Russian Common Names

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Russians have three names.  These are the first or given name (имя), the surname or family name (фамилия) and patronymic (отчество).  A patronymic is formed from the father’s first name with the help of the endings –ович and -евич for boys, and -овна and -евна for girls. For example, if Anatoly’s father is Viktor, he will be called Анатолий Викторович.

Common Boys’ Names and Variations

  1. Alexander (Sasha)

  2. Maxim (Max)

  3. Ivan (Vanya)

  4. Artyom (Tyoma)

  5. Dmitry (Dima)

  6. Nikita (Nik)

  7. Mikhail (Misha)

  8. Daniil (Danya)

  9. Yegor

  10. Andrey

Other common boys’ names are Vladimir, Sergei, Aleksei, Nikolai, Yury, Vasily, and Pyotr. Popular choices also include Ilya, Igor, Gennady, Boris, Evgeny, Pavel, Vadim, and Viktor are also quite popular.

Today, Old Slavic and old-fashioned Russian names are increasing in use.  These names are Makar, Zakhar, Prokhor, Valentin, Kuzma, Timofey, Nazar, and Taras.

Common Girls’ Names and Variations

1.   Elena (Lena, Alena, Alyona)
2.   Svetlana (Sveta)
3.   Olga (Olya)
4.   Tatiana (Tanya)
5.   Natasha (Natalya, Nata)
6.   Marina
7.   Irina (Ira)
8.   Anastasia (Nastya)
9.   Anna (Anya)
10. Oksana (Ksyusha)

Most Russian girls’ names come from Greek names and often have a name in English that is similar to it.  For example, Elena is “Helen” in English; and Natalya is “Natalie”.

Three girls’ names have the same meaning  for the name as the word in Russian. These are Nadezhda (hope), Lyubov (love) and Vera (faith).

In Russian, some names are used with suffixes that give the name a special “soft” meaning.  It’s not a nickname but a shorter/softer/affectionate form of the name. For example, the Russian name Elena:
Full form – Elena
Short form – Lena
Short/soft form – Lenka
Short/affectionate form – Lenochka
Full/affectionate form – Elenochka
Other forms –  Lenusya, Lenusik, Lenchik, Lenok, Alyona, Alyonka, Alyonushka, Alyonchik, Alena

All these forms have the root “len” which changes to “lyon” (pronounced as “l’on”) in “Alyona”.  “Elena” and “Alyona” appear to be different names, but in Russian they are seen as the same form.

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