Eastern Slavic naming customs are the traditional ways of identifying a person by name in countries influenced by East Slavic languages (Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian: in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine. They are also used in some countries using South Slavic languages, including Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Macedonia, as well as some countries using non-Slavic languages (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan) because of the expansion of Russia, with its Russification.
The full name uses the following standard structure:
|Name||Example (Cyrillic alphabet)||Example (Anglicised form)|
|First name (given name)||Илья́||Ilyá|
|Family name (surname)||Ежо́в||Yezhóv|
As in many other cultures, Eastern Slavic parents select a given name for a newborn child. Most first names in East Slavic languages originate from two sources:
Almost all first names are single. Doubled first names (as in, for example, French, like Jean-Luc) are very rare and from foreign influence. Most doubled first names are written with a hyphen: Mariya-Tereza.
Here are common given names:
|Russian variant||Ukrainian variant||Belarusian variant||Latin-alphabet transliteration (Russian / Ukrainian / Belarusian)||Origin||Comments|
|Ива́н||Іва́н||Іван, Ян||Iván / Jan||Hebrew||equivalent to John|
|Никола́й||Мико́ла||Мікалай, Мікола||Nikoláy / Mykóla / Mikalaj, Mikola||Greek||equivalent to Nicholas, meaning "Victory (of the) People"|
|Бори́с||Бори́с||Барыс||Borís / Borys / Barys||(Bulgar)||Fighter|
|Влади́мир||Володи́мир||Уладзімір||Vladímir / Volodymyr / Uladzimir||Slavonic||meaning "Lord of the World" / "Lord of Peace"|
|Пётр||Петро́||Пётр, Пятро, Пятрусь||Pyotr / Petró / Piotr, Piatro, Piatruś||Greek||equivalent to Peter|
|Андре́й||Андрій||Андрэй||Andréy / Andriy / Andrej||Greek||equivalent to Andrew|
|Алекса́ндр||Олександр||Аляксандр||Aleksándr / Oleksandr, Olexa / Aliaksandr||Greek||equivalent to Alexander|
|Дми́трий||Дмитро||Дзмітры, Зміцер||Dmítry / Dmytro / Dzmitry, Zmicier||Greek||meaning "of Demeter"|
|Серге́й||Сергій||Сяргей||Sergéy / Serhiy / Siarhej||Latin||from the Roman nomen (patrician family name) Sergius, itself from a more ancient Etruscan name|
|Леони́д||Леонід||Леанід, Лявон||Leoníd / Lieanid, Liavon||Greek||from Greek Leonidas, meaning "Son of the Lion"|
|Ви́ктор||Віктор||Віктар||Víktor / Viktar||Latin||meaning "Conqueror"|
|Гео́ргий||Гео́ргiй||Георгій||Geórgy / Hieorhij||Greek||the analogues are Егор (Yegor), Юрий (Yury), equivalent to George|
|Па́вел||Павло́||Павел, Павал, Паўло||Pável / Pavló / Paval, Paŭlo||Latin||equivalent to Paul|
|Константи́н||Костянти́н||Канстанцін, Кастусь||Konstantín / Kostyantyn / Kanstancin, Kastuś||Latin||equivalent to Constantine|
|Кири́лл||Кири́ло||Кірыл, Кірыла||Kiríll / Kyrylo / Kiryl, Kiryla||Greek||equivalent to Cyril|
|Васи́лий||Васи́ль||Васіль, Базыль||Vasíly, Vassili / Vasyl / Vasiĺ, Bazyĺ||Greek||equivalent to Ваsіl|
|Poма́н||Poма́н||Раман||Román / Raman||Latin||-|
|Владисла́в||Владисла́в||Уладзіслаў||Vladisláv / Vladyslav / Uladzislaŭ||Slavonic||meaning "Lord of Fame"|
|Вячесла́в||В'ячесла́в||Вячаслаў||Vyachesláv / Viačaslaŭ||Slavonic||meaning "Growing Fame"|
|Михаи́л||Миха́йло||Міхал, Міхась||Mihaíl / Myháilo / Michal, Michaš||Hebrew||equivalent to Michael|
|Оле́г||Олег||Алег||Olég / Oléh / Alieh||Old Norse||derivative from Scandinavian "Helgi"|
|И́горь||Ігор||Ігар||Ígor / Ihor / Ihar||Old Norse||derivative from Scandinavian "Ingvar"|
|Макси́м||Макси́м||Максім||Maxím / Maksym / Maksim||Latin||meaning "Greatest"|
|Russian variant||Ukrainian variant||Belarusian variant||Latin-alphabet transliteration
(Russian / Ukrainian / Belarusian)
|Анастаси́я||Анастасія||Настасся, Наста||Anastasía / Anastasíya / Nastassia, Nasta||Greek||meaning "The Resurrected One"|
|Áнна||Анна / Ганна||Ганна||Ánna / Hanna||Hebrew||equivalent to Anne or Hannah|
|Еле́на, Алёна||Oле́нa||Алена||Yelе́na, Alyóna / Oléna / Aliena||Greek||equivalent to Helen; in Russian Alyona can be both a pet
version of Yelena and a name in its own right
|Ната́лья / Наталия||Наталя / Ната́лія||Наталля||Natál'ya / Nataliya / Natallia||Latin||equivalent to Natalie|
|Óльга||Ольга||Вольга||Ólga / Olha / Voĺha||Old Norse||derivative from Scandinavian Helga|
|Алекса́ндра||Олекса́ндра||Аляксандра||Aleksándra / Oleksandra / Aliaksandra||Greek||equivalent to Alexandra|
|Ксе́ния, Окса́на||Окса́на||Ксенія, Аксана||Kséniya / Oksána / Ksiénija, Aksána||Greek||in Russian Oksana is a separate name of the same origin|
|Екатери́на||Катери́на||Кацярына||Yekaterína / Kateryna / Kaciaryna||Greek||equivalent to Catherine|
|Татья́на||Тетяна||Тацяна, Таццяна||Tatyána / Tetiana / Taciana, Tacciana||Latin||derivative from the Latinized name of a Sabine king - see Titus Tatius|
|Людми́ла||Людми́ла||Людміла||Lyudmíla / Lyudmyla / Ludmila||Slavonic||meaning "Dear to the People"|
|Светла́на||Світла́на||Святлана||Svetlа́na / Svitlána / Sviatlana||Slavonic||meaning "The Shining One"|
|Юлия||Юлія||Юлія||Yúliya / Julija||Latin||equivalent to Julia or Julie|
|Ве́ра||Віра||Вера||Vе́ra / Vira / Viera||Slavonic||meaning "Faith"; a calque of the Greek Πίστη|
|Наде́жда||Надія||Надзея||Nadézhda / Nadiya / Nadzieja||Slavonic||meaning "Hope"; a calque of the Greek Ελπίς|
|Любо́вь||Любо́в||Любоў||Lyubóv' / Lyubо́v / Liuboŭ||Slavonic||meaning "Love"; a calque of the Greek Αγάπη|
|Софи́я, Со́фья||Софія||Соф'я||Sofíya, Sófya / Sofia / Sofja||Greek||equivalent to Sophia, meaning "Wisdom".|
Being highly synthetic languages, Eastern Slavic treats personal names as grammatical nouns and apply the same rules of inflection and derivation to them. That means that it is possible to create many forms with different degree of affection and familiarity by adding corresponding suffixes to the special auxiliary stem derived from the original name. The auxiliary stem may be identical to the word stem of the full name (the full name Жанна Zhanna can have the suffixes added directly to the stem Жанн- Zhann- like Жанночка Zhannochka), and most names have the auxiliary stem derived unproductively (the name Михаил Mikhail has the auxiliary stem Миш- Mish-, which produces such name-forms as Миша Misha, Мишенька Mishenka, Мишуня Mishunya etc., not *Михаилушка Mikhailushka).
Unlike English, in which the use of diminutive forms is optional even between close friends, in East Slavonic languages such forms are obligatory in certain contexts because of the strong T–V distinction: the T-form of address usually requires the short form of the counterpart's name. Also, unlike other languages with prominent use of name suffixes, such as Japanese, the use of derived name forms is mostly limited to the T-addressing: there is no way to make the name more formal than the plain unsuffixed full form, and no suffixes can be added to the family name.
Most commonly, Russian philologists distinguish the following forms of given names:
|Full||Анна Anna||full name stem + case ending||-|
|Short||Аня (Anya)||short name stem + II declension ending||most common for informal communication, comparable to Western name-only form of address (Ann, John), or Japanese surname-only, or surname/name -kun|
|Diminutive||Анька (Anka)||short name stem + -к- -k- + II declension ending||expresses familiarity, may be considered rude when used between people who are not close friends. Comparable to English diminutives (Annie, Willy) or Japanese unsuffixed names|
|Affective diminutive||Анечка (Anyechka)||short name stem + -ечк/очк/оньк/усь/юсь/уль/юль- -echk/ochk/on'k/us/yus/ul/yul- + II declension ending||most intimate and affectionate form, comparable to German diminutives (Ännchen) or Japanese -chan suffixes|
The "short name" (Russian: краткое имя kratkoye imya), historically also "half-name" (Russian: полуимя poluimya), is the simplest and most common name derivative. Bearing no suffix, it is produced suppletively and always has the declension noun ending for both males and females, thus making short forms of certain unisex names indistinguishable: for example, Sasha (Russian: Саша) is the short name for both the masculine name Aleksandr (Alexander) and the feminine form Aleksandra (Alexandra).
Some names, such as Zhanna (Jeana) and Mark have no short forms, and others may have two (or more) different forms. In the latter case, one form is usually more informal than the other.
|Full name (Cyrillic script)||Full name (Latin script)||Short forms (Cyrillic)||Short forms (Latin)|
|Александр||Aleksandr (m)||Саша, Саня, Шура, Сашко (укр.), Лесь (укр.)||Sasha, Sanya, Shura, Sashko (ukr.), Les' (ukr.)|
|Александра||Aleksandra (f)||Саша, Шура, Леся (укр.)||Sasha, Shura, Lesya (ukr.)|
|Алексей||Aleksey (m)||Алёша, Лёша||Alyosha, Lyosha|
|Анастасия||Anastasia (f)||Настя, Стася (редко)||Nastya, Stasya (rare)|
|Анна||Anna (f)||Аня, Анюта, Нюта, Нюша||Anya, Anyuta, Nyuta, Nyusha|
|Дмитрий||Dmitry (m)||Дима, Митя||Dima, Mitya|
|Георгий||Georgy (m)||Гоша, Жора||Gosha, Zhora|
|Григорий||Grigory (m)||Гриша, Гриць (укр.)||Grisha, Gritz (ukr.)|
|Евгений, Евгения||Yevgeniy (m), Yevgenia (f)||Женя||Zhenya|
|Лариса||Larisa (f)||Лара, Лёля (редко)||Lara, Lyolya (rare)|
|Людмила||Lyudmila (f)||Люда, Люся, Мила (редко)||Lyuda, Lyusya, Meela (rare)|
|Мария||Mariya (f)||Маша, Марічка (укр.)||Masha, Marichka (ukr.)|
|Павел||Pavel (m)||Паша, Павлик||Pasha, Pavlik|
|Полина||Polina (f)||Поля, Лина (редко)||Polya, Lina (rare)|
|София||Sofia, Sofya (f)||Соня, Софа||Sonya, Sofa|
|Валентин / Валентина||Valentin (m) / Valentina (f)||Валя||Valya|
|Владимир||Vladimir (m)||Вова, Володя||Vova, Volodya|
|Владислав, Владислава||Vladislav (m), Vladislava (f)||Влад, Влада||Vlad, Vlada|
|Елена||Yelena (f)||Лена, Алёна||Lena, Alyona|
|Евгений / Евгения||Evgeniy (m) / Evgeniya (f)||Женя||Zhenya|
Diminutive forms are produced from the "short name" by means of various suffixes. Unlike the full name, a diminutive name carries a particular emotional attitude and may be unacceptable in certain contexts. Depending on the nature of the attitude, nameforms can be subdivided in three broad groups: affectionate, familiar and slang.
Typically formed by suffixes -еньк- (-yenk-), -оньк- (-onk-), -ечк- (-yechk-), -ушк (-ushk), as illustrated by the examples below. It generally emphasises tender, affectionate attitude and is roughly analogous to German suffixes -chen, -lein, Japanese -chan and -tan and affectionate name-derived nicknames in other languages. It is often used to address children or intimate friends.
Within a more official context, this form may be combined with the honorific plural to address a younger female colleague.
|Full form of first name (Cyrillic)||Full form of first name (Latin)||Short form (Cyrillic)||Short form (Latin)||Diminutive form (Cyrillic)||Diminutive form (Latin)|
Colloquial diminutives are derived from short names by the -к- ("-k-") suffix. Expressing a highly familiar attitude, the use may be considered rude or even pejorative outside a friendly context.
|Full form of first name (Cyrillic)||Full form of first name (Latin)||Short form (Cyrillic)||Short form (Latin)||Colloquial diminutive form (Cyrillic)||Colloquial diminutive form (Latin)|
Slang forms exist for male names and, since a few decades ago, female names. by being produced with the suffixes -ян (-yan), -он (-on), and -ок/ёк (-ok/yok). The suffixes give off the sense of "male brotherhood" that was once expressed by patronymic-only form of address in Soviet Union. Originating in criminal communities, such forms came into wide usage in Russia in the 1990s.
|Full form of first name (Cyrillic)||Full form of first name (Latin)||Short form (Cyrillic)||Short form (Latin)||Slang form (Cyrillic)||Slang form (Latin)|
During the days of the October Revolution, as part of the campaign to rid Russia of bourgeois culture, there was a drive to invent new, revolutionary names. As a result, many Soviet children were given unusual or atypical names, often being initialisms.
|Name (Cyrillic)||Name (Latin)||Origin||Comments|
|Вил, Вилен, Владлен, Владлена||Vil, Vilen, Vladlen (m) / Vladlene (f)||Владимир Ильич Ленин (Vladimir Ilyich Lenin)||-|
|Мэл(c)||Mel(s)||Маркс, Энгельс, Ленин (и Сталин) (Marx, Engels, Lenin (and Stalin))||-|
|Баррикада||Barricade||-||Refers to the revolutionary activity|
|Ревмир, Ревмира||Revmir (m) / Revmira (f)||Революция мира (Revolyutsiya mira)||Means "The revolution of the World"|
|Гертруда||Gertrude||Герой труда (Geroy truda)||Means "The Hero of Labour"|
|Марлен||Marlene||Маркс и Ленин (Marx and Lenin)||-|
|Стэн||Stan||Сталин и Энгельс (Stalin and Engels)||-|
|Ким||Kim||Коммунистический интернационал молодёжи (Kommunistichesky Internatsional Molodyozhi)||Youth Communist International|
The patronymic name is based on the first name of the father and is written in all legal and identity documents. If used with the first name, the patronymic always follows it.
The patronymic is formed by a combination of the father's name and suffixes. The suffix is -ович (-ovich) for a son, -овна (-ovna) - for a daughter. For example, if the father's name was Иван (Ivan), the patronymic will be Иванович (Ivanovich) for a son and Ивановна (Ivanovna) for a daughter. The standard rules for the suffix have some exceptions like the following:
|Father's name (Cyrillic)||Father's name (Latin)||Patronym for son (Cyrillic)||Patronym for son (Latin)||Patronym for daughter (Cyrillic)||Patronym for daughter (Latin)|
Historical Russian naming conventions did not include surnames. A person's name had the father's name: Иван Петров сын (Ivan, son of Peter). That is the origin of most Russian -ov surnames.
Modern -ovich- patronyms were originally a feature of the royal dynasty (Рюриковичи, Ruerikovichi, Rurikids), which makes the Russian patronym in its original meaning being similar to German von. From the 17th century, the second name with suffix -ович (-ovich) was the privilege given by tsar to commoners. For example, in 1610, Tsar Vasili IV gave to the Stroganovs, who were merchants, the privilege to use patronyms. As a tribute for developing the salt industry in Siberia, Pyotr Stroganov and all his issue were allowed to have a name with -ovich. The tsar wrote in the chart dated on May 29, "... to write him with ovich, to try [him] in Moscow only, not to fee [him] by other fees, not to kiss a cross by himself [which means not to swear during any processions]" In the 18th century, it was the family of merchants to have patronyms. By the 19th century, the -ovich form eventually became the default form of a patronymic.
Everyone in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus is supposed to have a tripartite name. Single mothers may give their children any patronym and this does not have any legal consequences. Foreigners who adopt Russian citizenship are exempted from having a patronym. Now, an adult person is entitled to change patronyms if necessary such as to alienate themself from the biological father (or show respect for the adopted one) as well as to decide the same for an underage child.
Family names are generally used like in English.
Eastern Slavic languages, being synthetic languages, use special linguistic tools to form a family name. In Russian, the most common suffixes are -ов (-ov), -ев (-yev) or -ский (-sky), meaning "belonging to". For example, Медведев (Medvedev) implies belonging to a bear, and Разумовский (Razumovsky) implies belonging to the mind.
Ukrainian and Belarusian use the suffixes -ко (-ko), -ук (-uk), and -ич (-ych). For example, the family name Писаренко (Pisarenko) is derived from the word for a scribe, and Ковальчук (Kovalchuk) refers to a smith. Some family names have no suffix, e.g. Lebed, meaning swan, and Zhuk, meaning beetle.
Double-barrelled family names like Иванов-Петров (Ivanov-Petrov) are rare but allowed.
Eastern Slavic languages are synthetic languages and have grammatical cases and grammatical gender. Unlike analytic languages like English, which use prepositions ("to", "at", "on" etc.) to show the links and relations between words in a sentence, Eastern Slavic suffixes are used much more broadly than prepositions. Words need the help of some suffix to integrate them into the sentence and to build a grammatically-correct sentence. That includes names, unlike in German. Family names are declined based on the Slavic case system.
As with Slavic adjectives, family names have different forms depending on gender. For example, the wife of Борис Ельцин (Boris Yel'tsin) was Наина Ельцина (Naina Yel'tsina). Only family names with neutral grammatical gender stay the same (like those ending with -енко (-yenko)).
That change of grammatical gender is not considered to be changing the name that comes from a woman's father or husband (compare the equivalent rule in Polish, for example). The correct transliteration of such feminine names in English is debated: the names technically should be in their original form, but they sometimes appear in the masculine form.
The example of Иванов (Ivanov), a family name, will be used:
|Grammar case||Example of question||Masculine form (Cyrillic)||Masculine form (Latin)||Feminine form (Cyrillic)||Feminine form (Latin)|
|Genitive||[to bear] Whom?||Иванова||Ivanova||Ивановой||Ivanovoy|
|Locative (Prepositional)||About whom?||Иванове||Ivanove||Ивановой||Ivanovoy|
Family names are generally inherited from one's parents. As in English, on marriage, women usually adopt the family name of the husband, as in English, or vice versa very rarely occurs. Rarely, both spouses keep their family name.
When names are written in English, the patronymic is not equivalent to an English middle name. When the name is written in English, the patronymic may be omitted with the given name written out in full or abbreviated (Vladimir Putin or V. Putin), both the first name and the patronymic may be written out in full (Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin), both the first name and the patronymic may be abbreviated (V. V. Putin) or the first name may be written out in full with the patronymic abbreviated (Vladimir V. Putin).
By law, foreign persons who adopt Russian citizenship are allowed to have no patronymic. Some adopt non-Slavonic patronymics as well. For example, the Russian politician Irina Hakamada's patronym is Муцуовна (Mutsuovna) because her Japanese father's given name was Mutsuo. The ethnicity of origin generally remains recognisable in Russified names.
Bruno Pontecorvo, after he emigrated to the Soviet Union, was known as Бруно Максимович Понтекорво (Bruno Maximovich Pontekorvo) in the Russian scientific community, as his father's given name was Massimo (corresponding to Russian Максим (Maksim). His sons have been known by names Джиль Брунович Понтекорво (Jil' Brunovich Pontecorvo), Антонио Брунович Понтекорво (Antonio Brunovich Pontecorvo) and Тито Брунович Понтекорво (Tito Brunovich Pontekorvo).
Such conversion of foreign names is unofficial and often optional.
Some Turkic languages also use patronymics with the Turkic word meaning 'son' or 'daughter'. The languages were official in the countries in the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union.
For example, Kazakh ұлы (ûlı; transcribed into English as -ulı, as in Nursultan Äbishulı Nazarbayev) or Azeri оглы/оғлу (oğlu) (as in Heydər Əlirza oğlu Əliyev); Kazakh қызы (transcribed into English as -qyzy, as in Dariga Nursultanqyzy Nazarbayeva). Such Turkuc patronymics were officially allowed in the Soviet Union.
Some surnames in those languages have been Russifiec since the 19th century: the surname of Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev has a Russian "-yev" suffix, which literally means "of Nazar-bay" (in which "bay" is a Turkic native noble rank: compare Turkish "bey", Uzbek "beg", and Kyrghyz "bek"). The frequence if such Russification varying greatly by country.
Some ethnic groups use more than one name: one official, another unofficial. Official names have Russian patronymics, and unofficial names are noble or tribal names, which were prohibited after the Russian Revolution. After the fall of the Soviet Union, some people returned to using these tribal or noble names as surnames (Sarah Naiman, a Kazakh singer, has a surname means that she is from Naimans). Some Muslim people changed their surnames to Arabic style (Tungyshbay Zhamankulov, a famous Kazakh actor who often plays role of khans in films, changed his name to Tungyshbay al-Tarazy).
The choice of addressing format is closely linked to the choice of second-person pronoun. Russian language distinguishes:
Other than the use of patronymics, Russian forms of address in Russian are very similar to English ones.
Also, the meaning of form of address strongly depends on the choice of a V-T form:
|Vy or ty||Form||Male example||Female example||Use|
|Using "Vy"||Full three-name form||Anatoliy Pavlovich Ivanov||Varvara Mikhailovna Kuznetsova||Official documents, very formal occasions (when necessary)|
|First name + patronymic||Anatoliy Pavlovich||Varvara Mikhailovna||General formal or respectful form|
|Surname||Ivanov||Kuznetsova||Formal. Often used by a person of a higher social position (like a teacher talking to a student)|
|Informal first name + informal patronymic||Tol' Palych||Varvara Mikhalna||Respectful but less formal|
|Full first name||Anatoliy||Varvara|
|Diminutive first name||Tolya||Varya||Friendly but still somewhat formal|
|Affectionate first name||Varechka||Used almost exclusively towards women, showing fondness but still keeping some formality (like to a younger colleague)|
|Using "Ty"||First name + patronymic||Anatoliy Pavlovich||Varvara Mikhailovna||Can used between friends on semi-formal occasions or ironically|
|Informal patronymic||Palych||Mikhalna||Combining familiarity and respect|
|Surname||Ivanov||Kuznetsova||Similar in use to a "vy" form but less formal|
|Full first name||Anatoliy||Varvara||Friendly but with a tone of formality. If the name has no diminutive form (Yegor), also used informally|
|Diminutive first name||Tolia||Varya||General informal form|
|Colloquial first name||Tolik||Var'ka||Very familiar form|
|Slang first name||Tolyan||Varyukha|
|Affectionate first name||Tolen'ka||Varechka||Tender, affectionate form|
Using a "ty" form with a person who dislikes it or on inappropriate occasions can be an insult, especially the surname alone.
Other Eastern Slavic languages use the same adjectives of their literal translation if they differ from Russian analogue. All Eastern Slavic languages are synthetic languages and grammatical genders are used,. Thus, the suffix of an adjective changes with the sex of the recipient.
In Russian, adjectives before names are generally restricted to written forms of communication. Adjectives like Любимый / Любимая (lyubimiy / lyubimaya, "beloved") and Милый / Милая (miliy / milaya, "sweetheart") are informal, and Уважаемый / Уважаемая (uvazhayemiy / uvazhayemaya, literally "respected") is highly formal. Some adjectives, like Дорогой / Дорогая (dorogoy / dorogaya, "dear"), can be used in both formal and informal letters.