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Toponymic survey in Europe / Finno-Ugric Place Names of Ancient Times.

Finno-Ugric Place Names of Ancient Times.


The theme of Finno-Ugric place names on the vast Eurasian space is extremely wide. Only the examination of place names of Russian North, devoted mainly Finno-Ugric ones, required from the known Russian scholar forty years of hard work, which results were presented in four volumes (MATVEEV A.K. 2001 – 2015). This article discusses only place names left by the Finno-Ugrians on areas of their primary residence or near them.

Place names confirm location of ethno-producing areas which on individual Finno-Ugric languages were arisen on Finno-Ugric space between the Volga and the Don Rivers. Some place names on these areas or near them can be interpreted by means just those languages, which original dialect was formed there. Also place names can trace the path of resettlement of the Finno-Ugric peoples from their historical homeland to the current place of residence. Most of these ways are reflected in the names of settlements, arranged in chains. Only thees place names may be considered prehistoric, while place names on the modern areas of the Finno-Ugric peoples can be formed in the later times. We will not pay attention on them, it is a subject of other studies.

Finding and deciphering prehistoric Finno-Ugric place namas with inevitable amendments and additions will be carried out with the help of Google Map resource(see below).


Finno-Ugric place names on ethno-producing areas and migration routes.

The boundaries of total Finno-Ugric territory and boundaries of individual areas are indicated by black lines. At the same time they are the rivers, if they have no interpretation by means of the Finno-Ugric languages. Place-names left by individual Finno-Ugric peoples at times of formation of their primary languages are indicated by different colors astrisks. Finnish – blue, Estonian – red, Hungarian – green, moksha – light-violet, Komi – light-blue, Udmurt – brown, etc. Localities designated by starlets, rivers – by lines.

When interpreting place names are taken into account, on the one hand, phonological changes in the Finno-Ugric languages, and on the other – pronunciation of native names by newcomers. Some commonality in the phonological processes is observed in Finnish, Veps, and Estonian languages. Here F.-U *š and č were reflected in h, they can be in Russian sh or zh; F.-U. *č' reflects ch.


Finnish place names


The Finnish Urheimat was limited by the Klaz’ma, Oka, And Moskva Ribers. From here a chain of Finnish place names extends towards Finland. A partial list of prehistoric Finnish place names is given below:

Kaduy, a town in Vologda Region – Fin katu "street".

Kalistovo, a village in Moscow Region – Fin kallistua "to incline".

Kayvaksa, a village in Leningrad Region – Fin kaivo "well, spring", vaksi"a keeper, guard".

Kerva, a part of the city of Shatura in Moscow Region – Fin keruu "gathering".

Kochemary, a village in Kasimov district of Ryazan Region – Fin kuusi "fir-tree", marja “berry”.

Kovo, a village in Klepiki district of Ryazan Region – Fin kova "hard, firm".

Kurga (Kurta), a river, lt of the Sulat' River, rt of the Dubna River, rt of the Volga – Fin kurki "crane".

Kurkovo, a village in Selivanov district of Vladimir Region – Fin kurki "crane".

Kurta, a river, lt of the Sulat' River, rt of The Dubna, rt of the Volga – Fin. kurttu "fold, wrinklr".

Likino, a village in Vladimir Region – Fin lika “mud”.

Likino-Dulevo, a town in Moscow Region – Fin lika “mud” (cf. Mari lükö „quagmire“) and Fin tulva „flood, owerflow“. The town is located on the swampy flat country and the both words can reflect the peculiarity of the local landscape.

Matkoma, a river flowimg in Rybinsk lake – Fin matka "a way".

Matkovo, a village in Yaroslavl Region – Finn matka "way".

Myaksa, a village in Vologda Region – Fin maksu "pay, fee".

Nadoksa, a river flowing in Rybinsk lake – Fin nätti "nice", oksa "a branch".

Nadoksa, a village in Yaroslavl Region – the village was named by the river (see above).

Oka, a river, rt of the Volga River – Fin joki “a river”;

Parkovo, the village flooded under water of Rybinsk lake – Fin parka "poor".

Peshkovo, villages in Moskow, Vladimir, Yaroslavl Regions – Fin pihka "gallipot".

Pikalevo, a village in Leningrad Region – Fin pikku "little", luu "bone".

Solmanskoye, a village in Vologda Region – Fin solmu "knot".

Staryy Kudom, a town in Ryazan Region – Fin kutoma "weaving".

Suvoroshch, a river, rt of the Klaz’ma River – Finn suo “swamp” and roskat “rubbish”. The river flows on the swampy country.

Tarbeevo, a village in Moscow Region – Fin tarpeen (out of tarve "need").

Tarbinskoye, a village in Moscow Region – as Tarbeevo (see above).

Tasino, a town in Vladimir Region – Fin taso "flat, plain".

Tuma, a settling in Klepiki district of Ryazan Region – Fin tumma “an oak”.

Turgosh', a village in Leningrad Region – Fin turkki "fell, fur", uusi "new".

Varaksino, a village in Vologda Region – Fin varakas "rich".

Vesyegonsk, a town in Tver Region – Finn vesi "water", käänne "winding".

Yana, a river flooded under water of Rybinsk lake – Fin jano "thirst".

Yauza, lt of Moskva River – Fin jousi “bow”.

Yukovo, a village in Yaroslavl Region – Fin joukko "crowd".

Yuvino. a village in Klepiki district of Ryazan Region – Fin juova "strip, stripe".

Attention is drawn to the abundance of place names in the area the Oka River to coast of the White Sea and the Barents Sea, containing determinants -Vksha, -Vksa (Koloksha, Kotoksha, Seroksha, Tordoksa, Shomoksa and many other). They have no satisfactory explanation (MATVEEV A.K. 2015: 94-101). Mainly they are the names of small tributaries, so we can take to explanation – Fin. oksa “a twig, branch”, ie "a branching" of a larger river.


Veps place names


Veps ancestors inhabited the area between the Oka, Ugra, and Moscow Rivers. After coming here Bulgars they partly settled in neighboring areas, but mostly were neighbours of newcomers. Veps place names can be such:

Kurkino, villages in Yukhmov district of Kaluga Region, in Novodugovo district of Smolensk Region fnd in Kunia district ov Pskov Region – Veps. kur'g' "crane".

Peshkovo, two villages (in Chekhov district of Moscow Region and in Kaluga Region) – Veps pihk "gallipot".

Rashkino, a village in Tver Region – Veps raškaita "to scrawl, scribble".

Ryasnya, a village in Tver Region – Veps räsnäk "flabby".

Ryasnya, a river, lt of the Tma River, lt of the Volga River – see above.

Severnaya Ryasnya, a river, rt of the Bolshaya Kosha River, lt of the Volga River – see above.

Solmanovo, a village in Moscow Region – Veps sol’m "knot".

Varaksino, villages in Smolensk (Yelnia and Sychev districts) and Kaluga Regions – Veps varakaz "rich".

Vazuza, a river, rt of the Volga River – Veps vez’i “water” and us “new”.

Vazuza, a town – see above

Vyazma, a town in Smolensk Region – Veps vez’i “water” and ma “earth”.

Vyazma, a river, lt of the Dnieper River – the river was named by the town located on it (see above).


Estonian place names


Estonian area was limited by the upper reaches of the Klyazma and Moscow River from the south and by the Volga from the north. Local residents were largely superseded by the Bulgars and migrated to the shores of the Baltic Sea, as evidenced by the string of Estonian place names:

Ashevo, a village in Pskov Region– Est ahi "a stove".

Baykovo-1, two villages in Tver and Novgorod Rgions – Est paik "site".

Bolshaya ,Sestra, a river, rt of the Lama River – Est sõstar “currants”.

Gavrovo, a village in Pskov Region– Est kaur "loon, diver".

Kashin, a town in Tver Region – Est kaha "landing net".

Kashino, a village in Moscow Region – Est kaha "landing net".

Kurkino, villages in Kalinin district of Tver Region, in urban district of Shakhovskaya, Moscow Region, and a district of the city of Moscow – Est. kurg "crane".

Kurkovo, a station in Zubtsov district and a village in Kalinin district of Tver Region – Ect. kurg "crane".

Kuzhenkovo, a village in Tver Region – Est kuhi "heap", kivi "stone".

Lama, a river, lt of the Shosha, rt of the Volga – Est lame “flat” suits for the local flat country.

Lama, a village in Moscow Region – see above

Lozyevo, a village in Tver Region – Est lage "desert".

Maksatikha, a village in Tver Region – Est makse "pay", tahis "a sign".

Malaya Sestra, a river, rt of the Lama River – Est sõstar “currants”.

Moldino, a village in Tver Region – Est mold "trough".

Pskov, a city – Est *pihka (Fin pihka, Est pigi) "gallipot".

Sestra, a river, lt of the Dubna, rt of the Volga – Est sõstar “currants”.

Shimsk, a town in Tver Region – Est himu "eagerness".

Taldom, a town in Moscow Region – Est talu “a hamlet, court”, tamm “oak”.

Uda, a village in Pskov Region – Est oda "pike, lance".

Varaksino, two villages in Smolensk and Tver Regions and a left village in Pskov Region – Est varakas "rich".

Vasyukovo, two villages in Smolensk and Moscow Regions – Est vasikas "calf".

Yashino, a lake in Tver Region – Est jahe "cool, coldish".

Yazhelbitsy, a village in Novgorod Region – Est jahiala "hunting area".


Saami place names


The most northern area of the Saami was limited by the Volga, Klyazma, and two rivers with the same name Nerl. Such location is confirmed mainly by hydronymy. Several Sami place names beyond the Volga scheduled migration path of Saami to the north-west

Chabsara, a village in Vologda Region – Lapp chab "safe", sarr' "bilberry".

Klyazma, a river, lt of the Oka River, rt of the Volga – Lapp kūll'es’ “fish”; the second partword of the name -ma is obviously a suffix of a noun.

Koyka, a river, rt of the Yukhot' River, rt of the Volga – Lapp kollke «to flow, stream».

Kurkino, a village in maysky rural settlement and a village in Vologda district – Lapp. kӯrr «crane».

Landekh, a river, lt of the Lukh, rt of the Klaz’ma – Lapp lannt “a poul, slop”, egk "a river" (the river flows on the swampy country). According to A.K. Matveev dense area of names with the formant – Vx is located in the lower reaches of the Klyazma River, mainly in the basin of its left tributary Luh. However, he does not give explanation of this formant.

Loparevo, a village in Kostroma Region – Russian name of Sami people "Lopari".

Moloksha, a river, lt of the Yukhot’ River, rt of the Volga – Lapp mall'k «bend, crook», mallkshe – the verb out of mall'k.

Peshkovo, a village in Ivanovo Region – Lap. peshk "dung" (primarily "gallipot").

Sekha, a river, rt Teza River, lt Klaz'ma River – Lapp sefkhe «to rush, hurry».

Ukhtoma, rivers – lt of the Sogozha; rt of the Northern Dvina; lt of the Nerl, lt of the Klazma – Lapp vexxtenne "quick".

Uleyma, a river, lt of the Yukhot' River, rt the Volga, higher of the town of the Rybinsk – Lapp vell’m “strait, channel”.

Vokhtoga, a village in Vologda Region – Lapp vuekht “cloud” (or like Vokhtoma).

Vokhtoma, a river, lt of the Viga River, rt of the Unzha River, lt of the Volga – Lapp vexxtenne "quick".

Yukhot’, a river, rt of the Volga – Lapp yukhte “to give a drink, to water”.


Mordvinic place names


The are on the Urheimat of Mordvins few ancestral place names. But nearby, on the Eastern Ukraine Bondarikha culture was spread during the Late Bronze Age. It is associated with the ancestors of Mordvinic Moksha. The analysis of place names on the left bank of the Dnieper has shown that some "dark" of them can be interpreted using the Moksha and Ersya languages.


Ilek, a river, lt of the Psel River – Erz ilyk "force".

Krasivaya Mecha, a river, rt of the Don River – Mord mac’a “shallow”.

Kshen’, a river, rt of the Don River – Mord kshni “iron”.

Kshenskoye, a town in Kursk Region – Mord kshni “iron”.

Kurkino, a village in Kursk and Riazan' districts, and a town in Tula Region – Mok. kurga "mouth".

Kursk, a city – Mok. kura "flood-lands".

Lokhvytsia, a town in Poltava Region – Mok. loftsa "milk".

Mordves, a river, lt of the Osetr River, rt of the Oka – ethnonyms of the Mordvins and Vepses can be hidden in this name.

Orzhitsa, a river, rt of the Sula – Mok orzha "sharp".

Pomokli, a village east of the town of Pereiaslav-Khmelnytsky in Kiev Region – Mok. pomokha "fog", lay “river”.

Psel (Pslo), a river, lt of the Dnieper River – Mok. psi lay "hot river".

Sencha, a village in Sumy Region on the Sula River – Mok sench "a mallard".

Sula, a river, rt of the Dnieper – Mok. s’ula "a gut".

Sula, two villages in Kursk Region (Russia) and Sumy Region (Ukraine) – by the river’s name (see above).

Supoy, a river, rt of the Dnieper – Erz. s’upav "rich".

Sury, two village in Orel Region – Mok. sura "millet".

Tula, a city – Mok tula “a wedge”.



Komi place names


The Komi area is entirely located in the Region of Nizhny Novgorod, occupying its right-bank part. Here the vast majority of names of Finno-Ugric origin can be decrypted using the language Erzya. Mordvinic tribes Erzya came here later in the recent historical times and were vast majority of local population. However, there were in some places traces of stay in these places of the Komi. Cf/

Barminskiy, an island on the Volga River and the town of Barmino – Komi parma “fir forest”.

Serezha, a river of the Tíosha River – Komi ser “pattern” and ezha “sod, turf”.

Sura, a river, rt of the Volga – Komi shor “a stream”, Khant sor “lake, river”).

Tamboles, a village in the Vyksun district – Komi tom “young” and pelys’ “mountain ash”.

Tyosha, a river, rt of the Oka River – Komi töshchö “hollow”.

The migration of ancient Komi took part across the territory, which is populated now by Mari people. Searching prehistoric toponymy Komi is very difficult. Some place names can be decrypted by meanse of Komi and Mari: Kushnur, Kiknur, Sernur. The main direction of migration paths to modern Komi place of settlement is determined by such place names:

Kil’mez’, a river, rt of the Vyatka River, rt of the Kama River, lt of the Volga – Komi kil’ "dandruff, scurf, scales", mez’, mezd "getting rid of".

Urzhum, a town in Kirov Region – Komi us "squirrel", zhuöm "fuss, bustle, clutter".

Vad, a lake and the village of Vad in Nizhegorod Region – Komi vad “lake”.

Vatomskiy, a settlement in Nizhegorod Region – Komi votöm "unrope".

Vetluga, a river – Komi vetlyny "to run, wash”, gy “wave”.


Khanty place names


Khanty phonology: F.-U. *s and š were reflected in t, l, F.-U. *č', s' turned in s.


The most part of the area of the Khanty language belongs to the modern-day Mordvinic republic. It is clear that the Mordvinic place names are predominant on this area. However the ancestors of the Khanties left their tracks on historical Urheimat or near it:

Kachimka, a river, rt of the Sura River – Khant kachəm “the water out of snow”. The villages of Russkiy Kachim and Mordovskiy Kachim on the river were called after it.

Meltsany, a village in Mordovia – Khant məltä «to fit in » or məlt'i «a special winter coat» and ni «a wife».

Melsyany, a village in Mordovia – as Melsyany (see above).

Sviyaga, a river, rt of the Volga – Khanty sāwi “clay” joğən “river” (out of common Finno-Ugric *jaka/jaga “river”). The river-bed of the Sviyaga lies in the clayey bedrock.

Bol'shaya Sarka, and MalayaSarka two rivers, lt of the Sura River – Khant *sarqa "fast, swift" (sarəğ “swiftly” and sarqa “not for a long time”).

Terenga, a town in Ulyanovsk Region – Khant tirən "wide, broad", küj "a swamp".

Vertelim, a villave in Mordovia – Khant wərte "red", ilem "heaven".

Vertelim, a villave in Mordovia -Khan wərte "red", ilem "heaven".


The following migration way of the Khanties is marked by such place names:

Bavly, a town in Tatarstan – Khant pugel "a village" (out of *puwyl, cf Mansi pawyl "a village"). Cf. Bugulma.

Belebey, a town in Bashkortostan – Khant pelə "a hill", päj " a heap".

Bugulma, a town in Tatarstan – Khant pugel "a village" (out of *puwyl, cf Mansi pawyl "a village"). Cf. Bavly.

Chelabinsk, a city on Ural – Khant t'əly "sign, mark", pyŋ "wart'. Other version by means of Khanty are possible.

Katav, a river, rt of the Yuryuzan’ River, lt of the Ufa River, rt of the Belaya River, rt of the Kama – Khant kötəv "middle".

Lemeza, a river, lt of the Sim River, rt of the Belaya River, lt of the Kama River – Khant lamət' "can-dock".

Sim, a river, rt of the Belaya River, lt of the Kama River – Khant sǒm "a stream".

Sim, a village in Chelyabinsk Region – see above.

Surgut, a city in Siberia – see above.

Surgut, a river, lt oh the Sok River, lt of the Volga – Khant *sor "river, lake" qut' "layer".

Surgut, a settlement in Sergeyevsk district of Samara Region – see above

Tobol, a river, lt of the Irtysh River, lt of the Ob River – Khant t'ǒpəl "tender, sweet".

Tobol, a village in Tyumen Region – see above.

Tyumen, a city in Siberia – Khant t'ami "strong", enə "thick".

Ust’-Katav, a town in Chelyabinsk Region – see above.

Uvat, a village in TYumen' Region – Khant wat "wind".

Yaik, the former name of the Ural River – Khant jej "moss", jəŋk "water".

Yalutorovsk, a town in Tyumen Region – Khant "jəl" "well-spring", t'oryta "to flow".



Udmurt place names


The area of the Udmurt language was placed between the rivers Tsna, Moksha, and Khoper. Now the Modvin place names are predominant in this country, but some deal of the names can be decoded by means of the Udmurt language. A few names mark a migration way of the Udmurts.

Argash, a village in Ulyanovsk Region – Udm argashyny "to argue".

Laishevka, a village as a part of the city of Ulyanovsk – Udm layig "coomb, lowland".

Laishevo, a village in Tatarstan – as Laishevka (see above).

Michkas, a river, lt of the Atmis River, lt of the Moksha River,lt of the Oka – Udm. michkas'kyny "to pul out, hang out".

Narovchat, a town, the admnistrative center of a district and a village in Tamalinski distric in Penza Region – Udm narva "key, dowel", chat "crossing”.

Pachelma, a river, lt of the Vorona river, rt of the Khoper River, lt of the Don – Udm pachylmyny "to be filled".

Pachelma, the administrative center of a district in Penza Region – Udm pachylmyny "to be filled".

Papuzy, a village in Bazarnosyzgan district of Ulyanovsk Region – Udm. papa “a bird”, puz “a nest”.

Penza, a city, the center of a region – Udm pen’ "ashes", dzu "embers".

Simbirsk (a foremer name of the city of Ulyanovsk) – Udm. synan "to comb" (syn "a comb"), pyr "chaff" ("waste").

Vad, a river, lt of the Moksha River, rt of the Oka – Udm vad "otter".

Yaganovka, a village in Penza Region – Udm yag "pine forest", an "a part".



Mari place names


The area of the Mari language is located on the left banks of the Don till the river Khoper, lt of the Don. The most convincing evidence of the present near this country of the ancestors of the Maris are such:

Arkadak, a town in Saratov Region – joining of Mar arka “hill” and Turk dag "mountain".

Chigla, a river, lt of the Bitiug River, lt of the Don – Mar chygyla “sticky, viscous”.

Inzhavino, a town in Tambov Region – Mar en "most", shava "weak".

Iznair, a river, lt of the Khoper River, lt of the Don – Mar izi "little", eŋer “river”.

Mordovo, a town in Tambov Region – Mar marda "middle".

Rostashi, a village in Arkadak district of Saratov Region – Mar rost'ash "to join, splice".

Savala, a village in Rzhaksa dictrict of Tambov Region and a river, rt of the Khoper River, lt of the Don – Mar save 1. "osier", 2. "paling" + plural suffix -la.

Tamala, a river, rt of the Khoper River, lt of the Don – Mar. tam "taste", ala "pitch".

Tamala, a town in Penza Region – the town was named by the river (see above).

Tambov, a city, the center of a region – Mar. tumo "oak", pu "tree, wood".


Hungarian place names


Hungarian spelling and phonology.
Beginning of a word: F.-U. *k' was reflected in h, F.-U. *s' turned in s (writing sz), F.-U. *č and č' can be reflected as š (writing s) and č (writing cs).
Middle of a word: F.-U. *t was reflected in z, other changes roughly as in beginning.


The area of the Hungarian language is located betw the rivers Khoper and Medeveditsa. Such possible Hungarian place names are found here:

Alontsevo, a village in Kikvidze district of Volgograd Region – Hung elönt "to flood".

Archeda, a river, lt the Medveditsa River, lt of the Don River which has the sinuous river-bed – Hung ár “a current, stream” and sodor “to turn, twirl”. Cf Hung folyo sodra “river current”.

Atkara, a river, lt of the Medveditsa River, rt of the Don – Hung atkarol "to embrace". The town of Atkarsk became its name by the river.

Belgaza, a river, lt of the Medveditsa River, rt of the Don – Hung bel "gut", has "belly". Two villages on the banks of the river became its names by the river.

Eritovka, a hamlet in Millerovo district of Rostov Region – Hung ér "a stream", iz "taste".

Etkara, a village in Atkarsk district of Saratov Region – as Atkara (see above).

Khoper, a river lt of the Don River – Hung “warm” and bor “wine”.

Staraya (Old) Kondal, a settlement in Rudnya district of Volgograd Region – Hung konda "swine herd" + suffix -l.

Mashka, a river, lt of the Chir River, rt of the Don, has rived-bed lying on limestone base – Hung mészkő “limestone”.

Setraki, a hamlet in Chertkovo district of Volgograd Region – Hung szétrak "to spred, place".

Sharashenskiy, a hamlet in Alekseevskaya district of Volgograd Region – Hung saros "dirty".

Tokay, a river, rt of the Yelan’ River, rt of the Savala River, rt the Khoper River – cf. Hungarian town of Tokay.


Mansi place names

On the area of Mansi language, most part of which is located in the Chuvash Republic, the only reliable track of stay of ancient Nansi here is the name of the Volga River, which right bank on was the Urheimat of Mansi. The Mansi language has a word vol "wide and open part of a river" that suits for the wide Volga refectly. There are at modern-day territory of Mansi Volja River, where Mans ja just means "a river". This word originated out ot F.-U. *ka, in which, according to Mansi phonology, the consonant was reflected to j. It has a match g in the Komi language also according phonology, and Komi gy means "wave" (what we see in the name of the Vetluga River). There is no doubt that other place names of Mansi origin will be found far from the present settlements.





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