Russian Girls Names - HOW IT WORKS

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Russian girls namesBy Elena Petrova (Elena's Models)

Russian girls names are different to Russian women names, because a "girl name" will be usually a shorter/affectionate form of the "adult" woman's name. 

(See the list of Most popular Russian girls names)

Similar in English, you may be using Abi as a short form for Abigail, or Alex for Alexandra. In Russian, a girl will be usually called only by a short form of the name and not by her full formal name, maybe because Russian names are usually longer, 3-4 sillables.

In Russian, all full formal names can be used with suffices that give the name a special “soft” meaning; it’s not a nickname but a shorter/softer/affectionate form of the same name. 

For example:

Russian name Natalia:

Full form – Natalia
Short form – Natasha
Short/soft form – Natashka
Short/affectionate form – Natashen'ka
Full/affectionate form – Natalichka
Other forms: Nata, Natik, Natka, Nataliya, Natali, Nataly, Natalya, Natallia, Natalochka, Natochka, Natusik

All those forms (as above) have the “root” – “nat”

“Natasha” and “Natalia” seem to be different names but in Russian, they are considered forms of the same name, a "girl" name and a "woman" name.

Generally, suffices add an informal and affectionate meaning to a Russian girl's name; which cannot be fully expressed and quantified; except for the suffice “k” which has a slight “degrading” tone to it; most other forms of Russian girls names are rather soft and affectionate.

Sometimes the short/affectionate form doesn't even sound alike the formal/full form; for example, the short forms for a Russian name Alexandra are "Sasha" and "Shura" (which also happens in English, for example, "Richard" and "Dick")

Some Russian girls names can be also male’s names, just like in English:

Alexandra (female) – Alexander (male)
Valentina (female) – Valentin (male)


The sort form of “Alexander” and “Alexandra” in Russian is “Sasha” for both.

However, most Russian girls names are reserved for females only and cannot be used for a man; and the same with male names, they are male names only. For example, in Russian the name "Nikita" is a male only name (contrary to the popular western series where it is a female name!).

Russian girls names can be spelled differently in English because Russian alphabet is different to the Latin alphabet. For example, Russian woman’s name Tatiana can be spelled also as: Tatyana, Tatjana, Tatsiana etc, all of which will be the same Russian name Tatiana in Russian. 

GENERAL RULE: If two names sound alike, you can bet it is exactly the same name in Russian, for example, Julia and Yuliya – the same name.

Russian girls surnames usually have the female ending “ova/eva” on the end, as compared to a male’s ending “ov/ev”:

Kuznetsov (male) – Kuznetsova (female)
Belov (male) – Belova (female)
Grigoriev (male) – Grigorieva (female)

All Russians also have a second “patronymic” name, which is a patronymic form of their father’s name with the added “ovna” suffice for women. 

For example:

Petr (father’s name) – Petrovna (patronymic middle name)
Pavel (father’s name) – Pavlovna (patronymic middle name for a daughter)
Vladimir (father’s name) – Vladimirovna (patronymic middle name)


As such, if the father’s name is “Petr Pavlovich Vladimirov” (first name + patronymic name + surname), and the daughter’s name is “Julia”, then the daughter’s full name will be “Julia Petrovna Vladimirova” – i.e. the daughter keeps the family surname, and takes the father’s first name as her middle/patronymic name.

Russian girls only have 1 middle name, and it is always patronymic; they don’t have several first names, and every person has 3 names: first, second/patronymic, and surname. 

It works like this:

[first name] [the son/daughter of …. patronymic name] [from the family of … surname].

Most popular Russian girls names:

  • Lena (Elena, Alena, Alyona)
  • Olya (Olga)
  • Masha (Maria)
  • Natasha (Natalia, Natalya, Nataliya)
  • Luda (Ludmila, Liudmila)
  • Lara (Larisa)
  • Sveta or Lana (Svetlana)
  • Liza (Elizaveta, Elisaveta)
  • Katya (Ekaterina, Yekaterina)
  • Anya (Anna)
  • Vika (Viktoria, Victoriya)
  • Juli (Juliya, Yulia, Julia)
  • Ira (Irina, Irena, Iryna)
  • Tanya (Tatiana, Tatyana)
  • Alka (Alla)
  • Dasha (Daria, Darya, Dariya)
  • Zhenya or Jenny (Evgenia / Yevgeniya) 
  • Sasha (Alexandra / Aleksandra)
  • Valya (Valentina or Valeria)
  • Rita (Margarita)
  • Nadya (Nadezhda)
  • Galya (Galina)
  • Lina (Angelina or Evangelina or Alina or Adelina)
  • Lilya (Lilianna or Lilia)
  • Lika (Angelika)
  • Polya (Polina)
  • Nika (Veronika)
  • Ulya (Uliana / Julianna)
  • Elya (Eleonora)
  • Lyuba (Lyubov)
  • Nastya (Anastasiya)
  • Zulya (Zulfia)
  • Vita (Violetta)
  • Mila (Milena or Ludmila)
  • Yana (Yanina)
  • Tina (Alevtina)
  • Lida (Lidia)
  • Slava (Miroslava or Svyatoslava)

As you can see, the Russian sound similar to "ya" (also can be transcribed to English as "ia" or "iya" or "ja") is often used in the Russian girls names, to form a short form of the name from the longer formal form.

Because Russian alphabet is different from the English alphabet, and there is no one formal way to transcribe certain letters, everyone tries their best and the same name can look very different; for example Uliana and Julianna (can also be Ulianna, Juliana etc). 

We have a lot of queries from men who say something like, "This girl sent me a letter signed by a different name!" We look and it's usually a girl named Natalia who signed her letter as "Natasha" or Tatiana who signed "Tanya", which as you know by now are exactly the same names, simply a short form and a formal form.

Popular Russian girls names usually only used in a full form:

  • Kristina
  • Marina
  • Oksana / Oxana
  • Inna
  • Inessa
  • Olesya
  • Vera
  • Diana
  • Karina
  • Fatima
  • Ilona
  • Nina
  • Anfisa

These names still can have an affectionate form, however, they are normally used in the full form even for girls.

When you see a Russian girl's name on a website, such as a dating site for Russian girls, please remember she could have changed it to an English variant, to make it easier for English-speaking people. For example, Evgeniya could use Jen or Jenny, Elena could use Helen or Helena, Ekaterina become Kate or Kati

I hope you now have a better understanding of Russian girls names.

 

Russian girls namesABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Elena Petrova is the founder of www.ElenasModels.com. She has a degree in philosophy and has been working in the Russian dating industry since 1999, introducing Russian girls to western men seeking dating, love and relationships. Her agency Elena's Models has clients in 167 countries and hundreds of successful marriages on its books.

 

Other Russian girls questions: 

 


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