Germanic name

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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 æþel, 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 were abbreviated or corrupted, 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

element meaning prefix suffix examples notes
act, aht, oht fearsome(?)[4] YesY Ohthere, Ohtrad, Actumerus, Octric, Actulf; Actohildis, Octolindis
*agi-; eg, ecg, egg, ekk, agin, egin sword, blade YesY Egbert, Ecgbald, Ecgwine, Ekkehart, Ecgric, Eginolf; Ecgwynn Some names in ag-, eg- may be unrelated in origin; see Förstemann, 9.
agil, ail, eil  ? YesY Agilperht, Agilfrid, Agilulf, Egilger, Agilmar, Egilrat; Alruna, Agilburgis, uncertain etymology; like agin perhaps a hypostatis of the older ag-; Förstemann, 22. See Agilaz.
ala all YesY Alafrid, Alager, Alamunt, Alarad, Alaric, Alaruna, Alasuind Some names in ala- have this etymology; others are corruptions of names in aþal-. Förstemann, 39.
ald, eald old YesY [5] Altopold, Altiperht, Aldfrid, Aldegar, Aldman, Aldwig, Aldwin; Aldedrudis, Aldeberga/Aldburg, Aldigart, Altagund, Aldelindis
*albi-; ælf, elf, alf elf YesY [6] Ælfwine, Ælfric, Alfred, Ælfweard, Ælfsige;[7] Ælfflæd, Ælfwaru, Ælfwynn
*alh, alah, ealh hall, temple YesY Ealhhelm, Alhred, Ealhwine/Alcuin; Ealhswith, Ælgifu(?)[8] perhaps related to runic alu
amala work(?) YesY Amaleberga, Amalafrida, Amalrica, Amalaswintha/Melisende/Millicent, Ealhswith c.f. Amalia, Amelie. This element's etymology is uncertain, but it is frequently compared to Old Norse aml "work".
angil, engel; ingal/ingel Angles tribal name YesY Angilbald, Angilberht/Engelbert, Engilfrit, Angalgar, Angilhelm/Ingelhelm, Engilhoh; (Ingalberta), Angilburga, Angildruda, Engilgund Names in angil- may arise with Christianization, by conflation with the prefix ingal-, an extension of the theophoric ing- prefix; see Förstemann, 89.
*aþal-, adall, æthel noble YesY Æthelhard, Æthelred, Adolph, Adelbert, Adelbrand/Alebrand, Albert, Æthelwulf; Æthelburg, Adelaide, Æthelflæd, Æthelthryth/Audrey see ethel, odal
*ans-, ON ás, OHG ans, AS os god YesY Oswin, Oswald, Ansgar, Ásleikr/Anslech/Oslac,[9] Ansfridus, Anshelmus, Ansgisus, Ansbrecht, Answald; Osburh, Osgyth, Osthryth
ar, ara, ari, arni, earn eagle YesY Arafrid, Aramund, Arswind, Arfrid, Arnipert, Arnold, Arnulf Many of these names cannot be distinguished with certainty from the corresponding name in hari-.
arb, erb, erf inheritance YesY [10] Arbogastis, Erbhart, Erphari, Erpolach, Erflind, Erbemar, Erpmund, Erferat, Erferih, Erpwin, Erpulf hypocorism Aribo, Erbo
asc, æsc ash, spear YesY Aschari, Asclind, Ascarich, Ascwin, Asculf c.f. Oisc, Ask
*audaz, aud, od, euþ, auþ, euth, ead, eod, jóð wealth, prosperity YesY Audeca, 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  ? YesY Eanhere, Aunefrit/Eanfrith, Aunemund, Onerich, Aunulf; Eanflæd Etymology unknown; see Förstemann, 181.
aus, aust, eost radiant; a goddess YesY Auripert, Aurendil/Orendil/Aurvandil, Aurulf; Ostheri, Austrad, Austrobert, Austraberta, Ostarpurc, Aostarger, Aostargart, Austrigisil, Ostarhilt, Ostremund, Austrad, Australd, Ostruin, Austrulf possibly theophopric, see Eostre, Aurvandil
bald bold YesY YesY Baldwin; Theobald, etc. very frequent, and often conflated with the wald element.
baud, bad, bud  ? YesY YesY Baudigisil, Baudegund, Baudemund, Baudulf uncertain etymology; mostly in old names (before the 8th century) Förstemann, 216f. In later use indistinguishable from bald
baug ring YesY Baugegundus, Bauglind, Baugulf
*berht-; beraht, bryht, briht bright YesY YesY Byrhtnoth, Bertrand, Beorhtric, Brihtwyn; Cuthbert, Albert, Albright, Robert, Adelbert hypocorism Bert. One of the most frequent elements, but not attested before the 6th century.
burg, beorg fortress YesY YesY Burchard/Burkhart, Burgred; Eadburh/Æthelburg, Osburh, Redburga, Walpurga The suffix is feminine only. See also Burke
bera, bern, berin, beorn bear YesY Berengar, Berahart/Bernhard, Berhildis, Berahoch, Bermar, Berimund, Beornwulf c.f. Beonna, Berig
bil blade, sword YesY Biligrim,[11] Bilihelm, Bilihild, Belimar, Bilidruda, Pilolf among the Saxons often monothematic, as Bilo, Pilicho, Pillin, Billung
blic lightning YesY Blictrud, Blicger, Blicgart, Plechelm, Blicildis
blid blithe YesY Bliddruda, Bllithar, Blithelm, Blidhild, Blidmar, Blidulf, Blidemund, Plittelmi
bord shield YesY Herebord, Hiltiport, Saelbort, Willipord
brand sword YesY YesY Branthildis, Branthoc, Brandulf; Adelbrand, Hildebrand, Hadubrand, Theudebrand c.f. Brant. Attested from the 7th century, with the exception of Gothic Brandila
brun armour, protection; brown YesY Brunfrid, 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, tag  ? YesY YesY Tagapald/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, idis lady YesY YesY Dissibod, Disnot Names with this prefix are probably theophoric. In Nordic feminine names with the suffix -dis, the meaning is "woman".
diur, deor  ? YesY Deurtrudis, Thiurhilt, Deorold, Deorulf The meaning of this element may be either "animal" (deer) or "dear". See also Deor.
dom judgement YesY  ?[12] Dombert, Domedrudis, Domegerdis, Domalde, Duomolf
druht, droc, druc people YesY Droctbold, Drocberta, Drutberga, Drucfred, Druhtgang, Truhthari, Droctelm, Dructildis, Druhtmar, Dructimund, Dructuin, Dructulf
ebur, eber, eofor boar YesY Eparpert/Everbert, Eureberga, Euurdag, Ebertrudis, Eparfrid, Eberger, Eberhard/Eoforheard, Ebarhelm, Eburhilt, Ebirmuot, Ebermunt, Ebarolt, Eberwin/Ebroin, Eberulf, Eboric
era, eri, erin, ern honour YesY Erarich, Eranbald, Erambert, Ernulf Probably 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, eorcen "pure, genuine"[13] YesY Ercanberaht/Eorcenberht, Ercanbold, Ercamberta, Ercanpurh, Ercantrud, Ercanfrid, Ercangar, Ercanhilt, Erchensinda, Erchanold, Archanolf/Erchenulf Förstemann, 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.[14]
erl, eorl warrior, noble YesY Erlabald, Erlefrida, Erligar, Erlemund, Erliwin, Erlulf Pokorny suggests a tentative link with ari-, arni- "eagle", an 'l' suffix form of which is found in the Balto-Slavic languages.
ewa, ew, eu, eo ever YesY Euin, Eubert, Eomar, Eumund, Ewirat, Eric, Eowig, Eolf
far, fara; fart, fard journey, travel YesY YesY Farabert, Faregar, Feriher, Farohildis, Ferlinda, Faraman, Faramod, Faramund, Faroald, Faruin, Faraulf, Farnulf; Farthilt, Fartman, Ferdinand,[15] Fardulf, ; Adalfer, Leobafar, Sicfara, Theudifara
fast firm, fast YesY Fastburg, Fastrada, Fastrih, Fastwin, Fastulf
fili much/many(?) YesY Filibert, Feologild?, Filuliub, Filomar, Filomuot
*friþu-; ON friþ, OHG fridu protection, peace YesY YesY Fredegar, Ferdinand,[15] Frithuwold; Godfried, Dietfried, Sigfrid/Siegfried; Frithugyth; Friedrich
flad, flæð purity, glory, beauty YesY YesY Fladebert, Flatberta, Flatberga, Fladrudis, Fledrad, Flidulf; Albofledis/Ælfflæd, Ansfledis, Audofleda/Aethelflaed, Berhtflat, Burgofledis, Druhtflat, Ermenfleda, Gerflat, Gundiflat, Hrotflat, Ratflad, Sigiflat, Wynflæd The suffix is feminine only.
fram spear, javelin YesY Frambold, Frambert, Framsindis, Franemund, Franswinda almost exclusively Frankish names.
franc tribal name YesY Francobert, Frangomere, Franchrih
fraw, fro, frea; fri lord YesY Frowin, Frawibald, Frawiprecht, Frawihilt, Frowimund, Frowini, Frauirat, Frawisinda, Freawaru; Friher, Frehild, Friulf c.f. Fróði; theophoric (see Fraujaz, Frijjō).
frig, freh bold YesY Frigobert, Frehholt, Friculf
frod wise, prudent YesY Frotbald, Frodobert, Frotfar, Frotfrid, Frodegard, Frothard, Frotland, Frotmir, Frotmund, Frodwin, Frodulf hypocorisms Frodo, Frutilo, Frodin
frum good, beneficial YesY Frumiger, Frumihilt, Frumirat, Frumirih, Frumold, Frumolf, Frumar
fulc, folc, volc people, folk YesY YesY Folcbald, 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, fús eager, brave YesY Amdefuns, Adalfuns/Alphons, Bernefons, Hadufuns, Sigifuns, Valafons
gail, gel gay YesY Gelbold, Geilindis, Geilamir, Gailswindis, Geilwib, Geilwih, hypocorism Gailo, Geliko
gamal, gam old YesY Gamalbold, Gamalbert, Gamalberga, Gamaltrudis, Gamalfred, Gamalher, Camalrat,
gaman joy YesY Gamanhilt, Gamanolt, Gamanulf only Old High German, rare
gan magic YesY YesY Gannibald, Ganefard, Ganhart ; Adalgan, Audiganus, Wolfgan
gand, gend (?) YesY YesY Gantberga, Gentfrid, Ganthar/Ganther, Gendrad, Gandaricus, Gandulf  ; Gredegand, Charigand, Hrodogand, Gislegendis hypocorisms Gando, Gantalo, Gandin; c.f. Gandalfr (mythological)
gang path, journey YesY YesY Gangperht, Gangulf; Bertegang, Druhtgang, Hildigang, Hrodegang, Wiligang, Wolfgang
gar, ger, earlier gais spear YesY YesY Gerald, Gerhard/Gerard, Gerbrand; Edgar, Hrothgar/Roger hypocorism Gero, Gerry. Very frequent both as prefix and as suffix. Gerðr is the wife of Freyr in Norse mythology.
gard enclosure YesY YesY Gardrad, Gardulf; Hildegard, Irmgard, Liutgart, etc. Rare as a prefix, very frequent as a suffix. The great majority of names with this suffix are feminine.
gast guest; spirit YesY YesY Castald, Gestilind, Gestiliub, Gastrad; Altgast, Alpkast, Andragast, Arbogast, Cunigast, Hartigast, Hiltigast, Hungast, Lindigast, Milgast, Nebiogast, Salagast, Suabgast, Widogast, Visogast Mostly as suffix; frequent in early (3rd to 4th centuries) names; frequent conflation with Slavic names (Radegast, Gustaph).
gaud, gaut, gaus, got, goz tribal name YesY YesY Gauzebald/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; gold worthy; gold YesY YesY Giltbert, 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, gib gift YesY YesY Gibbold, Gibborga, Gibitrudis, Giffrid, Gebhard, Gebaheri, Gibohildis, Gebahoh, Gebalinda, Geberad, Geberic, Gebawin, Gibulf; Ælgifu/Ælfgifu, Ælthelgifu/Eadgifu, Godgyfu/Godiva, Ottogeba, Thialgif, Willigip hypocorisms Gabilo, Gibilin, Gebi, Gabo, Gibicho, etc.
gisil, gisel hostage, pledge YesY Giselbert, Giselric, Giselhard; Giselberga hypocorism Gisela, c.f. Giselle
glis gleam YesY Glismot, Glisnot
god, got god / good YesY Godfrid/Godfrey, Godscalc, Gothard, Gotwald in 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
graus horror, terror YesY Crosmuat (8th century), Grausolph (9th century) simplex Grauso, Chroso, Cros, Kros, etc.;
graw, gra grey YesY Graobart, Grahilt (8th century), Graman (8th century), Graulf (8th century)
grim helmet, mask YesY Grimwald; Grimhild/Krimhild
guma man YesY Gomadrudis, Gomoharius, Gomahilt, Gomaleih, Gomlinda, Gumemar, Gumarich, Gumesind, Gumoalt, Gomolf
*gunþ-; gund, gud, gyþ, gyð battle, war YesY YesY Gunther/Gunter, Gunnhild; Gudrun; Eadgyð, Rigunth, Ealdgyð/Edith, Frithugyth
hag, hagan; hah (?) YesY Hagibert, Hagihar, Hachirat, Hagoald, Hagiwolf; Hahger, Hahmund, Hahwart, Haholf Attested 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, heit rank, state YesY YesY Haidrich, 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; hailag whole, healthy YesY YesY Hailbert, Hailun, Hailburch, Hailtruda, Heilan, Heilmunt, Hailrat, Hailwin; Halagmund, Halegred, ; Rihheil, Sarahailo Hailo, Halicho (8th century); conflated with the elements agil and hal.
*haim-; OHG haim, heim, AS hæm home YesY Henry, Heimwart hypocorism Haimo
haist, heist furious, violent(?) YesY Haisthilt, Haistulf, Hailun c.f. Old English hæst; also compared with the tribal name of the Aesti.
hamar hammer YesY Hamerard, Hamarolf rare; limited to a handful of names of the 8th century.
hand hand(?) YesY Hantbert, Hantker, Handegis, Hantwin, Handolf rare, 8th and 9th centuries.
harc altar(?) YesY Harcmot, Hercrat, Harchellindis (f.), Horcholt rare, 9th and 10th centuries; c.f. the entries under ercan.
hard, heard brave, hardy YesY YesY Hartman, Hartmut (etc.); Æthelhard, Richard, Gerhard (etc.) very frequent, recorded from as early as the 3rd century.
*hari, her army YesY YesY Diether, Hereweald/Harold, Herbert, Herleif, Herman/Arminius, Ariovistus, Ariouualdus hypocorism 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, hadu battle, combat YesY YesY Hadubrand, Hadufuns, Hedwig; Rihhad, Willihad, Wolfhad, Vunnihad frequent, from the 6th century, formally indistinguishable from haid.
hedan, haidan heathen, pagan YesY YesY Hedenold, Hedenulf ; Wolfhetan rare; 7th to 9th centuries.
helm protector YesY YesY Helmut, Helmdrud, Helmfrid; Diethelm, Ealhhelm, Cwichelm, Nothhelm, Wilhelm hypocorism Helmo. Comparatively frequent from the 6th century.
heah, hoch high YesY Heaberht, Hámundr c.f. Huoching/Haki
hild- war YesY YesY Gunnhild, 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, help aid, help YesY Chilperic, Helpoald, Helpuin, Helpwolf rare; Chilperic is from the 5th century, other names with this element occur only in the 8th and 9th centuries.
hilt, hilz, helz hilt YesY [16] Hilcekin, Helzuni, Helzolt rare; 8th to 11th centuries
himil heaven YesY Himildrud, Himilger, Himilrad rare, 8th to 10th centuries.
hir- sword YesY Hiring, Hiribert, Hirburc, Hiriger, Hiriward 9th century; Gothic hairus, Anglo-Saxon heoro- "sword", also in the tribal name of the Cherusci.
hiruz, hiriz, herz hart, stag YesY Hirizpero, Herzrad(?); dim. Hirzula rare
hleo protection YesY Hleoperht, Hlevagastir
hlud, hloda fame YesY Hlothhere, Chlodwig/Ludwig/Louis, Chlodomir; Chlodoswintha
hog, huog dexterous, nimble(?) YesY Huogobert, Huoging, Hogo
hol crafty, devious(?) YesY Holebert, Holomot, Holemund, Holosint
hord, hort hoard, treasure YesY Hortbert, Horthari, Hordold, Hordward, Horduin,
hraban raven YesY YesY 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).
hrad' quick, fast YesY (?)[17] Hradperaht, Hradpurh, Hradgast, Hrathari, Hradwin
hraid, hreid' famous(?) YesY Hreiðmarr, Hreidperaht, Hreidgaer, Hreitolf also in the name of the Hreiðgoths.
hring, ring ring YesY (?)[18] Hringuni, Rhincbold, Ringhelm, Hringweald, Hringolf Förstemann 1900:877 suggests that the "ring" element in origin refers to ring-mail
hroc, roc  ? YesY YesY 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, rom glory YesY Ruombald, Rumbert, Ruumker, Hrumheri, Ruomlind, Romuald, Romulf since the 5th century; hypocorisms Ruom, Roma, Rumo. Förstemann 1900:883
*hrōþ-; hruot fame YesY YesY Hrothgar/Roger, Hrodberht/Robert, Roderick, Roland; Adalrod, Fridarut, Hartrod, Liutrod, Sigirod 8th century; hypocorisms Chrodius, Hrodo, Hrodio, Hroda; Förstemann 1900:883
hug, hyg spirit, courage YesY ( YesY) Hugibald, Hygelac, Hugubert, Hugibrant, Hucger, Hugilind; Adalhug, Kerhuge
hun  ? YesY YesY Hunferthus, Hunbeorht; Andhun, Berthun; Ælfhun c.f. Hun of East Anglia
ing a god YesY Inga, Ingeborg, Inger, Ingvar, Ingrid
irm(en), erm(en) strong, whole YesY Eormenred, Ermenrich/Hermeric/Emmerich/Emery/Amerigo; Ermegard/Irmgard, Ermendrud/Ermintrud/Irmtrud possibly theophoric, see Irminsul; hypocorisms Irma, Armin, Emma
ise(n) iron YesY YesY Isebert/Isebrecht, Isenhart Isegrimm may in origin have been a kenning for "wolf".
jut- tribal name YesY Judida, Judinga, Jutcar, Judilidis, Jutrad, Joduin, Judelhildis probably from the name of the Juthungi or the Jutes
jung young YesY Jungarat, Jungericus, Jungulf, Jugenprand 8th to 10th century, rare (used more rarely than ald- "old")
karl, carl, ceorl man YesY YesY Carlofred, Carlman; Altcarl, Gundecarl rare; possibly extensions from the simplex.
*kōni-; cen, coen fierce, keen YesY Conrad/Konrad, Cynric, Coenwulf
*kun(n)i-, OHG kuni, chun, also chim, chin, chind; AS cyne kin, offspring, child YesY Kunibert, Kunimund, Cynewulf; Kunigunde, Cynethryth; Chindasvinth; Adelchind, Drudchind, Widukind, Willekind hypocorism Kuno, Chintila
*kunþ-; cuþ renowned YesY Cuthbert, Cuthred
kwik-; cwic alive, lively YesY Cwichelm
laik play/dance YesY (?) 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, Zitleich possibly as first element in Leikert, Leuckart; Laigobert
laif, laf, leib survivor, heir (YesY) YesY 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, Leibwart the 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".
laith dangerous, hostile YesY YesY Ansleth, Wolfleit; Leitbraht, Leitfrid, Leither, Leidmuot, Laidarat, Laidoin, Laidulf rare
lamp fitting(?) YesY Lampert, Lampfrid rare, 8th to 10th century
land land YesY YesY Acland, 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
laug bride? YesY 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, Þraslaug only as a suffix in feminine names; the suffix is presumably from a root *lug "to celebrate marriage; to be dedicated, promised (in marriage)"[19]
lind soft, mild (YesY) YesY Gislinde, Heidelinde, Rosalint, Ermelind, Kristlind, Melinda, Odelinde, Sieglinde, Theodolinda, Þórlindur; Linddís, Lindolf, Lindvald, Lindvardh, Linveig very frequent as a second element in feminine names
liub, leof desirable, friendly YesY Leofric, Leofwine
liuti people YesY Liutger, Lutold; Liutgard
magan, megin; maht might, strength YesY Manfred, Maganradus/Meinrad; Mathilde, Meinfrida
*mēri-; mære, mer, mar, mir famous YesY YesY Chlodomir, Miro, Filimer/Filimir, Marvin, Odomir, Ricimer, Theodemir, Theodemar, Thiudimer, Valamir, Waldemar, Vidimir/Widemir, Wulfmar/Wulfomir
mund protection YesY Edmund, Sigmund, Remismund, Rechimund
noþ, OHG nand[20] courage YesY YesY Nothhelm; Byrhtnoth, Eadnoth, Ferdinand, Wieland/Wayland
ræð counsel, wisdom YesY YesY Radegast, Radwig, Radulf; Alfred, Eadred, Conrad, Tancred, Wihtred; Ratberga/Redburga
ragin counsel YesY Raginald/Reginald/Reynold, Reginbert, Reginmund; Regintrud, Rægenhere, Ragnar
*remez, remis peace YesY Remisto, Remismund
run rune, secret YesY Gudrun, Walaruna
rīki-; OHG rihhi, AS rīc ruler YesY YesY Richard, Rechila, Rechiar, Rechimund, Richimir, Roderick, Sigeric, Theodoric, Henry, Eric, Godric
sax, seax seax; tribal name YesY Sexred; Seaxburh
sinþ, sind, siþ travel, time YesY Sindolf/Sindulf, Sindram, Sindbald, Sindbert Sinthgunt as "Sun's sister" in the Merseburg Incantations
sig, sigi, sige victory YesY YesY Sigborg/Siborg, Sigebald/Sibbald/Sibold, Sigbod/Sibot, Sigibert, Sibrand, Sigmar, Sigmund, Sighart, Sighelm, Sigher/Siger, Sigrad, Sigeric, Sigtrygg, Sigward, Sigwald, Sigulf/Sigewulf; Ælfsige;[7] Sigelinde/Siglind, Sigtrud possibly theophoric in origin, in reference to Teiwaz, and later Odin, the god of victory.[21] Hypocorisms Sigo, Sike, Sikke.
stan stone YesY Æthelstan, Thorsten, Wulfstan also in simplex Sten, from Scandinavian Steinn
swint, swiþ strength YesY YesY Swinthibald; Amalaswintha; Swinthila
tank thought, counsel YesY Tancred/Dancrad, Dancmar
trygg truth YesY Sigtrygg
wand, wandal wander, wend YesY Wandefrid, 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
weald power YesY YesY Waldemar, Walther; Edwald, Frithuwold, Harold
warin; weard guardian YesY YesY Warinhari/Wernher/Werner; Brunward, Edward, Sigward; Freawaru, Ælfwaru
wiht wight, spirit YesY Wihtred
wil will, desire YesY Wilhelm, William
win, wini, wine, wyn(n) friend / joy YesY YesY Winibald, Winimund, Winibert; Ælfwine, Ecgwine, Edwin/Audoin, Erwin, Leofwine, Marvin, Oswin; Wynflæd; Ælfwynn, Ecgwynn, Brihtwyn
wig battle, war YesY YesY Wiglaf, Wigbert, Wigheard; Ludwig, Hedwig
wal(a), wel, wæl battle YesY Wieland/Wayland,[22] Walaman, Walarad, Walerand, Walaruna, Walesinda, Wala-anc, Walahelm, Walaram hypochoristic Wallia, Walica. c.f. Valhalla, Valkyrie, Valföðr etc.
wod (wad?) fury YesY Wodilhilt (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.[23] 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".[24]
wid(u), wit wood, forest YesY Withhold, Widukind hypocorism Guido, Guy
wulf wolf YesY YesY Adolph, 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)
þeod people YesY Theodoric/Dietrich/Derick/Dirk, Detlef, Diether, Diethelm, Theobald, Dietfried, Theudebert, Theodemar; Dietlinde
*þegnaz, degen warrior, thane YesY YesY Degenhard, Degericus; Deitdegen, Edildegan, Drûtdegan, Heridegan, Swertdegan, Volcdegen
þryþ, drut force, strength YesY YesY Drutmund; Æthelthryth, Osthryth, Cynethryth, Ermintrude, Gertrude names with this suffix are feminine only; ON Þrúðr "Strength" is a daughter of Thor in Norse mythology. Hypocorism Trudy, Trudi
þonar, donar, þór (god of) thunder YesY (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, Turis giant YesY Thusnelda (1st century; presubambly for *Thurishilda), Thurismund (6th century), Thurisind (6th century), Turisulfus an 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), Anso, Anzo/Enzo, Folki/Folke/Fulco, Gero, Helmo, Ise/Iso, Kuno, Lanzo, Manno, Odo/Otto, Rocco, Sten, Waldo, Warin, Wido, Wine, Wolf/Wulf
  • Feminine: 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> and Förstemann, Ernst (1900). Altdeutsches Namenbuch (3 ed.). Bonn: P. Hanstein.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. c.f. OE ehtan
  5. names terminating in -ald are from -wald.
  6. Vestralpus, the name of an Alamannic king, may be a rare instance of this element occurring in the second part of a name.
  7. 7.0 7.1 attested as latinized Ælsinus
  8. perhaps reduced from Ælfgifu, or Ælthelgifu.
  9. this name survives in corrupted form in the given name Axel and in the surnames Aslock, Hasluck
  10. some possible rare exceptions, such as Fulcarb.
  11. often conflated with Latin Pilgrim, Peregrinus
  12. perhaps as a suffix in certain names latinized as -domus.
  13. 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".
  14. Erchtag was a name of Tuesday in Bavarian dialect; see Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie, 113; 182—185.
  15. 15.0 15.1 apparently a Gothic name; perhaps from fardi "travel" (Förstemann, 401), perhaps also from frithu "protection".
  16. perhaps conflated with hild- from an early time.
  17. names with this second element have been conflated with names in -rad. Förstemann 1900:875.
  18. names with this second element are uncertain, most of the candidates could contain the simple suffix -ing. Förstemann 1900:877.
  19. Lena Peterson Nordiskt runnamnslexikon (2002)
  20. cognate to Old Irish néit "combat", see Pokorny (1959), p. 755.
  21. Yonge, p. 306.
  22. see Hellmut Rosenfeld, Der Name Wieland, Beiträge zur Namenforschung (1969)
  23. Förstemann, 1332f.
  24. Förstemann, 1224.
  • 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • 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.[1]
  • 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 (PDF). Heidelberg: C. Winter.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links