The man's name Осип is a form of Иосиф. Is it a nickname, a diminutive, a regionalism, or a register change? Would someone named Иосиф potentially also answer to Осип, as with Joseph and Joe?

2 Answers 2


It's neither a nickname, nor a dinimutive. It's just a form which became distinctive from the (borrowed through Greek) Иосиф and happily co-exist with it just like Johannes co-exist with John.

While it indeed initially was introduced at lower-class usage I'm not sure it can be treated as regionalism - I'd rather say it is Russian vulgar version of the name. Just like say Йозеф.

As of the second part of your question - yes, in colloquial speech Иосиф could be addressed as Осип if he didn't mind - nowadays it's pretty obsolete.

There's a famous Russian-speaking poet of Jewish origin, Осип Мандельштам, who actually was Иосиф. But this name can be use as a separate one as well.

Actually, there are some other examples when colloquial form of name became a separate one. For instance, Егор initially was a form of Георгий.

  • 1
    And Юрий also was Георгий
    – Anixx
    Jan 8, 2019 at 15:10

Иосиф is not really a Russian name. It is a Jewish name, which can be encountered among Russian Jews moderately often and never among ethnic Russians.

Осип is a Russian name, but it is very archaic, outdated and not widely used.

If I encountered a person named Осип I would suspect a family of Russian Orthodox conservatives, priests, Old Believers, peasants, whatever of this kind.

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    It is an unnecessarily categorical claim. The form Иосиф is indeed more common among Russian Jews, but it is certainly standard Russian. Otherwise Stalin's name would not be translated as Иосиф Виссарионович.
    – J-mster
    Jan 10, 2017 at 8:16
  • 2
    This is just wrong, it's a name of Jewish origin - like many names that are used in Russia. Also, of course, it more popular among Jewish community, but it was a Russian name exactly in a sense Иван is a Russian name.
    – shabunc
    Jan 10, 2017 at 8:33
  • @J-mster Stalin is not Russian. The name has standard Russian form, but not used by Russians.
    – Anixx
    Jan 10, 2017 at 8:34
  • @shabunc was or is?
    – Anixx
    Jan 10, 2017 at 8:35
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    @Anixx it definitely was used more often but I'd bet there are some ethnically Russian Иосифs if that matters at all - if Jewish Russian-speaking community is using this name - than it's something about Russian language usage.
    – shabunc
    Jan 10, 2017 at 8:40

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