Name of Ukraine

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Italian map of "European Tartaria" (1684). Dnieper Ukraine is marked as "Vkraine or the land of Zaporozhian Cossacks" (Vkraina o Paese de Cosacchi di Zaporowa). In the east there is "Vkraine or the land of Don Cossacks, who are subject to Muscovy" (Vkraina overo Paese de Cosacchi Tanaiti Soggetti al Moscovita).

The name Ukraine (Ukrainian: Україна, romanizedUkraina [ʊkrɐˈjinɐ] (listen), Вкраїна, romanized: Vkraina [u̯krɐˈjinɐ]) was first used in reference to a part of the territory of Kievan Rus' in the 12th century. The name has been used in a variety of ways since the 12th century, referring to numerous lands on the border between Poland and Kievan Rus' or its successor states, and specifically for Ukrainian-inhabited lands from the 16th. The use of "the Ukraine" is officially deprecated by the Ukrainian government and many English language media publications.[1][2][3]

Ukraine is the official full name of the country, as stated in its declaration of independence and its constitution; there is no official alternative long name. From 1922 until 1991, Ukraine was the informal name of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic within the Soviet Union (annexed by Germany as Reichskommissariat Ukraine during 1941–1944). After the Russian Revolution in 1917–1921, there were the short-lived Ukrainian People's Republic and Ukrainian State, recognized in early 1918 as consisting of nine governorates of the former Russian Empire (without Taurida's Crimean Peninsula), plus Chelm and the southern part of Grodno Governorate.[4]


Map of Eastern Europe by Vincenzo Coronelli (1690). The lands around Kyiv are shown as V(U)kraine ou pays des Cosaques ("Ukraine or the land of Cossacks"). In the east the name Okraina (Russian: Окраина, romanizedOkraina, lit.'"Borderland"') is used for Russia's southern border.

The oldest recorded mention of the word ukraina dates to the year 1187. In connection with the death of Volodymyr Hlibovych [uk], the ruler of the Principality of Pereyaslavl which was Kyiv's southern shield against the Wild Fields, the Hypatian Codex says "Ukraina groaned for him", ѡ нем же Оукраина много постона[5] (o nem že Ukraina mnogo postona).[6] In the following decades and centuries this term was applied to fortified borderlands of different principalities of Rus' without a specific geographic fixation: Halych-Volhynia, Pskov, Ryazan etc.[7]: 183 [8]

Ukraine as a part of Poland under King Władysław Jagiełło.[a]

After the south-western lands of former Rus' were subordinated to the Polish Crown in 1569, the territory from eastern Podillia to Zaporizhia got the unofficial name Ukraina due to its border function to the nomadic Tatar world in the south.[9] The Polish chronicler Samuel Grądzki [pl] who wrote about the Khmelnytsky Uprising in 1660 explained the word Ukraina as the land located at the edge of the Polish kingdom.[10] Thus, in the course of the 16th–18th centuries Ukraine became a concrete regional name among other historic regions such as Podillia, Severia, or Volhynia. It was used for the middle Dnieper River territory controlled by the Cossacks.[7]: 184 [8] The people of Ukraina were called Ukrainians (українці, ukraintsi, or українники, ukrainnyky).[11] Later, the term Ukraine was used for the Hetmanate lands on both sides of the Dnieper although it didn't become the official name of the state.[8]

From the 18th century on, Ukraine became known in the Russian Empire by the geographic term Little Russia.[7]: 183–184  In the 1830s, Mykola Kostomarov and his Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Kyiv started to use the name Ukrainians.[citation needed] It was also taken up by Volodymyr Antonovych and the Khlopomany ("peasant-lovers"), former Polish gentry in Eastern Ukraine, and later by the Ukrainophiles in Halychyna, including Ivan Franko. The evolution of the meaning became particularly obvious at the end of the 19th century.[7]: 186  The term is also mentioned by the Russian scientist and traveler of Ukrainian origin Nicholas Miklouho-Maclay (1846–1888). At the turn of the 20th century the term Ukraine became independent and self-sufficient, pushing aside regional self-definitions.[7]: 186  In the course of the political struggle between the Little Russian and the Ukrainian identities, it challenged the traditional term Little Russia (Russian: Малороссия, romanizedMalorossiia) and ultimately defeated it in the 1920s during the Bolshevik policy of Korenization and Ukrainization.[12][13][page needed]


Interpretation as "region" or "territory"[edit]

Ukraina (Оукраина)[b] was initially mentioned in the Hypatian Codex in approximately 1187, referring to the name of the territory of the Principality of Pereyaslavl. The codex was written in the East Slavic version of Church Slavonic language.

Since then, and almost until the 18th century, in written sources, this word was used in the meaning of "border lands", without reference to any particular region with clear borders, including far beyond the territory of modern Ukraine. The generally "accepted" and frequently used meaning of the word as "borderland" has increasingly been challenged by revision, motivated by self-asserting of identity.[14]

In the 16th century, the only specific ukraina mentioned very often in Polish and Ruthenian texts was the south-eastern region around Kyiv, and thus ukraina came to be synonymous with the Kyïv Voivodeship and later the region around Kyiv.[citation needed] Later this name was adopted as the name of the country.[citation needed]

The etymology of the word Ukraine is seen this way in all mainstream etymological dictionaries, see e.g. Max Vasmer's etymological dictionary of Russian;[15] see also Orest Subtelny,[16] Paul Magocsi,[17] Omeljan Pritsak,[18] Mykhailo Hrushevskyi,[19] Ivan Ohiyenko,[20] Petro Tolochko[21] and others. It is supported by Jaroslav Rudnyckyj in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine[22] and the Etymological dictionary of the Ukrainian language (based on already mentioned Vasmer).[23]

On a map, published in Amsterdam in 1645, the sparsely inhabited region to the north of the Azov sea is called Okraina and is characterized to the proximity to the Dikoia pole (Wild Fields), posing a constant threat of raids of Turkic nomads (Crimean Tatars and the Nogai Horde). There is, however, also a specialised map published in 1648 of the Lower Dnieper region by Guillaume Le Vasseur de Beauplan called "General illustration of desert plains, in common speech Ukraine" (Delineatio Generalis Camporum Desertorum vulgo Ukraina), attesting to the fact that the term Ukraina was also in use.[24]

Interpretation as "region, country"[edit]

Ukrainian scholars, beginning in the 1930s, have interpreted the term ukraina in the sense of "region, principality, country",[25] "province", or "the land around" or "the land pertaining to" a given centre.[26][27]

Linguist Hryhoriy Pivtorak (2001) argues that there is a difference between the two terms Ukraina україна "territory" and окраїна okraina "borderland". Both are derived from krai "division, border, land parcel, territory" but with a difference in preposition, U (оу)) meaning "in" vs. o (о) meaning "about, around"; *ukrai and *ukraina would then mean "a separated land parcel, a separate part of a tribe's territory". Lands that became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Chernihiv Principality, Siversk Principality, Kyiv Principality, Pereyaslavl Principality and most of Volyn Principality) were sometimes called Lithuanian Ukraina, while lands that became part of Poland (Halych Principality and part of Volyn Principality) were called Polish Ukraina. Pivtorak argues that Ukraine had been used as a term for their own territory by the Ukrainian Cossacks of the Zaporozhian Sich since the 16th century, and that the conflation with okraina "borderlands" was a creation of tsarist Russia.[28] which has been countered[clarification needed] by other historical sources of Russia.[29]

Official names[edit]

Below are the names of the Ukrainian states throughout the 20th century:

English definite article[edit]

Ukraine is one of a few English country names traditionally used with the definite article the.[1] Use of the article was standard before Ukrainian independence, but has decreased since the 1990s.[2][3][30] For example, the Associated Press dropped the article "the" on 3 December 1991.[3] Use of the definite article was criticised as suggesting a non-sovereign territory, much like "the Lebanon" referred to the region before its independence, or as one might refer to "the Midwest", a region of the United States.[31][32][33]

In 1993, the Ukrainian government explicitly requested that, in linguistic agreement with countries and not regions,[34] the Russian preposition в, v, be used instead of на, na,[35] and in 2012, the Ukrainian embassy in London further stated that it is politically and grammatically incorrect to use a definite article with Ukraine.[1] Use of Ukraine without the definite article has since become commonplace in journalism and diplomacy (examples are the style guides of The Guardian[36] and The Times[37]).

Preposition usage in Slavic[edit]

Plaque on the wall of the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Ukraine. Note the na Ukrajine ("at Ukraine") in Slovak, and the v Ukrayini ("in Ukraine") in Ukrainian.

In the Ukrainian language both v Ukraini (with the preposition v - "in") and na Ukraini (with the preposition na - "on") have been used, although the preposition v is used officially and is more frequent in everyday speech.[citation needed] Modern linguistic prescription in Russian dictates usage of na,[38] while earlier official Russian language have sometimes used 'v',[39] just like authours foundational to Russian national identity.[40] Similar to the definite article issue in English usage, use of na rather than v has been seen as suggesting non-sovereignty. While v expresses "in" with a connotation of "into, in the interior", na expresses "in" with the connotation of "on, onto" a boundary (Pivtorak cites v misti "in the city" vs. na seli "in the village", viewed as "outside the city"). Pivtorak notes that both Ukrainian literature and folk song uses both prepositions with the name Ukraina (na Ukraini and v Ukraini), but that only v Ukraini should be used to refer to the sovereign state established in 1991.[28] The insistence on v appears to be a modern sensibility, as even authors foundational to Ukrainian national identity used both prepositions interchangeably, e.g. T. Shevchenko within the single poem V Kazemati (1847).[41]

The preposition na continues to be used with Ukraine in the West Slavic languages (Polish, Czech, Slovak), while the South Slavic languages (Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovene) use v exclusively.

Phonetics and orthography[edit]

Among the western European languages, there is inter-language variation (and even sometimes intra-language variation) in the phonetic vowel quality of the ai of Ukraine, and its written expression.[citation needed] It is variously:

  • Treated as a diphthong (for example, English Ukraine /juːˈkrn/)
  • Treated as a pure vowel (for example, French Ukraine [ykʁɛn])
  • Transformed in other ways (for example, Spanish Ucrania [uˈkɾanja], or Portuguese "Ucrânia" [uˈkɾɐ.njɐ])
  • Treated as two juxtaposed vowel sounds, with some phonetic degree of an approximant [j] between that may or may not be recognized phonemically: German Ukraine [ukʀaˈiːnə] (although the realisation with the diphthong [aɪ̯] is also possible: [uˈkʀaɪ̯nə]). This pronunciation is represented orthographically with a dieresis, or tréma, in Dutch Oekraïne [ukrɑˈiːnə]. This version most closely resembles the vowel quality of the Ukrainian word.

In Ukrainian itself, there is a "euphony rule" sometimes used in poetry and music which changes the letter У (U) to В (V) at the beginning of a word when the preceding word ends with a vowel or a diphthong. When applied to the name Україна (Ukraina), this can produce the form Вкраїна (Vkrayina), as in song lyric Най Вкраїна вся радіє (Nai Vkraina vsia radiie, "Let all Ukraine rejoice!").[42]

See also[edit]

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ The term Ukraina, or Kresy, meaning 'outskirts' or 'borderlands', was first used to define the Polish eastern frontier of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
  2. ^ ou always and exclusively was pronounced as long u:.


  1. ^ a b c "Ukraine or the Ukraine: Why do some country names have 'the'?". BBC News. 7 June 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Why Ukraine Isn't 'The Ukraine,' And Why That Matters Now". Business Insider. 9 December 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "The "the" is gone" (PDF). The Ukrainian Weekly. 8 December 1991. p. 5. Retrieved 5 February 2022. As of December 3, the Associated Press changed its style, alerting its editors, reporters and all who use the news service to the fact that the name of the Ukrainian republic would henceforth be written as simply "Ukraine"
  4. ^ Magocsi, Paul R. (1985), Ukraine, a historical atlas, Matthews, Geoffrey J., University of Toronto Press, p. 21, ISBN 0-8020-3428-4, OCLC 13119858
  5. ^ "Въ лЂто 6694 [1186] - 6698 [1190]. Іпатіївський літопис". Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  6. ^ PSRL , published online at Izbornyk, 1187.
  7. ^ a b c d e Пономарьов А. П. Етнічність та етнічна історія України: Курс лекцій.—К.: Либідь, 1996.— 272 с.: іл. І8ВМ 5-325-00615-0.
  8. ^ a b c Е. С. Острась. ЗВІДКИ ПІШЛА НАЗВА УКРАЇНА //ВІСНИК ДОНЕЦЬКОГО УНІВЕРСИТЕТУ, СЕР. Б: ГУМАНІТАРНІ НАУКИ, ВИП.1, 2008 Archived 2013-11-01 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Украина // Энциклопедический словарь Брокгауза и Ефрона: В 86 томах (82 т. и 4 доп.). — СПб., 1890—1907.
  10. ^ [1]«Margo enim polonice kray; inde Ukrajna, quasi provincia ad fines regni posita».
  11. ^ Русина О. В. Україна під татарами і Литвою. — Київ: Видавничий дім «Альтернативи», 1998. — С. 278.
  12. ^ Миллер А. И. Дуализм идентичностей на Украине Archived 2013-07-30 at the Wayback Machine // Отечественные записки. — № 34 (1) 2007. С. 84-96
  13. ^ Martin T. The Affirmative Action Empire. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2001
  14. ^ Larissa M. L. Zaleska Onyshkevych, Maria G. Rewakowicz (2014). Contemporary Ukraine on the Cultural Map of Europe. Routledge. p. 365. ISBN 9781317473787.
  15. ^ "Invalid query".
  16. ^ Orest Subtelny. Ukraine: A History. University of Toronto Press, 1988
  17. ^ A History of Ukraine. University of Toronto Press, 1996 ISBN 0-8020-0830-5
  18. ^ From Kyïvan Rus' to modern Ukraine: Formation of the Ukrainian nation (with Mykhailo Hrushevski and John Stephen Reshetar). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Ukrainian Studies Fund, Harvard University, 1984.
  19. ^ Грушевський М. Історія України-Руси. Том II. Розділ V. Стор. 4
  20. ^ "II. НАШІ НАЗВИ: РУСЬ — УКРАЇНА — МАЛОРОСІЯ. Іван Огієнко. Історія української літературної мови".
  21. ^ Толочко П. П. «От Руси к Украине» («Від Русі до України». 1997
  22. ^ "Україна. Русь. Назви території і народу".
  23. ^ Етимологічний словник української мови: У 7 т. / Редкол. О. С. Мельничук (голов. ред.) та ін. — К.: Наук. думка, 1983 — Т. 6: У — Я / Уклад.: Г. П. Півторак та ін. — 2012. — 568 с. ISBN 978-966-00-0197-8.
  24. ^ "Delineatio generalis Camporum Desertorum vulgo Ukraina: Cum adjacentibus provinciis". Library of Congress.
  25. ^ Шелухін, С. Україна — назва нашої землі з найдавніших часів. Прага, 1936. Андрусяк, М. Назва «Україна»: «країна» чи «окраїна». Прага, 1941; Історія козаччини, кн. 1—3. Мюнхен. Ф. Шевченко: термін "Україна", "Вкраїна" має передусім значення "край", "країна", а не "окраїна": том 1, с. 189 в Історія Української РСР: У 8 т., 10 кн. — К., 1979.
  26. ^ Shkandrij, Myroslav (2001). Russia and Ukraine: literature and the discourse of empire from Napoleonic to postcolonial times. Montreal, Que.: McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-7735-6949-2. OCLC 180773067.
  27. ^ Knysh, George (1991). Rus and Ukraine in Mediaeval Times. Winnipeg: Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in Canada. pp. 26–27, 38 (note 88).
  28. ^ a b Pivtorak, Hryhorii (2001). "Pokhodzhennia ukraintsiv, rosiian, bilorusiv ta ikhnikh mov" [The ancestry of Ukrainians, Russians, Belarusians, and their languages]. Izbornyk. Retrieved 5 March 2021. Російські шовіністи стали пояснювати назву нашого краю Україна як «окраїна Росії», тобто вклали в це слово принизливий і невластивий йому зміст. З історією виникнення назви Україна тісно пов'язане правило вживання прийменників на і в при позначенні місця або простору. ("Russian chauvinists began to explain the name of our region Ukraine as "the outskirts [okraina] of Russia", that is, they put in this word humiliating and unconnected content.")
  29. ^ As an example can serve С. М. Середонин. Наказ кн. М. И. Воротынскому и роспись полкам 1572 года, "Записки имп. Русского археологического общества", т. VIII, вып. 1 и 2, полая серия. "Труды отделения русской и славянской археологии", кн. первая, 1895, СПб., 1896; см. предисловие, стр. 49 - 53, публикация, стр. 54 - 62.
  30. ^ "Ukraine". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  31. ^ "'Ukraine' or 'the Ukraine'? It's more controversial than you think". Washington Post. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  32. ^ Trump discusses Ukraine and Syria with European politicians via video link, The Guardian (11 September 2015)
  33. ^ Let's Call Ukraine By Its Proper Name, Forbes (17 February 2016)
  34. ^ "The Nerd's Guide to Russian Prepositions In and On". Moscow. 9 April 2019. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  35. ^ Граудина, Л. К.; Ицкович, В. А.; Катлинская, Л. П (2001). Грамматическая правильность русской речи [Grammatically Correct Russian Speech] (in Russian). Москва. p. 69. В 1993 году по требованию Правительства Украины нормативными следовало признать варианты в Украину (и соответственно из Украины). Тем самым, по мнению Правительства Украины, разрывалась не устраивающая его этимологическая связь конструкций на Украину и на окраину. Украина как бы получала лингвистическое подтверждение своего статуса суверенного государства, поскольку названия государств, а не регионов оформляются в русской традиции с помощью предлогов в (во) и из...
  36. ^ "The Guardian Style Guide: Section 'U'". London. 19 December 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  37. ^ "The Times: Online Style Guide - U". London. 16 December 2005. Archived from the original on 11 April 2007. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  38. ^ "Горячие вопросы". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  39. ^ "Указ о назначении Черномырдина послом в Украину". Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  40. ^ Незапно Карл поворотил / И перенес войну в Украйну.([2])
  41. ^ Мені однаково, чи буду / Я жить в Україні, чи ні. / [...] / На нашій славній Україні, / На нашій – не своїй землі ("It is the same to me, if I will / live in [v] Ukraine or not. / [...] / In [na] our glorious Ukraine / in [na] our, not their land") ([poetyka.uazone.net])
  42. ^ See for example, Rudnyc'kyj, J. B., Матеріали до українсько -канадійської фольклористики й діялектології / Ukrainian-Canadian Folklore and Dialectological Texts, Winnipeg, 1956

General and cited sources[edit]

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of Ukraine at Wiktionary