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Kyiv or Kiev: What's the Difference?

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The main difference between Kiev and Kyiv is that Kiev is a word from the Russian language, while Kyiv is a word from the Ukrainian language. 

Representing the name of the Ukrainian capital city having the same meaning, their pronunciation differs. However, talking about today, Kyiv city is no longer called Kiev. To understand both terms precisely, knowing more about Kiev and Kyiv individually becomes mandatory to discuss in brief. 

What Is Kiev?


Known as the capital city of Ukraine, Kiev was located on the Dnieper river, known for its high-tech industries and higher education system today. However, being the city of Ukraine, it was famous for its Russian word 'Kiev.' As home to about 2.9 million people, Kiev was the ancient city that always thrived as the most populated city in Ukraine. The word 'Kiev' is from the Russian language that sounds like ke-ev having long 'ee' pronunciation.

Despite the worldwide economic crisis and development worries regarding corruption, the future of Kiev looked bright ever like other post-soviet capital cities. Besides, Kiev plays a vital role as the modern center for culture, industry, and education for Ukraine and entire Eastern Europe.

What Is Kyiv?


Having the same meaning and representation as Kiev, Kyiv is one of the oldest cities in Ukraine to about 25000 years BC. The word 'Kyiv' is from the Ukrainian language that sounds like 'Kee-yev' in pronunciation having two syllables. According to the studies and information, three brothers, Khoryv, Kyi, and their sister Lybid were the city's founders. 

The name of Kyiv city was taken from Kyi -the eldest brother among them. At the request of the US department of state, the embassy of Ukraine to the US, and the Ukrainian organization, Kyiv became the official and corrected name of the city.

Apart from being the capital city of Ukraine, Kyiv has numerous exciting talks and recognizable facts across the globe. The Russian term 'Kiev' was earlier used to represent the capital of Ukraine which was then recognized as the Ukrainian term 'Kyiv.'

Differences Between Kiev And Kyiv

Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv (Independence Square)

Despite the name of Ukraine's capital, there are some differences in both terms 'Kiev' and 'Kyiv': 


People of Ukraine refer Kyiv as the capital city, which is pronounced as 'Kee-yev.' On the other hand, people of both Russia and Ukraine used to refer to Kiev having pronunciation as 'Ke-ev.' Moreover, it sounds like the 'keev' with long 'ee' pronounced.


Regarding the Russian pronunciation 'kiev,' it sounds as ke-ev having a long 'ee' sound that states a single syllable present in the word. However, talking about Kyiv, the pronunciation goes like 'kee-yev' that states there are two syllables present in this word.


Spelling changed from Kiev to Kyiv officially when the name declared Kyiv city in the official Ukrainian language. The word 'kiev' is in the Russian language while 'Kyiv' is in the Ukrainian language named after 'Kyi,' indicating the same city name. It is because it was the capital of both Russia and Ukraine before the republic announced for Ukrainians.


Kiev derived from the Russian language and the term 'Kyiv' is derived from the Ukrainian language. Both terms indicating the same thing have different origins of Russia and Ukraine.

Comparison Chart: Kiev Vs Kyiv

MeaningThe capital city of UkraineThe capital city of Ukraine
OriginDerived from the Russian wordDerived from the Ukrainian word
Official term (today)NoYes
Correct spell todayNoYes

Similitudes Between Kiev and Kyiv

As far as differences are discussed, both terms 'Kiev' and 'Kyiv' share some similarities with each other:

  • Same representation and indication
  • Both have almost similar pronunciation
  • They are the name of the city located on Dneiper river
  • Kiev and Kyiv are named after one of the eldest among the four founders of the city. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Is The Campaign 'CorrectUA'?

As Kyiv has been declared the official spell of the capital name of Ukraine, the goal of campaign CorrectUA is to use Kyiv, not Kiev, from now onwards. Kyiv is the Ukrainian word, and Kiev is a Russian word.

Why Is Kiev Called Kyiv?

After the republic was announced for the people of Ukraine, Kiev was given the name Kyiv in its own Ukrainian language derived from the name of Kyi among four founders.

Is Kyiv In Ukraine Or Russia?

Kyiv is the largest capital city of Ukraine that is also famous as the historical capital of Kievan Rus. After the republic of Ukraine, Kyiv is now the city present in Ukraine.


Hearing or pronouncing both terms Kyiv and Kiev will sound like an Eve with 'K.' Besides, Kyiv is the official word declared in the Ukrainian language. However, Kiev is not the incorrect word; the only thing is it is not in use.

Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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