22 great Russian baby names

Jan. 5, 2021

The selection of Russian baby names is often steeped in tradition. Many new parents bestow a new baby with his father's name as a middle name to honor his heritage and family.

"Family is very important when it comes to names," says Maria Pervesco, a native Russian speaker and author of a forthcoming autobiography about her early years in Europe and immigration to America during World War II. Russian parents also sometimes combine their two names to create a new name for their newborn.

The most important thing when you choose an ethnic name is to "make sure you are not being ignorant or disrespectful to a culture," says Elizabeth McKeown, author and creator of First and Middle Baby Names.

Here are 22 great Russian names to consider:

Russian girl names

  1. Katya (KAHT-ya)
    Katya is a classic Russian girl's name that means "chaste" or "pure." A common spin on the name is Karina, which shares the same meaning.
  2. Nadia (NAH-dee-uh)
    Another classic name, Nadia means "filled with hope." Pervesco named her daughter Nadia after successfully escaping from Europe and reaching the United States.
  3. Natasha (nah-TAH-shuh)
    If you're looking for a classic Russian name that's not as common, you might consider Natasha, which means "birthday of Christ."
  4. Svetlana (sfet-LAH-nuh)
    Perhaps one of the most common Russian names, Svetlana means "shining woman."
  5. Tatiana (taht-YAH-nah)
    Tatiana is a popular Russian name, which means "unclear."
  6. Galina (guh-LEE-nuh)
    If you want to go with a name that's more unique, add Galina to your list of possibilities. Galina means "calm" or "serene."
  7. Kisa (KEE-saw)
    Kisa is another unique Russian name, and it means "kitten."
  8. Lubov (LUE-bof)
    A name that means "love," Lubov is a consideration if you want a Russian name but don't want one you've heard over and over.
  9. Mariya (muh-REE-yuh)
    A name that can also be pronounced muh-RYE-yuh, Mariya is a unique name that means "exalted."
  10. Mila (mee-LAH)
    Trendy and popular, Mila is gaining popularity in the United States. It means "dear one."
  11. Tania (TAHN-yuh)
    Tania is a classic Russian name that means "fairy queen."

Russian boy names

  1. Pasha (PAW-shuh)
    Pasha is a classic Russian name that means "small and humble."
  2. Vladimir (vlah-DEE-meer)
    Another classic Russian name, Vladimir means "ruler of the world."
  3. Aleksandr (uhl-yik-SAHN-dur)
    Aleksandr is also a classic Russian name, and it means "to protect." According to Pervesco, it's also a very common name. "I have a son, a grandson and a great-grandson with this name," she exclaims.
  4. Boris (bor-EES)
    A name that means "to fight," Boris is a more unique but classic Russian name.
  5. Dmitry (dee-MEE-tree)
    This popular name means "loves the earth."
  6. Ivan (ih-VAHN)
    Ivan is a classic name that's not as common. It means "God has mercy."
  7. Maksim (MAC-sim)
    If you're looking for a unique Russian name, Maksim is one attractive option. Maksim means "the greatest."
  8. Nicolai (NICK-oh-lye)
    Nicolai is a unique spin on the more classic Nicholas, and it means "victory of the people." "This is a handsome name for parents looking for something classic but not as popular," Pervesco says.
  9. Lehya (LEH-yah)
    If you want something even more unique, Lehya is a name to consider. It means "lion."
  10. Sergei (sur-GAY)
    If you're wanting a classic name but one that's not too common, try Sergei. It means "exalted one."
  11. Timur (TEE-mor)
    Timur is a good Russian name, but it's unique enough that your child probably won't be sharing his name with lots of others. It means "conqueror."

If you're on the fence about Russian baby names, consider using one as a middle name to honor your Russian heritage, suggests McKeown, who says that a "middle name is a good spot to honor someone or place something daring or unexpected."

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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