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The term Slavic covers many people who speak various Slavonic languages. Slavic languages are Indo-European and include three main categories: Eastern Slavic languages, Western Slavic languages, and Southern Slavic languages. It is estimated that roughly 315-million people speak Slavic languages.
The most common or well-known languages included Russian, Polish, Czech, Ukrainian, and Serbo-Croatian. Slavic languages are spoken in Eastern and Central Europe, the Balkans, North and North-Central Asia, and Russia. However, there are people worldwide who, due to relocation and emigration, also speak Slavic languages.
If you are of Slavic descent, you may be wondering what your Slavic name means or where it originated. Like many cultures, many Slavic surnames are patronymic, but they can also be regional, occupational, or based on physical or personality traits.
Below is a list of common Slavic family names representing the varied languages of Slavic culture.
Common Ukrainian Surnames and Meanings
The majority of Ukrainian last names were formed by adding suffixes to first names to indicate “son of.” The suffix -ko is the most common suffix. But Ukrainian names also use -yshyn, - enko, -chuk, and -vich.
Initially, in Ukraine, last names were reserved for nobility or landowners. However, when it became part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, ordinary people and peasants began adopting surnames for taxation purposes.
- Adamovich - A patronymic name meaning son of Adam.
- Aksamit - This name comes from the Polish word for velvet.
- Bilyk - White. It could reference someone who was pale or had very blond hair.
- Chumak - An occupational name that means salt-trader.
- Ivanova - This name is Ukrainian, Russian, and Bulgarian and means daughter of Ivan.
- Gutnik - This name is derived from the Yiddish word for a glassmaker. It refers to the area of Guta in Russia where black glass came from.
- Kalashnik - Baker or maker of kalaches, a type of bread made in the region
- Polishchuk - A topographical name referring to people who lived along the Ukrainian and Belarus border.
- Shevchenko - Shoemaker or cobbler.
- Soroka - Jewish origins, it means magpie.
Common Russian Surnames and Meanings
Like other Slavic languages, Russian names also follow a patronymic pattern by adding -nov or -nova for the son of or daughter of to a given name. There are also many familiar last names based on occupation.
The Russians and Ukrainians share many familiar names and words, so some names popular in one country may also be shared in the other.
- Barno - Believed to be derived from the French name Barrineau, it means dark in color or dark ox. Some also say it comes from Italian and refers to people from Tuscany or means son of Nabia, a Galacian river goddess.
- Chernenko - This last name means black in both Russian and Ukrainian.
- Ganus - The meaning of this last name is unclear; however, the leading opinions are that it comes from the Russian word for the anise plant or from Turkish/Arabic meaning spring source.
- Ivanov - In Russian, иванов is one of the most common names in Russia. A patronymic name meaning son of Ivan.
- Kozlov - The name for a government official.
- Putin - The way or along the path.
- Rosya - A variation of the word Russia or Russian Empire.
- Smirnov - This name means quiet, peaceful, still, or gentle.
- Vinogradov - This name stems from German and means vineyard. It indicates someone who worked at a vineyard.
- Volkov - This last name means wolf.
Czech Surnames & Polish Surnames
Poland and the Czech Republic are two more European countries where Slavic languages are spoken.
Czech last names are a melting pot of Czech, German, and Slovak. While many Czech names may appear similar to last names from neighboring countries, their spelling is what makes them uniquely Czech.
It is common for Polish names to end in -ski, which denotes where they are from or what their occupation was.
- Archaki - Polish. This name comes from Greek and means lord or ruler.
- Bartos - Czech. Rich in land.
- Bosko - Polish/Slavic. A derivative of the Slavic word bosu which means barefoot.
- Dvorak - Czech. A person who owned a manor.
- Hajek - Czech. Thick. It referred to a person who lived near a grove of trees.
- Kaminski - Polish. Stone worker or stone cutter.
- Kudela - A Czech name derived from the Christian religion, means reincarnation.
- Kowalski - A common surname in Poland made famous by the penguins from the movie Madagascar; it means blacksmith.
- Ryba - Czech/Polish. The name means fish in both languages.
- Zbirak - Polish. Derived from a Polish word to collect or gather.
Serbo-Croatian Surnames and Meanings
The Serbo-Croatian language is part of the South Slavic Language family and is spoken in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Montenegro.
Many Croatian names use the suffix -ic or -ich after a given name. These suffixes indicate the individual’s father’s name or where they are from.
- Antic - Croatian. Son of Anto or Ante.
- Franic - Croatia. Son of Franjic.
- Horvat - A commonly used name in Slovakia and Croatia, meaning a Croatian person.
- Jankovic - Croatian/Serbian. Son of Janko.
- Jovanovic - Serbian. A derivative of the English name John, it means son of Jovan.
- Nikolic - Serbian. Son of Nikola.
- Novak - Serbian. A name that was given to someone new to the area or village.
- Stepanov - Serbian. Son of Stepan.
- Popovik - Serbian. Derived from the word popov for a priest, it means son of a priest.
- Zoric - Serbian. Son of Zora.
Popular Slavic Last Names on FamilyEducation: Dulik, Sofka, Valky