This year, out of solidarity with the brave people of Iran, my A to Z theme will be Persian names. Because of the country’s long history with Islam, many Persian names are also Arab, or are Persified from Arabic. However, I’ll try my best to stick with uniquely Persian names, of which there are plenty. After the 7th century Islamic conquest, the Persians successfully resisted all attempts at Arabization, and kept their native language, culture, and names. Even after most people were converted to Islam, they didn’t discard names from their original national religion of Zoroastrianism.
Because the Persian alphabet lacks a W and X, those days will be wildcards with names from other languages whose peoples have a historic link with Iran. Persian names starting with KH can be transliterated with an X, but since they’re only found within the Azeri community of Iran (who have their own alphabet), not mainstream usage within the wider world of Persian onomastics, I’ve chosen to leave them out.
Some of these names have multiple transliterations, since there are several different styles of transliterating Persian. E.g., OU, OO, and U all represent the same sound. It all depends on what you’re most familiar with or find most aesthetically pleasing.
Feel free to let me know if I missed any names for any of the letters!
Abid means “flame.”
Afrouz means “enlightening, illuminating, kindling.”
Afsana/Afsaneh means “myth, legend, fable.”
Afsoun/Afsoon/Afsun means “charm, spell.”
Ahu means “female deer.” In Turkish, this means “beautiful eyes.”
Alaleh means “buttercup.”
Alizeh means “wind.” This is completely unrelated to the Hebrew name Alizah, which means “joy.”
Anahita means “undefiled, immaculate” in Old Persian, from roots *an- (not) and *āhita (dirty, unclean). She was the Iranian goddess of water and fertility, and has historically been identified with the Greek goddess Artemis, the Semitic goddess Ishtar, and possibly the the Hindu goddess Saraswati. The Armenian forms are Anahit and Anahid.
Andesha means “thought.”
Andleeb means “nightingale.”
Arania means “spider.”
Arasta means “adorned, decorated.”
Arezou/Arezoo/Arezu/Arezo means “desire, wish.”
Arghavan is a flowering tree known in English as the Judas tree.
Asal means “honey.” This name is of Arabic origin.
Ava means “sound, voice.” This is a completely different name from the currently very trendy English name which is a variant of Eve.
Azada means “free.”
Azin means “beauty, adornment.”
Aayaan means “long night.”
Aban means “October.” This was the name of the angel of October in Zoroastrianism.
Adish means “fire” or “of fire.” In Sanskrit, this means “supreme leader.”
Afshin is the modern form of the Old Persian name Pisinah, which is of unknown etymology. This was also used as a princely title for rulers of a region historically known as Turan, Sogdia, and Fara-rud in Persian, and Transoxiana in Latin, composed of parts of modern-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Agit means “the brave, the warrior.”
Alborz comes from the name of the mountain range forming a border between Iran and Azerbaijan, which in turn derives from Hara Berezaiti (High Watchpost), a legendary mountain in the Zoroastrian holy book The Avesta.
Aras means “balanced, equal.” This is the name of a river flowing through Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey.
Arman means “hope, wish.” This is also a Kazakh name.
Armish means “calm, quiet.”
Arshan means “hero.”
Arwan means “brave, courageous.” This name is Dari Persian, the form used in Afghanistan, as evidenced by the presence of the letter W.
Afsar means “officer, official” or “crown.”
Akhtar means “star.” This is a rare name.
Anoush, or Anousheh, means “immortal.” This is a completely different name from the female Armenian name meaning “sweet.”
Ashraf means “nobler, more honourable.”
Azar means “fire.”