Are the suffixes -ов and -ова in people's names equivalent to the suffix -son used in Germanic languages?

The suffixes -ич, -ича also refer to the name of the father in patronymics. Are they equivalent to -son (and -dóttir in Icelandic), however used in the отчество rather than the фамилия?

  • IIRC the ending ович/овна follows hard consonants. евич/евна is the corresponding "soft" ending.
    – Trey
    Commented Feb 15, 2018 at 1:09
  • -ов(а), -ев(а) are originally possessive suffixes that signify your "belonging" to... whatever: a person, a family, a place, etc. In rural areas of Russia it is still fairly common to ask a person (especially a child): "Ты чей?" ("Who [what family] do you belong to?")
    – Headcrab
    Commented Feb 15, 2018 at 5:35
  • Note that some Slavic surnames may end in -ич (both for males and females), but they are SURNAMES, not patronymics. Example: Анна Петровна Янукович - her surname is the 3rd word, the patronymic is the 2nd implying her father is Петр. Often some -ич surnames may be Jewish.
    – alexsms
    Commented Feb 15, 2018 at 7:39
  • Related russian.stackexchange.com/questions/14025/…
    – V.V.
    Commented Feb 15, 2018 at 19:53

1 Answer 1


I would say for -ов, -ова a closer analogy (grammatically speaking) would be surnames like Jones, Peters (in the sense that they refer to Jone's, Peter's children. An obsolete Russian form would be Иванов сын - son of Ivan, hence the modern surname Иванов, where it kind of lost its original son part). It just happens that -son names are popular in Germanic languages, while -ов is very popular in Russian. That's why it may be perceived as an equivalent.

As for patronymics, the correct forms (depending of the stem) are -ович/-евич/-ич (male), -овна/-евна/-ична/-инична (female) - e.g. Петрович, Петровна. In modern Russian, these forms derive directly from the father's name (interestingly enough, even if the father is unknown or has a non-Russian name, some patronymic will be used in their passport, maybe with some rare exceptions), so the name of the father is clear from them. I wouldn't say it's full equivalent of -son, because the name ending in -son says nothing about the father, whereas the Russian patronymic does.

  • It looks like son and 's are equivalent in English surnames. There are Millersons and Smithsons, for example. But indeed -ов is more similar to 's grammatically as they both are not words on their own.
    – AlexVB
    Commented Feb 15, 2018 at 7:43

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