What is the meaning behind the Russian Matryoshka doll in particular? In Russian, the word matryoshka literally means "little matron" and is also a familiar shortening of the common name Matryona or Matriosha, popular names among the female peasantry of old Russia. The Latin root word of Matryoshka is mater, which means "mother." Motherhood, family and fertility all influence the meaning and significance of the Russian nested doll. Having a large and close knit family is common and even important in traditional Russian culture, with many generations and extended relatives playing an active role in the family dynamic, including grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The Matryoshka doll is a symbol of the Russian babushka, a strong female matriarch and a central figure in the Russian family.