Serbian Boy Names: a comprehensive guide

Serbian boy names have a variety of roots together with deep meanings. Slavic compound names offer a glimpse into the fascinating past. On the other hand, you can also notice the Slavic roots in today’s names. Their short forms and variants can show you their richness and beauty.

In the 9th century, two Greek missionaries, Sts. Cyril and Methodius introduced and popularized Christianity among the Slavs. Since the adoption of the Christian faith, many Serbian names tend to reflect Biblical names and ideals. The meanings and forms are adaptations from Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.

Throughout history, the influence of other nations and cultures had an impact on the Serbian language. In the last two centuries, shorter names are more common than longer ones. Serbian parents tend to give their baby boys names of Christian origin.

Most Popular Serbian Boy Names

The most popular Serbian boy names come from Greek and Hebrew. They are usually the adaptations of the names of Christian saints and other Biblical figures and themes. However, there is also an abundance of Serbian names of Slavic origin, accompanied by many variations and derivatives.

Most of the male names end in a consonant. Some of the usual suffixes are -an, -ak, -ko, -oje, -in, -oš, -en, –iša, -eta, etc. They carry zero meaning when standing alone. They are attached to different roots that may have specific meanings thus forming new words.

Now, let’s explore the diverse Serbian male names further!


The Serbian name Luka is likely derived from the Ancient Greek Loukâs ‎(Λουκᾶς). The meaning “light, brightness” refers to the Indo-European root “leuk-”. Also, Luka is the Holy Apostle and the Evangelist. He wrote the Gospel of St. Luke and the Book of the Acts of the Apostles.


The Biblical name Lazar comes from Hebrew El'azar, literally meaning “he whom God has helped.” In Serbian, the affectionate short form of this name is Laza. One of the most important medieval Serbian rulers was named Lazar Hrebeljanović.


Vasilije is a male name of South Slavic origin, derived from the Ancient Greek terms basileús ‎(βᾰσῐλεύς) and basíleios (βασίλειος), which mean meaning “chief” or “patron”. Greek and Byzantine titles for many types of monarchs and emperors used the term basileus.

One of the famous Serbian saints is Saint Basil of Ostrog, the Wonderworker. (Sveti Vasilije Ostroški Čudotvorac) The Ostrog Monastery dedicated to him is carved into a vertical face of the cliff 900 meters above the Zeta Valley. Millions of tourists visit this monastery which is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Montenegro every year.


Stefan is a popular Serbian boy name that originates from the Greek name Stéphanos (Στέφανος) meaning “wreath, crown”. In Serbian history, this name was adopted by medieval rulers as an honorific title. Other popular variations of this name include Stepan, Stevan, Šćepan, Stevica, Steva, Stepa, etc.


Aleksa is the variant of names Aleksandar or Aleksije. The Serbian form Aleksandar comes from the Greek Ἀλέξανδρος meaning “the defender of the people”.


The Serbian name Bogdan is a loan translation of the Ancient Greek name Theódotos (Θεόδοτος) literally meaning “given by God”. Another possible loan translation refers to the Ancient Greek Theódōros (Θεόδωρος) meaning “gift of God”.


In Serbian folklore, the boy name Vuk is the symbol of fearlessness and bravery. The role of this name was to protect newborn sons from malevolent forces depicted as “witches who ate babies”. Many traditional Serbian names are derivatives of the word “vuk” meaning wolf.


The Serbian masculine name Filip comes from the Ancient Greek “Phílippos” (Φίλιππος). The latter consists of two parts: “philéō” ‎(φιλέω) meaning “love, kindly” and “híppos” ‎(ίππος) meaning “horse, cavalry”. So, this is someone who is “fond of horses” or “lover of horses”.

The variations of “hippos” were epithets or parts of ancient Greek names. In early Christianity, Philip was one of the apostles.


Mihajlo is a variant of the name Mihailo that is very popular in Serbia. The latter comes from the Greek “Μιχαήλ” (Michaḯl). Further back, one finds Hebrew “Mı̂ykâ'êl”, the question meaning "who is like God?". In Christianity, he is known as the Archangel Michael.


The name Vukašin derives from the name Vuk (which means “wolf” in Serbian). Combining Vuk with the suffix –aš yields Vukaš. Then, adding the suffix -in to Vukaš produces the name Vukašin.

Another possible explanation refers to the ancient Slavic origin: “vьlkъ” (“wolf”) and “sin” (“son”). So, the meaning of this name could be “son of the wolf”. The short form of this name is Vule.

Slavic Compound Names in Serbian

Dithematic Names

Compound names that combine two themes or parts can be found in many Indo-European languages such as German, Sanskrit, and Celtic, as well as other languages.

Serbian, as a Slavic language, also has dithematic first names. Ancestors used these names to express their aspirations for their newborns, envisioning them as future individuals with specific characteristics and roles within the community.

Their names can be magical or metaphorical. The relations between their parts can also be a mystery. The ancestors had different challenges and beliefs compared to today’s modern world. Now, let’s explore the past roots!


Tihomir is a South Slavic name that is popular in Serbian. Being a dithematic name, it combines the themes from two Slavic root words:

These two Slavic root words are combined using the connecting vowel ‘o’ to form the Serbian boy name Tihomir.

The meaning of this name likely refers to the wish for a newborn son to be gentle and peaceful, or for him to live in tranquility and peace.

Here are some examples of Serbian vocabulary words which contain the Slavic root terms “tih” or “mir” found in this name:


Radoljub is a dithematic Serbian male name that combines the following Slavic root words:

This combination suggests a possible interpretation of the name as “lover of work”.

Serbian vocabulary words containing the Slavic roots “rad” or “ljub” include:


The name Branislav is composed of two Slavic roots: the verb “braniti” (to defend) and “slav” (from slavaglory, honor). Therefore, the meaning points to “the one who defends the glory”. The short form of this name is Brana.

Borivoj (e)

The Serbian male name Borivoj is related to the Serbian verb “boriti se” (meaning “to fight”).

More precisely, the name Borijov comes from two Slavic root words: “bor-” (fighting, war) and “voj-” (fighter, warrior).

Examples of Serbian vocabulary words containing these Slavic roots include:

This name evokes the wish of the parents for a newborn son who reflects the characteristics of a warrior. The short form of this name is Bora.


Although Milibrat is a rather rare Serbian boy’s name, it comes from very common Slavic words.

The first part of the name, “mil-”, is a Slavic root word meaning “dear”. The second part of the name (“brat”) is the Serbian word for “brother”. The name Milibrat, therefore means “dear brother”.


Živodrag is a Dithematic name, which is composed of two Slavic root words: “živ” (meaning “alive”) and “drag” (meaning “dear” or “precious”).

These two Slavic root words are combined with the connecting vowel ‘o’ to form the name Živodrag.

The meaning of this Slavic boy's name is “the one who is alive and precious.”

See the related Serbian vocabulary words which contain the Slavic root words “živ” or “drag” :

Most Common Serbian Masculine Names

Some of the most common Serbian masculine names of the second half of the 20th and the 21st centuries are:


Milan has been one of the widely used boy names in Serbia. The Slavic root mil- (dear, beloved) and the suffix -an form this name. The most common terms of endearment are Miki, Mića, and Milanče.


Dragan comes from the Slavic root drag- (precious, dear) and the suffix -an. The most common expressions of endearment are Gaga, Dragi, and Draganče.


The Serbian name Zoran derives from the word zora (dawn). This uplifting male name is also common in North Macedonia, Croatia, and Slovenia. The nickname is Zoki.


The inspirational boy name Slobodan is the translation of the Ancient Greek name Eleuthérios (Ελευθέριος) meaning free, the liberator. The most common nickname is Sloba.


Nikola is the name of the Christian St. Nicholas. In Serbia, hundreds of churches are dedicated to him. The meaning comes from the Greek nikē, νίκη (victory) and laos, λαός (people) – "a victory of the people".


The Serbian male name Goran uncovers the Slavic root gora (hill, mountain). The bearer of this name is the mountain man or highlander. In the past, Slavs likely wished for their newborn son to be as tall as a mountain or strong as a rock.


The compound name Miodrag consists of two Slavic roots: mio- (dear, beloved) and --drag (precious). So, the bearer of this name is someone dear and precious.


Marko likely owes its origin to the Latin Marcus derived from Mars, the Roman God of war. In Christian tradition, Marko is one of the four Evangelists and the author of the Gospel of Mark.


One of the top baby boy names is Miloš. This name is the derivative that consists of the Slavic root mil- (dear, kind) and the suffix –oš. In the Serbian epic folk songs and legends, one of the greatest heroes is the medieval knight called Miloš Obilić.


The meaning and form of the name Dejan refer to the Old Slavic word дѣятъ (dejati meaning to act or to do). Another possible explanation can be in the Latin deus meaning god.


In the past, Nenad was likely a protective disguising name composed of the negative prefix ne- and a positive attribute. The latter is the verb form nadati se (to expect). The derivative nenadan (unexpected) reveals the meaning that serves to protect a newborn from bad power. [1]


Nemanja is likely the name of endearment coming from Nenad. Also, one of the most important Serbian rulers from the late 12th to the mid-14th century was the family Nemanjići. The founder of the Serbian state and Nemanjić dynasty was the Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja.

Protective Male Names in Serbian

Baby Boy Names That Symbolize The Divine Protection

In many cultures, some names carry associations with divine power or protection. Naming a child after a saint who would support him has been common. However, that naming custom hasn’t been obligatory in Serbia. Choosing a name for a child according to the church calendar has been the exemption.

In Serbian naming custom, parents or godparents are the ones who can name a newborn. Many names of religious figures or themes were adapted to the Serbian language. Among the diverse baby boy names are also the ones that denote the names of saints. Here are some of them:


The Serbian name Đorđe refers to St. George. The name origin is Ancient Greek Γεώργιος (Geṓrgios) meaning "the land-worker, farmer".

In Serbia, many families celebrate him as their patron saint on their Slava, an important holiday occurring once a year on May 6. This Slava is called Đurđevdan.


The calendar name Petar refers to Peter the Apostle. Coming from the Ancient Greek Πέτρος (Pétros) this name means stone or rock.


The Serbian name Pavle connects with Paul the Apostle. The Greek origin of this name is Παῦλος (Paûlos) while Latin is Paulus both meaning tiny, and modest.


Matej connects with the Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. The origin of this name is Hebrew Mattithyâh/Mattithyâhû meaning "the god’s gift". In the Serbian language, other variants are Mateja and Matija.

The Old Protective Naming Custom in Serbia

Serbian, as a Slavic language, had some distinct protective naming customs [1]. On the other hand, it also shared many similarities with other societies and nations. Now, let’s explore some examples:


Prodan (meaning "sold") is the Serbian boy’s name that symbolizes the abandonment or selling of a child. This naming practice was common in ancient Rome and many other countries. The symbolic role to disguise a child as someone appearing worthless or unattractive was to make demons avoid him.

Negating Names for Boys

The earlier example of Nenad referred to the negating disguising names. Here are some more examples containing the negative prefix ne- and a positive aspect:

Nehten (unwanted). This name has a form of a verbal adjective derived from the prefix ne- and the verb hteti (to want).

Nemil (unbeloved). This name is likely derived from the negative prefix ne- and the root mio, mil (dear, beloved).

See also reference [1].

Derogatory Protective Serbian Boy Names

In ancient times, derogatory names symbolically served to repel the bad power or intentions from a child. Here are some of them with their meanings:

Animal-inspired Serbian boy names

In ancient Serbian tradition, naming a boy after an animal served the purpose of protecting him from death, evil powers, or illnesses.

Ancestors also may have associated certain positive aspects of the protective animal with its namesake.

In the Balkans, the protective naming custom was still frequent at the beginning of the 20th century. Today, that’s not the common case. Those kinds of names usually lost their original purpose.

Besides the popular name Vuk and its derivatives, here are some other old animal-inspired Serbian boy names:

Serbian Boy Names That Carry Magical Power


The Serbian name Odoljen likely refers to the plant Valerian. In the past, Serbs believed that it had magical power.


Drenko points to the medicinal plant dren (Cornelian cherry). This rare Serbian male name is a symbol of strength and good health.


This comprehensive guide covers a diverse range of Serbian boy names. You can choose modern or traditional ones. The revival of certain names may entice your curiosity to explore more history and the meanings behind them.

Others may reveal the universals between different cultures you may have not noticed before. We hope that this broad list will help you in finding the very special name smoothly.

For more boy names, see this article on Slavic boy names.

There is also an article on Serbian girl names and one on Slavic girl names.

  1. [1] Apotropaic naming: A comparative study of semantically transparent derogatory-, disguising- and programmatic-protective names -