Vietnamese people tend to have meaningful names composed of 3 or 4 syllables, each being a mono-syllabic Sino-Vietnamese word. The order is family name then middle name then given name. For example, my full name is Ngô Đức Trung, in which Ngô is the family name (no meaning AFAIK), Đức means virtue, Trung means loyal, hence Mr Virtue of Loyalty from the Ngô family).

<aside> 🗒 I wish everything about me is as cool as that…


Since the names are almost always chosen exclusively from Sino-Vietnamese words, there is usually a direct transliteration into traditional Chinese characters that most Chinese, Japanese and some Korean people can relate to. My name transliterated would be 吳德忠. I usually use the dictionary for this kind of look up but it's not always a straightforward process since we have abandoned the Chinese writing system a long time ago and there are a confusing amount of words that have same pronunciation but totally different meaning.

When communicating internationally, it's common practice for Vietnamese people to trim the tones and character modification marks from the name, remove the middle name and use the first name, last name order. This is pretty annoying, at least to me, since sometimes it's very difficult to distinguish different but similar-looking names and/or guess at the original name. This happens way more than it should.

Some possible Vietnamese name etymologies (take with a grain of salt)

The list is sorted by last syllable, common for Vietnamese names.