How popular is the baby name Ninel in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Ninel.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Ninel

Posts that Mention the Name Ninel

Popular Baby Names in Moscow, 2014

According to Moscow’s civil registration office, the most popular baby names in Moscow in 2014 were Alexander (for the 10th year in a row) and Sofia.

Among the names registered for the first time last year were Byzantium, Jazz, and Sevastopol. (“Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian port city of Sevastopol in March reinvigorated national pride among many Russians.”) Two other unusual names that made headlines last year were Lucifer and Olimpiyada (a baby girl born several weeks before the start of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi).

I don’t believe Russia releases country-wide baby name rankings, but the Mercator media agency has gathered a some data (“the first names of 21 million residents of Moscow and the Moscow region”) and created a cool interactive baby name popularity graph covering the 20th century.

Some observations about the Mercator data:

  • Lada “became somewhat popular in 1968 when the Soviet Union began production of a car by the same name. The name debuted on the top-100 list at No. 70, then declined to No. 76 a year later before falling off the chart.” Lada was originally the name of a Slavic goddess.
  • Vladimir “was the second most popular name in 1952 when current President Vladimir Putin was born.”
  • Ninel “debuted on the chart at No. 66 in 1924, the year that Soviet state-founder Vladimir Lenin died. Ninel slid off the list in the mid-1930s.” (See more Revolutionary Russian Baby Names.)

Sources: Muscovites Embrace Avant-Garde Baby Names, Russian Couple Causes Outcry After Naming Baby ‘Lucifer’, Pre-Revolutionary Names Making a Comeback in Russia

Revolutionary Baby Name – Sacvan

Canadian academic Sacvan Bercovitch has an interesting first name. How did he get it? The story begins with his parents:

Bercovitch is the son of Alexander Bercovitch and Bryna Avrutik, Jews born in the Ukraine in the 1890s who grew up during a time of deep poverty, social upheaval, and periodic pogroms.

Alexander and Bryna, both “idealistic communists,” ended up having three children:

Circumstances took them to Moscow, where their first daughter, Sara (later Sylvia) was born; then to Ashkhabad, Turkestan, where their second daughter, Ninel (Lenin spelled backwards), was born. In 1926 they emigrated to Montreal with their two daughters, helped by Bryna’s brothers, who had preceded her. In October 1933 their son Sacvan (his name an amalgamation of Sacco and Vanzetti) was born.

Sacco and Vanzetti, of course, refers to the Italian-American anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, who were convicted of murder (perhaps wrongly) and sentenced to death in the 1920s.

Thoughts on Sacvan?

(This one is reminding me of the Swedish baby named Alfred Zola Labori Dreyfus.)


  • “Bercovitch, Sacvan.” Encyclopaedia Judaica. 2nd ed. 2007.
  • Looby, Christopher. “Scholar and Exegete.” Early American Literature 39.1 (2002): 1-9.

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.”


  • 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.