Ukrainian Name

There is a difference between Ukrainian and American full names.

In Ukraine, there is no additional or middle name placed between first name and family name. Instead, there is a patronymic name. Full Ukrainian name consist of three components: first name, given to a child by parents; patronymic, based on father’s name; and surname, that indicates child’s belonging to a certain family. For example: Galyna Petrivna Naidenko. First name Galyna, chosen by parents; Petrivna indicates that Galyna is a daughter of Peter (Petro in Ukrainian); and Naidenko is a family name.

Given name has three main historical sources: Orthodox Church, Catholic Church, and pre-Christian Slavic origin lexicons. Many names have Greek and Latin origin. For example: Nikolay/Mykola, equivalent to Nicholas, of Greek origin; Tatyana/Tetiana, of Latin origin. Almost all given names have diminutive forms. That’s why quite often when foreigners come to Ukraine they don’t understand why one person is called different names sometimes. For example: Galyna (Galya, Gala), Oleksandr (Sasha).

Patronymic names have suffixes. Woman’s patronymic name always ends with -ivna; for example: Petrivna, Oleksiyivna; and man’s name always ends with –ovych, sometimes -ich; for example: Andriyovych, Petrovych, Illich.

Ukrainian family names can be easily recognized by their endings. The most common suffix is -enko; for example, Naidenko, Shevchenko. The other commonly used suffixes in surnames are -ko (Boiko), –chuk (Kovalchuk), -yuk, -uk, -yak, -ak (Pivnyak, Pavlyuk). There are other suffixes used in Ukrainian family names, but the ones above are the most common.

Categories: All Things Ukrainian | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Ukrainian Name

  1. Really superb visual appeal on this website , I’d value it 10 10.

  2. What does the -chuk and the -nko suffixes mean? Thank you for the blog.

    • Thank you, Jimbo, for your interesting comments!

      To answer your question: suffix -enko/nko was mainly used among cossacks, townspeople, and peasants living in central Ukraine (known as Ukrainian Cossack State between 1649 and 1764.) There were different meanings and origins of Ukrainian surnames with suffix -enko (derived from father’s name, nickname, or describing profession.)
      Suffix -chuk was typically used to describe one’s occupation, for example: (коваль- blacksmith in English, surname ‘kovalchuk’).

      Hope that answered your question!

      • Carlie

        I wonder, then, a last name like Ruschak (my grandmother from the Ruthenian region of the Carpathian Mountains), what does the -chak mean?

  3. Carlie, thank you for your question! In this case, the suffix -chak/-ak does not have a specific meaning. It was commonly used in a surname to show nationality or ethnic group of a certain family. And it was mainly used in Western Ukraine. That is what I see in your grandmother’s last name- it indicates that her family came from Ruthenian region.
    Sorry for not replying right away, I have not been updating my blog for a while.

    All the best,

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