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)

Uslada and Uryuvkos


Uslada means “sweet,” though the exact form of the word given in the names list I found it in, сладкоголосая (sladkogolosaya), isn’t anywhere I could find in either side of my thick Russian-English dictionary. It’s probably some form of the word which can’t really be translated. However, the word uslada itself is an obsolete word meaning “delight” or “sweet.” This isn’t an invented Soviet name, but a modern Russian name.

Uryuvkos is an invented name that came a bit after the heyday of these modern Soviet names. It means “Hurrah, Yura’s in space,” from the phrase Ura, Yura v kosmose. This is obviously a reference to Yuriy Alekseyevich Gagarin being the first person to enter outer space in 1961, which totally humiliated the Americans during the space race.

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

Trolezin and Traktorina


Trolezin means “Trotskiy, Lenin, and Zinovyev,” obviously simply taken from the elements Trotskiy, Lenin, i Zinovyev. It’s safe to assume this name was immediately discontinued after the Great Terror, when Stalin brainwashed the masses into thinking Comrades Trotskiy and Zinovyev were enemies of the people, and had both of them murdered.

Traktorina means, simply, “tractor.” The male form is Traktor. This name must’ve been given in homage to collective farming and the Five-Year Plans. Not a name I’d recommend for anyone!

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