Up until 1913, most people from Thailand didn’t have last names. Prior to that, those who lived in Siam (the former name of Thailand, and yes, birthplace of famous conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker) just went by their first names and the place they lived. But this changed in 1913, when King Rama VI, who was educated in Europe, decided that the Thai people needed last names, like those in the West. But, unlike the West, Thai last names can only be shared by people who are directly related to each other. This amazing array of names also stems from that same 1913 law.
Many Thai names are derived from a mixture of Chinese and Arab cultures. In other words, there aren’t traditionally common last names like “Smith” or “Jones,” but rather long, compound last names made up of a string of words. However, there are some shorter Thai last names, like the ones below, which typically belong to those whose family has been in Thailand for generations.
Apart from being beautiful, Thailand is also extremely diverse. There are around 75 ethnic groups within the country alone. The Thai group makes up about 30 percent of the population while the Thai-Lao is about 32 percent. Chinese is around 12 percent of the population and Malay-speaking Muslims and Khmer are about five percent. There are also pockets of Korean and Urdu speaking individuals. And although Thailand has its urban life, they also have hill tribes in the northern mountains. Thai culture may be infused with other groups, but it still has very unique customs that are just as beautiful as their names.
Education, jobs, family, respect, and patriotism are revered. Citizens constantly show love and appreciation for their country through flags, songs, and even cinema. Buddhism is also an integral part of their everyday life. Its values include wisdom, kindness, patience, generosity, and compassion, which are a big part of the country’s disposition. A few common practices in Thailand include not touching another person’s head. It is also looked down upon to point your feet at anyone or especially an image of the buddha. Shoes are not worn in homes, and it is deemed improper for monks to interact with women or for people to show loud displays of emotion in public.
So without further ado, here are 34 Thai surnames, along with their meanings and origins.
Meaning: Incomparable power
Meaning: Undying, immortal; right hand of the angel
Meaning: Prosperous one
Origin: Thai, Cambodia
Meaning: Gorgeous woman
Meaning: Small patience
Meaning: An angel in Thai mythology
Meaning: Man of the sun or sun
Origin: Thai and comes from the Hindu god Aditya
Meaning: Unconquerable or invincible
Meaning: Lotus flower
Meaning: Farmer, peasant
Meaning: To prosper, to develop, to increase (with) delight
Meaning: Great, tremendous; dawn, morning
Meaning: Someone from the Shaanxi province in China
Meaning: Pure happiness
Meaning: Someone from Makok, a town in Thailand
- Na Chiangmai
Meaning: Descendants of the rulers of Chiang Mai
Meaning: Never ending; everlasting
Meaning: Historic person
Meaning: Crystal blessing
Meaning: Reference to the royal family of the Chakri Dynasty
Meaning: Good at fighting
Meaning: Good with words
Meaning: Crystal light
Meaning: Someone who does good routinely
Meaning: Necklace with gold
Meaning: Suitable, honorable
Meaning: Jewel; gem
Meaning: Powerful person
Meaning: Named after an enjoyable festival of the same name
Meaning: Gloriously blessed person
Meaning: Merit making
- Thong Di
Meaning: Good gold
Meaning: Chief; educated.
Meaning: Intelligent, strong.