Names of Soviet origin

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Vilen "Willi" Tokarev was "octobered" with the name Vilen after V.I. Lenin[1][2]

Given names of Soviet origin appeared in the early history of the Soviet Union,[3] coinciding with the period of intensive word formation, both being part of the so-called "revolutionary transformation of the society" with the corresponding fashion of neologisms and acronyms,[4] which Richard Stites characterized as a utopian vision of creating a new reality by means of verbal imagery.[3] They constituted a notable part of the new Soviet phraseology.

Many such names may be found in Russian,[5] Belarusian, and Ukrainian[6] persons, as well as in other ethnicities of the former Soviet Union (e.g. Tatar.[7])


The proliferation of the new names was enhanced by the propagation of a short-lived "new Soviet rite" of Octobering, in replacement of the religious tradition of child baptism in the state with the official dogma of Marxist–Leninist atheism.[3][8]

In defiance of the old tradition of taking names from menology, according to the feast days,[3] many names were taken from nature having patriotic, revolutionary, or progressive connotation: Beryoza (Берёза, "birch tree", a proverbial Russian tree), Gvozdika (Гвоздика, "carnation", a revolutionary flower), Granit (Гранит, "granite"), Radiy (Радий, "radium", a symbol of scientific progress).[4] A peculiarity of the new naming was neologisms based on the revolutionary phraseology of the day, such as Oktyabrin/Oktyabrina, to commemorate the October Revolution, Vladlen for Vladimir Lenin.[3]

Richard Stites classifies the Soviet "revolutionary" names into the following categories:[3]

  • Revolutionary heroes and heroines (their first names, their last names used as first names and various acronyms thereof)
  • Revolutionary concepts (exact terms and various acronyms)
  • Industrial, scientific and technical imagery
  • Culture, myth, nature, place names

Most of these names were short-lived linguistic curiosities, but some of them fit well into the framework of the language, proliferated and survived for a long time.[5]

Common new names[edit]

The following names were quite common and may be found in various antroponymic dictionaries.

Name (Cyrillic) Transliteration Origin Comments
Вил, Вилен, Владлен, Владлена Vil, Vilen, Vladlen (m) / Vladlene (f) Владимир Ильич Ленин (Vladimir Ilyich Lenin)[4][5] -
Мэл Mel Маркс, Энгельс и Ленин (Marx, Engels and Lenin)[4][5] -
Баррикад, Баррикада Barrikad (m) / Barrikada (f) Barricade[4][5] Refers to the revolutionary activity
Ревмир, Ревмира Revmir (m) / Revmira (f) Революция мира (Revolyutsiya mira) Means "The revolution of the World"[4][5]
Гертруда Gertruda Gertrude reinterpreted as Герой труда (Geroy truda) Means "The Hero of Labour"[4][5]
Марлен Marlen (m) Marlene reinterpreted as Маркс и Ленин (Marx and Lenin)[4][5] -
Стэн Sten, Stan Stan reinterpreted as Сталин и Энгельс (Stalin and Engels)[4][5] -
Ким Kim Kim reinterpreted as Коммунистический интернационал молодёжи (Kommunistichesky Internatsional Molodyozhi)[4][5] Young Communist International

People with Soviet names[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dmitry Gordon (2006). Диалог длиною в жизнь: беседы с великими и знаменитыми. Izdatelʹskiĭ Dom "Skhili Dnipra".
    Anne Nivat (2014). "Chapter 21. Wing A. Entryway 9, Third Floor: Willy and Julia Tokarev". The View from the Vysotka: A Portrait of Russia Today Through One of Moscow's Most Famous Addresses. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 9781466865815.
  2. ^ Aleksandr Kazakevich (2009-09-27). "Вилли ТОКАРЕВ: "Когда тебя подгоняют, надо говорить "О'кей", и делать по-своему…"".
  3. ^ a b c d e f Richard Stites, Revolutionary Dreams: Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution, p. 111
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Valeri Mokiyenko, Tatyana Nikitina [ru] "Толковый словарь языка Совдепии" ("Explanatory Dictionary of Sovdepiya"), St.Petersburg, Фолио-Пресс, 1998, ISBN 5-7627-0103-4.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Петровский, Н. А. "Словарь русских личных имён", Moscow, АСТ, 2000, ISBN 5-17-002940-3.
  6. ^ Скрипник, Л.Г., Дзятківська, Н.П. Власні імена людей. — Kiev, Naukova Dumka, 2005, ISBN 9660005504
  7. ^ Gumar Sattarov, "What Tatar Names Tell Us About?" (Гомђр Саттар-Мулилле. "Татар исемнђре ни сљйли?" - Kazan: "Rannur" Publishers, 1998, 488 pp.).
  8. ^ Daniel Peris, Storming the Heavens: The Soviet League of the Militant Godless, p. 92
  9. ^ Мельников Виталий Вячеславович, Жизнь. Кино., 2011, ISBN 5977506694, p. 138
  10. ^ Елена Душечкина, "Мессианские тенденции в советской антропонимической практике 1920-х - 1930-х годов" ("Messianic Tendencies in Soviet Anthroponymic Practice of the 1920s-1930s"), Toronto Slavic Quarterly (retrieved August 8, 2015)