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St Photina.jpg
Svetlana is often used in reference to the Samaritan woman at the well in the Biblical Gospel of John. It is the Russian version of the Greek saint name Photini, meaning "enlightened"
Genderfemale (feminine)
Meaning"light", "pure"
Region of originRussian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Circassian
Other names
Nickname(s)Sveta, Lana, Ceca, Svetla, Svetka, Svetochka, Svetlanka, Svetulya, Svetik, Svetti
Related namesSvitlana, Sviatlana, Svjetlana, Świetlana

Svetlana (Cyrillic: Светлана) is a common Orthodox Slavic feminine given name, deriving from the East and South Slavic root svet (Cyrillic: свет), meaning "light", "shining", "luminescent", "pure", "blessed", or "holy", depending upon context similar if not the same as the word Shweta in Sanskrit.[1] The name was coined by Alexander Vostokov and popularized by Vasily Zhukovsky in his eponymous ballad "Svetlana [ru]", first published in 1813. The name is also used in Ukraine, Belarus, Slovakia, Macedonia, and Serbia, with a number of occurrences in non-Slavic countries.[2]

Popularity of name Svetlana.
Popularity of name Svetlana.

In the Russian Orthodox Church Svetlana is used as a Russian translation of Photina (derived from phos (Greek: φως, "light")), a name sometimes ascribed to the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well (the Bible, John 4).

Semantically, similar names to this are Lucia (of Latin origin, meaning "light"), Claire ("light" or "clear" in French, equivalent to Spanish and Portuguese Clara), Roxana (from Old Persian, "little shiny star, light"), and Shweta (Sanskrit, "white, pure").


The Ukrainian equivalent of the name is Svitlana (Ukrainian: Світлана), the Belarusian is Sviatlana (Belarusian: Святлана), the Polish variant is Świetlana, the Czech is Světlana, and the Bosnian, Croatian and Montenegrin variant is Svjetlana (Cyrillic: Свјетлана).


Russian language diminutives include Sveta (Russian: Света, used in Russian-speaking countries) and Lana (the latter is mainly used outside the former USSR).

Sveta also means "saint" in Bulgarian. The Slavic element Svet means "blessed, holy, bright".

Serbian language diminutives of the name are Sveta (Света), and Ceca (Цеца, pronounced Tsetsa).

Ban on name

The Russian onomasticon in the 19th century was a closed conservative system, practically incapable of replenishment. A new name could appear only through the recognition by the Russian Orthodox Church of a new saint - the bearer of the name. But by the 19th century, the list of permitted names was generally established and the new saints did not affect the namebook (menologium), since they already bore names from the calendar; their glorification merely reproduced famous names. For example, the name Ivan was mentioned 79 times in the calendar of the late 19th century.[3][4]


See also


  1. ^ Monier-Williams, Monier (1899). A Sanskrit-English Dictionary: Etymologically and Philologically Arranged with Special Reference to Cognate Indo-European Languages. Oxford: Clarendon Press. OCLC 685239912.
  2. ^ "Baby Names, Name Meaning, Popularity". BabyCenter.
  3. ^ Никонов В. А. (1974). "Личные имена у русских сегодня". Имя и общество. М.: Наука. pp. 66–85.
  4. ^ Суперанская А. В., Суслова, А. В. (2008). "Так было — так стало". О русских именах (5-е изд., перераб ed.). СПб.: Авалонъ. pp. 49–85. ISBN 978-5-903605-04-0.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
This page was last edited on 2 November 2021, at 10:00
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