Saint Thomas Christian names

Saint Thomas Christian names

Saint Thomas Christian names describes the naming convention that is in use by the St. Thomas Christians of Kerala, the south western state of India. These Christians known as Nasranis, trace their origin to the missionary activity of Thomas the Apostle. They still follow a very old naming convention, which is entirely different from other races and religions.

Their names are both biblical and inherited and are passed on from one generation to the next. The male names are patronymic and the female names are matronymic. Usually a person’s name will include the names of their parents and grand parents or that of a very close blood relative.[1] At the same time, these names will not have names of saints or of great religious personalities or of political leaders or of foreign names. Family names are also included and all parts of the name are always in Malayalam. Foreign family names are shunned. So a Nasrani can easily be identified by name, from among other Christians. Even today, this pattern of giving name is visible in almost all Malankara Syrian Christian denominations.



Before the arrival of the Portuguese in May 1498, Saint Thomas Christians of Kerala were known to belong to the Margam, a word when translated is ‘The Way’.[2]

In 1599, Catholic Archbishop Alexio-de-Menezes called a synod at Udayamperoor, in which Christians in and near the kingdom of Cochin attended. Here he decreed that St. Thomas Christians should abandon their ancient naming conventions. They were specifically told not to use the name Easow because it was holy.[3] But, the Nasranis (St. Thomas Christians) just ignored this command and had continued with their ancient customs. Even today they do follow this method of naming. Even the Nasranis that did convert to Catholicism (Syrian Catholics) still use the "old margam" names. The Latin names are shunned

During the 20th century some names were created by joining two or more syllables. For example Abey (AB), Aji (AG), Bibi (BB), Biji (BG), Jessy (JC) and so on. Today, several Syrian Christians name their children by Indian names like Deepak, Neethu, Asha etc. But by the 21st century biblical names began to reappear. Thus names like, Isaac, Joshua, David, Ezekiel, Timothy, appeared on the scene. Generally they still follow the system detailed below.

Formation of a name

A name will include the baptismal name (generally the person is known by that name ) and the name of the father. The practice of appending the first name of father to the child's name instead of family name is also followed by Hindus of South India. Examples are given below.

Male names

Their names traditionally have a three fold structure.

Family or house name – Father’s name – Baptismal name

The first two are usually abbreviated to initials.

Another form is that the name will include the baptismal name (generally the person is called by that name) and the name of his father. The practice of appending the first name of father to the child's name instead of family name is also followed by Hindus of South India. Examples are given below.

As an example, the name, Thomas Mathew is similar to Shimon bar Jona.[4] which means Shimon son of Jona. In the same way, Thomas Mathew means Thomas son of Mathew. Thomas Mathew is to be addressed as Thomas and not by his father’s name.

Here the correct spelling is ‘’’Mathew’’’ and not ‘’’Matthew’’’ as in English.

Another form of name is Nikhil Thomas Mathew where Nikhil is a name chosen by the parents and they usually call him by that name, Thomas is the biblical and baptismal name and Mathew is his father's name.

Their bishop receives a new name on consecration. This also has a three fold structure.

His baptismal name (Sometimes in Syriac form) – the title Mar (in East syriac form) or Mor ( in west Syriac form) – an Episcopal title ( a Biblical name or the name of a Christian father). [5][6]

Female names

As an example, the name, Rachel Mathew, means Rachel daughter of Mathew. After marriage, father’s name is replaced by the husband’s name. Rachel Mathew is to be addressed as Rachel and not by her father’s name.

Another naming pattern is Anita Rachel Mathew where Anita is a formal given name chosen by the parents, Rachel is the biblical and baptismal name and Mathew is father's name. The given first names can be of any origin and many Syrian Christians give Indian names like Neethu, Deepa etc. to their children.

Use of initials

When initials are used, abbreviations of the family name or house name (name of the plot where the parents of the child live at the time of birth) and the father’s name are given before the given name. For example, the name P.M. Thomas means Palakkappilly (family name), Mathew’s (father’s name) son, Thomas (given name). His sister’s name will be P.M. Rachel.

Other forms

When family name or house name need to be used, it comes first followed by the given name. As an example, P.M. Thomas is, Palakkappilly Thomas Mathew or Palakkappilly P.M.Thomas.


Hypocoristic (Pet names) are often used in a familiar and friendly manner in informal situations. In more formal situations, the given name is to be used instead. This alludes to the fact that using a person's pet name betokens familiarity. Pet names for Syrian Christians can be Hindu, Arabic or Biblical in nature

Order in giving names

For Boys

Male names are patronymic.

The first born is given the name of his paternal grandfather.
The second born is given the name of his maternal grandfather.
The third born is given the name of one of his uncles.

For girls

Female names are matronymic.

The first born is given the name of her paternal grandmother.
The second born is given the name of her maternal grandmother.
The third born is given the name of one of her aunts.


The last name (father’s name) changes with each generation. The family name would also change if members who move out of their consanguineal family homes with the changing ownership of property upon the death of the patriarch decides to adopt a new name. However, several families claim that they are ancient and their family names have remained unchanged for centuries.

The Syrian Christians who have migrated to Western nations tend to choose surnames which can either be the family name or the father's name will be used as a surname.

Common names

The mother tongue of Nasranis is Malayalam. So the names given in the following lists are in phonetic spelling. But the first one, given under ‘’Other names,’’ shows how that name is usually written in English. The two lists include the names of a few common names that are in use, and they are not comprehensive. To know the correct pronunciation of these names, see Malayalam script or Tiberian vocalization.

Male names

Names English
Avraaham, Abraham, Avraham, Averaan, Averaachen, Aviraa Abraham
Chaacko, Chacko, Yaaqov,Yaakub, Yaakob Jacob
Chaandy, Chandy, Idiculla Alexander
Daniyel, Daniel, Dhaaniel Daniel
Eappen, Eapen, Esthappan, Punnoose, Uthup Stephen
Eisow, Easow, Eyochan Jesus
Ittac, Ittak, Itty Isaac
Ittyavirah, Ittiyerah Issac Abraham
Iyob, Iyoben Job
Kossy, Koshi, Koshy Joshua
Kurian, Kurien, Kora, Kuriaan, Koruth, Kuriakkose Cyriac
Kuruvilla, Kuruvila, Korula Cyril
Lukose Luke
Markose Mark
Mathaayi, Mathai, Mathen, Mathoo, Mathew, Mathualla Matthew
Piyliypaos, Philipose, Peely, Pothan, Poonan Philip
Pathrose, Peter, Pathappan Peter
Paulose, Paul, Poulose, Paulo, Piley Paul
Samuel, Samuel, Sam Samuel
Thoma, Thomas, Tom, Thommy, Thommi, Thommen, Mammen, Oommen, Thampan Thomas
Varughese, Varghese, Varky, Varkey, Vareethu, Geevarghese, Geevarughese, Vakkachan George
Yohannaan, Yohannan, Johannan, Lonan, Lonappan, Ninan, Ulahannan John
Yosef, Ouseph, Oauseph, Yoseph, Iype, Outha, Ittoop, Kunjeppu, Joppan Joseph
Zacharria, Zacharia, Skarriah, Karriah, Karriaan, Cheriyan, Kuncheria, Scaria Zachariah

Female names

Names English
Aaleyaamma, Aleyamma, Aaley, Aaleykutty, Kunjaaley, Kochaaley, Elisa, Elia, Elacha, Eliamma Elizabeth
Accamma, Aachiamma, Acca, Reba, Raca Rebecca
Annamma, Annamma, Hanna, Anna Hannah
Bridgita Bridgit
Mariaamma, Mariamma, Mariya Mary
Raahelamma, Rachel, Raahel Rachel
Saaramma, Saramma, Saara, Sarah Sarah
Sosaamma, Sosamma, Susamma, Susy, Sosa, Susan Susan
Thresiya, Therthia, Theyya, Iyya, Kochuthresia Theresa

All the above names are sometimes expanded by adding koch, kunju, kutty and mol before or after each name.

Names are sometimes selected from Malayalam language, and are used as pet names, like

Chinnamma, Kunjamma, Pennamma, Ponnamma, Thankamma.

Table of kinship terms

Family circle Term of reference Term of Address
Great-grandfather Valiya-valiyappachen Valiyappachaa
Grandfather valiyappachen Valiyappachaa
Greatgrandmother Valiya-valiyammachi Valiyammachi
Grandmother Valiyammachi Valiyammachi
Father Appachen Appachaa
Mother Ammachi Ammachi
Stepmother Randanamma Kochamma
Eldest brother Valiyachayan, Achayan Valiyachayaa, Achayaa
Elder brother (name) Achayan, Njanja, Achachan (name) Achayaa, Njanje, Achachaa
Younger brother (name) (name)
Eldest sister Kochamma, Chechi, Valiya ammamma, Pengal Kochammei,Chechi, Pengalei
Elder sister (name) Chechi, Pengal (name) Chechi, Pengalei
Younger sister (name) (name)
Infants (both sexes) Kunju Kunjei
Son Makan Makanei
Daughter Makall Mollei
Grand son Kochumakan Mone
Grand daughter Kochumakal Mole

See also


  1. ^ Luke 1:59-64.
  2. ^ Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:22.
  3. ^ Decrees of the Synod of AD 1599 July 20–27 (Malayalam), proceedings of the third meeting, Canon 9.
  4. ^ Matthew 16:17
  5. ^ N.M. Mathew. Malankara Marthoma Sabha Charitram, (History of the Marthoma Church), Volume III. 2008. Page 243.
  6. ^ John Fenwick. ‘’The forgotten Bishops.’’ Georgias Press, ILC, NJ. U.S.A. 2009. ISBN 978-1-60724-619-0.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем решить контрольную работу

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Saint Thomas Christians — This article addresses the Saint Thomas Christians and the various churches and denominations that form the Nasrani people. Part of a series on Christianity …   Wikipedia

  • Christian Names —     Christian Names     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Christian Names      Christian names , says the Elizabethan antiquary, Camden, were imposed for the distinction of persons, surnames for the difference of families. It would seem from this that,… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Saint Thomas of Mylapur — • Diocese. Suffragan to the primatial See of Goa in the East Indies Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Saint Thomas of Mylapur     Saint Thomas of Mylapur      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Thomas the Apostle — Saint Thomas the Apostle The Incredulity of St Thomas by Caravaggio Apostle Born 1st century AD …   Wikipedia

  • Saint George — Infobox Saint name=Saint George birth date=between ca. AD 275 and 281 death date=April 23 303 feast day=April 23 venerated in=Anglicanism Eastern Orthodoxy Lutheranism Oriental Orthodoxy Roman Catholicism imagesize=200px caption=Painting by… …   Wikipedia

  • Christian Church — This article is about followers of Jesus Christ in general. For particular communities with similar names, see Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) or Christian churches and churches of Christ. Part of a series on Christianity …   Wikipedia

  • Christian denomination — See also: Denominationalism, List of Christian denominations, List of Christian denominations by number of members, and Christian Church Part of a series on Christianity …   Wikipedia

  • Thomas à Kempis — Born 1380 Kempen, Germany Died 25 July 1471 Zwolle, Netherlands Nationality …   Wikipedia

  • Christian churches and churches of Christ — Classification Christian, Restoration Movement Orientation New Testament, Restorationism Polity Congregationalist Separations Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ Members 1,071,616 in the United States The Christian ch …   Wikipedia

  • Thomas Burgess — is also the name of the founder of Bala, Ontario, Canada Thomas Burgess (1756 ndash; February 19, 1837) was an English author, philosopher, Bishop of Saint David s and Bishop of Salisbury.LifeHe was born at Odiham in Hampshire and educated at… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”