I became a Russophile in seventh grade, when I was barely thirteen, and I’ve just gotten more and more passionate over the last 20+ years. As a name nerd, I also love Russian names, and am very picky/purist about transliteration. I use letter-for-letter transliteration, instead of, as some other people do, using X instead of KS, using I instead of Y at the end of names, or writing E instead of Ye at the start of names.
My Top 5 favorite Russian names, for each sex:
Anastasiya (Ah-nah-STAH-see-yah). This name is just gorgeous, even if it’s a bit of a mouthful and could be accused of being pretentious in the West. I would so use this name on a potential future daughter, if I have more than one daughter. (I most want to name a potential daughter Alice, after my great-grandma.) I love the nicknames Stasya and Nastya, though don’t like Asya since it’s too close to “ass” for my liking. Oddly enough, I never even noticed what the first five letters of Nastya are in English, since the name is pronounced NAHST-yah, not Nas-tee-yah.
The Anglo mispronunciation Ann-a-STAY-zha is like nails on a chalkboard. Seriously, whether you’re spelling it Anastasia or Anastasiya, how do you get that pronunciation? If you don’t know how to pronounce a name properly, don’t use it!
Olga. This name has such a beautiful Russian pronunciation, with a rolled L. I never understood why so many English-speakers deride it as ugly, musty, and dated. It’s always seemed so beautiful and regal to me. It’s not like Mildred, Eunice, or Beulah!
Beatrisa. I just discovered this name a few years ago, and have loved it ever since. I didn’t even realize there was a Russian form of Beatrice, a name I also love. It’s too pretty even for a nickname!
Dinara. This name is rare, which makes it even more beautiful. It’s taken from the word dinar, the golden Persian coin, and thus is said to mean “treasure.”
Vasilisa. This name, from a famous old fairytale, is also rarely used and thus even more eye-catching and beautiful.
Aleksey. If you read my main blog, you’ll know my secondary WIP is an alternate history about the rule of Tsar Aleksey II, and that I’ve felt this indescribable, suprarational soul connection to the last Tsesarevich for almost 20 years. However, I honestly can’t remember if I fell in love with this name because of him, or if that’s just a coincidence. It’s a cute name, and grows with the bearer, unlike so many of the cutesy names on the current U.S. Top 100. I also love the nickname Alyosha.
Boris. The proper Russian pronunciation is Bah-REECE. The Anglo mangling BOR-iss is so ugly, and just throws this beautiful name away. It’s just such a romantic, quintessentially Russian name, even if it’s considered kind of dated these days.
Ivan. Yeah, it’s the most historically common male name in Russia, but it’s not as overused as it was 100+ years ago (much like the English name John, which now feels like a breath of fresh air). The proper Russian pronunciation, Ee-VAHN, makes it even more beautiful and romantic. The Anglo mangling EYE-vinn is so ugly, like nails on a chalkboard.
Dmitriy. Another beautiful, quintessentially Russian name, with two nickname forms, Mitya and Dima, to choose from. This name also sounds really cute, with the ability to mature with the bearer instead of making him sound forever four years old like other cute names.
Vsevolod. This name means “to rule all,” and also sounds so romantic, beautiful, quintessentially Russian. Yeah, it might be a bit heavy and a bit of a mouthful, but there’s always the nickname Seva.