The Vietnamese Names

You are going to study Vietnamese names. You will know how to order first name and last name in Vietnamese and how some names’ meaning was expressed.

Vietnamese-name order

The order of Vietnamese names is different from it is in the West. In Vietnamese, the family name is written first and followed by the middle name and then the given name. For examples:

Family name Middle name Given name
Nguyễn Hữu An

Distribution of Vietnamese name group

With regards to the family names, based on a lot of statistics, almost 60% of Vietnamese family name are Nguyễn, Trần and Lê.

Distribution of Vietnamese family names
Distribution of Vietnamese family names


The family name is almost never used together with the middle name and the given name. A person is addressed by their given name and a title. For examples:

Nguyễn Hữu An Ông An Mr. An
Nguyễn Thủy Tiên Bà Tiên Mrs. Tiên

A woman keeps her maiden name for important purposes, for instance, when she marries, but she is called by her husband’s given name and a title, e.g:

Nguyễn Thủy Tiên Maiden name
Nguyễn Hữu An Husband’s name

After marriage, other people will call Nguyễn Thủy Tiên as Bà Tiên (Mrs Tien Nguyen).

Most Vietnamese names have meanings

Vietnamese names usually have meanings, for instance, Tiên means fairy, An means peace, Kim means gold, Lan means orchid, Tuyết means snow, Hưng means prosperity, Danh means fame, Trung means loyalty or Phúc means happiness. Normally, names are usually chosen to give an propitious meaning. Most Vietnamese names can be used for both boys and girls but when they are used as middle name, “Văn” is always for boys and “Thị” is for girls.

Vietnamese people often call each other by  a series of kinship terms of professional titles. These terms and titles always go before the given name, never the family name. It would be extremely disrespectful for a child to address his parents by name alone or for a younger person to call an older person in the same manner. Nonetheless, it is possible to call close friends and younger family members by name alone.

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