Roman Names

The Roman name was used in ancient Rome (approximately 700 BC to 300 AD). During the time of the Empire, Roman names were spread throughout much of southern Europe. Most were of Latin, Greek or Etruscan origin.

Masculine names

During the early Roman Republic men had a praenomen (first name) and a nomen (clan name). By 100 BC a cognomen (family name) was also required on official documents, and when applying for citizenship. Some Romans also had an agnomen (nickname).

The full Roman name could also include a filiation (patronyms), which was the father and grandfather's names, and a tribal name.


  • Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus
    • Publius is the praenomen
    • Cornelius is the nomen
    • Scipio is the cognomen
    • Africanus was the agnomen, given because of his victories in Africa
  • (Full name) Marcus Aurelius Marci f. Quinti n. tribu Galeria Antoninus Pius
    • Marcus Aurelius Antoninus is the praenomen, nomen, cognomen
    • Marci f. Quinti n. is the filiation. It stands for Marci filius Quinti nepos, meaning "son of Marcius, grandson of Quintius"
    • tribu Galeria indicates membership in the tribe of the Galeria
    • Pius was the agnomen

In everyday use, a Roman would be known by a combination of his praenomen and nomen, or by his cognomen.

Feminine names

During the time of the early Roman Republic there may have been feminine praenomina, but by the time of the later Republic and Empire women were simply known by the feminine form of their father's nomen. To distinguish more than one daughter of the same father, the words major and minor or an ordinal number were appended to the name.

In the later Roman Empire the feminine form of the cognomen was also given to the daughter.


  • Antonia Major, Antonia Minor (two daughters of an Antonius)
  • Livia Tertia (third daughter of a Livius)
  • Julia Marciana (daughter of a Julius Marcianus)

Roman names today

There are many names of Roman origin in use in Europe today. Most were borne by famous saints and martyrs, which ensured their survival into the Christian era. Some examples are Lucius, Marcus (praenomina), Antonius, Claudius, and Julius (nomina).

Note: the ancient Roman alphabet did not have a J or a U. Instead, the the letters I and V doubled as both consonants and vowels. Thus a name written in modern times like Julius was actually written IVLIVS by the Romans.

On this site

List of Ancient Roman names and meanings
List of Latin-origin names and meanings
List of Roman and Byzantine Emperors