Weird Soviet names and their meanings

20 January, 2020

Why on earth would you call your baby tank? Or electricity? It may perhaps surprise you, but in the past dozens of Russian couples picked exactly these names for their new-born children.

The reason behind such bizarre choices is not that hard to understand: in Soviet times the keywords were “devotion to the regime” and when the Great October Revolution succeeded, young couples were anxious to show their patriotism by giving their children revolutionary names. This tendency led to the invention of pretty unusual – and sometimes ridiculous – Soviet names, that celebrated war accomplishments, science and the regime.

Often constructed on Bolsheviks’ slogans, famous leaders and symbols, most of these new names have been around for the first half of the twentieth century and have now almost entirely disappeared. Here’s a list of some of the weirdest examples and their actual meanings.

Names in honor of Soviet leaders and celebrities

Lenin and children

Very often the names of Stalin, Lenin and other important Russian public figures, such as other politicians and cosmonauts, were used as the basis to create new names (which are as patriotic as they are weird). They usually used the first letters of names and words to create unusual acronyms, then turned into proper names. Scroll the list and find your favourite one!

Arvil’: Armija V. I. Lenina – Army of V. I. Lenin

Vidlen: Velikie idei Lenina – Great ideas of Lenin

Vilen: V. I. Lenin – V. I. Lenin

Vilenor: Vladimir Il’ich Lenin, otec revoljucii – Vladimir Il’ich Lenin, father of the Revolution

Vilorik: V. I. Lenin, osvoboditel’ rabochih i krest’jan – V. I. Lenin, liberator of workers and peasants

Viljur: Vladimir Il’ich ljubit Rodinu – Vladimir Il’ich loves Motherland

Vinun: Vladimir Il’ich ne umrjot nikogda – Vladimir Il’ich will never die

Volen: Volja Lenina – Lenin’s will

Dalis: Da zdravstvujut Lenin i Stalin – Glory to Lenin and Stalin

Delezh: Delo Lenina zhivjot – Lenin’s work lives on

Izaida: Idi za Il’ichem, detka – Follow Il’ich, dear

Izil’: Ispolnjaj zavety Il’icha – Make Il’ich’s dreams come true

Idlen: Idei Lenina – Ideas of Lenin

Ledat: Lev Davidovich Trockij – Leon Davidovich Trotsky

Leljud: Lenin ljubit detej – Lenin loves children

Lentrosh: Lenin, Trockij, Shaumjan – Lenin, Trotsky, Shaumjan

Lestak: Lenin, Stalin, kommunizm – Lenin, Stalin, communism

Leundezh: Lenin umer, no delo ego zhivet – Lenin died but his work continues

List: Lenin i Stalin – Lenin and Stalin

Marlen: Marks, Lenin – Marx, Lenin

Majels: Marks, Engels, Lenin, Stalin – Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin

Majenlest: Marks, Engels, Lenin, Stalin – Marks, Engels, Lenin, Stalin

Ninel’: Lenin – “Lenin” read vice versa

Niserha: Nikita Sergeevich Xrushhev – Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev

Lorijerik: Lenin, Oktjabr’skaja revoljucija, industrializacija, jelektrifikacija, radiofikacija i kommunizm – Lenin, October Revolution, industrialisation, electrification, radiofication and communism

Pofistal: Pobeditel’ fashizma Iosif Stalin – Iosif Stalin, defeater of fascism

Trolen: Trockij, Lenin – Trotsky, Lenin

Erlen: Era Lenina – Lenin’s Era

Jaslenik: Ja s Leninym i Krupskoj – I’m with Lenin and Krupskaja

Urjurvkos: Ura, Jura v kosmose – Hurray, Yuri’s in space (referred to the famous astronaut Yuri Gagarin)

Stalen: Stalin, Lenin – Stalin, Lenin

Stator: Stalin torzhestvuet – Stalin triumphs

Roblen: Rodilsja byt’ lenincem – Born to be Leninist

 

Names from Soviet slogans

9 maggio

Slogans played a crucial role in the Soviet propaganda: people used to recite them as greetings or farewells, for any occasion. The most popular ones were so meaningful to people that they decided to turn them into names for their babies (why not?):

Dazdraperma: Da zdravstvuet pervoe maja – Glory to the 1st of May

Dazdrasmygda: Da zdravstvuet smychka goroda i derevni – Glory to the ties between the city and the countryside

Dazvsemir: Da zdravstvuet vsemirnaja revoljucija – Glory to the World Revolution

Dalis: Da zdravstvujut Lenin i Stalin – Glory to Lenin and Stalin

Damir: Dajesh mirovuju revoljucuju – Give the World Revolution

Names coming from sciences

education URSS

University students holding a book, saying: “citizens of URSS have the right to education”

In the USSR science experienced quite a flourishing period, so much so that couples often felt the desire to celebrate their favorite university subjects by naming their kids after them:  sweet and rosy-cheeked  Russian baby girls were often called Elektrina (from electricity), Algebrina and Gipotenuza (algebra and hypotenuse). Boys were named after mineral and chemical elements: Granit (granite), Radij (radium), Gelij (helium)…

Names from geography and nature

Baby babushka

In Soviet times it was not uncommon to name kids after the month they were born in: Dekabrina (December), Sentjabrina (September), Nojabrina (November), Aprelina (April) and, of course, Oktabrjonok (from the Great October Revolution) were quite used back then.

Children born in Soviet times were also often named after flowers and plants: Berjoza (birch), Dub (oak) Azalya (azalea), Gvozdika (carnation), Khrizantema (chrysantemus)…

In order to celebrate USSR territory’s beauty, Russian couples were also used to naming their new-borns after geographical names, such as Neva (from the Neva river in Saint Petersburg), Ural (the Ural), and, my favourite, Avksam which means Moscow, only spelt backwards.

Soviet children

Fortunately, these weird Russian names are not around anymore. However, as a Russian student, they undoubtedly gave me an interesting glimpse of how patriotic people were in Soviet times, enabling me to reflect on the dynamics of a time that keeps on fascinating me.

What is your favorite and least favorite Soviet name? Comment below and let us know!

 

2 responses to “Weird Soviet names and their meanings”

  1. Avatar Andrew Gullen says:

    Interesting article, thanks! I almost got called something unusual by proud parents…

    One minor comment – it’s hard to read the meanings of the names in transcription. Given the school teaches Russian, возможно лучше писать значение на кириллице? Например
    Dalis :Да здравствуют Ленин и Сталин – Glory to Lenin and Stalin

  2. Hi Andrew! Thank you for your comment! We hope you are doing well! The articles are written by our students whose level of Russian can be not very high. But we will take it into account.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *