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Russian Names and Surnames

In modern Russia, names consist of a GIVEN NAME (imia), a PATRONYMIC (otchestvo), and a SURNAME (familiia).

It is customary in Russia to use patronymics as middle names. Patronymics are derived from the father's given name and end with -ovich or -evich. The female patronymics end in -ovna or -evna.

Most Russian surnames end in -ov or -ev. Surnames derived from given male names are common. Female forms of this type of surnames end in -ova or -eva.

MALE
Given Name: Mikhail
Patronym: Mikhailovich (=son of Mikhail)
Surname: Mikhailov

Given Name: Nikolai
Patronym: Nikolaevich (=son of Nikolai)
Surname: Nikolaev

FEMALE
Given Name: Natalia
Patronym: Mikhailovna (=daughter of Mikhail)
Surname: Mikhailova

Given Name: Tatiana
Patronym: Nikolaevna (=daughter of Nikolai)
Surname: Nikolaeva

In older church records the female patronymics took the same form as current female surnames, i.e. in birth records mothers' names were written as Natalia Mikhailova (not Mikhailovna) and Tatiana Nikolaeva (not Nikolaevna). Generally you must find a marriage record to determine a mother's maiden surname.

Russian Surnames

Also -in/ina ending surnames are prevalent:
Dumin/Dumina
Gagarin/Gagarina
Pushkin/Pushkina

Other types of surnames include -ski /-skaya and -ii or -oi/-aya ending names:
Mayakovski/ Mayakovskaya
Rovenski/Rovenskaya
Tshaikovski/Tshaikovskaya
Gorkii/Gorkaya
Tolstoi/ToIstaya
Volotskoi/Volotskaya

Ukrainian surnames frequently end in -ko:
Bondarenko
Lutsenko
Rodchenko

History

Naming practices for early period are first name (baptismal name, usually that of a Biblical saint), followed by the everyday or common first name, patronymic, and rarely a surname.

Russian names started only as a given name, adding the patronymic around the 10th century, and finally the surname only in the late 15th or early 16th century. The surname did not become common, in fact, until the 18th century.

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  • This page was last modified on 16 December 2012, at 09:09.
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