Germanic name

Germanic given names are traditionally dithematic; that is, they are formed from two elements, by joining a prefix and a suffix. For example, King Æþelred's name was derived from æþele, for "noble", and ræd, for "counsel".

However, there are also from an early time names which seem to be monothematic, consisting only of a single element. These are sometimes explained as hypocorisms, short forms of originally dithematic names, but in many cases the etymology of the supposed original name cannot be recovered.[1]

The oldest known Germanic names date to the Roman Empire period, Arminius and his wife Thusnelda in the 1st century, and in greater frequency, especially Gothic names, in the late Roman Empire, in the 4th to 5th centuries (the Germanic Heroic Age).[2]

A great variety of names are attested from the medieval period, falling into the rough categories of Scandinavian (Old Norse), Anglo-Saxon (Old English), continental (Frankish, Old High German and Low German), and East Germanic (see Gothic names[3]) forms. By the High Middle Ages, many of these names had undergone numerous sound changes and/or were abbreviated, so that their etymology is not always clear.

Of the large number of medieval Germanic names, a comparatively small set remains in common use today. The most frequent name of Germanic origin in English has traditionally been William (Bill; from an Old High German Willahelm), followed by Robert and Charles (Carl, after Charlemagne). Very few names of native English (Anglo-Saxon) origin survive into current use, the most common of these being Edward, Edmund, Edgar, Alfred and Harold for males; the female name Audrey continues the Anglo-Norman (French) form of the Anglo-Saxon Æðelþryð.

Dithematic names

act, aht, ohtfearsome(?)Ohthere, Ohtrad, Actumerus, Octric, Actulf; Actohildis, OctolindisPokorny[4] suggests rather the root of OHG āhta `hostile pursuit', Germ.. Acht, OE. ōht 'pursuit, harassment'[5]< *anhtō, in OE conflated with ōht 'terror', from the preterite of ag- "fear".[6] These represent perhaps two or more roots which are indistinguishable without
*agi-; eg, ecg, egg, ekk, agin, eginsword, bladeEgbert, Ecgbald, Ecgwine, Ekkehart, Ecgric, Eginolf; EcgwynnSome names in ag-, eg- may be unrelated in origin; see Förstemann, 9.
agil, ail, eil?Agilperht, Agilfrid, Agilulf, Egilger, Agilmar, Egilrat; Alruna, Agilburgis,uncertain etymology; like agin perhaps a hypostatis of the older ag-; Förstemann, 22. See Agilaz.
alaallAlafrid, Alager, Alamunt, Alarad, Alaric, Alaruna, AlasuindSome names in ala- have this etymology; others are corruptions of names in aþal-. Förstemann, 39.
ald, ealdold[7]Altopold, Altiperht, Aldfrid, Aldegar, Aldman, Aldwig, Aldwin; Aldedrudis, Aldeberga/Aldburg, Aldigart, Altagund, Aldelindis
*albi-; ælf, elf, alf elf[8]Ælfwine, Ælfric, Alfred, Ælfweard, Ælfsige;[9] Ælfflæd, Ælfwaru, Ælfwynn
*alh, alah, ealh hall, templeEalhhelm, Alhred, Ealhwine/Alcuin; Ealhswith, Ælgifu(?)[10]perhaps related to runic alu
amalawork(?)Amaleberga, Amalafrida, Amalrica, Amalaswintha/Melisende/Millicent, Ealhswithc.f. Amalia, Amelie. This element's etymology is uncertain, but it is frequently compared to Old Norse aml "work".
angil, engel; ingal/ingela tribal nameAngilbald, Angilberht/Engelbert, Engilfrit, Angalgar, Angilhelm/Ingelhelm, Engilhoh; (Ingalberta), Angilburga, Angildruda, EngilgundNames in angil- may arise with Christianization, by conflation with the prefix ingal-, an extension of the theophoric ing- prefix; see Förstemann, 89.
*aþal-, adall, æthelnobleÆthelhard, Æthelred, Adolph, Adelbert, Adelbrand/Alebrand, Albert, Æthelwulf; Æthelburg, Adelaide, Æthelflæd, Æthelthryth/Audreysee ethel, odal
*ans-, ON ás, OHG ans, AS osgodOswin, Oswald, Ansgar, Ásleikr/Anslech/Oslac,[11] Ansfridus, Anshelmus, Ansgisus, Ansbrecht, Answald; Osburh, Osgyth, Osthryth
ar, ara, ari, arni, earneagleArafrid, Aramund, Arswind, Arfrid, Arnipert, Arnold, ArnulfMany of these names cannot be distinguished with certainty from the corresponding name in hari-.
arb, erb, erfinheritance[12]Arbogastis, Erbhart, Erphari, Erpolach, Erflind, Erbemar, Erpmund, Erferat, Erferih, Erpwin, Erpulfhypocorism Aribo, Erbo
asc, æscash, spearAschari, Asclind, Ascarich, Ascwin, Asculfc.f. Oisc, Ask
*audaz, aud, od, euþ, auþ, euth, ead, eod, jóðwealth, prosperityAudeca, Audofleda, Auduin, Odotheus, Odoacer, Odomir, Edgar/Audagar/Ottokar, Edmund, Eadnoth, Eadred/Edred, Edward, Eadwig, Edwin, Eadgifu, Æthelgifu (etc.)Extremely frequent. c.f. also Ethel, Otto, Odda, Auðr
aun, on, ean?Eanhere, Aunefrit/Eanfrith, Aunemund, Onerich, Aunulf; EanflædEtymology unknown; see Förstemann, 181.
aus, aust, eostradiant; a goddessAuripert, Aurendil/Orendil/Aurvandil, Aurulf; Ostheri, Austrad, Austrobert, Austraberta, Ostarpurc, Aostarger, Aostargart, Austrigisil, Ostarhilt, Ostremund, Austrad, Australd, Ostruin, Austrulfpossibly theophoric, see Eostre, Aurvandil
baldboldBaldwin; Theobald, etc.very frequent, and often conflated with the wald element.
baud, bad, bud?Baudigisil, Baudegund, Baudemund, Baudulfuncertain etymology; mostly in old names (before the 8th century) Förstemann, 216f. In later use indistinguishable from bald
baugringBaugegundus, Bauglind, Baugulf
*berht-; beraht, bryht, brihtbrightByrhtnoth, Bertrand, Beorhtric, Brihtwyn; Cuthbert, Albert, Albright, Robert, Adelberthypocorism Bert. One of the most frequent elements, but not attested before the 6th century.
burg, beorgfortressBurchard/Burkhart, Burgred; Eadburh/Æthelburg, Osburh, Redburga, WalpurgaThe suffix is feminine only. See also Burke
bera, bern, berin, beornbearBerengar, Berahart/Bernhard, Berhildis, Berahoch, Bermar, Berimund, Beornwulfc.f. Beonna, Berig
bilblade, swordBiligrim,[13] Bilihelm, Bilihild, Belimar, Bilidruda, Pilolfamong the Saxons often monothematic, as Bilo, Pilicho, Pillin, Billung
bliclightningBlictrud, Blicger, Blicgart, Plechelm, Blicildis
blidblitheBliddruda, Bllithar, Blithelm, Blidhild, Blidmar, Blidulf, Blidemund, Plittelmi
bordshieldHerebord, Hiltiport, Saelbort, Willipord
brandswordBranthildis, Branthoc, Brandulf; Adelbrand, Hildebrand, Hadubrand, Theudebrandc.f. Brant. Attested from the 7th century, with the exception of Gothic Brandila
brunarmour, protection; brownBrunfrid, Brunger, Brunric, Brunward, Brunulf; Brunhild; Adalbrun, Hiltibrun, Liefbrun, Liutbrun.The words for "armour" and for "brown" are unrelated, but a distinction of these two elements is impossible.
dag, tagdayTagapald/Dacbold, Dagaperht/Dagobert, Tachiprand, Dagafrid, Dachelm, Tagarat/Dagred, Dagaric, Dagewin, Dagaulf; Alfdag, Osdag, Heridag, Helmdag, Hildidag, Hroddag, Wendildag, Wulfdag,Possibly a conflation of several roots, perhaps brightness, day, and a loan of Celtic dago "good".
dis, idisladyDissibod, DisnotNames with this prefix are probably theophoric. In Nordic feminine names with the suffix -dis, the meaning is "woman".
diur, deor?Deurtrudis, Thiurhilt, Deorold, DeorulfThe meaning of this element may be either "animal" (deer) or "dear". See also Deor.
domjudgement?[14]Dombert, Domedrudis, Domegerdis, Domalde, Duomolf
druht, droc, drucpeopleDroctbold, Drocberta, Drutberga, Drucfred, Druhtgang, Truhthari, Droctelm, Dructildis, Druhtmar, Dructimund, Dructuin, Dructulf
ebur, eber, eoforboarEparpert/Everbert, Eureberga, Euurdag, Ebertrudis, Eparfrid, Eberger, Eberhard/Eoforheard, Ebarhelm, Eburhilt, Ebirmuot, Ebermunt, Ebarolt, Eberwin/Ebroin, Eberulf, Eboric
era, eri, erin, ernhonourErarich, Eranbald, Erambert, ErnulfProbably a genuine element, but difficult to distinguish from hari, which is also often reduced to eri-, er-, or from ari, arni. The form erin-, on the other hand, is often conflated with the irm- element.
ercan, erchen, archen, eorcenpure, genuine[15]Ercanberaht/Eorcenberht, Ercanbold, Ercamberta, Ercanpurh, Ercantrud, Ercanfrid, Ercangar, Ercanhilt, Erchensinda, Erchanold, Archanolf/ErchenulfFörstemann, 377 connects OGH ercan "sublime, pure, holy" (the general sense in Gothic as well). In OE and ON used in compounds designating various "precious" stones. Perhaps theophoric, from a name of Teiwaz.[16]
erl, eorlwarrior, nobleErlabald, Erlefrida, Erligar, Erlemund, Erliwin, ErlulfPokorny suggests a tentative link with ari-, arni- "eagle", an 'l' suffix form of which is found in the Balto-Slavic languages.
ewa, ew, eu, eoeverEuin, Eubert, Eomar, Eumund, Ewirat, Eric, Eowig, Eolf
far, fara; fart, fardjourney, travelFarabert, Faregar, Feriher, Farohildis, Ferlinda, Faraman, Faramod, Faramund, Faroald, Faruin, Faraulf, Farnulf; Farthilt, Fartman, Ferdinand,[17] Fardulf, ; Adalfer, Leobafar, Sicfara, Theudifara
fastfirm, fastFastburg, Fastrada, Fastrih, Fastwin, Fastulf
filimuch, many(?)Filibert, Feologild?, Filuliub, Filomar, Filomuot
*friþu-; ON friþ, OHG friduprotection, peaceFredegar, Ferdinand,[17] Frithuwold; Godfried, Dietfried, Sigfrid/Siegfried; Frithugyth; Friedrich; Ecgfrida[18] In Old English, used almost exclusively for male names; Ecgfriþ is noted exception[18]
flad, flæðpurity, glory, beautyFladebert, Flatberta, Flatberga, Fladrudis, Fledrad, Flidulf; Albofledis/Ælfflæd, Ansfledis, Audofleda/Aethelflaed, Berhtflat, Burgofledis, Druhtflat, Ermenfleda, Gerflat, Gundiflat, Hrotflat, Ratflad, Sigiflat, WynflædThe suffix is feminine only.
framspear, javelinFrambold, Frambert, Framsindis, Franemund, Franswindaalmost exclusively Frankish names.
franca tribal nameFrancobert, Frangomere, Franchrih
fraw, fro, frea; frilordFrowin, Frawibald, Frawiprecht, Frawihilt, Frowimund, Frowini, Frauirat, Frawisinda, Freawaru; Friher, Frehild, Friulfc.f. Fróði; theophoric (see Fraujaz, Frijjō).
frig, frehboldFrigobert, Frehholt, Friculf
frodwise, prudentFrotbald, Frodobert, Frotfar, Frotfrid, Frodegard, Frothard, Frotland, Frotmir, Frotmund, Frodwin, Frodulfhypocorisms Frodo, Frutilo, Frodin
frumgood, beneficialFrumiger, Frumihilt, Frumirat, Frumirih, Frumold, Frumolf, Frumar
fulc, folc, volcpeople, folkFolcbald, Forlberaht/Volcbert, Fulcdag, Folhker/Folcger, Folchard, Fulchar/Volker, Volkhard, Fikcgzbm Folcleih, Fulclindis, Folcman, Folcmar/Volkmar, Folcnand, Fulcrad, Fulcrich, Folcswind, Fulcuald, Folcward, Folcwin, Fulculf; Heidifolc, Herifolch, Hrodfolc, Ratfolc, Sigifolc, Saelfolc
funs, fúseager, braveAmdefuns, Adalfuns/Alphons, Bernefons, Hadufuns, Sigifuns, Valafons
gail, gelgay, merryGelbold, Geilindis, Geilamir, Gailswindis, Geilwib, Geilwih, hypocorism Gailo, Geliko
gamal, gamoldGamalbold, Gamalbert, Gamalberga, Gamaltrudis, Gamalfred, Gamalher, Camalrat,
gamanjoyGamanhilt, Gamanolt, Gamanulfonly Old High German, rare
ganmagicGannibald, Ganefard, Ganhart ; Adalgan, Audiganus, Wolfgan
gand, gend?Gantberga, Gentfrid, Ganthar/Ganther, Gendrad, Gandaricus, Gandulf ; Gredegand, Charigand, Hrodogand, Gislegendishypocorisms Gando, Gantalo, Gandin; c.f. Gandalfr (mythological)
gangpath, journeyGangperht, Gangulf; Bertegang, Druhtgang, Hildigang, Hrodegang, Thiotcanc, Uligang, Widugang, Wiligang, Wolfgang
gar, ger, earlier gaisspearGerald, Gerhard/Gerard, Gerbrand; Edgar, Hrothgar/Rogerhypocorism Gero, Gerry. Very frequent both as prefix and as suffix. Gerðr is the wife of Freyr in Norse mythology.
gardenclosureGardrad, Gardulf; Hildegard, Irmgard, Liutgart, etc.Rare as a prefix, very frequent as a suffix. The great majority of names with this suffix are feminine.
gastguest; spiritCastald, Gestilind, Gestiliub, Gastrad; Altgast, Alpkast, Andragast, Arbogast, Cunigast, Hartigast, Hiltigast, Hungast, Lindigast, Milgast, Nebiogast, Salagast, Suabgast, Widogast, VisogastMostly as suffix; frequent in early (3rd to 4th centuries) names; frequent conflation with Slavic names (Radegast, Gustaph).
gaud, gaut, gaus, got, goza tribal nameGauzebald/Cozpolt/Gausbolda, Gaucibert/Gozperaht, Gauseprand, Gausburgis, Gauttrudis, Caozflat, Gautfred, Gozger, Gauter/Kozheri, Gautshelm, Gauthildis, Gozleih, Gautlindis, Gautrekr, Gaudoin, Gaudulf; Algaut, Amalgaud, Ansegaud, Ariugaud, Ostgaus/Aostargaoz, Berengaud, Danegaud, Trutgaud, Ebregaud, Ercangaud, Erlegaud, Faregaud, Gisalgoz, Helmigaud, Hildegaud, Hohgaud, Hungoz, Irmegaus, Ermengaud, Teutgaud, Ulgaud, Waldegaud, Wihgoz, Vuldargoza.the tribal name of the Geats/Goths. Hypocorisms Gaudo, Gaudila, Gauzilin, Gaudin. These names are popular during the 6th to 11th centuries. The forms in got are difficult to distinguish from the element god "god".
geld, gild; goldworthy; goldGiltbert, Gelther, Gildemir, Giltrada, Geldirih, Goldrun, Geltwif, Geltwig, Gildewin, Geldulf; Amalgaldis, AUsigildis, Adalgildis, Athanagild, Beregildis, Bertegildis, Trutgildis, Faregildis, Framengildis, Fredegildis, Frotgiliis, Gislegildis, Herigilid, Hleokelt, Lantegildis, Rihgelt, Sparagildis, Teutgildis, Wandegildis, Witgildis, Wolfgelt, etc.hypocorisms Gildo, Gilting, Coldin, Gilticho
gifu; geb, gibgiftGibbold, Gibborga, Gibitrudis, Giffrid, Gebhard, Gebaheri, Gibohildis, Gebahoh, Gebalinda, Geberad, Geberic, Gebawin, Gibulf; Ælgifu/Ælfgifu, Ælthelgifu/Eadgifu, Godgyfu/Godiva, Ottogeba, Thialgif, Willigiphypocorisms Gabilo, Gibilin, Gebi, Gabo, Gibicho, etc.
gisil, giselhostage, pledgeGiselbert, Giselric, Giselhard; Giselbergahypocorism Gisela, c.f. Giselle
glisgleamGlismot, Glisnot
god, gotgod; goodGodfrid/Godfrey, Godscalc, Gothard, Gotwaldin most cases, the etymologies guda "deus" and goda "bonus" cannot be distinguished with certainty, while in older continental names this is often an alternate form of Gund
graushorror, terrorCrosmuat (8th century), Grausolph (9th century)simplex Grauso, Chroso, Cros, Kros, etc.;
graw, gragreyGraobart, Grahilt (8th century), Graman (8th century), Graulf (8th century)
grimhelmet, maskGrimwald; Grimhild/Krimhild
gumamanGomadrudis, Gomoharius, Gomahilt, Gomaleih, Gomlinda, Gumemar, Gumarich, Gumesind, Gumoalt, Gomolf
*gunþ-; gund, gud, gyþ, gyðbattle, warGunther/Gunter, Gunnhild; Gudrun; Eadgyð, Rigunth, Ealdgyð/Edith, Frithugyth
hag, hagan; hah?Hagibert, Hagihar, Hachirat, Hagoald, Hagiwolf; Hahger, Hahmund, Hahwart, HaholfAttested from the 7th century in forms such as Hago, Chaino etc. From an early time conflated with names in Ag-, Agin-. See also Haguna.
haid, heitrank, stateHaidrich, Heidfolc, Chaideruna; Adelaide etc.extremely frequent as second element in feminine names (83 listed by Förstemann), apparently due to early confusion with similar words for heath.
hail, heil; hailagwhole, healthyHailbert, Hailun, Hailburch, Hailtruda, Heilan, Heilmunt, Hailrat, Hailwin; Halagmund, Halegred, ; Rihheil, SarahailoHailo, Halicho (8th century); conflated with the elements agil and hal.
*haim-; OHG haim, heim, AS hæmhomeHenry, Heimwarthypocorism Haimo
haist, heistfurious, violent(?)Haisthilt, Haistulf, Hailunc.f. Old English hæst; also compared with the tribal name of the Aesti.
hamarhammerHamerard, Hamarolfrare; limited to a handful of names of the 8th century.
handhand(?)Hantbert, Hantker, Handegis, Hantwin, Handolfrare, 8th and 9th centuries.
harcaltar(?)Harcmot, Hercrat, Harchellindis (f.), Horcholtrare, 9th and 10th centuries; c.f. the entries under ercan.
hard, heardbrave, hardyHartman, Hartmut (etc.); Æthelhard, Richard, Gerhard (etc.)very frequent, recorded from as early as the 3rd century.
*hari, herarmyDiether, Hereweald/Harold, Herbert, Herleif, Herman/Arminius, Ariovistus, Ariouualdushypocorism Harry; Heri(?). Very frequent, Förstemann lists 289 names with -hari as second element. As first element recorded as early as the 1st century (in Chariovalda).
hath, had, hada, hadubattle, combatHadubrand, Hadufuns, Hedwig; Rihhad, Willihad, Wolfhad, Vunnihadfrequent, from the 6th century, formally indistinguishable from haid.
hedan, haidanheathen, paganHedenold, Hedenulf ; Wolfhetanrare; 7th to 9th centuries.
helmprotectorHelmut, Helmdrud, Helmfrid; Diethelm, Ealhhelm, Cwichelm, Nothhelm, Wilhelmhypocorism Helmo. Comparatively frequent from the 6th century.
heah, hochhighHeaberht, Hámundrc.f. Huoching/Haki
hild-warGunnhild, Childebert, Hildebrand, Hildegard (etc.)One of the most frequently used stems both as prefix and as suffix, attested since the 3rd century. Among the Franks its use especially for feminine names is "almost excessive" according to Förstemann, who counts 281 names with this suffix, of which only four are masculine.
hilp, helpaid, helpChilperic, Helpoald, Helpuin, Helpwolfrare; Chilperic is from the 5th century, other names with this element occur only in the 8th and 9th centuries.
hilt, hilz, helzhilt[19]Hilcekin, Helzuni, Helzoltrare; 8th to 11th centuries
himilheavenHimildrud, Himilger, Himilradrare, 8th to 10th centuries.
hir-swordHiring, Hiribert, Hirburc, Hiriger, Hiriward9th century; Gothic hairus, Anglo-Saxon heoro- "sword", also in the tribal name of the Cherusci.
hiruz, hiriz, herzhart, stagHirizpero, Herzrad(?); dim. Hirzularare
hleoprotectionHleoperht, Hlevagastir
hlud, hlodafameHlothhere, Chlodwig/Ludwig/Louis, Chlodomir; Chlodoswintha
hog, huogdexterous, nimble(?)Huogobert, Huoging, Hogo
holcrafty, devious(?)Holebert, Holomot, Holemund, Holosint
hord, horthoard, treasureHortbert, Horthari, Hordold, Hordward, Horduin,
hraban, hramravenBerthram frequent in the 7th to 9th centuries; surely from the ravens of Wodanaz originally (as was wulf-). Förestemann counts 125 masculine and 15 feminine with this suffix. The simplex Hraban (and variants) is recorded from the 6th century. The Gothic name Valarauans if it contains this root would be the oldest record of the element (4th century).
hradquick, fast(?)[20]Hradperaht, Hradpurh, Hradgast, Hrathari, Hradwin
hraid, hreidfamous(?)Hreiðmarr, Hreidperaht, Hreidgaer, Hreitolfalso in the name of the Hreiðgoths.
hring, ringring(?)[21]Hringuni, Rhincbold, Ringhelm, Hringweald, HringolfFörstemann 1900:877 suggests that the "ring" element in origin refers to ring-mail
hroc, roc?Ferderuchus, Unhroch, Wolfhroc; Rocbert, Hrohhart, Hrocculf, Ruocswint,Förstemann 1900:878f. surmises an early conflation of two elements (1) hrauc "roar, bellow, (battle-)cry" and (2) rōc "care, circumspection", and both were further conflated with hrōþ- as first element, and with -rih as second. As a second element since the 5th century. Crocus, the 4th-century king of the Alamanni, presumably had a name formed from this element, as did Rocco bishop of Autun (7th century) and Rocho bishop of Bourges (8th century).
hrom, hruom, romgloryRuombald, Rumbert, Ruumker, Hrumheri, Ruomlind, Romuald, Romulfsince the 5th century; hypocorisms Ruom, Roma, Rumo. Förstemann 1900:883
*hrōþ-; hruotfameHrothgar/Roger, Hrodberht/Robert, Roderick, Roland; Adalrod, Fridarut, Hartrod, Liutrod, Sigirod8th century; hypocorisms Chrodius, Hrodo, Hrodio, Hroda; Förstemann 1900:883
hug, hygspirit, courage( )Hugibald, Hygelac, Hugubert, Hugibrant, Hucger, Hugilind; Adalhug, Kerhuge
hun?Hunferthus, Hunbeorht; Andhun, Berthun; Ælfhunc.f. Hun of East Anglia
inga godInga, Ingeborg, Inger, Ingvar, Ingrid
irm(en), erm(en)strong, wholeEormenred, Ermenrich/Hermeric/Emmerich/Emery/Amerigo; Ermegard/Irmgard, Ermendrud/Ermintrud/Irmtrudpossibly theophoric, see Irminsul; hypocorisms Irma, Armin, Emma
ise(n)ironIsebert/Isebrecht, IsenhartIsegrimm may in origin have been a kenning for "wolf".
jut-a tribal nameJudida, Judinga, Jutcar, Judilidis, Jutrad, Joduin, Judelhildisprobably from the name of the Juthungi or the Jutes
jungyoungJungarat, Jungericus, Jungulf, Jugenprand8th to 10th century, rare (used more rarely than ald- "old")
karl, carl, ceorlmanCarlofred, Carlman; Altcarl, Gundecarlrare; possibly extensions from the simplex.
*kōni-; cen, coenfierce, keenConrad/Konrad, Cynric, Coenwulf
*kun(n)i-, OHG kuni, chun, also chim, chin, chind; AS cynekin, offspring, childKunibert, Kunimund, Cynewulf; Kunigunde, Cynethryth; Chindasvinth; Adelchind, Drudchind, Widukind, Willekindhypocorism Kuno, Chintila
*kunþ-; cuþrenownedCuthbert, Cuthred
kwik-; cwicalive, livelyCwichelm
laikplay, dance(?)Ekkileich, Albleih, Amalleih, Ásleikr/Oslac, Audolecus, Perlaicus, Perahteih, Chinileihc, Dagaleich, Fridileih, Frotalaicus, Folcleih, Gozleih, Gundelaicus, Halulec, Hildelaicus, Hugilaih, Isanleih, Mathlec, Radleic, Sigelac, Wadelaicus, Walalaicho, Waldleich, Werinleih, Widolaic, Willileih, Winileih, Wolfleiga, Zitleichpossibly as first element in Leikert, Leuckart; Laigobert
laif, laf, leibsurvivor, heir()Eggileib, Albleib, Oslef, Athulef, Adalleib, Otleib, Berahtleib, Dagalaif, Danleib, Dotleib, Truhtleib, Edilef, Fridaleib, Folkleib, Guntaleiba, Hartleib, Haduleif, Herleif, Hiltileip, Hordleif, Hunleib, Isanleib, Mahtleip, Nordleip, Ortlaip, Ratleib, Reginleib, Richleib, Sileif, Starcleib, Thiotleip, Wiglaf, Wineleib, Wolleip, Wulfleip, Wunnileif, Zehaleip; Leibuni/Leiboin, Leibher, Leibhilt, Leibrat, Leibwartthe probable original meaning "heir of" suggests that this element at first appeared only as second element; it was from an early time it conflated with liub "dear". In Old Norse also used as a simplex, Leifr "heir".
laithdangerous, hostileAnsleth, Wolfleit; Leitbraht, Leitfrid, Leither, Leidmuot, Laidarat, Laidoin, Laidulfrare
lampfitting(?)Lampert, Lampfridrare, 8th to 10th century
landlandAcland, Ingaland, Oslant, Osterlant, Auilant, Perelant, Perahtland, Cululant, Thruadland, Frotland, Gerland, Gotlanda, Grimland, Gundoland, Artaland, Hasland, Hiltiland, Hrodlant, Itislant, INlant, Ermoland/Hermenland, Madoland, Meginland, Odallant, Ratland, Gagentland, RIhland, Sigilant, Wariland, Wiclant, Vulfland; Landolin, Landing, Landbold, Landberta, Landeberga, Lamprand, Lantbodo, Lndfrid, Landagar, Landegaus, Landgrim, Landegunda, Lantheida, Landohard, Lanthar, Landohildis, Landerich, Landswinda, Landoald, Landwih, Landuin, Landulf
laugbride(?)Alblaug/Alflaug, Adallouc/Aðallaug, Ólaug, Árlaug, Arnlaug, Áslaug, Perahtlouc, Eyðleyg/Edlaug, Droplaug, Dýrlaug, Ellaug, Ercanloug, Fastlaug, FInnlaug, Fridlaug, Grímlaug, Gerlaug, Gundlauc/Gunnlaug, Heiðlaug, Hiltilauc, Hrafnlaug, Íslaug, Jerlaug, Kristlaug, Ratlauga, Róslaug, Sigilouc/Siglaug, Sollaug, Swanaloug/Svanlaug, Sveinlaug, Týlaugr, Triulaug, Vélaug, Wiglauh/Víglaugr, Þórlaug, Þraslaugonly as a suffix in feminine names; the suffix is presumably from a root *lug "to celebrate marriage; to be dedicated, promised (in marriage)"[22]
lindsoft, mild()Gislinde, Heidelinde, Rosalint, Ermelind, Kristlind, Melinda, Odelinde, Sieglinde, Theodolinda, Þórlindur; Linddís, Lindolf, Lindvald, Lindvardh, Linveigvery frequent as a second element in feminine names
liub, leofdesirable, friendlyLeofric, Leofwine
liutipeopleLiutger, Lutold; Liutgard
magan, megin; mahtmight, strengthManfred, Maganradus/Meinrad; Mathilde, Meinfrida
*mēri-; mære, mer, mar, mirfamousChlodomir, Miro, Filimer/Filimir, Marvin, Odomir, Ricimer, Theodemir, Theodemar, Thiudimer, Valamir, Waldemar, Vidimir/Widemir, Wulfmar/Wulfomir
mundprotectionEdmund, Sigmund, Remismund, Rechimund
noþ, OHG nand[23]courageNothhelm; Byrhtnoth, Eadnoth, Ferdinand, Wieland/Wayland
ræðcounsel, wisdomRadegast, Radwig, Radulf; Alfred, Eadred, Conrad, Tancred, Wihtred; Ratberga/Redburga
ragincounselRaginald/Reginald/Reynold, Reginbert, Reginmund; Regintrud, Rægenhere, Ragnar
*remez, remispeaceRemisto, Remismund
runrune, secretGudrun, Walaruna
rīki-; OHG rihhi, AS rīcrulerRichard, Rechila, Rechiar, Rechimund, Richimir, Roderick, Sigeric, Theodoric, Henry, Eric, Godric
sax, seaxseax; a tribal nameSexred; Seaxburh
sinþ, sind, siþtravel, timeSindolf/Sindulf, Sindram, Sindbald, SindbertSinthgunt as "Sun's sister" in the Merseburg Incantations
sig, sigi, sigevictorySigborg/Siborg, Sigebald/Sibbald/Sibold, Sigbod/Sibot, Sigibert, Sibrand, Sigmar, Sigmund, Sighart, Sighelm, Sigher/Siger, Sigrad, Sigeric, Sigtrygg, Sigward, Sigwald, Sigulf/Sigewulf; Ælfsige;[9] Sigelinde/Siglind, Sigtrudpossibly theophoric in origin, in reference to Teiwaz, and later Odin, the god of victory.[24] Hypocorisms Sigo, Sike, Sikke.
stanstoneÆthelstan, Thorsten, Wulfstanalso in simplex Sten, from Scandinavian Steinn
swint, swiþstrengthSwinthibald; Amalaswintha; Swinthila
tankthought, counselTancred/Dancrad, Dancmar
wand, wandalwander, wendWandefrid, Wandedrudis (f.), Vandebercth (7th century), Wandemar, Wandarich, Wendulf, Wanthildis (f., 9th century); Wandalbold (8th century), Wandalbert (7th-9th centuries), Wandalburgis (f., 10th-11th centuries)in the names of the Vandals, Wends and Aurvandil
wealdpowerWaldemar, Walther; Edwald, Frithuwold, Harold
warin; weardguardianWarinhari/Wernher/Werner; Brunward, Edward, Sigward; Freawaru, Ælfwaru
wihtwight, spiritWihtred
wilwill, desireWilhelm, William
win, wini, wine, wyn(n)friend; joyWinibald, Winimund, Winibert; Ælfwine, Ecgwine, Edwin/Audoin, Erwin, Leofwine, Marvin, Oswin; Wynflæd; Ælfwynn, Ecgwynn, Brihtwyn
wigbattle, warWiglaf, Wigbert, Wigheard; Ludwig, Hedwig
wal(a), wel, wælbattleWieland/Wayland,[25] Walaman, Walarad, Walerand, Walaruna, Walesinda, Wala-anc, Walahelm, Walaramhypochoristic Wallia, Walica. c.f. Valhalla, Valkyrie, Valföðr etc.
wod (wad?)furyWodilhilt (f.), Wodalgarta (f.), Wodilbalt (a. 969), Wodalbert (a. 773), Wodelfrid (a. 912), Wodilulf (11th century), Vudamot (a. 821)because of the close association with Wodanaz, these names are rare already in the OHG period, and fall out of use entirely during the High Middle Ages. Some hypocorisms such as Wote (a. 784), Woda (f., 8th century), Wodal (a. 889), Wode, Wodtke, may derive from this element. Wotan is recorded as a given name in the early 9th century.[26] Association of most of these names with wod "fury" is uncertain, as there are the homophonic but unrelated roots of OHG watan "to wade" and wat "garment".[27]
wid(u), witwood, forestWithhold, Widukindhypocorism Guido, Guy
wulfwolfAdolph, Aethelwulf, Beowulf, Cynewulf, Rudolph, Wulfstan, Wulf (etc.)Especially as second element, -ulf, -olf is extremely common. Förstemann explains this as originally motivated by the wolf as an animal sacred to Wodanaz, but notes that the large number of names indicates that the element had become a meaningless suffix of male names at an early time. Förstemann counts 381 names in -ulf, -olf, among which only four are feminine. See also Offa (name)
þeodpeopleTheodoric/Dietrich/Derick/Dirk, Detlef, Diether, Diethelm, Theobald, Dietfried, Theudebert, Theodemar; Dietlinde
*þegnaz, degenwarrior, thaneDegenhard, Degericus; Deitdegen, Edildegan, Drûtdegan, Heridegan, Swertdegan, Volcdegen

OH þrúðr, OE þrȳð,[28] drut, trud, thrud, thryth

force, strengthDrutmund; Æthelthryth, Osthryth, Cynethryth, Ermintrude, GertrudeNames with this suffix are feminine only; Þrúðr is a daughter of Thor in Norse mythology. Short form Trudy, Trudi
þonar, donar, þór(the god of) thunder(rare)Donarperht (9th century), Donarad (8th century), Þórarin, Þórhall, Þórkell, Þórfinnr, Þórvald, Þórvarðr, Þórgeir, Þórsteinn (9th century), Thunerulf/Þórolf ; Albthonar (8th century)These names appear from the 8th or 9th century; popular in Scandinavia during the 10th to 11th centuries. Förstemann 1199.
þurs, Thuris, TurisgiantThusnelda (1st century; presubambly for *Thurishilda), Thurismund (6th century), Thurisind (6th century), Turisulfusan archaic element in names of the migration period, extinct during the medieval period. Förstemann 1200.

Monothematic names

Some medieval Germanic names are attested in simplex form; these names originate as hypocorisms of full dithematic names, but in some cases they entered common usage and were no longer perceived as such.

  • Masculine: Aldo (whence English Aldous), Adel, Anso, Anzo/Enzo, Folki/Folke/Fulco, Gero, Helmo, Ise/Iso, Kuno, Lanzo, Manno, Odo/Otto, Rocco, Sten, Waldo, Warin, Wido, Wine, Wolf/Wulf
  • Feminine: Adele, Alda, Bertha, Emma, Hilda, Ida, Isa, Linda, Oda

Some hypocorisms retain a remnant of their second element, but reduced so that it cannot be identified unambiguously any longer; Curt/Kurt may abbreviate either Conrad or Cunibert. Harry may abbreviate either Harold or Henry.

Other monothematic names originate as surnames (bynames) rather than hypocorism of old dithematic names. E.g. Old English Æsc "ash tree", Carl "free man" (Charles), Hengest "stallion", Raban "raven" (Rabanus Maurus), Hagano/Hagen "enclosure", Earnest "vigorous, resolute".

Uncertain etymology

See also


  1. e.g. the names of kings Penda, Pybba, Offa, Wuffa, or Sebbi, all Anglo-Saxons born in the 6th or 7th century
  2. the oldest attested Germanic name may be Harigast, written harikast in the Negau helmet inscription, but there are dissenting minority opinions.
  3. Gothic or pseudo-Gothic names also constitute most of the personal names in use in the Christian successor states of the Visigothic kingdom in the Iberian peninsula during High Middle Ages; c.f. Boullón Agrelo, Ana Isabel (1999). Antroponomia medieval galega (ss. VIII - XII). Tübingen: Niemeyer. ISBN 978-3-484-55512-9. and Förstemann, Ernst (1900). Altdeutsches Namenbuch (3 ed.). Bonn: P. Hanstein.
  5. c.f. OE ehtan
  7. names terminating in -ald are from -wald.
  8. Vestralpus, the name of an Alamannic king, may be a rare instance of this element occurring in the second part of a name.
  9. 1 2 attested as latinized Ælsinus
  10. perhaps reduced from Ælfgifu, or Ælthelgifu.
  11. this name survives in corrupted form in the given name Axel and in the surnames Aslock, Hasluck
  12. some possible rare exceptions, such as Fulcarb.
  13. often conflated with Latin Pilgrim, Peregrinus
  14. perhaps as a suffix in certain names latinized as -domus.
  15. c.f. Old English eorcnan-stan "precious stone, gem". Pokorny (1959) tentatively grouped the word with PIE *arǵ- "glittering, shining", whence Latin argentum "silver"), but Gothic ark- may also represent an early loan from Greek ἀρχι- ("arch-", c.f. Ulfilan Gothic arkaggilus for archangelus). Formerly (Diefenbach 1851) also compared to Sanskrit arh- "to be worthy".
  16. Erchtag was a name of Tuesday in Bavarian dialect; see Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie, 113; 182—185.
  17. 1 2 apparently a Gothic name; perhaps from fardi "travel" (Förstemann, 401), perhaps also from frithu "protection".
  18. 1 2 Okasha, Elisabeth (2016-12-05). Women's Names in Old English. Routledge. ISBN 9781351871211.
  19. perhaps conflated with hild- from an early time.
  20. names with this second element have been conflated with names in -rad. Förstemann 1900:875.
  21. names with this second element are uncertain, most of the candidates could contain the simple suffix -ing. Förstemann 1900:877.
  22. Lena Peterson Nordiskt runnamnslexikon (2002)
  23. cognate to Old Irish néit "combat", see Pokorny (1959), p. 755.
  24. Yonge, p. 306.
  25. see Hellmut Rosenfeld, Der Name Wieland, Beiträge zur Namenforschung (1969)
  26. Förstemann, 1332f.
  27. Förstemann, 1224.
  28. "ÞRUÐ - Nordic Names Wiki - Name Origin, Meaning and Statistics". Retrieved 2017-01-31.
  • Colman, Fran (2014). The Grammar of Names in Anglo-Saxon England: The Linguistics and Culture of the Old English Onomasticon. Oxford linguistics. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198701675. 
  • Olof von Feilitzen, The Pre-conquest Personal Names of Domesday Book (1937).
  • E. Förstemann, Altdeutsches Namenbuch (1856; online facsimile)
  • Förstemann, Ernst (1900). Altdeutsches Namenbuch (3 ed.). Bonn: P. Hanstein. 
  • Lena Peterson, Nordiskt runnamnslexikon, 4th ed. (2002); 5th ed. (2007).
  • P. R. Kitson, (2002). How Anglo-Saxon personal names work. Nomina, 24, 93.
  • F. C. Robinson, (1968). The significance of names in old English literature. Anglia, 86, 14–58.
  • Justus Georg Schottel, De nominibus veterum Germanorum, in: Ausführliche Arbeit Von der Teutschen Haubt-Sprache, Zilliger (1663), book 5, chapter 2, pp. 1029–1098.
  • Franz Stark, Die Kosenamen der Germanen: eine Studie: mit drei Excursen: 1. Über Zunamen; 2. Über den Ursprung der zusammengesetzten Namen; 3. Über besondere friesische Namensformen und Verkürzungen, 1868.
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Viehbeck, Die Namen der Alten teutschen: als Bilder ihres sittlichen und bürgerlichen Lebens (1818; online facsimile)
  • H. B. Woolf, (1939). The old Germanic principles of name-giving. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • H. C. Wyld, (1910). Old Scandinavian personal names in England. Modern Language Review, 5, 289–296.
  • Charlotte Mary Yonge, History of Christian names, vol. 2, Parker and Bourn, 1863.
  • Schönfeld, Moritz (1911). Wörterbuch der altgermanischen Personen- und Völkernamen. Heidelberg: C. Winter. 
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