In the Middle Ages, several name-formation processes played a role in
the creation of the anthroponyms in Hungarian. The main name-formation
1. Semantic name-formation. Within this mechanism, the anthroponym
develops through the use of internal elements of the language in such a
way that the anthroponymic meaning is created without any change in
morphological structure. In Old Hungarian naming practices, the most
frequent types of semantic name-formation were:
a. metaphoric name-giving (e.g. farkas ʽfarkas’ [wolf] >
b. metonymic name-giving (e.g. when an “instrument” of a profession
becomes the name of the person practising the given profession; ökör
ʽökör’ [ox] > anthroponym Ökör
as the name of a butcher),
c. semantic split: e.g. ethnonyms, names of professions, etc., often
become anthroponyms without the use of any morphological tool (kovács ʽkovács’
[smith] > anthroponym Kovács).
2. Morphematic construction. In the Old Hungarian period, several
suffixes contributed to the creation of anthroponyms, among which the
most common ones were: -d(i) ~ -t(i), -s, -a/-e etc. This
morphological solution was the most important tool for adapting foreign
names in the Middle Ages: Petrus in Latin > Petr-i, Pet-e, Pet-i,
Pet-es in Hungarian.
3. Syntagmatic construction. This process, through the combination of
two existing lexemes, creates an anthroponym composed of two
constituents, in which both elements provide a certain information about
the named person.
In this essay I provide an overview of the typical name-formation
processes characterising the formation of anthroponyms in Old Hungarian.