Choosing an Esperanto name

In a few weeks we’ll start corresponding with penpals overseas. This brings us to a dilemma often faced by new students: “How do I write my name in Esperanto?!”

Names should ideally end in -o to be both grammatical (since they’re nouns) and pronounceable when the ending -n is needed. But sometimes a final -o is undesirable—especially in cultures that reserve the “o” sound for male names. For example, an Italian named Maria probably doesn’t want to be known in Esperanto as Mario! Thus it isn’t uncommon to see female names in Esperanto ending in -a: Silvja, Maria, Klara, etc.

In general, there are three methods used to convert names for use in Esperanto. We’ll use the English name Charles as an example:

  1. “Translation” to an established Esperanto equivalent: CharlesKarlo
  2. Transliteration of the name’s pronunciation using Esperanto’s spelling system: CharlesĈarlz
  3. No change. The name is left untouched, with the possible addition of pronunciation hints in brackets: Charles [ĉarlz]. This method is used only for names already written in the Roman alphabet, and then only when the native spelling makes at least some sense in Esperanto.

Since the last two methods don’t guarantee a final -o, any grammatical endings are added as needed. In writing, we add these endings after a dash, e.g.: “Charles vidis min, kaj mi vidis Charles-on.”

So what should you use for your name? That’s up to you. Some students take the opportunity to adopt a new name, specifically for use in Esperanto. (C’mon, haven’t you always wanted a secret identity?)

To give you an idea of the many possibilities, here’s a sampling of historical and literary names in Esperanto—some common, some exotic:

Female names (many can have either -a or -o endings):
Ada, Adelo, Adriana, Agato, Alberta, Aleksandra, Alico, Amelio, Anabelo, Andrea, Anita, Anjo, Anĝela, Aprilo, Ariana, Aŭdreo, Barb(a)ra, Beatrico, Belindo, Berta, Brigito, Cecilio, Celestina, Cintio, Ĉarloto, Dafneo, Daniela, Debora, Diana, Dora, Doriso, Doroteo, Edito, Eleonoro, Eliza, Elizabeto, Elvira, Elza, Emilia, Emma, Erika, Etelo, Eva, Fatima, Filiso, Flor(enc)o, Franciska, Freja, Frida, Gabriela, Gerda, Gertrudo, Greta, Gvendolino, Ĝojo, Halina, Hedvigo, Heleno, Heloiza, Henrieto, Hermiono, Hiacinto, Hilda, Ida, Ilona, Ina, Irina, Iriso, Izabela, Jakelino, Jasmeno, Jocelino, Johana, Jolanda, Judita, Julia, Junio, Karena, Karla, Karmeno, Katia, Katlino, Katrina, Klara, Kleopatra, Konstancia, Kordelio, Kristina, Larisa, Laŭra, Lea, Lidia, Liza, Lucia, Lucilo, Luiza, Magda, Majo, Margareto, Maria, Marlena, Marta, Matilda, Miĥaela, Mira, Mirando, Mona, Monika, Moniko, Nadja, Nastazja, Nataŝa, Nikola, Nina, Nora, Oksana, Olga, Olivo, Pamela, Paŭla, Penelopeo, Petra, Raĥelo, Rebeka, Renata, Rita, Roksana, Roz(ali)o, Roza, Sabina, Sandra, Sara, Sibilo, Sofia, Sonja, Stefanio, Suzana, Talia, Tamara, Tanja, Tatjana, Terezo, Tina, Ulrika, Ursulo, Valerio, Vanesa, Ver(onik)o, Viktoria, Vilma, Viol(et)o, Virginio
Male names:
Arono, Adamo, Alano, Alberto, Aleks(andr)o, Alfredo, Andreo, Anton(i)o, Arnoldo, Arturo, Aŭgusto, Benedikto, Benjameno, Bernardo, Bertrando, Boriso, Bruno, Cecilo, Cezaro, Cirilo, Danielo, Davido, Denizo, Dimitro, Djego, Dominiko, Donaldo, Duglaso, Edgaro, Edmundo, Edvardo, Edveno, Eriko, Ernesto, Eŭgeno, Felikso, Filipo, Francisko, Franko, Frederiko, Gabrielo, Gastono, Georgo, Gilberto, Gregoro, Gustavo, Ĝeraldo, Ĝermano, Ĝilo, Haroldo, Hektoro, Henriko, Herberto, Horacio, Hu(m)berto, Hugo, Ivano, Ivo, Jakobo, Jano, Jeremio, Johano, Josuo, Jozefo, Julio, Justeno, Kar(o)lo, Kazimiro, Keneto, Klarenco, Knuto, Konrado, Kristoforo, Ladislao, Laŭr(enc)o, Leonardo, Leopoldo, Luko, Makso, Manuelo, Marcelo, Mario, Marko, Marteno, Mateo, Miĥaelo, Natano, Nestoro, Nikolao, Norman(d)o, Olivero, Omaro, Oskaro, Osvaldo, Patriko, Paŭlo, Percevalo, Petro, Rafaelo, Ralfo, Raulo, Rikardo, Roberto, Rolando, Rolfo, Ronaldo, Roĝero, Rudolfo, Samuelo, Serĝo, Sidneo, Silvestro, Sim(e)ono, Stefano, Tadeo, Teodoro, Tiberio, Timoteo, Tomaso, Ulriko, Umberto, Vaclavo, Valtero, Viktoro, Vilhelmo, Vladimiro, Volfgango, Zaĥario