Boris (given name)

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Gender male
Word/name Bulgar, Bulgarian
Meaning unclear
Region of origin First Bulgarian Empire
Other names
Related names Borislav

Boris, Borys or Barys (Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian, Ukrainian: Борис; Belarusian: Барыс) is a male name of Bulgarian origin.[1] Nowadays, it is most widely represented in Russia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Macedonia, Poland, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine. In recent generations it has also been used among speakers of Germanic (continental and Anglo-Frisian) and, to a lesser extent, Romance languages.


The most common theory is that this name comes from the Bulgar language with meanings according to the different interpretations: "wolf", "short" or "snow leopard".[2]


Boris is first found in written records in the case of the Bulgarian ruler Prince Boris I (852–889), who adopted Christianity in 864 AD and imposed it on his people. His name came to be known in Europe in relation to this particular act. Moreover, after his death in 907 AD he was proclaimed the first Bulgarian saint, and traces of his cult during this period can be found as far away as Ireland. The Patriarchate of Constantinople recognized the canonization of St. Boris in 923 AD.[3] However, Prince Boris was not a Slav. He descended from the Bulgars. Among the Bulgars the name was known in its two forms: Boris and Bogoris.[4][5]


Boris started its worldwide spread with its adoption by Rus' Slavs from the First Bulgarian Empire. Bulgarian cultural missions intensified in the 10th century, during the reign of Tsar Petar and with them the spread of Bulgarian culture continued. It is speculated that the name of the Bulgarian saint Tsar Boris I reached the Rus in the late 10th century, likely during the reign of Boris II of Bulgaria (969-977), great-grandson of Boris I. In 967 the Byzantines instigated the Rus to attack the First Bulgarian Empire and it is probably around this campaign that the marriage of Vladimir I of Kiev to a Bulgarian noblewoman, who is assumed to be a daughter of Peter I, i.e., sister of Boris II, was arranged.[6][7][8]

One of the sons of Vladimir I was given the name Boris. As evidenced by the Rus' Primary Chronicle, Boris and Gleb were sons of Vladimir I, born to him by the Bulgarian princess. During Vladimir's reign in 988 the conversion of the Kievan Rus' to Christianity took place. In this conversion, both ordinary priests and prelates from Bulgaria played a significant part.[9] Also, with the adoption of the Byzantine calendar and the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar, the cult of St. Boris entered the Rus' Orthodox Church.[10] In 1015, the princes Boris and Gleb were killed by their stepbrother Sviatopolk I of Kiev, who usurped the throne. Within a short time, Boris and Gleb were canonized and ever since, they have been the native soldier-saints most revered among the Ukrainians, Russians and Belarusians.[11]


In addition to Kievan Rus the name Boris went over to other neighbors of Bulgaria as well. An example of this is the case of the Hungarian prince Boris Kalamanos (1112–1155), son of the Magyar king from his marriage with Euphtimia, daughter of the Kievan prince Vladimir II Monomakh. For a fairly long period men named Boris were found predominantly in the courts and among the nobility, but eventually the name became popular among all strata in the Russian Empire, including Siberia and Alaska. So it reached gradually the two Americas and Australia. In the present day, one can meet a Boris even in Africa.

List of people with given name Boris[edit]

Fictional characters[edit]