Boy Baby Name


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Quick Facts on Ivan

  • Gender:
  • Boy
  • Origin:
  • Russian, Slavic, Spanish
  • Number of syllables:
  • 2
  • Ranking popularity:
  • 137
EYE-vin (Slavic) or ee-VAHN (Spanish)
Simple meaning:
God is gracious, God is merciful

Characteristics of Ivan

  • Independent
  • Individualistic
  • Ambitious
  • Strong-willed
  • Inventive
  • Successful

Etymology & Historical Origin - Ivan

The name Ivan is the Russian form of the name John.

Popularity of the Name Ivan

While never achieving a position on the Top 100 list of most favored boys’ names in the United States, Ivan has been holding its own for well over a century. The name experiences very moderate usage over the course of its history in America compared with Slavic nations such as Russia, Bosnia, Croatia and the Ukraine; however, interestingly, it’s the Spanish-speaking Americans fueling Ivan’s growth in the 20th century. In the Spanish and Portuguese languages the name is written with an accent (i.e., Iván which is pronounced more like Yvonne) and is sometimes considered a substitute for the name Juan. Evidence of the Hispanic-population’s contribution to the growth of Ivan in the past 25 years comes from the states where the name has achieved a position on the Top 100 list: California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas – states with the highest concentration of Spanish-speakers and those of Hispanic descent. Nevertheless, when we hear the name Ivan, we think of Russia. In fact, the name is so distinctly Russian; it’s practically equivalent to Patrick in Ireland. An ethnic definer in a way. And yet, in America the name is becoming much more Spanish!
Popularity of the Boy Name Ivan
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Cultural References to the Baby Name - Ivan

  • Literary Characters of the baby name Ivan

    Literary Characters of the Baby Name Ivan

    Ivan “Vanya” Fyodorovich Karamazov (The Brothers Karamazov) Ivan is the middle of three sons in the classic Russian novel The Brothers Karamazov, completed in 1880 by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Long acknowledged as a masterpiece of philosophical profundity, the tale of the three brothers is revered worldwide. Ivan is tormented by his lack of faith, his disbelief in a god who would allow base human suffering such as he observes around him. He is unable to achieve the simple piety of his younger brother, Alyosha or the initially insouciant attitudes of his older brother Dimitri. His loathing for his father produces tremendous guilt in him, especially when he thinks he might be indirectly responsible for the father’s murder. This leads him deeper into despair and madness, but there is a distinct possibility left for us at the end of the book that Ivan will find salvation purely through his rejection of a deity, a salvation that comes quite simply from his unadorned love for humanity in all its expressions. This and the loving ministrations of the devoted Katerina give us hope that he will find hope.

    Ivan Dinisovich (One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich) Ivan is a prisoner in a Soviet gulag in Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s 1962 novel, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, loosely based upon his own experience in a Stalinist labor camp for eight years. Dinisovich is wrongly accused of being a spy after having been captured by the Germans during World War II. It is an extraordinary novel, an everyday look inside the oppressive Soviet prison system, where the men somehow manage to help and defend each other in small, significant ways even under the repressive regime in which they are forced to work and live. Unlike the heroes of the great, earlier Russian novels, Ivan is a modern day peasant, uneducated and unassuming. He adapts to prison life without any sentimentality, and brings every ounce of his abilities to his tasks, rising above the misery of his surroundings and representing the noble spiritual strength of an entire people.

    Ivan Ilyich (The Death of Ivan Ilyich) Ivan is the title character of Leo Tolstoy’s 1886 novella, The Death of Ivan Ilyich. A high court judge, Ilyich has lived his entire life in the pursuit of the most materialistic, proper way of living, enjoying the trappings of his professional and personal life, and feeling that he is the best and has done the best. His marriage is unhappy, his children are emotionally neglected, his legal judgments are cold and calculated, but he sees none of that. Then he suffers an accidental domestic injury, which leads to his decline and demise. He is in the throes of terror – how can this be – how can one who has lived so well – die? As he contemplates his life with the help of his faithful servant, Gerasim, he comes to see that it has all been a sham, a pretense, and an empty search for meaning in the meaningless. Comes the proverbial bright light, and Ivan Ilyich is delivered into an ecstasy of understanding and acceptance, leaving this world for a better one, in full knowledge and acceptance of all that has been.

    Ivan Petrovitch Voynitsky (Uncle Vanya) A tragicomedy by the Russian playwright, Anton Chekhov, Uncle Vanya was first performed in 1899 in Moscow. The title character expresses the boredom and ennui of all when he enters in Act I, yawning. His further musings on the wasting of lives, the passed opportunities, the missed loves and the drudgery of the future are largely ignored by the other characters, but they are certainly already internalized by them. Everyone in this little aristocratic enclave has something to regret and little to look forward to. Uncle Vanya even farcically botches an attempt to shoot his brother-in-law, whom he mainly blames for the waste that is his life. There is little hope here, except for that of the afterlife proffered by Sonya, Vanya’s niece, at the play’s closing: “Ah, then, dear, dear Uncle, we shall enter on a bright and beautiful life… We shall rest. We shall hear the angels.” We don’t want to create too much of a downer here, so let’s take Chekov’s own advice on the matter, as he explained his play in a letter to a friend: “All I wanted was to say honestly to people: ‘Have a look at yourselves and see how bad and dreary your lives are!’The important thing is that people should realize that, for when they do, they will most certainly create another and better life for themselves.”

  • Popular Songs on Ivan

    Popular Songs on Ivan

    Dinner with Ivan - a song by Big Head Todd & the Monsters

    Ivan Meets G.I. Joe - a song by The Clash

    The Rise and Fall of Belinda and Ivan - Dogwood

  • Children's Books on the Baby Name Ivan

    Children's Books on the Baby Name Ivan

    A Hat for Ivan (Max Lucado) - All the grown-ups in Ivan's village wear a hat that shows what they love most. Because Ivan's father is the hat maker, Ivan gets to watch his father create a hat that is perfect for each person. Ivan wonders what kind of hat he will have. Will he be a musician? A baker? A palace guard? Ivan doesn't need to worry about his future because his father, the hat maker who loves him most, shows him that there is only one hat - and one life - created just for him. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Castle of Cats: A Story from Ukraine (Eric Kimmel) - Based on a Latvian tale, but set in Ukraine, Kimmel's retelling is the story in which the youngest son wins the quest but gives up the prize his two brothers covet. Never very interested in entering the family fray for the farm, Ivan is prodded by his father into competing. Ivan happens upon the Castle of Cats and finds that the queen of cats is very helpful in his success. After winning all three of the challenges-the most beautiful wedding kerchief (inside a walnut); the most beautiful wedding dress (inside an acorn); and the most beautiful bride (the cat queen herself)-Ivan declines the farm, leaving it to his brothers Petro and Havrilo. Ivan and his bride ride off in their coach, never to be seen again. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Cloak for the Dreamer (Aileen Friedman) - Once there was a tailor who had three fine sons. Whenever his older sons Ivan and Alex weren't working, they practiced measuring, cutting, and sewing. But Misha, the youngest, spent every moment poring over maps of the world and dreaming of traveling far and wide. When the Archduke ordered new clothes for an important journey, the tailor asked his sons for help. The father was pleased with Ivan's and Alex's work, and said they would make fine tailors. But, alas, though Misha's cloak of circles was very beautiful, it was full of open spaces. The tailor could fill the Archduke's order, but what could he do about Misha the dreamer? Complemented by luminous watercolor paintings, this warm and perceptive tale introduces the relationships between geometric shapes and proves that learning math can be as delightful as reading a well-told story. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Ivan and the Daring Escape (Myrna Grant) - Here is Ivan in a brand new adventure. This time he is trying to outwit the Moscow Secret Police who have imprisoned his best friend, Pyotr, in a children's home. Can Ivan rescue Pyotr? Can he find a way to get Pyotr's father, Pastor Kachenko, released from prison? Read how God uses Ivan's skill at football to help his friends and get the better of the Moscow Secret Police. Recommended for ages 9-12.

    Ivan and the Informer (Myrna Grant) - Ivan is still having problems. He refuses to join the Communist youth organizations and his classmates make fun of him because of it. Ivan is finding it difficult to make friends as the young people at school mock his faith. Boris tries to force him off the school hockey team, and his teacher tells him that Christians are not allowed to attend any university. Just when Ivan thinks it can't get any worse, disaster strikes. Ivan is taken in for questioning by the police after he attends a secret Bible study. Suddenly even his Christian friends don't trust him anymore. Ivan knows there is an informer somewhere but everybody thinks it is him. How can Ivan clear his name? What will he do? Part of a series. Recommended for ages 9-12.

    Ivan Pavlov: Exploring the Animal Machine (Daniel Todes) - Hailed as the "Prince of World Physiology," Ivan Pavlov continues to influence scientists today. His pioneering research on digestion, the brain, and behavior still provides important insights into the minds of animals--including humans--and is an inspiring example of imaginative experimental technique. Recommended for ages young adult.

    Ivan the Terrible Cat (Sylvia L. Andrews) - Children's picture book about a very mischievous cat accompanied with Russian folk art illustrations in the Palekh style. Appendix describes the art of Palekh and how it originated. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Ivan the Terrible: Tsar of Death (Sean Price) - As Russia's first tsar, this ruthless ruler forced thousands from their homes, tortured spies, executed enemies, and even killed his own son. Will anyone ever really know what made Ivan so terrible? Recommended for ages young adult.

    Ivan the Terrier (Peter Catalanotto) - Ivan the terrier's brown-and-white face fills up the front cover, but, inside, the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff is being told by an unseen narrator. The art shows three goats gamboling in green fields, but then Ivan appears in the frame. The reader interrupts the text: Hey, where did that dog come from? Is that Ivan?...Ivan!...You're ruining the story! So the reader starts a different story, The Three Bears, and into the two-page spread jumps Ivan. There's only one joke here, but Catalanotto milks every bit of humor regarding this overactive canine, who winds up eating the gingerbread boy. In the end, the narrator gives up fairy tales and starts a story about a dog named Ivan. We see only Ivan's hind end, though, as he has moved out of view to catch a nap. It can be delightful when worlds collide. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Ivan's Appeal (Catherine Drury) - Ivan's Appeal is a compelling and highly engaging story of intense topical relevance, alerting young readers aged 8-11 years, to global warming and its effects. Persuasive scientific discussion is woven into an exciting, action-packed adventure story. Practical, realistic and everyday ideas of how readers can take individual action to combat the problem. The messenger Ivan, a melting iceberg, is a powerful character with guts and authority, wit and strong opinions. Recommended for ages 8-11.

    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn) - Solzhenitsyn's first book, this economical, relentless novel is one of the most forceful artistic indictments of political oppression in the Stalin-era Soviet Union. The simply told story of a typical, grueling day of the titular character's life in a labor camp in Siberia, is a modern classic of Russian literature and quickly cemented Solzhenitsyn's international reputation upon publication in 1962. It is painfully apparent that Solzhenitsyn himself spent time in the gulags--he was imprisoned for nearly a decade as punishment for making derogatory statements about Stalin in a letter to a friend. Recommended for ages young adult.

    Portrait of Ivan (Paula Fox) - "The painter, who was sitting on a stool, stared at Ivan so steadily that Ivan felt a faint touch of fear, as though he were being asked a question he could never answer." Thus begins the compelling story of an unusual relationship between a sensitive young boy and an artist whose appearance in his life proves to be life-changing. Recommended for ages 9-12.

    Salt (Zemach) - Ivan the Fool, youngest son of a merchant, barters the cargo of his ship for a princess and a fortune. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Tale of the Firebird (Gennady Spirin) - In all the world there is said to be nothing more beautiful than the Firebird. When Ivan-Tsarevitch, youngest son of the Tsar, goes on a quest for the amazing bird, he finds himself flying over mountains and woods on a talking wolf, confronting a wicked Baba Yaga, and rescuing an enchanted princess from Koshchei the Immortal. But when he returns from his magical journey, he brings home the most precious treasure of all. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Williwaw (Tom Bodett) - In their father's absence, thirteen-year-old September and her younger brother Ivan disobey his orders by taking the boat out on their Alaska bay, where they are caught in a terrifying storm called a williwaw. Recommended for ages 9-12.

  • Famous People Named Ivan

    Famous People Named Ivan

    Famous People Named Ivan - Iván Rodríguez (baseball player); Ivan Koloff (aka "The Russian Bear", wrestler); Ivan Neville (musician); Iván Helguera (soccer player); Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (Nobel Prize Winner, medicine) ; Ivan Lendl (tennis player); Ivan Bunin (Nobel Prize Winner, literature); Iván Campo Ramos (aka "Pelos", soccer player); Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev (novelist/playwright)

  • Children of Famous People Named Ivan

    Children of Famous People Named Ivan

    Famous People who Named their Son Ivan - Aaron Neville (R&B singer)

  • Historic Figures

    Ivan - Boy Baby Name - Historic Figures

    Ivan Pavlov (14 Sep 1849 - 27 Feb 1936) - You remember Ivan Pavlov from 9th grade biology, don’t you? Maybe this will ring a bell: Pavlov’s Dogs. Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who would go onto win the 1904 Nobel Prize in medicine for his important research into the digestive system. But that’s not what he’s most known for. Ivan became interested in the laboratory dogs where he worked. He noticed that they would salivate every time they saw a lab coat. In fact, as residents of the lab, the dogs were always fed by a person in a lab coat so the little mutts began to associate food with the coats (whether or not food was present) and would spontaneously salivate/drool merely at the sight of the coats alone. Pavlov found this fascinating and studied this “conditioned behavior” more closely. Dogs actually salivate unconditionally when food is presented to them as an evolutionary mechanism in preparation to break down the food they are about to receive, and to swallow the food more easily. But Pavlov was interested in conditioning this response. He would ring a bell every time he was about to feed the dogs until they began to associate food with the sound of a bell. Eventually, the dogs would salivate at the sound of the bell even if food was not put in front of them. This was a major scientific breakthrough in terms of the study of the mind and behavior. Carl Jung would go onto follow Pavlov’s work and conditioned responses are a core part of more than you might think – from therapy to cure anxiety to the study of advertising.

    Ivan the Great (22 Jan 1440 - 27 Oct 1505) - Ivan III was the Grand Prince of Moscow who is most known for his long reign (43 years) during which time the territory of Russia tripled (more than 15,000 square miles), and for laying the foundations of the future Russian-Muscovite state. Ivan’s reign took on a new autocratic form and he began stylizing himself as tsar (a word derived from Caesar meaning ‘Emperor’ and suggesting a divine right). He was following an idea, after the fall of Constantinople, that Russia was the true successor to the Byzantine Empire. If there’s anything you want to blame the Russians for, it’s certainly not their lack of hubris!

    Ivan the Terrible (25 Aug 1530 – 18 March 1584) - Ivan IV, grandson of Ivan the Great, was Grand Prince of Moscow and the first to be crowned Russian Tsar; his reign lasted from 1533 until his death in 1584. Under Ivan’s control, Russia’s landmass was unrivaled and the nation emerged from medieval times into the modern era as a regional power. He was forever branded with the moniker “Ivan Groznyi” (usually translated to Ivan the Terrible) which actually means Ivan the Redoubtable or Ivan the Severe – perhaps paying homage to his might and power rather than his monstrous or cruel acts. To be sure, this man was no angel. His bad behavior has earned him a place in infamy. However, his inherited circumstances were no picnic either. His father died when he was three and his mother acted as his regent until her (suspicious) death when he was only eight. He was constantly antagonized by the boyars (the class of families just beneath the princes) and so at a tender young age, he had already been taught to hold human life in contempt. Ivan was highly intelligent and a skilled politician, but he was also paranoid and ruthless. He conquered the last independent principalities such as Siberia and solidified the system of serfdom. In his later years he executed thousands and in a fit of regrettable rage, killed his own beloved son and heir.

Personality of the Boy Name Ivan

The number one personality is a leader - strong and competitive. They are willing to initiate action and take risks. One personalities work hard toward their endeavors and have the ability to apply their creative and innovative thinking skills with strong determination. They believe in their ability to succeed and are too stubborn to be hindered by obstacles. Ones meet obstacles head-on with such mental vigor and energy that you better step aside. They resent taking orders, so don't try telling them what to do either. This is an intensely active personality, but they are also known as starters rather than finishers. They have a propensity to become bored and will move quickly to the next project if not properly challenged.  They are the ones to think up and put into action new and brilliant ideas, but they are not the ones to stick around and manage them. This personality has an enthusiastic and pioneering spirit. They are distinctly original.

Variations of the Baby Name - Ivan

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