The most common surnames in Russia

The life of every modern person cannot be imagined without a surname. If the name refers to the individuality of a person, then the surname connects us with our family, with members of our family. We designate ourselves as our ancestors did, who lived tens or even hundreds of years ago.

It is curious, but a couple of centuries ago, most of the people who lived in Russia did not have a last name. She was only among the representatives of the nobility and free people who were engaged in trade or served in the public service. Most of the Russian population were serfs, and they did not need surnames.

Very often, instead of a surname, nicknames were used, which were given to their owner due to some individual feature. It was from these nicknames that surnames later appeared. First of all, surnames appeared among the inhabitants of Nizhny Novgorod.

What are the most common surnames in Russia today? Which one is the most common? Probably, you will say that the most common surname is Ivanov. And you’ll be wrong. We have prepared a list for you that includes most common surnames in Russia. We will also try to explain how they arose.

1. Smirnov

The most common surnames in Russia
Alexei Smirnov, Honored Soviet theater and film artist

This is the most common Russian surname today. About 100 Smirnovs live in the Moscow region alone. The reason for the widespread use of this surname is very simple: several centuries ago, the names Smirny and Smirena were very popular among the peasantry. Parents rejoiced when calm and quiet children were born to them and singled them out from the crowd of screaming brothers and sisters (families were very large then). They make life a lot easier for parents. It was from these names that the surname Smirnov was later formed. There are also numerous forms of this surname: Smirkin, Smirenkin, Smirenkov and others. All of them have a similar origin.

It should also be added that the surname Smirnov is the ninth among the most common in the world. Today it is worn by more than 2,5 million people. In Russia, most people have such a surname in the Volga region and the central regions: Kostroma, Ivanovo and Yaroslavl.


2. Ivanov

The most common surnames in Russia
Ivanov Sergey Borisovich, Russian statesman, retired colonel general

The second most popular surname in our country is Ivanov. The typical Russian name Ivan has spawned a huge number of Ivanovs. The very same name Ivan came from the church name John. By the way, it cannot be said that the surname Ivanov is widespread in Russia everywhere. There are regions where it occurs more often and areas where there are relatively few Ivanovs.

In the Church Saints, according to which the names were given, the name John is mentioned more than 150 times.

Curiously, before the revolution, the surname Ivanov was pronounced with an emphasis on the second syllable, now it is pronounced with an emphasis on the last syllable. This option seems to them more euphonious.

In Moscow, the number of Ivanovs is relatively small. Much more of them live in regional centers. It is also necessary to note a huge number of forms of this surname: Ivanchikov, Ivankovy and many others.

By the way, other surnames were formed in exactly the same way, which have names at their core: Sidorovs, Egorovs, Sergeevs, Semenovs and many others.

3. Kuznetsov

The most common surnames in Russia
Anatoly Kuznetsov, Soviet and Russian theater and film actor


This is another very popular surname, which is in third place on our list. It is easy to guess that the surname came from the kind of human activity. In ancient times, the blacksmith was a fairly respected and wealthy person. Moreover, blacksmiths were often considered almost sorcerers and were a little afraid. Still: this man knew the secrets of fire, he could make a plow, a sword or a horseshoe out of a piece of ore.

This surname is very common in Moscow, and in some regions it is most common. In Russia, there are surnames that also originated from blacksmithing, but are based on the Ukrainian or Belarusian name of a blacksmith. It is from these words that the surname Kovalev originated. By the way, similar surnames are widespread in the world: Smith, Schmidt, Herrero and Lee have the same origin. So in the old days blacksmiths were respected not only in Russia.


4. Popov

The most common surnames in Russia
Popov, Alexander Stepanovich – inventor of the radio

This is the fourth of the most popular surnames in Russia. Such a surname was given not only to clergymen or their children, although this also happened. In the old days, the names Pop and Popko were quite common. They were given to their children by especially religious parents.

Sometimes such a surname was given to a farm laborer or a serf working for a priest. This surname is most common in the north of Russia. In the Arkhangelsk region, there are the most Popovs per one thousand people.

This surname has many forms: Popkov, Popovkin, Popovikovykh.

5. Falcons

The most common surnames in Russia
Sokolov, Andrei Alekseevich – Soviet and Russian theater and film actor, director, screenwriter, producer

In Russia, surnames have always been popular, which were based on the name of birds and animals. Medvedevs, Volkovs, Skvortsovs, Perepelkins – this list is endless. Among the first hundred of the most common Russian surnames, “animal” ones are very common. But among this “zoo” it was this surname that managed to become one of the most popular in the country. Why?

This surname appeared not only thanks to the name of the bird, but also thanks to the old Russian name. In honor of the beautiful and proud bird, parents often gave their sons the name Falcon. It was one of the most common non-church names. In general, it should be noted that the Russians very often used the names of birds to create names. Some scientists even believe that this is due to the cult of birds that our ancestors had.

6. Lebedev

The most common surnames in Russia
Lebedev Denis, world heavyweight boxing champion

Another “bird” surname that made our list. Researchers argue about its origin. The most plausible version of the appearance of the name Lebedev is its origin from the non-church name Lebed. Some scientists associate this surname with the city, which is located in the Sumy region. There is a version that connects the origin of this surname with a special group of people – “swans”. These are serfs who were supposed to deliver swans to the princely table. This was a special kind of tribute.

Maybe this surname just arose because of the admiration of a person for this beautiful bird. There is another theory regarding the surname Lebedev: it is believed that it was given to priests because of the euphony.


7. Novikov

The most common surnames in Russia
Boris Novikov, Soviet theater and film actor

It is also very common surname in Russia. Noviks in Russia were called any newcomer, pioneer, newcomer from another region or recruit. In ancient times, migration processes were quite active. Thousands of people left for new places, in search of a better life. And they were all newbies. In ancient documents and chronicles, a lot of people are called Noviks, and almost all of them are reported to be aliens. In ancient times, the stress was usually placed on the second syllable.

8. Morozov

The most common surnames in Russia
Pavlik Morozov, pioneer hero, symbol of a fighter against the kulaks

This is another surname that came from the name of the child. The name of a non-church. Usually Frosts were called children who were born in winter in a severe cold. People believed that if you name a child like that, then he will grow up strong, healthy, powerful. Already in the XIV century there are mentions of boyars with the surname Morozov.

9. Kozlov

The most common surnames in Russia
Kozlov, Vyacheslav Anatolyevich – one of six Russian hockey players who have played more than 1000 games in the NHL

This surname, which occupies the penultimate place on our list, also came from the name of the child. Yes, in the old days the son was sometimes called the Goat. Apparently, our distant ancestors did not observe anything bad in this animal. The surname originated from the given name. The boyar family of the Kozlovs is known.

10 Petrov

The most common surnames in Russia
Petrov-Vodkin, Kuzma Sergeevich – Russian and Soviet painter

With this last name, which closes our list the most common Russian surnames, everything is very clear: it came from the ancient and very popular name Peter. Peter was one of the apostles of Christ, he founded the Christian church and was considered a very strong patron for man. So the name was very popular.

The name Peter, and then the surname Petrov, began to spread rapidly during the reign of Emperor Peter the Great. Although, and until this moment it was popular.

If you did not meet your last name in this list, do not be sad. There are a lot of common surnames, this list can be continued up to a hundred surnames, or even up to a thousand.


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