The title "товарищ" can be used to address or refer to someone, though given its ideological implications, the term has fallen out of use since the end of the USSR. I've heard the title used alone, or followed by the surname, or followed by the first name and patronymic. Was/is it ever permissible to use "товарищ" with the first name alone, perhaps if only as a jocular usage? Or would this construction be unambiguously wrong, no matter the context?

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    It sounds acceptable only when the first name is used as a "party nickname" (kind of undercover alias name).
    – Outtruder
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 9:58
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    @Artemix What about "товарищ Серго" (in reality Grigory Ordzhonikidze)?
    – Outtruder
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 19:18
  • Согласен, нашел еще товарища Кобу и товарища Аню.
    – Artemix
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 7:43
  • "Товарищ Шурик" (фильм "Кавказская пленница") - попытка вежливого обращения к малознакомому человеку, об имени которого известно только то, что знакомые называли его "Шуриком". Для посвящённых это звучит комично, поскольку Шурик - крайне фамильярная трактовка имени. Но со стороны персонажа это было практично.
    – Alex_ander
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 7:54
  • In general, it cannot, other than when meant as a (stupid) joke.
    – Anixx
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 16:45

5 Answers 5


In modern Russian language the title "Товарищ" may be used in such variants:

  • just "товарищ" - may be used for addressing a stranger. ("Эй, товарищ! Куда вы пошли?" - "Hey sir! Where did you go?"). It's somewhat outdated and less ceremonious than English "sir".

  • "товарищи" (in plural) - used for addressing to audience. Sounds more crony and isn't official.

  • товарищ with a surname: "Товарищ Иванов" - Widely used only in military and power structures as a title when it's needed to specify the one of same rank ("Товарищ Иванов, выйти из строя!"). Calling to a civil person or by civil person to a soldier this way is outdated.

  • товарищ with a first name: "Товарищ Иван" - sounds very familiar and jokingly, and may be used only in a friendly chat ("Товарищ Иван, что ты об этом думаешь?")

  • товарищ with a civil position: "Товарищ доктор", "товарищ вахтёр" - sounds somewhat familiar and outdated and rarely used to show respect (but remember about familiarity!) Notice that in the Russian Empire there was a position "товарищ министра" ("undersecretary").

  • товарищ with a military rank or position: "Товарищ рядовой", "товарищ генерал", "товарищ командир" - used in military and power structures as a common title. May be used by civilians to officers to show respect. Also in speech addressing to many militants with various ranks it sounds as "товарищи" ("Здравствуйте, товарищи!")

Using "товарищ" with a patronymic or with first name and patronymic is very strange and never used.

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    In modern Russian language the title "Товарищ" may be used in such variants...Are you joking or do you really mean it? It has already gone,
    – V.V.
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 13:09
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    Last month I heard it used, entirely unironically, by people in Transnistria. So yes, I think it's still used in modern Russian, at least by some people.
    – Psychonaut
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 14:29
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    I said that many of these cases are quite outdated. But in informal situations it rarely used. I had heard it sometimes. And in the Army, Police, etc. the "товарищ" title is unchanged and still used.
    – artptr
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 14:30
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    I would translate "Эй, товарищ! Куда вы пошли?" better as "Hey buddy, where are you going?" In any case you wouldn't say "Эй, товарищ" to a policeman, because you risk being viewed as drunk.
    – rustyx
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 15:10
  • I'm not sure if "Товарищ Иванов" can be used in military (or any similar structure), it would be then "Рядовой Иванов" (rank may be different).
    – Alissa
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 11:07

Yes, it's permissible. It sounds not official then, could be used between friends in a jocular way: "Товарищ Петя, пойдём гулять".


In this case you mix both more formal greeting with less formal name form. It makes sense when situation implies the same mixture of relations. E.g. a formal meeting held at work between ppl knowing each other for decades. They call each other with just names outside of the office, but they have to make a semi-formal appearance, though not to formal to use surnames. In earlier Soviet times (1920s) they had a tendency to use Tovarisch more often as it was a recent reform, so they exaggerated this usage in the sense of more mature Soviet Union, e.g. one could call his girlfriend Tovarisch Anna at the dinner table. The next case for this combination is possible post-USSR usage, slightly in the late USSR (1980s) and heavily during Perestroika (1990s). People diminished the value of this greeting (Гусь свинье не товарищ. Goose is not a comrade to a pig - could be a reply to it). So it could be quite often used as ironic or even offensive, in the sense that you are still (a sovetic) Tovarisch while I’m already a (capitalistic) Sir. Today Tovarisch is not in use as a greeting, except nostalgic usage (which is also the case for the question as it is a mixture of formal and informal, e.g. memories of two party members regarding their activities in the past) or in its initial meaning which is “someone not so close as a friend”. In this case joint usage makes sense in the same way we use "friend". My friend Peter - is OK. Friend Peter, please pick this up – ridiculous.

P.S. Just to mention that all above is about Tovarisch+Name combination. Tovarisch without name it's just "excuse me Sir" pattern, could be in use anywhere in similar situations during the USSR, now this usage is impossible unless you just escaped a time capsule. Actually there is no any substitution now for Sir or Ma'am, so it's safer to say just "excuse me".


the use of 'comrade' with the personal name (or a party alias as noted above) was not uncommon prior to and around the time of the bolshevik revolution of 1917, but it fell out of use with time

'comrade' with the personal name and patronimic i've never heard being used

nowadays the word by itself as a form of address has disdainful or patronizing connotation depending on the intonation, not in a sense of implied communist affiliation of a person, but as an expression of alienation and cold shoulder
in fact it was so in the later Soviet period as well


It can, but only with familiar, but so seldom. In official situations we use it only with lastname ("Товарищ Иванов") or with titles ("Товарищ рядовой"). And we don't use with a patronymics.

Keep in mind, that this address is used very seldom today.

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