I’ve received several emails from people telling me that the capital of Ukraine, Київ, should be written Kyiv in English, and not Kiev. So I thought I’d look into the history of the name.
Kiev, or Kyiv, is named after one of its legendary founders, Кий (Kyi). It was originally written Къıєвъ in Cyrillic. This was transliterated as Kyjev in the Latin alphabet.
On early maps of the region, Kiev was variously written Kiou, Kiow, Kiew, Kiovia or Kiiow. The name Kiev, based on the Russian pronounciation, started to be used while Kiev was part of the Russian Empire (from 1708), and was first used in print in English in 1804. It has also been written Kyyiv and Kyjiv.
According to the Ukrainian government’s rules for the transliteration of geographic names into English, Київ is translierated as Kyiv. This spelling has been used in all official English language documents in Ukraine since 1995, and has been adopted by the UN and other international organisations.
How is this name written in other languages?