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Five Extraordinary Facts about Hungarian Names

April 6, 2015
Country/Region:  Hungary
Category:  Did You Know?

Hungarians have quite interesting habits when it comes to names, some of which will surely surprise you!

My Name Is..
My Name Is..

1. First of all, the family name comes before the first name. Therefore John Smith in Hungarian would make Smith John, and this is the manner John’s name would be written in his Hungarian passport and on his credit card as well.

2. In most cultures when a woman marries, she may or should take her husband’s last name. In Hungary in addition to that you can also take your husband’s first name! In this case a short „né” suffix (wife of) has to be added to your brand new first name. So if John Smith’s wife was very traditional, she would be called Smith Johnné, and this name would also be written in her passport and on her credit card.

3. Hungarian women actually have eight options when it comes to marriage and names. They can either
a. keep their maiden name
b. take just the husband’s family name
c. give up their name completely as described above
They may also
d. take their husband’s last name and add the suffix –né to it but at the same time keep their first and last names, that way ending up with two last names and one first name. So if I were to marry John Smith and choose this option, my official name would be Smithné Ritecz Márta.
Confused enough? There’s more to it: in case a freshly married woman wants an extremely long name, she may consider..
e. ..adopting their husband’s family name and first name, adding the suffix –né to his first name, at the same time keeping their own first and last name as well. Smith Johnné Ritecz Márta.
Or, perhaps most shocking of all…
f. women can take the husband’s family name in a so called dual form; this in practice would mean Smithné Smith Márta!
And finally something less confusing:
g. choose the dash solution: Smith-Ritecz Márta
h. choose the reversed dash solution: Ritecz-Smith Márta

4. Men don’t have as many choices; they can either keep their name, or take their wife’s last name, or choose the dash and reversed dash solutions.

5. Another interesting fact is that in Hungarian language first names are also used as family names. So in case you have got humorous parents, you mind end up being called Péter Péter or Miklós Miklós (Nicholas Nicholas).



About the Author

Marta Ritecz-Sekulic

Marta Ritecz-Sekulic

Marta has obtained her Master’s degree in European Studies in Cracow, Poland. She adores writing and sharing her thoughts in general, as well as learning new languages and getting to know other cultures. She is mostly acquainted with Polish, Croatian, Hungarian and Serbian culture as she has lived in those countries. Marta currently works at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Hungary as a Desk Officer for Poland. She is the founder of The Cultural Spotter.