sophea is a common female name, meaning she who is clever, or wise one.
Traditionally a male name but commonly used for females, Sothy means scholar or intelligent person.