Boris (given name)

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Gender male
Word/Name Slavic, Bulgarian
Meaning unclear
Region of origin First Bulgarian Empire
Other names
Related names Borislav

Boris, Borys or Barys (Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian, Ukrainian: Борис; Belarusian: Барыс) is a male name, with Bulgarian roots.[1] Nowadays, it is most widely represented in Russia (by the number of the name carriers), almost equally in Belarus, less in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Macedonia, Poland, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine. In recent generations it has also been used among speakers of Germanic and Anglo-Saxon languages, even without any Slavic background.


The most common theory is that this name comes from the Bulgarian language with meanings according to the different interpretations: "wolf", "short" or "snow leopard".[2] Some authors, which support the "Iranian theory" about the origin of the Bulgar language derive "Bogoris" from the Iranian word "bog", which could mean "godlike".[3] Another theory is that this name is an abbreviated form of the Slavic name Borislav, which means "one who fights for glory" from бор bor, battle combined with слав slav, glory.[4]


Boris is first found in written records in the case of the Bulgarian ruler Prince Boris I (852-889), who adopted Christianity in 864 AD and imposed it on his people. His name came to be known in Europe in relation to this particular act. Moreover, after his death in 907 AD he was proclaimed the first Bulgarian saint, and traces of his cult during this period can be found as far away as Ireland. The Patriarchate of Constantinople recognized the canonization of St. Boris in 923 AD.[5] However, Prince Boris was not a Slav. He came from the Bulgars. Among the Bulgars the name was known in its two forms: Boris and Bogoris.[6][7]


Boris owes its worldwide usage to its adoption by the Rus' Slavs. It is known that the name of the Bulgarian saint reached the Rus in the late 10th century, likely during the reign of Boris II of Bulgaria (969-977), great-grandson of Boris I. In 967 the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus Phocas sent to the Rus ruler Sviatoslav I of Kiev his agent, with the task of talking Sviatoslav into assisting him in a war against the First Bulgarian Empire. In the Battle of Silistra, which occurred in the spring of 968 Sviatoslav defeated the Bulgarian ruler Peter I of Bulgaria and proceeded to occupy the whole of northern Bulgaria. In spite of some temporary successes and the reconciliation with Byzantium, Bulgaria faced a new invasion by Sviatoslav in 969. The Bulgarians were defeated again, and Peter I abdicated and become a monk. His successor Boris II was unable to stem the Rus advance, and found himself forced to accept Sviatoslav I of Kiev as his ally and puppet-master. Probably by this campaign his youngest son Vladimir I of Kiev found his Bulgarian wife, who is assumed to be a daughter of Peter I, i.e. sister of Boris II.[8][9]

One of the sons of Vladimir I was given the name Boris. As evidenced by the Rus' Primary Chronicle, Boris and Gleb were sons of Vladimir I, born to him by his Bulgarian wife. During Vladimir's reign in 988 the conversion of the Kievan Rus' to Christianity took place. In this conversion both ordinary priests and prelates from Bulgaria played a significant part.[10] Also, with the adoption of the Byzantine calendar and the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar the cult of St. Boris entered the Rus' Orthodox Church.[11] In 1015 the princes Boris and Gleb were killed by their stepbrother Sviatopolk I of Kiev, who usurped the throne. Within a short time Boris and Gleb were canonized and ever since they have been the native soldier-saints most revered among the Ukrainians, Russians and Byelorussians.[12]


From the lands of Kievan Rus the name Boris went over to the neighbouring countries. An example of this is the case of the Hungarian prince Boris Kalamanos (1112–1155), son of the Magyar king from his marriage with Euphtimia, daughter of the Kievan prince Vladimir II Monomakh. For a fairly long period men named Boris were found predominantly in the courts and among the nobility, but eventually the name became popular among all strata in the Russian Empire, including Siberia and Alaska. So it reached gradually the two Americas and Australia. In the present day, one can meet a Boris even in Africa.

List of people with given name Boris[edit]

See also Borys

Fictional characters[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Васил Н. Златарски.История на Първото българско царство. Междудържавното положение на България и покръщането на българите.
  2. ^ Проф. Веселин Бешевлиев (Издателство на Отечествения фронт, София 1981)
  4. ^ толкование значение тайна имени Борис именины Борис знаменитые люди с именем Борис совместимость имен выбрать имя ребенку происхождение имени
  5. ^ 1100 години от смъртта на княз Борис І. Христо Трендафилов.
  6. ^ Boris - Name Meaning and Origin
  7. ^ The etymology and history of first names.
  8. ^ Материалы русской истории.Основные материалы для изучения русской истории.КИЕВСКИЙ КНЯЗЬ ЯРОСЛАВ ВЛАДИМИРОВИЧ.
  9. ^ Киевская Русь и ее южные соседи. Киевская Русь и Болгария.
  11. ^ Святой благоверный и равноапостольный царь Борис Болгарский.
  12. ^ Princes Boris and Gleb: Proto-martyrs and Passion-Bearers of Old Russia