Unexpected Hungarian name forms

Since I’ll have been a Magyarphile for 21 years this April, and today (19 March) is the 72nd anniversary of the Nazi occupation of Hungary, I figured it’s fitting to do a post on Hungarian names today. I know this is quite superstitious and irrational, but I can’t help but wonder if I had so many problems healing my third lobe piercings because I got them done on 19 March. I do believe in lucky and unlucky dates, and that was surely a very unlucky date. Baruch Hashem, these piercings finally seem completely healed, and I’m leaving the titanium jewelry in them for awhile longer, just to be on the safe side.

Hungarian forms the Ugric side of the Finno–Ugric languages, and thus doesn’t have very much in common with the more familiar Indo–European languages. It doesn’t even have much in common with the Finnic languages, as I can testify from comparing it to Estonian. At least Estonian has quite a few German and Russian cognates, and Finnish (so I’m told) has many Swedish cognates.

Thus, some Hungarian names will have English equivalents which aren’t exactly expected or discernible. Everyone can understand a name like Klaudia, Mária, András, and József, but some names are trickier to figure out. These are some of them.


1. Aranka—Aurelia
2. Árvácska—Pansy
3. Csilla—Star
4. Csillag—Stella
5. Gyöngyi—Pearl
6. Hajnalka—Dawn, Aurora
7. Ibolya—Violet
8. Ildikó—Hilda
9. Piroska—Priscilla
10. Virág—Flora


1. Antal—Anthony
2. Balázs—Blaise
3. Bálint—Valentine
4. Bertalan—Bartholomew
5. Dezső—Desiderius
6. Elek—Alexis (a name I’ll always consider male!)
7. Farkas—Wolf
8. Frigyes—Frederick (makes more sense if you know how GY is pronounced)
9. István—Steven
10. Lipot—Leopold
11. Lóránd—Roland

One thing that’s kind of confusing to me as a non-Magyar, even after 21 years of Magyarphilia, is how the Hungarian form of Sarah is Sára instead of Szara. An S by itself is pronounced SH in Hungarian, whereas SZ is like an English S.

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