The Multiple Origins Which Contribute To Russian Names The Russian word for name is (imya). A complete Russian imya consists of one given name, a patronym, followed by a family name. Although Russian names usually only consist of one given name, numerous diminutives arise and are situationally or intimacy dependent. For instance, the feminine name, Anastasiya, has multiple variants: Stasya, Nastenka, Tasya, Nastya, and many more. Most Russian names are directly derived from multiple origins and many others have been 'borrowed' into the Russian language by other various means. Still other Russian names have been altered depending on the difference in transcriptions into a foreign language. Some origin sources used in Russian naming customs include Hebrew language (The Bible), Saint Names, Greek Myths, Hebrew Origins Interestingly, one of the most commonly used male baby names in Russia is Ivan derived from the Greek from the Hebrew yochanan which means 'God is gracious'. Many variants are also relatively popular, such as Vanek, Ivanko, Vanya, Vanyusha, Van'ka, and Vanusha. Saint Names Eastern Orthodox traditional saint names are common sources for Russian given names. Many are often Greek in origin. Slavic Names Modern naming customs have begun using late century Slavic Names for babies. They rank similarly with other European nations in popularity for names in this category. Greek Mythological Origins Greek mythology deity names and words are typical sources for Russian names. Agaphya (f) is taken from the Greek word “agape” which is an unconditional, God love. Agnessa (f) from the Greek agnos “chaste, pure” derived from the another Greek word agathos which means “good”. Alla (f) meaning “the other one”, Alexander or Sasha (m) from alexin (Grk) “protector of men”, and Anastasia (f) taken from anastasis (Grk)“resurrection” are other examples for popular Russian names taken from the Greek mythological names. Variants, Diminutives, & Transcription Diminutives, spelling variations, diversity in transcriptions into other languages, and additional innuances also contribute to the diversity for Russian given names. A single name can render numerous variants dependent upon the transcription. For example Dmitri, Dmitrii, or Dimitriy are all derived from the Russian name, Dimitry from the Greek god, Demeter. Another variant of the same Russian name is Demitri continues to rise in U.S. and French popularity every year. The table below lists some common suffix usage in Russian names which provides helpful information for deciphering the endless variants for their given names. Name -yen'k f- affectionate suffix Mashen'ka, Shashen'ka, Kolen'ka -yun f- affectionate suffix Kolyunya -ya f – “a or ?” – diminutive form Katya, Olya, Mariya, Kseniya 'ka m – colloquial variants Van'ka (fr Vanya) -ka f – colloquial variants Sashka (fr Shasa) -ov (-ova) m (f)- Russian surname suffix -in (-ina) m (f) – Russian surname suffix Putin -ev (-eva) m (f) – Russian surname suffix Kornekoeva -sky, (-skaya) or -skiy m (f) – Russian surname suffix -ych *patronymic abbreviation for close friend Ivanych (fr Ivanovich) Vy (Vy) formal name address singular (plural) Vy Vladimir Putin ty (vy) informal name address singlular (plural) ty Shaska * Illyich (fr Lenin) Never abbreviated Surnames Majority of surnames in Russia were products derived from personal names, such as Vasilyev “Vasiliy's son”. Many Russian last names originated from craft or professions of the first bearers. For example the name, Kuznetsov literally means “Smith's son” in Russian. Others come from bird or animal names, like Korovin which is a possessive adjective for “cow”. A famous error in transliteration typical to spelling changes or omissions is in the French Smirnoff brand name (misspelling of Smirnov). A full 3-name form is required for all babies born in Russia, Belarus, and the Ukraine. However, in casual communication it's hardly ever used in full. Media coverage for Russian leaders utilizes the entire 3-name form. Usually, 1 or 2 names are used. Famous Russians Dmitriy Mendeleev, the Russian chemist who designed the periodic table for the study of chemistry. Ivan IV from the 16th century, the first Russian tsar, affectionately known as Ivan the Terrible. How To Say Russian Letters From The Cyrillic Alphabet The Russian language is written using the Cyrillic alphabet, as well as Ukrainian, Macedonian, Mongolian, Bulgarian, Kazakh, and sometimes Serbian. The Phoenician Alphabet is the parent of many alphabets, including the Latin and Greek alphabets from which was derived the Cyrillic alphabet. The table below lists the Cyrillic alphabet letters and approximate English sound.