In 1917, Russia experienced two revolutions. The February Revolution (which happened in March) resulted in the monarchy being overthrown and replaced by a provisional government; the October Revolution (which happened in November) resulted in the provisional government being overthrown by the Bolsheviks.
The two revolutions were followed by a bloody civil war, and finally by the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) in late 1922.
This period of social and political upheaval in Russia had an influence on Russian baby names (the same way the French revolution had an influence on French baby names a century earlier.) Most of Russia’s revolution- and socialism-inspired baby names were bestowed in the 1920s and 1930s, but several emerged decades later (during the Space Race, for instance).
|Arvil||“Army of V. I. Lenin”|
|Bastil||The Bastille, Paris fortress stormed during the French Revolution|
|Bebel||August Bebel, German Marxist|
|Danton||Georges Jacques Danton, French revolutionary|
|Dazdraperma||“Long live the first of May” (da zdrastvuet pervoye Maya)|
|Dinamo||“Dynamo,” originally a type of electrical generator|
|Disizara||“Child, follow the Revolution boldly” (ditya, smelo idi za revolyutsiyey)|
|Donbass||Donets Basin, coal-mining area in the Ukraine|
|Engelina||Friedrich Engels, co-creator of Marxism|
|Fevralina||Based on February, signifying the February Revolution of 1917|
|Gertruda||“Heroine of labor” (geroinya truda)|
|Ilich; Ilina||Based on Lenin’s patronym, Ilyich|
|Kim||“Communist Youth International” (Kommunisticheskii Internatsional Molodezhi)|
|Kukutsapol||“Corn, queen of the fields” (kukuruza, tsaritsa poley)|
|Lagshmivara||“Schmidt‘s Arctic camp” (lager’ Shmidta v Arktike)|
|Lentrosh||“Lenin, Trotsky, Shahumyan“|
|Lentrozin||“Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev“|
|Leundezh||“Lenin died, but his work lives on” (Lenin umer, no delo ego zhivet)|
|Libknekht||Karl Liebknecht, German socialist executed in 1919|
|Lorikerik||“Lenin, October Revolution, industrialization, collectivization, electrification, radio installation, communism”|
|Rosa Luxemburg, German socialist executed in 1919|
|Marks||Karl Marx, co-creator and namesake of Marxism|
|Marseleza||La Marseillaise, national anthem of France|
|Maya||Based on May, signifying May 1 (May Day)|
|Mels||“Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin”|
|Melor||“Marx, Engels, Lenin, October Revolution”|
|Molot||“Hammer” — as in “hammer and sickle”|
|Myuda||“International Youth Day”|
|Ninel||Lenin spelled backwards|
|Based on October, signifying the October Revolution of 1917|
|“Otto Yulyevich Schmidt on the ice” (Otto Yulyevich Shmidt na l’du)|
|Perkosrak||“First space rocket”|
|Persostrat||“First Soviet stratospheric balloon” (perviy sovetsky stratostat)|
|Pofistal||“Conqueror of fascism Joseph Stalin” (pobeditel fashizm Iosif Stalin)|
|Pravda||“Truth” — the name of the Communist Party newspaper|
|Pyatvchet||“Five-year plan to be fulfilled in four years”|
|Radiy||Radium, the element|
|Razin||Stenka Razin, 17th-century Cossack rebel|
|Revdit||“Revolutionary child” (ditya)|
|Revvola||“Revolutionary wave” (volna)|
|Robesper||Maximilien Robespierre, French revolutionary|
|Roblen||“Born to be a Leninist” (rodilsia byt’ Lenintsem)|
|Serpina||“Sickle” (serp) — as in “hammer and sickle”|
|Smena||“Shift” or “Change (of workers in a factory)”|
|Smychka||“Union, alliance” — a Soviet political term|
|Spartak||Spartakusbund, Germany’s Spartacus League|
|Trolebuzin||“Trotsky, Lenin, Bukharin, Zinoviev”|
|Uryurvkos||“Hooray, Yura’s in space” (ura, Yura v kosmose) — a reference to Yuri Gagarin|
|Vanadiy||Vanadium, the element|
|Vilora||“Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, organizer of the revolution” (organizator revolyutsii)|
|Vilen; Vilena||V. I. Lenin|
|Yuralga||Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin|
|Zikatra||“Zinoviev, Kamenev, Trotsky”|
Other baby names of the era weren’t so much political as they were fanciful, e.g., Atlantida (“Atlantis”), Monblan (Mont Blanc), Traviata (the Verdi opera La traviata), and 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.”
- Alexandrova, Lyudmila. “Exotic names for children getting ever more popular in Russia.” TASS 27 Jan. 2012.
- Davis, Patricia Anne. “Soviet Russian given names.” Names, vol. 16, no. 2, 1968, pp. 95-104.
- Kaiser, Daniel H. “Naming Cultures in Early Modern Russia.” Harvard Ukrainian Studies, vol. 19, 1995, pp. 271-291.
- Russian Revolution – Wikipedia
- Stites, Richard. Revolutionary Dreams. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
- White, Stephen. Political Culture and Soviet Politics. New York: Macmillan, 1979.
[Latest update: 4/2023]