I am trying to come up with some search heuristics for Russian first names, and it would speed up the process if I could eliminate searching through certain names. There are obvious letters that I can skip (Q, X), but being able to skip more common letters would speed things up.

Would I miss any major names by skipping C?

Are there any other good letters to skip?

  • 1
    Just realized Ч may make skipping C not viable but I also can't think of any names that start with Ч for that matter. Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 22:09
  • 2
    People can transliterate their names any way they want. Кирилл can choose to be spelled "Cyrill" and Касим can be spelled "Qasim" in English.
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 22:13
  • @Quassnoi that's true but we can claim that statistically Cyril > Kyril.
    – shabunc
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 22:17
  • 3
    So you think you can skip X ? What about Xenia then (Ksenya, not Zenya)? Funny, there is its west-Slavic form Oxana (originally Ukrainian form for Aksinja/Xenia, but today they are just two different names in Russian)
    – Arioch
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 16:22
  • @Arioch quite unlikely to see the name Ksenia transliterated with x.
    – Viridianus
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 7:15

5 Answers 5


Short answer: normally transliterated Russian names cannot start with C.

Long answer: sometimes the name bearer can change that.

There is a law (Приложение N 6 к Приказу ФМС от 26.03.2014 N 211) that explicitly states how Cyrillic names should be transliterated in Russian-issued foreign passports. However, it also states that the applicant may have their name registered in another transliteration variant if they provide an official document (e.g. a passport issued under older rules, by the foreign country's authority etc).

Also, some people prefer to use more "westernized" variants of their names (especially in social networks):

КонстантинConstantin (instead of Konstantin)

КлавдияClaudia (instead of Klavdiya)

КлараClara (instead of Klara)

This may also apply to foreign citizens of Russian descent. One notable example is Russian-Estonian Климент Иванов (Clement Ivanov).

Initial C aside, there are also other interesting cases. Famous boxer Владимир Кличко spent most of his career in Germany and was promoted there, so he chose that his name be written in German translit: Wladimir Wladimirowitsch Klitschko. This variant passed on into all official sources. A counterexample is another famous boxer Костя Цзю, known internationally as Kostya Tszyu, which is closer to traditional Latin transliteration of Russian. As he is of Korean descent, he may have chosen to have it spelled Ju (주), but obviously preferred not to.

  • Any legal acts from Russian Federation are not binding for Russian language per se - de-facto Russian is used in other countries as well. Just saying, a nice answer though, so +1!
    – shabunc
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 10:03
  • Formal Екатерина I would translate (not transliterate) into western Catherine, but informal and Russian-specific form Костя I would transliterate (translation is not possible) to Kostya or Kostia or even Kostja
    – Arioch
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 16:19
  • @ Arioch I would transliterate it as Kostea
    – Anixx
    Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 18:59

Well, the majority of Russian names are of Greek or Jewish origin, but, well, that's been the state of things for centuries, so let's consider them Russian. In that case, there's at least one common Russian name (originally Greek), Кирилл, which is usually transliterated with 'C' - Cyril. While it can be transliterated also as Kirill, Kiryl, Kirillos, Kyrylo, Kiril - the C-form is the most accepted.

So, to answer your question, you'll miss at least one popular name.

UPD: @SomeWittyUsername has a very reasonable point that Cyril can be treated rather as a corresponding western name rather than a transliteration. Well, I tend to agree. If you take a certain modern Russian celebrity, you'll see that they most likely will be referred to as Kirill -

  • but! - you'll still encounter the form Cyril a lot. It's a bit tricky to tell "real" transliteration and the forms constantly used apart. Since this question is about not missing somebody Russian in some non-Russian language list - Cyril should still be kept in mind.

Also, historical figures of Russian origin are usually still referred to with the C-form.

  • How did you get to Kirillos/Kyrylo? That's not Russian. Also, I'm not sure about the "usually transliterated as Cyril". Cyril is more like a matching western name rather than transliteration. Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 22:44
  • @SomeWittyUsername added some clarification
    – shabunc
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 22:54
  • Greek has no "C" letter, but has "K". So it is more natural to transliterate Greek names with K. On the other hand, there is a lot of Latin names as well.
    – Anixx
    Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 19:01

As for other letters for skipping - H (with the same exclusion of Western correlates - Genrikh/Henry, etc.), and W (again, Vilyam/Uilyam/William can be an exclusion, but then, it's not quite a major Russian name anyway). Russian words with Cyrillic Х are to be given with Kh not H (Khariton, Khruschev, etc.).


I recall the name of writer Константин Паустовский being transliterated as Constantin Paustovsky.


There is a Russian name that's usually transliterated with the letter C: It's the well-known name Chekhov.

I consider it unwise to exclude this initial, but you might have luck with it.

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