The English Analogs of Bulgarian Names and Where They Come From

Published on 12-12-2022

Have you ever wondered where your name comes from? There are some fascinating history and significance behind all of them. In this article we listed the origin behind some of the most famous Bulgarian names and their respective English analogs.


Ivan (male)

Bulgarian pronunciation: E-VAN

English analog: John

If you’re a Bulgarian citizen or just reside in Bulgaria, probably you already met at least one Ivan in your life. It’s one of the most common names among males in the country. It is also popular in other nations globally, mainly Slavic ones, such as Russia, Serbia and Ukraine. Its roots can be traced back to the old Slavic name Іѡаннъ (Ioannu) and the Greek Ioannes. The word itself means “God is gracious". Therefore, some of the old forms appear in the Old Testament of the Bible.

The popular name John’s translation from English to Bulgarian would be indeed Ivan although it is not similar in pronunciation. However, it’s closely connected to "Ivan" due to the fact that it comes from "Ioannes" as well, thus carrying the same meaning. Becoming familiar with the Bulgarian traditions you will find that most of the popular names have their Name’s day so Bulgarians who hold the name Ivan or any of the names deriving from Ivan celebrate on 7th of January.


Elena (female)

Bulgarian pronunciation: E-LE-na 

English analog: Helen

This feminine name is widely used among Slavic people, as well as Greeks, Italians and Spaniards. Elena was a prominent figure in the Greek mythology and culture. Do not forget she was indeed the reason for the legendary Trojan War. The meaning behind the name is “something that shines", mostly associated with a torch. The name is also very respected in Christianity because of the Saint with the same name.

Most English to Bulgarian translators know that the English equivalent would be “Helen”. During the Middle Ages Englishmen used to spell it as "Ellen", which is another derivative form that remains to this day. "Helen", on the other hand, rose in popularity after the Renaissance. The Orthodox Christianity celebrates Saint Elena’s day on 21st of May along with St. Konstantin.


Georgi (male)

Bulgarian pronunciation: Ge-or-gi

English analog: George

"Georgi" also ranks as one of the most used masculine Bulgarian names. This form is traditionally Bulgarian, although there are dozens of other variations worldwide. The recognizable English "George" would become “Georgi” after a literal translation to Bulgarian. Of course, a professional Bulgarian translator would never translate a name. They know very well that the only option is to transcribe the names.

The name itself comes from the Greek Γεώργιος (Georgios) and the word “georgos”, which translates to “farmer” earth-worker." Saint George is a significant figure in the Christian religion and art. The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates his day on 6th of May, which is also the day when Bulgarians honor the name "Georgi". 


Tsvetelina (female)

English analog: Flower/Flora

"Tsvetelina" is strictly Bulgarian. When it comes to a foreign name that sounds alike, there is pretty much nothing that comes close. However, analogs can be found in any language. It’s actually pretty simple to come up with some since the name doesn’t have any long background to it. All you need to do is translate “flower” into a different language, as it’s the word this name comes from. Thus, the English version would be "Flora" or simply “Flower” if we’re going for a more unconventional option (and as we know, celebrities like to do that nowadays). In Bulgaria the Name’s day for Tsvetelina is celebrated on Palm Sunday, the first day of the Holy Week for Christians and a day that is widely connected to trees and flowers.


Petar (male)

Bulgarian pronunciation: PE-tər

English analog: Peter

No matter how you pronounce it (or spell it, for that matter), "Petar" is a name that can be heard in different countries. Those include Bulgaria, Germany, Denmark, Slovenia and others. The form "Peter" (pronounced PEE, instead of PE) is also widespread in English-speaking nations. The name comes from the Greek Πέτρος (Petros), which means “stone". It’s also a biblical name as it’s what one of Jesus’ apostles was called. 29th of June is the day of Saint Peter along with Saint Paul so Bulgarians who hold these names and their derivatives celebrate.


How many Bulgarians do you know with any or all of these popular names? Do you have in mind any popular Bulgarian name we missed in this article? If yes, do not hesitate to contact us and we update it. And don't forget, if you need translation services to Bulgarian do not hesitate to contact us as well. We look forward to hear from you.

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