Slavic countries names

Slavic countries are noted for having masculine and feminine versions for many (but not all) of their names. Most of their surnames have suffixes which are found in varying degrees over the different nations. (Of course, many other names do not have suffixes at all.)

Note: the following list does not take regional spelling variations into account.

* -ov / -ev (-ova/-eva): Russia, Bulgaria (sometimes as -iv), Serbia, Croatia (sometimes as -iv); this has been adopted by many non-Slavic peoples of Central Asia who are or have been under Russian rule, such as the Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, etc. Note that -ev is the soft form of -ov, found after palatalized consonants or sibilants. In English, -ev is also erroneously written after ch, even though it is pronounced -ov (Gorbachev, Khrushchev, etc.)

* -sky (-ska), -ski (-ska), -skiy (-skaya): Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Russia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Macedonia.

* Note that these first two can be combined: -ovsky (-ovska): Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine.

* -ich, -vich, -vych, -ovich: Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Macedonia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Russia, occasionally Bulgaria. Yugoslav ex.: Petrović, means Petar’s son. In Russia, where patronyms are used, a person would have two -(ov)ich names in a row; first the patronym, then the family name (see Shostakovich).

* -in (-ina): Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria

* -ko, -nko, -enko: Ukraine, -enkov (-enkova): Russified of Ukrainian origin

* -ak/-ek/-ik (-akova/-ekova/-ikova): Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Belarus, Slovenia, Croatia

* -uk, -yuk: Ukraine

* -ski: Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria

If the name has no suffix, it may or may not have a feminine version. Sometimes it has the ending changed (such as the addition of -a). In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, suffixless names, such as those of German origin, are feminized by adding -ová (for example, Schusterová), but this is not done in neighboring Poland, where feminine versions are used only for -ski (-ska) names (this includes -cki and -dzki, which are phonetically -ski preceded by a t or d respectively) and for other adjectival surnames.

Russia Names

A full Russian name consists of personal (given) name, patronymic, and family name (surname).

Most Russian family names originated from patronymics, that is, father’s name usually formed by adding the adjective suffix -ov(a) or -ev(a)). Contemporary patronymics, however, have a substantive suffix -ich for masculine and the adjective suffix -na for feminine.

For example, the proverbial triad of most common Russian surnames follows:

* Ivanov (son of Ivan),

* Petrov (son of Petr),

* Sidorov (son of Sidor).

Feminine forms of these surnames have the ending -a:

* Ivanova (daughter of Ivan),

* Petrova (daughter of Petr),

* Sidorova (daughter of Sidor).

Such a pattern of name formation is not unique to Russia or even to the Eastern and Southern Slavs in general; quite common are also names derived from professions, places of origin, and personal characteristics, with various suffixes (e.g. -in(a) and -sky (-skaia)).


* kuznets (smith) → Kuznetsov—Kuznetsova

* portnoi (tailor) → Portnov—Portnova

* pastukh (shepherd) → Pastukhov—Pastukhova.

Places of origin:

* Moskva (Moscow) → Moskvin—Moskvina, Moskovsky—Moskovskaia,

* Smolensk → Smolensky—Smolenskaia,

* Riazan → Riazanov—Riazanova.

Personal characteristics:

* tolsty (stout, fat) → Tolstov—Tolstova, Tolstoy—Tolstaya,

* nos (nose) → Nosov—Nosova,

* sedoi (grey-haired or -headed) → Sedov—Sedova.

A considerable number of “artificial” names exists, for example, those given to seminary graduates; such names were based on Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church or Christian virtues.

Great Orthodox Feasts:

* rozhdestvo (Christmas) → Rozhdestvensky—Rozhdestvenskaia,

* voskresenie (Resurrection) → Voskresensky—Voskresenskaia,

* uspenie (Assumption) → Uspensky—Uspenskaia.

Christian virtues:

* philagathos (one who loves goodness) → Dobrolubov—Dobrolubova, Dobrolubsky—Dobrolubskaia,

* philosophos (one who loves wisdom) → Lubomudrov—Lubomudrova,

* theophilos (one who loves God) → Bogolubov—Bogolubova.

Many freed serfs were given surnames after those of their former owners. For example, a serf of the Demidov family might be named Demidovsky, which translates roughly as “belonging to Demidov” or “one of Demidov’s bunch”.

Grammatically, Russian family names follow the same rules as other nouns or adjectives (names ending with -oy, -aya are grammatically adjectives), with exceptions: some names do not change in different cases and have the same form in both genders (for example, Sedykh, Lata).

Polish Names

Main articles: Polish surnames and Polish name

In Poland and most of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, surnames first appeared during the late Middle Ages. They initially denoted the differences between various people living in the same town or village and bearing the same name. The conventions were similar to those of English surnames, using occupations, patronymic descent, geographic origins, or personal characteristics. Thus, early surnames indicating occupation include Karczmarz (“innkeeper”), Kowal (“blacksmith”), “Złotnik” (“gold smith”) and Bednarczyk (“young cooper”), while those indicating patronymic descent include Szczepaniak (“Son of Szczepan), Józefowicz (“Son of Józef), and Kaźmirkiewicz (“Son of Kazimierz”). Similarly, early surnames like Mazur (“the one from Mazury”) indicated geographic origin, while ones like Nowak (“the new one”), Biały (“the pale one”), and Wielgus (“the big one”) indicated personal characteristics.

In the early 16th century, ( the Polish Renaissance), toponymic names became common, especially among the nobility. Initially, the surnames were in a form of “[first name] z (“de”, “of”) [location]“. Later, most surnames were changed to adjective forms, e.g. Jakub Wiślicki (“James of Wiślica”) and Zbigniew Oleśnicki (“Zbigniew of Oleśnica”), with masculine suffixes -ski, -cki, -dzki and -icz or respective feminine suffixes -ska, -cka, -dzka and -icz on the east of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Names formed this way are adjectives grammatically, and therefore change their form depending on gender; for example, Jan Kowalski and Maria Kowalska collectively use the plural Kowalscy.

Names with masculine suffixes -ski, -cki, and -dzki, and corresponding feminine suffixes -ska, -cka, and -dzka became associated with noble origin. Many people from lower classes successively changed their surnames to fit this pattern. This produced many Kowalskis, Bednarskis, Kaczmarskis and so on. Today, although most Polish speakers do not know about noble associations of -ski, -cki, -dzki and -icz endings, such names still somehow sound better to them.

A separate class of surnames derive from the names of noble clans. These are used either as separate names or the first part of a double-barrelled name. Thus, persons named Jan Nieczuja and Krzysztof Nieczuja-Machocki might be related. Similarly, after World War I and World War II, many members of Polish underground organizations adopted their war-time pseudonyms as the first part of their surnames. Edward Rydz thus became Marshal of Poland Edward Śmigły-Rydz and Zdzisław Jeziorański became Jan Nowak-Jeziorański.