Ever wondered how our surnames are a huge part of our personalities? It defines our family backgrounds and holds stories about our ancestors. However, when it comes to Russia and its vastness, surnames are among the most fascinating things to learn so much about the country! This blog on Popular Russian last Names provides great insight into the last names used in Russia. The article includes the history of surnames, how and from where a certain last name is derived.
When choosing a name, it is always wise to learn the origin of a certain name, its meaning, and its history. Some names have been the names of famous personalities like a skilled author or a widely known actor! It would be quite an honor for a person to share their name with a noble human being.
On reading below, you will know how the Russian names are used originally and addressed in formal and informal circumstances. So, one can be aware while using them. Also, the Russian names have fascinating and wondrous origins and facts behind them, as mentioned below:
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List of Popular Russian Last Names
In this section of the article you will find a list of extremely popular Russian last names and their meaning. There are also interesting stories behind some of these names. Read on to know more.
Abakumov comes from the Hebrew word ‘Habakkuk,’ which means ‘embrace.’
Alexei’s son is Alekseev. Alekseeva is the female variant.
In the Greek and Latin Old Testaments, a variant of Channah is used. Hannah is used instead of Anna in many later Old Testament translations, including English. A prophetess who recognized Jesus as the Messiah appears briefly in the New Testament.
It was a popular name in the Byzantine Empire from the beginning. It became popular among Western Christians in the Middle Ages due to the reverence of Saint Anna. It is often known as Saint Anne in English, traditionally given to the Virgin Mary’s mother. Since the late Middle Ages, this Latin form has coexisted with Ann and Anne’s vernacular forms in England.
Since the 1970s, Anna has been the most prevalent of these spellings in English-speaking countries. But, the biblical form Hannah is now more popular than all three. Several Russian royals, including one empress of Russia in the 18th century, bore the name.
If you are looking for a patronymic surname, you can go with Abdulov. It’s used in Russian, meaning “son of Abdul.” It is used in Arabia too. When it comes to its Arabic counterpart, it carries the meaning of servant of God.
The last name Abramov is taken from the Old Testament. You may already know this lovely surname if you are religious and have read the Old Testament. It holds the meaning of “Son of Abram.” When it comes to its Hebrew counterpart, it means “High Father.”
This Russian surname is a bit modern and is perfect for your little one. It is taken from the first name Agap. In the Greek language, it holds the meaning of love. A famous personality with this surname is Anton Agapov, a football player in the Russian association.
There is a Greek word named Agathon. And the surname Agafonov is taken from that. It has a charming vibe that gives it the modern tone it needs. It holds the meaning of goodness or kindness.
This Russian surname has its roots in the Greek language. It carries the meaning of Defender. It is used by many, making it a popular last name in Russia. A famous bearer of this surname is Evgeny Alekseev, a chess grandmaster.
Russia’s noble families’ last name translates to ‘Yin woman,’ and comes from the Russian Tsardom.
Bogoris is a Turkic name that could mean “short,” “wolf,” or “snow leopard.”
King Boris wore it I of Bulgaria, who converted his country to Christianity in the 9th century and two subsequent Bulgarian monarchs. Saint Boris, a Russian prince, slain with his brother Gleb in the 11th century, popularised the name in the Slavic realm. It’s possible that his mother was
Another notable bearer was the 16th-century Russian ruler Boris Godunov. He was later the subject of Aleksandr Pushkin’s play of the same name.
Borodin began as a nickname for a bearded person and eventually grew into a surname. This surname comes from the term ‘Boroda,’ which means ‘Beard.’
This occupational surname is for someone who works as a ‘Shepherd.’
Nikolay Chernyshevsky, a Russian philosopher and revolutionary, was the first to bear this surname. Nikolay’s father was asked for a surname when he applied to seminary, but he didn’t have one at the time. So, he drew one up based on Chernyshevo, where he was born.
This habitational last name is derived from the Russian town of Dmitriyev and means ‘Devoted’ or ‘Devoted to Demeter.’
It is a Farmer’s last name, one of the occupational last names.
Eva is spelled in a variety of ways in different languages. This form is used in the Latin New Testament translation, while Hava is used in the Latin Old Testament’s translation. In Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the name is given to a character named Little Eva, whose real name is Evangeline. This is also a different spelling of the Russian era.
Theodore is derived from ‘God-given’ or ‘Gift from God.’
In Russia, a Gonchar was a potter who made all of the village’s clay objects. Goncharov was then adopted by the potter’s offspring and spread throughout the country. For example, the word was gradually promoted to higher social categories. Novelist Ivan Goncharov eventually took this as a surname.
It began as a nickname and has since evolved into a popular last name that means ‘Hunchback.’
The name ‘Abraham,’ which means ‘Father of many,’ is derived from ‘Abraham,’ which means ‘Son of Abraham.’
Ivan is a newer variant of Ioannu, an old Slavic name derived from Greek Ioannes. Six Russian monarchs used this name, including the 15th-century Ivan III the Great and the 16th-century Ivan IV the Terrible, Russia’s first tsar. Nine Bulgarian emperors also wore it.
Ivan Turgenev, the Russian author who penned Fathers and Sons, and Ivan Pavlov, the Russian biologist who discovered the conditioned reflex, are two more noteworthy bearers.
For centuries, Ivanov was the most prevalent surname, especially peasants and farmers. It was derived from the surname Ivanov, which means Ivan’s descendant. It was not commonplace for peasant families to use their father’s first name as their surname. Ivanov became a prominent surname as Ivan became a popular male name.
This is a prominent Russian surname that means ‘Bread Maker’ or ‘Maker of Kolaches.’
Kissel is a sweet, jellied fruit-based drink or dessert from sour berries such as redcurrants and cranberries, sugar, and edible starch. It is derived from the old Slavic term kissel, which means sour. The meal has a storied history and is traditionally served after Russian Orthodox funerals. And it is also associated with otherworldly fairy tales.
Kissel was most likely given to children as a talismanic name to ward off evil spirits. It features a fancy coat of arms and dates back to at least the 15th century as a surname. Dmitry Kiselyov, a Kremlin publicist, is one of today’s most well-known Kiselyov.
Another one comes from a career. Kuznetsov means “of a blacksmith,” similar to Smith in English. This surname expanded throughout Russia since even the tiniest village or town had someone involved in the trade. As a result, Kuznetsov became one of Russia’s most common surnames. Because the term doesn’t vary significantly in different dialects, it was only in Ukraine and Belarus adapted to the local language.
Lebedev is a Russian name derived from a swan-related animal word. The surname Lebedev comes from the realm of animals, specifically the swan. It’s an elegant and lovely-sounding name that, predictably, has grown in popularity over time. Some of its variants are Lebedinsky, Lebezheninov, and Lebedintsev. This surname became more prevalent among clergy people at one point in time.
the last name Mikhailov translates to ‘Son of Mikhail.’ Mikhail means ‘Like God.’
‘Flower people’ or ‘those who deal flowers’ is what this occupational surname Nikolaev means. Pasternak: The surname ‘Pasternak’ is derived from the root vegetable ‘Parsnip.’
A Novik was a young aristocrat who enlisted in the army, but novy means “new.” The term was also a nickname for newcomers that later became an official name for their descendants. It’s a popular surname, and there are many well-known Novikovs, like restaurateur Arkady Novikov, who has more than fifty restaurants in Moscow, London, and elsewhere, serving a variety of cuisines.
This surname is from Obolon, a village in Ukraine’s Poltava region. This word used to mean “a wet field” in Russian, but it is no longer used. As a result, the Oblonsky surname is now more widely diffused around the globe. However, its origins may be traced back to this one region in Ukraine.
Popov is the fourth most common Russian surname, derived from the old Russian word pop, which means priest. It was first used for priests’ sons and has been widespread for decades. Several prominent Popov’s, notably avant-garde artist Lyubov Popova, whose cubist, constructivist, futurist, and supremacist forms were pioneered by her work.
Preobrazhensky is another popular surname among clergy persons, similar to Lebedev. Its origins can be traced back to the Christian feast day of the Transfiguration. Because of its religious significance, many clergy members would drop their common name and assume a church moniker while entering a service.
This is one of the most frequent surnames on the list, and it means ‘Son of Rabbi.’
The surname Rasputin is derived from Putin and means’ Crossroads.’
Is the surname Romanov well-known? The meaning of this surname is the son of
Roman is derived from the late Roman name Romanus after the Rurik dynasty and represented the Russian empire’s major royal family.
In Russia’s north, the surname Smirnov is very popular. The name Smirnoy is derived from an old male name Smirnoy, which is no longer used, and it means peaceful, submissive, and quiet. Although the noun Smirny now has a distinct sound, the ancient form of the surname has been preserved.
Sokolov is one of Russia’s ten most frequent names, derived from the Russian word Sokol, which means falcon. Falcons are a sign of bravery, and falconers were key members of the Russian court in the Middle Ages. Many famous Sokolov’s have been throughout history, from mathematicians to marathon runners. In addition, Sokolov is one of the numerous surnames derived from bird names, such as Vorobyev, meaning sparrow.
Orlov – means eagle, and Sorokin means magpie. And some historians believe this has roots in an old Russian bird-based religion.
The surname Stepanov is derived from the English name Stephen, which means ‘Wreath, Crown, or Royalty.’ And the family name means ‘Son of Stephen.’
The Greek form of the Hebrew name Shoshannah is Sousanna. It was taken from the Hebrew term Shoshan, which means “lily” in modern Hebrew and also “rose,” possibly derived from the Egyptian “lotus.” It is the name of a lady wrongfully accused of adultery in the Apocrypha of the Old Testament. Daniel, the prophet, clears her name by duping her accusers, who are then punished as well.
It also appears in the New Testament to be the name of a woman who serves as a minister to Jesus. It was infrequently used as an English name in honor of the Old Testament heroine during the Middle Ages. It was not widely used until after the Protestant Reformation, commonly spelled Susan.
The Turgenev were an aristocratic family who lived in Russia. As a result, the name is associated with nobility. Ivan Turgenev, a well-known writer, shares this identity. It means “quick” or “quickly.”
The surname Ustrashkin is derived from the Russian word ‘Ustrasht,’ which means ‘intimidate’ or ‘frighten.’
The surname Varkov is derived from the Russian word ‘Varka,’ which means ‘cooking, brewing, or boiling.’
This surname has a lot of distinct meanings. One is referring to Basil, a leafy herb. Another interpretation is ‘Royal.’
Vassiliev is Vassily’s son. Vassilieva is the female variant. Vasiliev or Vasilieva are alternate spellings.
This is a good choice for parents who desire something antique and exotic. It is a term used to describe two precious stones: ruby and sapphire.
The Old Testament book of Zechariah is the source of the biblical name Zechariah, which means “God has remembered.” From an early Coptic bishop to US actor Zachary Quinto, this minor prophet has offered first names for millennia.
The surname Zacharov – not to be confused with Sacharov, which comes from the Russian word for sugar, belongs to a Russian noble family. They have ancient and present celebrity descendants. Andreyan Zakharov, the architect of Saint Petersburg’s magnificent Admiralty structure, is one of them. Maria Zakharova, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, is one of today’s most well-known people.
Zima is a Slavic word that means “winter.” Czech, Slovak, Polish, or Russian are all possibilities. It could have been a moniker for someone with a frigid demeanor.
Derivation of Russian Surnames
Russian surnames influence almost everything. They take their names from – nationality, behavioral qualities, jobs, animals, flora, and even the environment.
It was crucial for Russians, and anybody else for that matter, to distinguish one individual from another with the same name. Most Russian surnames come from patronymics. It was taken from the father’s name, occupation, or personality attributes. It wasn’t until 1918 that taking the surname of one’s husband became a legal necessity in the country. Russia recognized surnames long before the introduction of Christianity in the 10th century.
Choosing of Surnames Based on Occupation
Many surnames in pre-Christian Russia have negative connotations. They kept this surname to ward off bad spirits and escape certain destinies. As a result, names expanded after Christianity was introduced, and the population grew. By the 14th and 15th centuries, most of Russia’s population had a three-part name: Christian, patronymic, and surname. Surname is derived from animal, fruit, item, occupation, and patronym names in Russia and the surrounding region. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the aristocracy of Moscow was the first to use surnames.
Peasants, serfs, and ethnically non-Russian people, on the other hand, did not obtain them until the nineteenth or twentieth century. After being emancipated in 1861, most peasants and serfs were given surnames.
The Popularity of Surnames After the Revolution
Last names were not gained until the 1917 Soviet revolution for persons residing in ethnically non-Russian areas. These surnames could only last a lifetime if this common family tradition continued. Surnames arose as Russia’s population grew, and they were inspired by natural features such as flora, animals, and weather patterns. Some names were inspired by religious holidays or saints, while others were purely occupational. Interestingly enough, certain Russian names were modified to erase the Soviet Union’s past and history. Cities were changing their names, and as surnames are derived from them, surnames were changing as well. Russian surnames come in both masculine and female variants. An “a” is added at the end of the female variants.
Influence of the Russian Language in Surnames
The Russian language is also fascinating. Because it is a Slavic language, any Russian or Slavic names suggest its origin. However, for a non-Cyrillic ear, Russian names and surnames are difficult to comprehend. Much similar as Cyrillic letters are difficult to comprehend and keep an eye accustomed to a language based on the Latin alphabet. So, after taking a tour of a museum or walking about St. Petersburg, you might wish to double-check a person’s last name.
History Related to Surnames
Many tales and facts about politicians, scientists, inventors, writers, architects, criminals, and charlatans have a connection to the city’s history; architecture, culture, and many tales and facts – and inventions talked about during excursions relating to politicians, scientists, inventors, writers, architects, criminals, and charlatans. Because many streets and avenues are named after notable people, having this list on hand may be beneficial.
Russian Naming Practices
Russian naming practices are fascinating, and both first and last names have meanings that can aid in searching for ancestors or lineages. A Russian name is made up of three parts. The Christian name, patronymic name, and surname are the three components. Patronymic names are taken from the family’s father or grandfather’s predecessors. They are formed by adding a suffix or a prefix that means ‘Son of.’ So, for example, if someone’s name is Boris Mikhailov, it means ‘Boris, son of Mikhail’ according to patronymics. It is customary to address someone by their first and patronymic names in a formal environment.
Origins of Surnames in Russia
Surnames in Russia have a variety of origins, including occupation, animal, fruit, and patronymics. Surnames are often used in a formal environment in Russia. Addressing someone solely by their last name is considered impolite. Russians first used surnames in the 12th century. People’s surnames were derived from their occupations, residence, and other factors in the 17th and 18th centuries. Most of them were not ancestors and would only live a single lifetime. It was only after 1917 that surnames were introduced to the names of the entire Russian population.
Surnames are distinct for men and women. Male Russian surnames finish in ‘ov’ or ‘ev.’ Females, on the contrary, add an ‘a’ to the end of ‘ova’ or ‘eva’. The male variants of the surname have been listed, but now you know how to change it to female. Read on to learn more about Russian surnames and their meanings, as well as some of the most popular and unusual surnames.
Russian last names are a huge part of their culture, as it elevates their ancestors and highlights their history. A Russian person’s surname tells us about their background, family and maybe even describes a part of their personality. Usually, it’s elements of nature or the surrounding. People also choose last names based on notable personalities, such as an author or a martyr.
This article provides a list of Russian last names and a description of the names that talk about the factors mentioned above. In addition, the article highlights the history and origin of the name, where it is derived from, what inspired the name, and how popular it is in Russia. A name belonging to almost every alphabet has been mentioned, so there’s a unique and fun list of names to study from. It provides information about names and gives a great way to learn about Russia and its people and culture. It also adds bits and pieces of history, notable events, and people from Russia. Besides, one can learn about the diversity and similarity of Russia with one’s own country and origin.
Hi, I am Claudia, I run TheQueenMomma’s content creation team, personally focusing on topics which add joy to people’s life. You would usually see me writing on topics like Jokes, Riddles, Truth & Dare as well as Baby Names etc.
In my professional career, I have a Bachelor’s and Master’s in sociology and specialize in media and crime. Once I finished my education, I began my career working as a journalist, reporting on various topics like crime, justice and family law. Even though I valued journalism, I came to the realization that I wanted to have a more immediate impact in people’s lives as well as bring joy to them.