given name A given name (also known as a forename or first name) is the part of a personal name quoted in that identifies a person, potentially with a middle name as well, and differentiates that person from the other members of a group (typically a fa ...
s are traditionally dithematic; that is, they are formed from two elements, by joining a prefix and a
suffix In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the Stem (linguistics), stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns, adjectives, and verb endings, which form the Grammatical conjugation ...
. For example, King Æþelred's name was derived from ', for "noble", and ', for "counsel". However, there are also names dating from an early time which seem to be monothematic, consisting only of a single element. These are sometimes explained as
hypocorism A hypocorism ( or ; from Ancient Greek: (), from (), 'to call by pet names', sometimes also ''hypocoristic'') or pet name is a name used to show affection for a person. It may be a diminutive form of a person's name, such as ''Izzy'' for I ...
s, short forms of originally dithematic names, but in many cases the etymology of the supposed original name cannot be recovered. The oldest known Germanic names date to the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings aro ...
period, such as those of '' 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). A great variety of names are attested from the medieval period, falling into the rough categories of Scandinavian (
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian, is a stage of development of North Germanic languages, North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and t ...
), Anglo-Saxon (
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inhabita ...
), continental ( Frankish, Old High German and Low German), and East Germanic (see Gothic namesGothic 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 The Iberian Peninsula (), ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a pe ...
during High Middle Ages; c.f. and
) forms. By the High Middle Ages, many of these names had undergone numerous sound changes and/or were abbreviated, so that their derivation is not always clear. Of the large number of medieval Germanic names, a comparatively small set remains in common use today. In modern times, the most frequent name of Germanic origin in the English-speaking world has traditionally been William (from an Old High German ), followed by Robert and Charles ( Carl, after
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; german: Karl der Große; 2 April 747 – 28 January 814), a member of the Carolingian dynasty, was King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards from 774, and the first Holy ...
). Many native English (Anglo-Saxon) names fell into disuse in the later Middle Ages, but experienced a revival in the Victorian era; some of these are Edward, Edwin, Edmund, Edgar, Alfred, Oswald and Harold for males; the female names Mildred and Winifred also continue to be used in present day, '' Audrey'' continues the Anglo-Norman (French) form of the Anglo-Saxon , while the name '' Godiva'' is a Latin form of . Some names, like Howard and
Ronald Ronald is a masculine given name derived from the Old Norse ''Rögnvaldr'',#H2, Hanks; Hardcastle; Hodges (2006) p. 234; #H1, Hanks; Hodges (2003) § Ronald. or possibly from Old English ''Regenweald''. In some cases ''Ronald'' is an Anglicised ...
, are thought to originate from multiple Germanic languages, including Anglo-Saxon.

Dithematic names

Monothematic names

Some medieval Germanic names are attested in simplex form; these names originate as
hypocorism A hypocorism ( or ; from Ancient Greek: (), from (), 'to call by pet names', sometimes also ''hypocoristic'') or pet name is a name used to show affection for a person. It may be a diminutive form of a person's name, such as ''Izzy'' for I ...
s 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/Elmo, 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 hypocorisms 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

* Gustav has been interpreted by e.g. Elof Hellquist (1864 - 1939) Swedish linguist specialist in North Germanic languages as ''gauta-stabaz'' (gauta-stabaR) "staff of the Geats"; it may also originate as an adaptation of the Slavic name ''Gostislav''. *Old English Pǣga (unknown meaning) * Pepin * Morcar * Zotto * Cleph * Pemmo

See also

* Dutch name * German name * German family name etymology * Scandinavian family name etymology * Germanic placename etymology ** German placename etymology ** List of generic forms in British place names * List of names of Odin * Slavic names * Germanic personal names in Galicia * Germanic names in Italy


* *Olof von Feilitzen, ''The Pre-conquest Personal Names of Domesday Book'' (1937). *E. Förstemann, ''Altdeutsches Namenbuch'' (1856
online facsimile
* *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. 1029–109

*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. *

External links

Germanic names
Ancient Germanic names
Gothic and Suevic Names in Galicia (NW Spain) before 1200
Nordic Names: Name Elements

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