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By the 18th century almost all Ukrainians had family names. Most Ukrainian surnames (and surnames in Slavic languages in general) are formed by adding possessive and other suffixes to given names, place names, professions and other words.
Surnames were developed for official documents or business record keeping to differentiate the parties who might have the same first name. By the 15th century, surnames were used by the upper class, nobles and large land owners. In cities and towns, surnames became necessary in the 15-16th century. In 1632, Orthodox Metropolitan Petro Mohyla ordered priests to include a surname in all record of birth, marriage and death.
After the partitions of Poland (1772-1795), western Ukraine came under the Austrian Empire, where peasants needed surnames for taxation purposes and military service and churches were required to keep records of all births, deaths and marriages.
Common suffixes in Ukrainian names are:
- -enko (Shevchenko, Hordiyenko, Tereshchenko), distinctively Ukrainian, first recorded in the 15th century.
- -chuk or -chak (Polishchuk, Palamarchuk, Balanchuk, Maksymchak) or its simplified versions -yuk or -yak and -ak (Palahnyuk, Mochulyak, Romanyuk), also commonly found in Belarusian surnames. Suffixes -uk/yuk are considered to be patronymic.
- -yshyn or -ishyn (Panchyshyn, Kostyshyn, Romanyshyn). Such suffixes are simply added to the Ukrainian given names.
- -skiy, -skyi, -ski (Tarnovskyy, Sheptytsky), from Polish surnames in -ski, originally from aristocratic usage but then generalized.
- -vych or -vich (Shukhevych, Petrushevych, Andrushevych, Shushkevich, Gorlukovich).
- -ko, a diminutive ending often with patronymic meaning (Sirko, Pavlychko, Boiko).
- less common suffixes that may identify the Ukrainian origin are -ra, -ukh, -un, -ash, -la or -lo, series of -aba, -yba, and -uba, also -yush (Plyush), -i (Guti, Gudi - common in Transcarpathia) and -iy (Vertiy).
The first elements of Ukrainian surnames are most commonly given names (patronymics and matronymics), place names (toponyms), and professions.
From the first name Ivan (John in English), over 100 different surnames can be formed. The most common variations of Ivan in Ukrainian are Ivas, Jan, Vakhno, and Vanko. The surnames based on Ivan include: Ivaniv, Ivankiv, Ivasiv, Ivashko, Ivankhiv, Janiv, Jankiv, and Ivaniuk. More examples of surnames based on a first name:
- Andrii (Andrew): Andriiash, Andriiets, Andrusyshyn and Andrukhovych
- Hryhorii (Gregory): Hryniuk, Hryniv, Hryhoruk
- Mykhailo (Michael): Mykhailuk, Mikhayluk
- Pavlo (Paul): Pavlovych, Pavliuk, Payliuk, Pavluk
- Stepan (Steven): Stefaniuk, Stefanyk
When a woman married, she was known by a form of her husband's first name or her father's. From the name Petro, she was Petrykha, (wife of Petro). From these forms, matronymic surnames ending in -yshyn were created. Petryshyn came from Petrykha, Romanyshyn from Romanykha and Ivanyshyn from Ivanykha. Surnames based on women's names are rare (Marunchak from Marunia, a form of Maria).
Some Ukrainian toponymic surnames can be identified as from the Galicia region. Those surnames often contain suffixes -ets or -iets (Kolomiets, Korniets, Romanets, Baranets).
- Bondar (Bodnar, Bondaruk)— barrel maker, cooper
- Honchar (Honcharenko, Honcharuk) — potter, ceramist
- Kolisnyk (Kolisnychenko) — wheelwright
- Kravets (Kravchenko, Kravchuk) — tailor
- Kushnir (Kushnirenko, Kushniruk) — furrier
- Oliynyk — vegetable oil-manufacturer
- Ponomarenko (Ponomarchuk) Clergyman
- Skliar — Glazier
- Chumak — Salt-trader
Names that show ethnic, national or tribal origins other than Ukrainian.
- Nimchuk, from Germany (Nimets means German in Ukrainian)
- Tataryn, from Tartar, the Turkic people of the "Golden Horde."
- Voloshyn, from Volokh, an ancient tribe that originally lived in Romania and Moldova.
There are also old Cossack names that derive from military occupations, such as Kompaniyets or Kompanichenko. There are also surnames derived from monikers based on personal characteristics. These compounds can often be somewhat comical such as Dobryvechir, Perevernykruchenko, Vyrvykhvist, Vernydub, Kryvonis, Chornovil, Navarykasha. Such surnames are considered to be self-invented in the 15th-16th centuries with the start of the Cossack movement.
Among Cossacks were also much simplified last names such as Hohol (Gogol in Russian), Orel, Bakaj, Horobets, Syromakha, Rosomakha, Vedmid', Moroz, Kulish, Skovoroda, Harbuz, Vovk, Chaika and many more that are common nouns of the Ukrainian language. Other Cossack last names were based on personality characteristics, e.g. Sverbylo, Nudylo, etc.