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Russian Nicknames and Diminutives

Learn About Short Forms of Russian First Names

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Russian nicknames, or diminutives, are simply short forms of the given name. “Sasha” is often the nickname used for a person whose given name is Alexander (male) or Alexandra (female). While a basic nickname like “Sasha” may not signify anything except familiarity, other diminutives may be used in affectionate manner. Alexandra may be called “Sashenka” (little Sasha) by her parents.

Diminutives can be derived from common nouns, too. The word mamochka (from mama) can be used by a son or daughter who wants to indicate a mother's sweetness and dearness. Sobachka, from the word sobaka (dog), expresses the dog's cuteness and smallness – English speakers might use “doggy” to convey the same meaning.

To use an example from literature, in Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov's first name, Rodion, appears in the following forms: Rodya, Rodenka, and Rodka. His sister, Avdotya, is frequently referred to as "Dunya" and "Dunechka" throughout the novel.

Other Russian diminutives you might hear include:

  • Dima (for Dmitri)
  • Masha (for Maria)
  • Misha (for Mikhail)
  • Vova (for Vladimir)

More about Russian names

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