Russian Last Name, First Name and Patronymic

A complete Russian name includes such elements as first name, last name and patronymic.

Russian Name is a Reflection of Family Traditions

Each era one way or another was reflected in the names. It used to be that children were named in accordance with some features of a child. Thus, such names were born as Lyubim (loved), Piskun (squeaky), Nezdan (surprise).

After the introduction of Christianity the naming process changed. Names were chosen according to church books.

This tradition with time became even stronger, but still unique namesappeared occasionally. It was mostly influenced by certain trends.

The backbone of Russian names is still made of traditional names – Alexander, Michael, Olga, Maria, etc.

Russian Patronymics

Patronymic is a mandatory element of the naming system in Russia. It represents the name of the father of the child with the addition of a suffix. A field “patronymic” became mandatory for the residents of Russia in the 18thcentury. The form of addressing by first name in combination with patronymic was used in high aristocratic circles to express respect. Gradually addressing someone by first name +patronymic became generally accepted.

Russian Last Names and Their Origins

In Russia, the notion of the “family name” originally represented a family, and what today is considered the last name used be a nickname. Only in the 19thcentury the last name in Russia acquired its current meaning – the ancestral family name, which is added to the personal name.

Initially, only the top layer of the society had last names, but then it got spread to the city and country folks.

The main part of the Russian last names was formed from personal names – the last name was defined by the name of the father: Ivanov (‘belonging to Ivan’), Saveliev, Nikolaev. Another type of last name was defined by a person’s occupation: Kuznetsov (blacksmith), Goncharov (potter). There are also last name based on the name of the area: Belozerov (white lake), or based on the names of birds and animals: Volkov (wolf), Soloviev (nightingale).

Last name, first name and patronymic are three important components of the full name of a modern Russian. They carry a lot of information about a person, his features, his origin, the life of his ancestors.


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