Revolutionary Baby Names in Russia

Over a century after the the French revolution influenced French baby names, the Russian Revolution (and socialist ideology) inspired a handful of Russian parents to give their babies similarly patriotic names.

Russian Revolution

Here are some examples of those patriotic baby names. Most were bestowed in the 1920s and 1930s, though some (like Uryurvkos) popped up decades later.

Name Significance/Translation
Ateist Atheist
Arvil “Army of V. I. Lenin”
Avangarda Avant-garde
Barrikada Barricade
Bastil The Bastille, Paris fortress stormed during the French Revolution
Bebel August Bebel, German Marxist
Buntar Rebel
Danton Georges Jacques Danton, French revolutionary
Dinamit Dynamite
Dinamo Dynamo, originally a type of electrical generator
Donbass Donets Basin, coal-mining area in the Ukraine
Elekrifikatsiya Electrification
Engelina Friedrich Engels, co-creator of Marxism
Genii Genus
Gertruda “heroine of labor” (geroinja truda)
Giotin Guillotine
Idea Idea
Ilich; Ilina Based on Lenin’s patronym, Ilyich
Industriya Industry
Iskra Spark
Kazbek Mount Kazbek
Kommuna Commune
Krasnyi Red
Lagshmivara “Shmidt’s Arctic camp” (lager Shmidta v Arktike)
Lentrosh “Lenin, Trotsky, Shahumyan
Lentrozin “Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev
Libknekht Karl Liebknecht, German socialist executed in 1919
Lyuksemburg; Roza Rosa Luxemburg, German socialist executed in 1919
Marks Karl Marx, co-creator and namesake of Marxism
Marlen “Marx, Lenin”
Marseleza La Marseillaise, national anthem of France
Mels “Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin”
Melor “Marx, Engels, Lenin, October Revolution”
Molot Hammer
Ninel Lenin, backwards
Oktyabrina Based on October, signifies the October Revolution
Oyushminald Otto Yulyevich Schmidt on the ice floe”
Parizhkommuna Paris Commune
Proletarii Proletarians
Pravda Truth; Communist Party newspaper
Radium Radium, the element
Razin Stenka Razin, 17th-century Cossack rebel
Revdit “Revolutionary child (ditya)”
Revmir “Revolution, peace”
Revolyutsiya; Lyutsiya Revolution
Revvola “Revolutionary wave (volna)”
Robesper Maximilien Robespierre, French revolutionary
Roblen “born to be a Leninist” (rodilsia byt’ Lenintsem)
Serpina Based on Sickle
Smena Shift
Smychka Smychka, “collaboration in society”
Spartak Spartakusbund, Germany’s Spartacus League
Stalina Joseph Stalin
Svodoba Freedom
Tekstil Textile
Traktor; Traktorina Tractor
Uryurvkos “Hurray, Yura’s in space” (ura, Yura v kosmose) – reference to Yuri Gagarin
Vilora “Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, organizer of the revolution (organizator revolyutsii)”
Vilen; Vilena V. I. Lenin
Vladlen; Vladilen Vladimir Lenin
Volya Will
Zikatra “Zinoviev, Kamenev, Trotsky”

Other baby names of the era weren’t as political as they were fanciful, e.g., Atlantida, “Atlantis”; Monblan, “Mont Blanc”; Traviata for the Verdi opera; Zvezde, “star.”

It’s also interesting to note that a portion of these parents went in the other direction entirely. Instead of opting for progressive names, they went for “pre-Christian Slavic names such as Mstislav or Sviatopolk that had fallen into disuse in modern times.”

Sources:

  • Harvard Ukrainian Studies 19 (1997): 272.
  • Komsomolskaya Pravda, via World Press Review 30 (1983): 14.
  • Stites, Richard. Revolutionary Dreams. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
  • White, Stephen. Political Culture and Soviet Politics. New York: Macmillan, 1979.

7 thoughts on “Revolutionary Baby Names in Russia

  1. From Democracy at Dawn: Notes from Poland and Points East (1998) by Frederick Quinn:

    Our interpreter is named Ninel, Lenin spelled backwards. During the 1920s and 1930s, many parents, caught in revolutionary euphoria, named their children Oktyabrina (October Revolution), Lenina or Stalina, or sometimes Revmiru (World Revolution). Another name is Traktora (traktor). Today, Ninel is still used. People think it is a diminutive, the Slavic equivalent of “Nellie.”

  2. A few more Revolutionary names from the TASS article Exotic names for children getting ever more popular in Russia:

    Revolutionary transformations in Russia were reflected in the names, which were given to nationals of the new country. Between the 1920s and the 1940s of the 20th century children, born in the Soviet Union, were named after popular Communist leaders, and new names were invented, which reflected the achievements of those times. For instance, Soviet boys and girls were given the names of Industrializatsia (the Russian for “industrialization”), Disizara (the abbreviation, which stands for the Russian version of “child, follow the Revolution without fear”), Myuda (“International Youth Day”), Zheldora (“Railway”), Pyatvchet (“Five-year plan to be fulfilled in four years”), Pofistal (“Joseph Stalin, who defeated fascism”), Perkosrak (“first space rocket”) and Kukutsapol (“corn, queen of farm lands”).

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