The facts and details about Russian last names discussed in the article make use aware of their origin and different forms. A list of popular Russian surnames, their meanings and some interesting facts about them can also be found below.
The Russian last names or surnames were earlier known as ‘nicknames’. During the census of 1897, last names in Russia were taken in account and given due consideration. It would be interesting to know how the last names were assigned to people. In most cases, the father’s name was modified into a surname. For example, if the father’s name was Peter, the surname assigned to his family would be ‘Petrov’. This fact can be understood in a better manner if we consider these popular Russian surnames: Vasiliev, Ivanov, Fedoseev, Titov, Nikitin, Sidorov, Fedorov, Egorov, Alekseev, etc.
Last Names in Russia
In Russia, a person’s name is generally formed of three components: the ‘given name’, a ‘patronymic’ and ‘last name’. These components are arranged in a sequence. That component of a name derived from the father’s name is known as patronymic. The patronymic may have its origin in the name of one’s grandfather or even the earlier ancestors.
Russian Surnames and Meanings
Understanding the meaning of a name helps us get to its origins and to some extent the history of a community or country. This process can lead us to finding some interesting facts about the culture of that community. Given below are the meanings of common Russian last names.
|Bogdanov||Bogdan’s – The word bogdan means a slavic man.|
|Krupin||It is derived from a West Slavic word, krupa – which means barley.|
|Orlov||The ‘son of Oryol’ is known as Orlov. Oryol means eagle.|
|Zolnerowich||Son of a soldier.|
|Romanov||Son of a Roman.|
|Pajari||‘Boyar’ or Russian noble.|
|Konstantinov||A descendant of Konstantin.|
|Utkin||This Russian name originates from the word, utka i.e. duck.|
|Polzin||A profit-making merchant.|
Facts on Russian Last Names
- In Russia, last names are inherited from parents. Women inherit their surnames either from parents or husbands. In Russia, surnames are formed by combining of two separate names. For example, the names, Ms. Zetseva and Mr. Smirnov are combined to form the last name, Smirnov-Zetseva.
- To check whether a surname belongs to a Russian woman, you see if suffixes like ‘a’, ‘aya’ or ‘ina’ are attached to it. Apart from identifying the suffixes, there is not much that you can do to differentiate between a girl’s surname from that of a boy.
- The common Russian last names are in the form of possessive adjectives; in comparison, surnames in the form of attributive adjectives and nouns are lesser in number. Most of the last names ending with an ‘-enko’ have originated in Ukraine.
- Russian surnames can take different forms on the basis of gender. The following example should explain this in a better manner. The last name of Mr. Boris Yeltsin’s wife is written as Yeltsina.
- Sometimes it is difficult to translate the female last names from Russian to English. Therefore, the last names of women are generally translated into the same form (Russian).
- In Russia, the number of last names that originate from personal names is considerably high. Examples of such name formations are as follows: the names Sergeyev can be translated as Sergey’s son. Likewise, Vasilyev means Vasil’s son.
- There are few Russian last names which originate from names of birds and animals. For example, the name Korovin literally means Cow’s son. Lebedev is translated as Swan’s son.
- Russians like to create short versions of their names and they like to use such names with great affection. For example, the name ‘Katerina’ becomes ‘Katya’. Such names are informally used to address family members and friends. Nicknames can be modified by adding letters like -en’k before their last letters. Therefore, the name Katya changes into Katen’ka.
The details about last names in Russia give us a rough idea of the fundamentals of Russian language and culture. The process of evolution of last names in Russia is not different from that in other parts of the world. The Russian practice of naming a person on the basis of father’s or husband’s name too is found in different parts of the world. Facts presented in this article should therefore, present readers with some useful insights on Russian surnames.