Understanding Balinese Name & Meaning (2020)

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First time coming to Bali will get you confused over Balinese people, especially their names. You could end up imagine why they almost have the same name, even for woman and man.

At BGS, we have four staff share the same name, Komang. To help us communicate easily, we call them by their nickname.

TL;DR: To make it simple, the Balinese name starts with a title + birth order + name (usually taken from the name of Balinese Gods).

Understanding Balinese Name & Meaning (2020) 3

There are certain rules to be used in Balinese name system, so keep reading this article.

For the title, Balinese use Ni for women and I for men.

While the Balinese birth order meaning is in the table below:

Wayan or Putu or Gede or LuhFirst Born
Made or KadekSecond Born
Nyoman or KomangThird Born
KetutFourth
Wayan (again)Fifth

After the forth, the naming system back to the first order, and so on. That’s why often you find someone called Wayan the SecondLittle Wayan (fifth born) or Made the Second (6th born)

Well, that’s it. Now you can generate your own Balinese name. A regular Balinese citizen name.

But, the naming system actually far more complicated than that.

The above system is used for regular Balinese citizens (around 95%) in Bali. They are called Sudra in the Balinese Caste system.

So keep reading this article to understand better how the Balinese naming system works for other Caste.

Balinese Name by Caste

In general, the Balinese name has two naming system based on caste. The Balinese caste system, Catur Warna, plays an important part in the Balinese name.

Balinese Caste
There are more to Balinese Caste. We’ll explain in another post.

Basically, with the Balinese Caste System, there are two things that differentiate how the Balinese name works. First is the general caste (low caste) that consists of 95% of Balinese – regular Balinese citizens. It is called Sudra.

For Sudra, the Balinese naming system starts with a title, a birth order, and a personal name. Explained above.

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While for the high caste, consists of Brahman, Ksatria, & Waisya. The naming system starts with a title and a personal name.

One thing that goes for all is that Balinese doesn’t have a family name, so don’t confuse their personal name with a family name.

For Sudra, Balinese used the general title as “Ni” for women, and “I” for men. Then followed by the birth order. This is to help distinguish between woman and man on the paper, like in administrative purposes.

The second one is in the higher caste, consists of Brahman, Ksatria, & Waisya. But these three have their own title. And in these castes, they don’t use a prefix to indicate gender like in Sudra. To distinguish between women and men, they use an extra name after the title.

For Brahman, the holy men/women. Brahman is caste for Hindu Priest that leads Balinese spiritual experience just like a pastor in Christian. But nowadays, the Brahmin caste is academics, intellectuals, economists, aristocrats, and lawyers. The title for Brahman caste is “Ida Bagus” for man and “Ida Ayu” for women.

In Ksatria, it has more title than Brahman. The naming system for Ksatria caste is :

ManWoman
Anak AgungAnak Agung Ayu, Anak Agung Istri
Tjok / TjokordaTjokorda Istri
Gusti NgurahGusti Ayu
Dewa AgungDewa Ayu / Desak

Balinese Name Meaning

Balinese name comes from the Balinese Word or Sanskrit, so here we will explain all the Balinese name meaning we can find:

NameMeaning
WayanWayah means “old, mature” or Vayah means “energy, strength, old” given to the first-born.
Gedemeaning Big given to the first-born.
Putumeaning grandchild, given to the first-born.
Luhmeaning daughter, given to the first-born.
MadeFrom Sanskrit Madya means “middle” given to the second-born.
Kadekmeaning younger-sibling, given to the second-born.
Nengahmeaning “middle” given to the second-born.
Nyomanfrom Anom-an meaning “younger or small”, given to the third-born.
Komangfrom Balinese word Uman meaning “end, remainder”, given to the third-born.
Ketutfrom Ketuwut means “follow” or Kitut means “small banana”, given to the forth-born.
GustiLeader
AgungGreat
Tjokordafrom Sanskrit Tjoka and Dewa meaning “Foot of Gods”
NgurahGift from heaven
Jero A prefix to those who marry someone from a higher caste

Still confused? Come hang out at our Coffee Shop and learn more about the Balinese with our staff and BGS Community.

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