Gender: Feminine
Origin: Russian
Meaning: “light.”

The name is derived from the Slavic element, svetlo, meaning “light.”

It was used as a vernacular form of the Greek, Photine, (see Photine), in honour of St. Photine, the Samaritan woman.

Its usage was further popularized in 1813 via Alexander Vostokov, a Russian philologist and poet. Another Russian poet of the same period, Vasily Zhukovsky, also used the name for his ballade, Svetlana.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Svjatlana Святлана (Belarusian)
  • Svetla (Bulgarian)
  • Svjetlana (Croatian)
  • Světlana (Czech)
  • Swetlana (German)
  • Szvetlána (Hungarian)
  • Świetlana (Polish: shvyet-LAH-nah)
  • Swietłana (Polish: svyet-WAH-nah)
  • Sveta Света (Russian)
  • Svitlana Світлана (Ukrainian)

The name is also used in Bulgarian, Latvian, Macedonian, Serbian, Slovene and Slovakian.

A South Slavic masculine form is Svetlan.

The designated name-days are: February 6 (Bulgaria), February 26 (Russia), March 15 (Slovakia), March 20 (Czech Republic), April 2 (Russia) and September 28 (Latvia).

The name is borne by Svetlana Alliluyeva aka Lana Peters, the youngest daughter of Joseph Stalin, (b.1926) and the current first lady of Russia, Svetlana Medvedeva

Sveta, Sveti, Svetlanka and Lana are used as short forms in Russian.


Photine, Fotini

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Greek
Meaning: “light.”
(foh-TEEN; foh-TEE-nee)

The name is derived from the Greek φως (phos) meaning “light.”

The name is borne by a Christian saint, considered very important to the Greek Orthodox Church.

St. Photine the Samaritan woman, has been honoured as an Equal-to-the-Apostles.

A legend, which was based on the story in the New Testament when Christ met the woman at the Well, was that the woman at the well was named Photine and that, after repenting of her sins, she went on to evangelize Carthage, only to be martyred under Nero’s reign.

She had 4 sisters who were venerated as saints, one of whom was named Fotis and who shares the same name-day as her, and her son Photinos, who also shares a name-day with her.

Fotoula and Toula are modern Greek diminutives.

Another form is Fotine, and a Polish form is Fotyna.

In Russian she is referred to as St. Svetlana, (which is a literal translation of the name Photine).

The designated name-day is January 5.