Germanic name

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 æþel, for "noble", and ræd, for "counsel". Many of these names are still used today, while others have fallen out of use completely.

Honorifics were often added after names, rather than before. For example, King Edmund was "Edmund cyning".

List of Germanic given name elements


  • elf - elf (Ælfwaru, Ælfwine, Ælfric, Alfred)
  • adall, od, ead - wealth, heritage; noble (Odomir, Otto, Æthelflæd, (Æthelhard, Æthelred, Adelaide, Adolph, Adelbert, Albert, Ethel, Edgar, Edmund, Edward, Edwin))
  • bliþ - cheerful (Blythe)
  • ceol - keel, ship
  • coen - fierce (Conrad, Curt, Koenrad, Kurt)
  • cuþ - renowned (Cuthbert)
  • cwic - alive (Cwichelm)
  • eald - old
  • earn - eagle/erne
  • eg - sword (Egbert, Ecgbald, Ecgwine)
  • fri - free
  • gold - gold
  • hæm, holm - home (Denholm)
  • hæþ - heath (Heath)
  • heah - illustrious
  • hlud - fame (Chlodwig, Chlodomir, Chlodoswintha, Ludwig, Louise, Lewis)
  • hreþ - victory
  • hruot - fame (Hrothgar/Roger, Hrodberht, Robert, Roderick, Rodger, Rodney, Roland)
  • hyg - courageous (Hygelac)
  • iaru - prepared
  • ing - (Inga, Ingeborg, Inger, Ingrid)
  • leof - desirable, friendly (Leofwine)
  • liuti - people (Liutger, Liutgard, Lutold)
  • os - god (Oswin, Oswald, Oslac)
  • raþ - clever
  • sax - sword
  • wig - battle (Wiglaf, Wigbert)
  • wala, wæl - battle (Wel-nand,[1] Wala-man, Wala-rad, Wale-rand, Wala-runa, Wale-sinda, Wala-danc, Wala-helm, Wala-ram; hypochoristic Wallia, Walica)
  • þeod - people (Theodoric, Derick, Detlef, Diether, Diethelm, Theobald, Dietlinde, Dietfried, Theudebert)
  • eir, eer, ere - honor (Eric/Erik)


  • bald - bold (Theobald)
  • beorn - bear, warrior
  • beorg - walled town (Burke)
  • brand - sword (Brand, Brant, Hildebrand, Theudebrand)
  • ferþ - mind, soul, life, person
  • flæð (f.) - beauty (Aethelflaed)
  • gard (f.) - enclosure (Hildegard, Liutgart)
  • gar - spear (Edgar, Hrothgar, Rodger)
  • gifu - gift (Godgyfu, Godiva)
  • helm - protector
  • heit - rank, state (Adelaide)
  • hun - young bear
  • lid - gentle
  • laf - survivor, heir (Wiglaf, Herleif, Detlef)
  • mund - hand, protection (Edmund, Sigmund)
  • noþ, OHG nand[2] - courage (Byrhtnoth, Ferdinand, Wel-nand)
  • ræð - counsel, wisdom (Alfred, Conrad, Tancred)
  • run - rune, secret (Gudrun, Wala-runa)
  • stan - stone (Stanley, Sten)
  • swinþ - strength
  • þryþ - force (Æthelthryth, Ermintrude, Gertrude, Thrúd, Trudy
  • walh - foreign
  • waru (singular; wara plural) - guardian of (a particular place) by profession
  • weald - power (Edwald, Harold)
  • weard - guardian (Edward)
  • wine - friend (Aelfwine, Ecgwine, Edwin, Erwin, Leofwine, Marvin, Oswin)
  • wod, odhr - fury (Woðu-riðe)
  • rik, rich - rich (Eric/Erik)

Used as prefix or suffix

  • beraht/bryht - bright (Byrhtnoth, Bertrand, Cuthbert, Albert, Albright, Robert, Adelbert, Bert)
  • fried, ON friþ, OHG fridu - peace (Godfried, Dietfried, Fredegar, Ferdinand, Sigfrid/Siegfried)
  • gund, gud, gyþ - battle, war (Gunther/Gunter, Gunnhild, Haragund, Gudrun)
  • her - army (Diether, Harold, Harry, Herbert, Herleif, Herman)
  • hiltja - war (Gunnhild, Hildebrand, Hildegard)
  • mar - famous (Chlodomir, , Filimer, Filimir, Marvin, Odomir, Ricimer, Theodemir, Thiudimer, Valamer, Valamir, Valdemort, Valdemar, Vidimir, Waldemar, Widemir, Wulfmar, Wulfomir)
  • rihhi - ruler (Richard, Richimir, Roderick, Sigeric, Theodoric)
  • sig - victory (Sigeric, Sigibert, Sigmund)
  • wulf - wolf (Adolph, Beowulf, Cynewulf, Rudolph, Wulfstan). 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.
  • wini - joy (Winston)

See also


  1. ^ from a PIE root *u?el "to wound, to slay", cognate to Greek ???? "wound"; see Hellmut Rosenfeld, Der Name Wieland, Beiträge zur Namenforschung (1969); c.f. Valhalla, Valkyrie, Valföðr etc.
  2. ^ cognate to Old Irish néit "combat", see Pokorny (1959), p. 755.

Further reading

  • Kitson, P. R. (2002). How Anglo-Saxon personal names work. Nomina, 24, 93.
  • Robinson, F. C. (1968). The significance of names in old English literature. Anglia, 86, 14–58.
  • Wyld, H. C. (1910). Old Scandinavian personal names in England. Modern Language Review, 5, 289–296.
  • Woolf, H. B. (1939). The old Germanic principles of name-giving. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Olof von Feilitzen, The Pre-conquest Personal Names of Domesday Book (1937).
  • E. Förstemann, Altdeutsches Namenbuch (1856; online facsimile)

External links

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