TOP 20 most common Russian family names and their meaning

Russian family names

There are several lists of the most common last names. We will use the list of Russian family names by Anatoly Zhuravlev – in our opinion, it the most modern and has the largest coverage. Family names are arranged from the most common to the least common.

1.            Ivanov

This last name is derived from the first name Ivan, which means “God’s grace.”

The family name Ivanov is common in major Russian regional centers, and especially in the North-West of Russia.

The last name Ivanov has a lot of derivatives: Vanin, Vankin, Vanyushin, Ivashov, Ivashin, Ivashkin Ivashutin, Ivashchenkov, Ivanenkov, Ivanischev, Ivankov and so on.

2.            Smirnov

This last name is derived from the Russian name Smyrnoi, which means “meek.”

It is especially prevalent in the Volga region of Russia.

3.            Kuznetsov

Kuznetsov directly points to the occupation – “kuznets” in Russian is a blacksmith.

Blacksmiths – was a much needed occupation in the old days in every village.

The last name Kuznetsov is most common among Russian family names in the region from Upper Oka to Middle Volga.

In English, there is also a similar last name – Smith.

4.            Popov

The last name Popovpoints directly to the occupation of the father – pope (priest). In Russian Orthodox Church priests are allowed to marry and have children, in contrast to Catholics. Russian priests actively use this right: their families are often very big.

5.            Vasiliev

This last name is derived from the male first name Vasily. The name Vasily in Greek means “royal.”

It is possible that the “royal” origin of the name is the reason that the family name Vasiliev is most common in large cities of Russia.

DerivativeRussian family names of the name Vasiliev: Vasilek, Vasylyuk, Vasechkin, Vasnetsov, Vasyutin, Vasyuhin, Vashchenko and others.

6.            Petrov

This is a derivative of the male first name Petr. Petr in Greek means “stone”.

There are other family names derived from the name Petr: Petin, Petreykin, Petrikov, Petrin, Petrishchev, Petrovyh, Petrunin, Petrukhin, Petrushkin, Petrushev, Petrushenkov, Petrykin, Petryagin, Petryaev, Petyunin, Petyushkin, Petyaev and so on.

In English there are also similar last names – Peter, Peters, Pethers, Petre, Petryand so on.

7.            Sokolov

This last name is derived from the Russian male name Sokol. Sokol also means a species of a fast bird of prey.

In Russia there are many last names that are derived from the names of birds.

8.            Mikhailov

This last name is derived from a very common male first name Mikhail.

There are many family names formed from the name Mikhail: Mikhaev, Mishin, Mishurin, etc.

9.            Fedorov

This is a derivative of the male first name Fedor (Feodor), which in Greek means “gift of God.”

From this name there are many derivative Russian family names: Fedin, Fedorin, Fedunov, Fedkin, Fedyaev, etc.

10.          Morozov

This last name is formed from the male nickname Moroz. It is possible that the name Moroz has to do with cold weather – bitter cold that is often seen during the winter months in Russia.

11.          Volkov

This last name is derived from the nickname Volk. Literally Volk means a “wolf.”

12.          Alexeev

A derivative of the male first name Alexey. The name Alexey in Greek means “defender.”

From the name Alexey a lot of Russian family names are derived: Alexin, Alenin, Alekhin, Aleshin, Lelikov, Lenkov, Lyashev, Oleshin, and others.

13.          Lebedev

This last name is derived from the male nickname Lebed. Lebed means a swan. Names of birds often form Russian family names.

14.          Semenov

Semenov is derived from the male name Semen (Simeon). Semen in Hebrew means “God that hears.”

15.          Egorov

Egorovcomes from a male first name Egor (Georgy). Georgy is Greek means a “farmer.” There are many family names derived from the name Egor: Egunov, Egorikhin, Egorichev, Egorkin, Egorkov, Egorushkin, Egorchenkov, Egorshin, Egorychev, Egoriev, Egoshin, Egunov.

16.          Pavlov

It comes from the male first name Pavel. Pavel means “small” (in Latin).

Many Russian family names come from the name Pavel: Pavlishchev, Pavlukhin, Pavlychev, Pavshinand others.

17.          Kozlov

Kozlov comes from a male nickname Kozel, which in Rusian means “goat.” Animals in the Russian language are frequent source of nicknames.

18.          Stepanov

It’s a derivative of the male first name Stepan (Stefan). Stepan in Greek means a “crown.”

There are many family names derived from the name Stepan: Stepanchikov, Stepanychev, Stepichev, Stepulev, Stepurin, Stepyrev and others.

19.          Nikolaev

This last name comes from the male first name Nikolay. The name Nikolay is formed from two Greek words “flower” and “people.”

There are many Russian family names that come from the name Nikolay: Nikolaichev, Nikolin, Nikolyukin, Nikulaenkov, Nikulin, Nikulichev, Nikulkin, Nikulov, Mikolaev, Mikulin, etc.

20.          Orlov

The last name Orlovis derived from the male first name or nickname Orel.

Orel means eagle in Russian. Names of birds in Russiaoften became a source of first and last names.

In ancient Russian mythology, eagle – is the lord of the heavens: strong, healthy and long-lived.

See also:

TOP 28 Cool Russian Names

Most popular Russian names in Moscow

фото-фотобанк Лори

This article contains some materials by V. Nikonov.


10 responses to “TOP 20 most common Russian family names and their meaning”

  1. Fran says:

    I think Romanov/Romanoff should be up there too. It’s very common.

  2. Yulia says:

    According to the 2005 list of 257 of most common Russian family names compiled by Yelena Balanovskaya (“список общерусских фамилий”)in Wikipedia, ‘Romanov’ is No. 44.

  3. Vanessa Lowe says:

    Does anyone have information to the surname czerinas please ? Thank you

  4. Some Kid says:

    I’m just here because i need Russian names for this project I’m doing

  5. helen says:

    A reason that the name is 44 on the list is because it was the last name of the tsar and his family and when they died there were few left with that last name.

  6. Kelly Sanarov says:

    My husband’s surname is Sanarov. His family left Russia and fled to China. Then to Brazil, and to US on a government grant in the 1960’s I believe. He was born here as well as his siblings. Just trying to find any history o. The last name
    Thank You!

  7. Alyssa says:

    A lot of these aren’t surnames, they are patronymic names which is more similar to a middle name. Easy mistake to make though because on legal documents the patronymic is listed last while the surname is listed first.

    • Pip says:

      I’m sorry, but this is not correct. The patronimics are structured differently and have different endings. Some surnames might have a historical origin similar to patronymics – like, Petrov, which would mean “beloning to the family of Piotr” (similar to Icelandic family names, etc). But if the person’s father’s name was Piotr, the partonim would be Petrovich for male, or Petrovna for female.

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