The word cumbus is derived from the Turkish for "revelry" or "fun", as the instrument was marketed as a popular alternative to the more costly classical oud. Unlike inventors who name their inventions after themselves, Zeynel Avidin Cumbus took his last name from his instrument. He was born Zeynel Abidin in Skopje, Macedonia and immigrated to Beyazit, Istanbul, Turkey. His name is often written "Zeynel Abidin Bey" online in Turkey, where Bey is an honorific, such as mister. Early instruments show his name as he wrote it "Zeynelabidin" (a single name, not two). When Mustafa Kemal Ataturk decreed that families take surnames in 1934, Zeynel Abidin adopted the name of his famous instrument.