How to Choose a Thai name

Thousands of people with a fascination of Thai culture visit our web sites every day. Not all of these are tourists – many have already been to Thailand on holiday and want to know more about their favourite destination. It always surprises my Thai colleagues at school when I tell them how many foreigners are visiting our web sites every day. The most popular one with foreigners is ethaimusic.com which gets about 9,000 unique visitors per day. Then about 4000 people visit learningthai.com and a similar number thailandlife.com. This makes them proud to hear that so many people have a fascination with everything to do with Thai life and culture.

However, what surprises them the most is the number of requests we get from people asking for advice on how to choose a good Thai name! These people feel that they have become so connected with Thai culture that they want to go to the next step by getting a Thai name. Some even want to tattoo their Thai name on their body. However, choosing a Thai name is not as easy as it first looks. Thai people don’t just pick names at random or ones that sound nice or have good meanings. Most of them would consult an astrologer or monk in order to choose a name that is auspicious and would bring the child plenty of good luck in their life. Thai people believe so much in auspicious names, that if they feel that their name hasn’t brought them enough good luck they will change it!

I will tell you the experience of Gor when the time came to choose a name for his baby. He went to his “family” monk who is also good at Thai astrology. The first thing the monk asked was the day and time of birth. He then consulted a book to find which letters should and shouldn’t be used in her name. He then wrote these on a piece of paper together with three suggestions for names which have good meanings. (Visit thailandlife.com to see a scan of this paper.)

PEOPLE BORN ON FRIDAYS

Gor’s baby was born on a Friday. You can see the choice for a Friday baby in the chart above. On the left hand side are different characteristics which you might like for your baby. The monk chose “sri” (marked with **) which means glory, fame and good luck. This is only for girls. The characteristic “det” (marked with *) is only for boys and means power, luck and honour. By the way, the letters marked in red should never be used by a baby born on a Friday. That group is very unlucky! It means disaster and neverending trouble.

Here are my translations for each group:

บริวาร (bo-ri-waan) – you will always be surrounded by people
อายุ (aa-yoo) – you will live a long and prosperous life
เดช (det) – power, luck, honour for a boy
ศรี (see) – glory, fame, luck for a girl
มูละ (moo-la) – you will inherit valuable things from your parents
อุตสาหะ (oot-saa-ha) – diligent, patient, successful at work
มนตร (mon-dtree) – older cousins and older people will help and support you
กาลกิณ (gaan-gi-nee) – disaster, neverending trouble

The names the monk chose were as follows:

I have marked in green the auspicious letters. Out of the three names, Gor then chose Chanakarn which means “a darling to all people”. It seemed the most fitting of all names.

However, circumstance in your life might lead you to changing your name. Sometimes people do this because a monk didn’t choose their name in the first place. Also, people might change their name if they had a string of bad luck and want to “try again” with life. Suthee (the webmaster of ethaimusic.com) used to be called Suthiphong. His parents changed his name after a piece of bad luck when he was a child involving a bucket of acid on a hot day. Even some of the teachers at my school have changed their names in adulthood which is very confusing. Now, who are you?

Although Gor had chosen “Chankarn” correctly to be his daughter’s name, a year later circumstances have changed that would make the name unlucky for her. As Gor hasn’t written yet in thailandlife.com about why he had to change his daughter’s name, I won’t mention it here yet.

I am sure a lot of children would like to change names that were chosen by monks. Sometimes the emphasis is too much on an auspicious name rather than what is suitable for that child. I know some boys that have girl sounding names. Other names have some really peculiar meanings. I think the majority of my students are 100% embarrassed about their parents’ names. Sometimes during my English classes I might ask the students what their mother’s or father’s names are. They are always hesitant to say this out loud and whenever they do everyone nearly always laughs.

If you want to try and choose a name for yourself, then click here to find out which letters you should and shouldn’t use. However, when it comes to actually choosing a name with good meaning, you should consult some Thai friends. If in doubt, always consult a friendly monk first. Choosing a Thai name is a serious business.

84 responses to “How to Choose a Thai name

  1. My Thai surname is Larphoon but i have no idea what this means. If anyone knows or knows how i might be able to find out it would be very much appreciated. Thank you

  2. hello,

    i work with a young thia boy and we
    do not know the meaning of his name,
    which is Chakkrapong.

  3. Hello,

    I work with a young thia boy and we
    do not know the meaning of his name,
    which is Chakkrapong.If anyone knows or knows how i might be able to find out it would be very much appreciated.
    Thank you

  4. I am looking for a old friend who’s name is pronounced “ya-wa-dee”. I know that is not how it is spelled. How would that be spelled in English? Or how could I use the proper spelling to find her?
    thank you.

  5. SailentOmz (I'm Thai)

    Wow! I have just recently know foreigner to attend Thai Language.
    The Thai language is very easy. Try it ^^.

    Ps. My name’s Kul-la-we.

  6. Surasak Intravichit

    my true definition of my first name
    Surasak and history of last name if possible, thank you

  7. Hello I’m from europian and my boyfriend is from thailand. I would like to do one tatto with our names in Thai like “Jirasak and Camellia”.
    Thank you in advance.

  8. hello everyone,

    my name is rick and i’m from germany. my father was thai and my lastname is thepsuwan. Can someone help me out with the meaning of this last name?!

    i have another question, im going to be a dad of girl and want her to have a thai name…..but online i can’t find a good site, where the names going to be explained.

    If anybody can help me out with finding nice girl names, please let me know…..and mail me

    thanks for the moment and

    seruvs from munich

  9. Hello,
    I too am looking for a Thai name for my child to be. My name means sunflower and I would love another Flower name, but would also consider any good suggestions at all. Anyone out there have ideas or decent websites?
    Thanks!
    Tahnthawan

  10. Tahnthawan, Can you post this question on the ThailandQA.com forums as you will find many people there have been helped with names before.

  11. To me Thai language looks very very difficult, guess even i have a thai name, i could hardly read it out, haha!

  12. Could someone please translate a name for me? Suwannee – it is a feminine name and I believe it means golden (something), but I am not sure. Thank you so much in advance!

  13. Hello,
    I was wondering if anyone knew the definition of my name.
    My name’s Vitanee.

    Thanks,

  14. to Larry
    Suwannee,

    su= good,right
    wan= gold
    wannee –just make it faminine but not uncommon for a familyname

  15. My douther is from Thailand. Her name is CHANANYA.
    Anywone know the meaning of her name?
    Thank you very munch

  16. CHANANYA means Compassionate

    (merciful, sympathetic, tender-hearted)

  17. hi. can you tell me what the definition of the last name, lavaveshkul is, please? thank you!

  18. many thai names can be traced to India and the sanskrit language . much of the deeper aspects of thai culture and religion and superstition come from ancient india . buddhism itself originated in india . actually there are some aspects of thai culture which are extremely bramanical ….. as in refined …. pure ……. in harmony with divinity

  19. on example of this is that thai astrology has its origin in indian vedic astrology called … jyotish ….

  20. steve Jennings

    Found this a really interesting article, thanks

  21. Wow, sounds so complicated and involved.

  22. hi,

    My name is Thong Phuon Yord can someone please tell me what’s the meaning to my name and how do u convert it to thai symbol. thanks

  23. Wow! It’s interesting to know that many farangs want to have Thai names.

    I’m 100% Thai and I just want to share my Thai name with you guys, just for your information.

    My name is Sutasanee. It combines two words together. Su, the first word, means “good” and tasanee, the second one, means “woman”. So my name means “a good woman”.

    Most Thai names are derived from Pali and Sanskrit languages so farangs may find them so exotic to hear.

  24. hello everyone i would like to know what the name Mew mean ^^ (shes a girl)

    And my name “Michael” i would like the thai name for this please hehe

    Kop Koon

  25. Thank you to my friend Gwen, who understands what I mean and doesn’t call me crazy. Cause I want it that waaay

  26. Nong Gwendolyn

    Your welcome Chris =D We are waiting for you in Thailand! Do not forget to bring the bird with you ok? cause I want it that wayyyyyyy.y.y.y.y.y… =D

  27. Vilamon Aranyaphong

    First Name: Vilamon

    Last Name: Aranyaphong

    Hello, I am find this to be very interesting.

    Can you please tell me the meaning of this first and last name?

    Thanks

  28. Vilamon Aranyaphong

    First Name: Vilamon

    Last Name: Aranyaphong

    Hello, I am finding this to be very interesting.

    Can you please tell me the meaning of this first and last name?

    Thanks

  29. my family’s last name is Rittiron. If somebody could tell me the meaning of this i would be very happy. I live alone in America and have no way of finding this out by myself.

  30. To let you know that a female elephant was born at Melbourne Zoo (Australia) this morning 16th January at about 1a.m. Mother and daughter are both well. The quest begins for a good name for baby …..

  31. I didn’t know that so much thought and effort went into naming Thai babies (and later name changes). Very interesting!

  32. aries Zharfan

    hello my name is aries could you translate for me.khop khun mak khrap.

  33. Hi,
    I am searching for a Thai girl’s name that begins with a “J”. So far, I have come across Jaidee and Jintana.

  34. i am after the thai symbol for the female name JAN can you help