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Etymological research about the origin of Georgian family name

still can’t be fully explained their meaning and significance.

This represents an interesting part of Georgian language,

in which several issues of Georgian nationality is reflected.

Academician Akaki Shanidze


       In order to explain the etymology of surname Gagua we will try to clarify its derivation based on several authors’ work.

     The root of surname is “gaga”, “gagu”. Professor Z. Chumburidze in his book “What is your name?” mentions: “In Georgian language we have names, which etymology is not based onanything”. According to professor Chumburidze, “gaga” belongs exactly to this kind of surname group (as well as ‘botso’, ‘bukhuti’, ‘kita’, ‘taka’, etc.)

     The scientist thinks that root of surname Gagua is apparently Georgian taking into consideration its phonetic structure. The existence of similar name is not proved in any language, with which Georgia have had any kind of cultural relationship. Therefore according to professor this is purely Goergian name, which etymology is impossible to establish (perhaps due to its antiquity).

    Among other researchers Mr. Paata Tskhadaia discusses the origin of Megrelian surnames mostwidely. He bases his research on the view of academician S. Janashia and states that derivational suffixes of Megrelian surnames ‘ia’, ‘ua’, ‘va’ are remains of ‘ian’, ‘uan’ and ‘van’.  These last varieties of suffexes most clearly are preserved in Svanuri. Hereby researcher compares Megrelian and Svanuri surnames, e.g. Chkhetia – Chkhetiani, Gobechia –Gobechiani, Tsipuria – Tsipuriani, etc. This kind of ending was common not only to surnames having western origin, but also to eastern Georgian surnames.e.g. Tsitsiani – Tsitsishvili, Barataani – Baratishvili.

   That is to say a suffix ‘ian-an’ in olden Georgian carried the same significance as ‘dze’ and ‘shvili’ nowadays.

   The similar idea is provided by Mr. J.Oniani. To illustrate the ending ‘ua’, he gives surname Gagua as an example and states that Gagua as a personal name is still alive in Svaneti and Khevsureti. Consequently the development of surname is implied in the following way:

                   Gagu – ( name of a person )

                   Gagushani – ( descendants of Gagu)

                   Gaguani – the same ( with losing ‘sh’)

                   and at last

                   Gagua – (with cutting ‘n’ )

At the same time we would like to mention that Gagu is a representative of old Georgian pantheon of pagan idols. In the history of surname evolution it was very common to convert idol name into personal name and then make it surname


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