Top 10 Russian Baby Names (Boys and Girls)

As a writer, I have a keen interest in names. And, as someone who was born with a very exotic (and very difficult for Americans to pronounce) name, I have a keen interest in seeing that children are not subjected to unnecessary ridicule over something which could have easily been avoided. I've made a number of baby name lists over the years and today I'm adding Russian Baby Names to the mix. I live in a Slavic country and am very familiar with most of these names firsthand, whether they be the names of immigrants like myself, or if they've been altered to fit the local dialect a bit. I've included both Russian Baby Girl Names and Russian Baby Boy Names. Please note, these are simply my own personal favorites, and not necessarily representative of statistics.

Russian Girls Names

1. Galina

(meaning: light) This is such a pretty name. You don't have to have more reason than that to name your daughter this. I don't know why I don't hear this more often than I do; I love it.

2. Nikita

(meaning: unconquered) Note: This is also a boy's name. We all know this one from La Femme Nikita, right? Lots of mystique and sex appeal behind this name, which you may or may not want for your kid. Personally, I'd be thanking my parents if I'd been named this.

3. Raisa

(meaning: possibly rose) I remember the first time I heard this name; I was a kid watching TV when Mikhail Gorbachev was visiting the US with his wife Raisa. I thought it was beautiful and asked my teachers why English names didn't sound that pretty. Still love this name.

4. Natasha

(meaning: born at Christmas) This would be a brilliant name for a little girl who was actually born at Christmas! This is another Russian name that makes me think of espionage, possibly because of Rocky and Bullwinkle.

5. Kalista

(meaning: most beautiful) We have Callista in English, but Kalista looks more exotic, doesn't it? Besides, what little girl wouldn't love to be the most beautiful??

6. Nadiya

(meaning: hope) There are several variations of this name, and it's popular the world over in many countries. I have always thought this name was lovely.

7. Tatiana

(meaning: fairy princess) I have a White Russian friend called Tatiana. She's a ballerina with a body to envy and eyes Elton John was probably singing about. Very feminine name.

8. Valentina

(meaning: healthy or strong) This can also be spelled Valentyna and is quite popular in some Slavic countries. Perfect for a little girl born on Valentine's Day!

9. Veronika

(meaning: victory bringer) Ok, we have plenty of girls with the anglicized version of this name, but I really like the Slavic k in there. It just makes it look exotic somehow, doesn't it?

10. Zenya

(meaning: well-born or noble) This is an unusual name for the West and I think it's fair to say it would be pretty unique. At the same time, it ought to be easy enough to pronounce. Very feminine.

Russian Boys Names

1. Lev

(meaning: lion) Lev means lion in a number of Slavic languages, but I was still surprised to hear it used as Russian boy's name. Turns out I like it quite a bit; possibly because it reminds me of the name Live, and the famous actor with the same name. Sorry, getting off track... Lev is a lovely name for a little boy, especially if he happens to have been born a Leo!

2. Aleksandr

(meaning: defender of mankind) I don't think there's a version of this name that I don't like. The Russian name looks good when translated into the Latin alphabet, and will set your child apart from other kids of the same name, whilst still being very easy for anyone to pronounce.

3. Mikhail

(meaning: who is like God) I've loved this name ever since Mikhail Baryshnikov became an American household name back in the 80s with his sexy, sexy self. Was there a American woman who wasn't totally in love with the man? I think not. The only issue with this name is that it sounds a lot like the surname McHale. No worries, you can always get around that by calling him Misha or Mishka.

4. Sacha

(meaning: defender of mankind) You probably think of the Obama's when you hear this name, but it's not just for girls. It's a pretty popular boy's name in some countries. Granted, I've not known too many cowboys by this name (and I've known a few) but I have known a few intellectuals who were quite happy with it.

5. Nikolai

(meaning: victory of the people) I'm not a big fan of the anglicized name, but I do quite like the Russian version. Conjurs up images of sexy KGB spies and vodka. Ok, so maybe that's not what you're going for -- but if it is, this is as good a name as any.

6. Gavriil

(meaning: God is my strength) This is, I believe, the Russian equivilient of Gabriel. I am, of course, partial to that name in any form, given how much I adore Gabriel Byrne, so I wouldn't hesitate to name my child this if I wanted to use a Russian name.

7. Konstantin

(meaning: steadfast, everlasting) I confess that I wasn't really into this name until I saw the film with Keanu Reeves. I find this a perfectly awesome name now, and I prefer the Russian spelling above other versions.

8. Vasili

(meaning: king) Well you can't get more flattering than king, can you? This is another name that makes me think of sexy KGB spies and vodka.

9. Maxim (Maksim)

(meaning: the greatest) Ok, so maybe you can get more flattering than king, after all. Remember, Russian isn't a Latin language, so you can get away with your own spellings if you really want to. I kind of prefer the second, as the first makes me think of the magazine.

10. Luka

(meaning: of Lucania) This may remind you of the Suzanne Vega song, in which case, you might not want to use it. But it is a lovely name and I hear it on a daily basis, so it's quite popular in some countries.

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