2021, Volume 18, Issue 1

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Maria E. Ruth
Ural Federal University
Ekaterinburg, Russia

Some Considerations on Russian Patronymics

Voprosy onomastiki, 2021, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp. 224–236 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2021.18.1.011

Received on 15 December 2020

Abstract: These notes were inspired by a recent article by Boris Norman and Natalja Rajnochová on the role of patronymics in the Russian naming tradition and culture (Voprosy onomastiki, 2020, Vol. 17, Iss. 2). Without disputing its provisions in any way, the author attempts to take a closer look into the present tendency to omit patronymics or even abhor their use. Recognizing this as a growing trend in the Russian culture, the author reflects upon its causes, foremost of which is the general aversion for all the formal manifestations of the Soviet system. Since the use of patronymics (in the official formula) became mandatory exactly after 1917, it is commonly perceived as a Soviet relic. The second reason is the adoption of Western naming practices not requiring the use of a father’s name — due to Russia’s greater involvement in the international communication, extensive overseas travelling, and fluency in foreign languages, primarily English. The issue of the required use of patronymic in official documents is particularly acute when children from mixed families obtain Russian citizenship. Other factors for doing away with patronymics include Russian media language, as in most news programs and talk shows it is carefully avoided, and the increase in the number of single-parent families (no father) where the need to register a patronymic entails complex formal and ethical problems. Yet, however pertinent these problems are in the modern society, the author considers them relatively marginal and argues the relevance of patronymics for modern Russian culture and the naming practice. The author supports this view by giving evidence from Internet forums, as well as the author’s personal experience.

Keywords: personal name, patronymic, patronymic functions, naming practice, official naming, father’s name, matronym, Russian personal names.


Norman, B. Yu. (2017). Pragmaticheskii potentsial russkoi leksiki i grammatiki [The Pragmatic Potential of Russian Vocabulary and Grammar]. Moscow; Ekaterinburg: Kabinetnyi uchenyi.

Norman, B. Yu., & Rajnochová, N. (2020). Otchestvo kak odin iz simvolov russkoi kul’tury [Patronymic as a Symbol of Russian Culture]. Voprosy onomastiki, 17(2), 323–336. http://doi.org/10.15826/vopr_onom.2020.17.2.031