My favorite forms of Theodore

Theodore is probably my third-favoritest male name of all time, after only Samuel and Peter. If I ever have children, and I have at least three boys, I’ll name the third Theodore, in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt. I’ve just always adored the name, and the nickname Teddy. It also has a lot of awesome foreign variants. My favorites include:

1. Fyodor. This is the Russian form, which some people erroneously transliterate as Fedor or Feodor. The Russian letter Ë transliterates as YO, not E or EO. The modern transliteration Fyodor makes the pronunciation so obvious and immediately clear, whereas Fedor and Feodor suggest much different pronunciations to me. I also love the nickname Fedya, which has cute superdiminutives including Fedyushka, Fedyushenka, and Fedyushechka.

2. Teodor. This is the spelling used in much of Central, Eastern, Southern, and Northern Europe. I’m particularly fond of the Polish nickname Dorek.

3. Théodore. This is the French version. I’m a sucker for names with accent marks.

4. Todor. This is the Macedonian, Serbian, and Bulgarian form.

5. Theodor. This is the German form.

6. Teodoro. This is the Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese form.

7. Tivadar. This is the Hungarian form. An alternate version is Tódor.

8. Fedir. This is the Ukrainian form.

9. Teodoras. This is the Lithuanian form.

10. Tudor. This is the Romanian form, and apparently quite popular at the moment.


My favorite Russian names

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.

Zarema and Zoriy


Zarema is a modern Russian name. No meaning was given for it at the Russian language baby names site I found it at; as far as I can tell from further searching, it’s of Chechen origin. The one site which gave a meaning said it may mean “sweet water” or “war maid.” This name is also possibly derived from the Persian name Zareen, meaning “golden.”

I personally tread very carefully when taking any name site besides Behind the Name as an accurate source for name meanings. It’s all about vetting your sources. I’ve found out a lot of names don’t have the meanings I was led to believe they had. Honestly, a lot of name sites are garbage, the way they lump names in categories they clearly aren’t part of, and by giving blatantly untrue meanings and etymologies. Zarema is obviously a very real name, but I’m not going to definitively give it a meaning or etymology in the absence of scholarly sources.

Zoriy is a modern Russian name, not an invented Soviet name. It means “morning” in the adjectival form. Russian is such an amazingly rich language, with so many forms of words branching off from one simple root. One of the basic nickname forms would be Zorik.

Sources consulted: (penultimate post) (male) (female)

Yanvar and Yunnata


Yanvar means, simply, January. I’m assuming this name was given in reference to Bloody Sunday, 22 January 1905 (9 January Old Style), when the Imperial Guard massacred an unarmed crowd of demonstrators trying to petition the Tsar for better working conditions. It was a huge shock to them when their demonstration was treated like a horrible crime, though the Tsar himself wasn’t around and didn’t give the order to fire. The tide against Tsarism irrevocably turned after these tragic events.

Yunnata means “young naturalist,” derived from the elements yunaya naturalistka. Natural history, biology, and naturalism were very popular in the Soviet era, in keeping with the promotion of scientific research and discovery.

Sources consulted: (penultimate post) (male) (female)

Velira and Vilorik


Velira means “great worker,” derived from the elements velikiy rabochiy. I loved this name so much on first sight that I had to use it for one of my characters, born October 1934 in Kyiv, living in Isfahan, Iran for a few years, and then finally coming to America in 1940. It’s just such a cute name, and could easily pass as a regular name since it already looks so Slavic. The basic nickname would be Lira, with superdiminutives including Lirochka, Liroshechka, and Liroshenka.

Vilorik means “Vladimir Ilyich Lenin is the liberator of workmen and peasants,” derived from the phrase Vladimir Ilyich Lenin osvoboditel rabotniki i krestyan. Ironically, given how strongly atheist the USSR was, the word for “peasant” ultimately derives from the word krest, which means “cross.” This root forms the basis of many words related to church, baptism, and Christianity.

Sources consulted: (penultimate post) (male) (female)