Russian Names: Nicknames, Patronymics and Family Names

Learn About Names in Russia

Russian names can be confusing! If you spend time with Russians, read Russian literature, or watch Russian films, you may be boggled by how many names one person can be called. For example, you may know your friend's name is Alexandra, but her friends call her “Sasha” and her mother calls her “Sashenka.” You may call your Russian-born professor Dr. Tolstoy, but when you hear other Russians address him, they call him “Boris Stepanovich.”

Learn about Russian names - nicknames, patronymics, and family names so you know what to call who and when you should do so.

  • 01 of 04
    Did you know that Vova and Vladimir is the same person? How about Sasha and Alexandra? The same person, too!

    Russian first names are often shortened to a short form or a diminutive. Sometimes these names sound nothing like the names from which they were derived! Learn about Russian nicknames and diminutive forms of Russian first names.

  • 02 of 04
    Russian middle names, or patronymics, are taken from the father's first name. The patronymic is one of the most confusing aspects of the Russian naming system, but the explanation for how they work is really quite simple.
  • 03 of 04

    Russian Family Names and Last Names

    Russian last names are similar to last names in English, but there are male forms and female forms of Russian last names. Learn to recognize and use both forms of Russian last names.
  • 04 of 04

    Some Russians celebrate a name day that corresponds with the saint whose name they share. Learn more about the name day tradition and how it has evolved over the centuries.