Common Source For All Baby Names (well almost) Northern Indo-European Germanic people who spoke a common language were the originators for Germanic names. During the1st millennium BC, these Scandinavians (Vandals, Angles, Saxons, Danes, Swedes, Goths, etc.) spread across Europe. All Germanic languages or Teutonics descended from this tribal ancestor in the 1st century when Germanic rule dominated the majority of the European continent. Many are still used today, including German, Dutch, English, Yiddish and Swedish. When several tribes were Christianized between 500 – 1000 AD, traditional Germanic names were used alongside Christian names.

Modern Germanic Names Today’s European names are commonly Germanic in origin. Old Norse names like Gustav and Ingrid are still used in Scandinavia. German and French royalty have bore Germanic names including Freidrich, Louis, Charles, Matilda and Henri. Influences from the Visigoth Germanic tribe remains evident in Portugal and Spain where names like Gonzalo, Rodrigo, Alfonso and Fernando are typical. English-speaking areas use Old English originated names like Alfred, Edith and Edward, as well as Norman originated such as Roger, Richard, and William. Old Norse origins can also be found in English names like Arnold, Eric, and Ronald.

Name Elements The etymological portion for a particular name is called a name element. The construction for Germanic first names usually included two elements, dithematic. Names like Gerhard is the combined form of ger (spear) and hard (brave). Meaning didn’t appear to play a significant role in elemental combinations for the names. Preference is noted by frequency in some tribes over others, as well as positional placement, first or second. Militaristic and warklike meanings were common in name elements.

Other typical examples for Germanic name element usage are bert (bright) found in Robert, Albert, and Bertram. Linda is used in naming girls in the US, Finland, Italy, Scandinavia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Holland, as well as Germany. Linda derives from the element linde (soft and tender) and was originally used as a short form for Germanic names. The Spanish word ‘linda’ (beautiful) is coincidental. The name is commonly used in English speaking countries and has over 12 diminutives including : Lindy, Lynette, Lynn, Lyndi, and Lynna. Below are some common names with elemental origins and meanings.

Elements in Germanic Names

  • alf – “supernatural being, elf” comes fr Old Norse alfr, Old Eng ælf
  • Alvin, Algar, Alfred el, adal, al – “noble” comes fr Old Ger adal, Old Norse aðal, Old Eng æðel,
  • Elmer, Adelaide, Albert dis – “goddess” comes fr Old Norse dís
    (Vigdís, Valdís) od, ot, et – “prosperity, fortunate” comes fr Old Ger od, Old Eng ead
  • Edwin, Edward, Edmund, Edgar, Odovacar, Odo ek, eg – “edge of a sword” from Old Ger ek, Old Eng ecg
  • Egbert, Eckhard fred, frid, frit – “peace” comes fr Old Ger frid
  • Wilfred, Frederick, Fritjof rid, frid – “beautiful” comes fr Old Norse fríðr
  • Sigrid, Ingrid, Astrid ger, gar – “spear” from Old Ger ger, Old Eng gar, Old Norse geirr
  • Gerald, Gerard, Gertrude, Edgar hard – “hardy, brave” fr Old Ger hard
  • Gerard, Richard her – “warrior, army” comes fr Old Ger heri, Old Norse herr, arr, Old Eng here,
  • Herbert, Harold, Herman hu, hug – “heart, mind, spirit” fr Old Ger hug

    Hubert, Hugh hild – “battle” fr Old Ger hild, Old Norse hildr
  • Hilda, Brunhilde, Borghild, Matilda mund, mond – “protector” fr Old Eng mund
    Esmond, Edmund, Osmond, Raymond os – “a god, divine” comes fr Old Eng os (rel.= Old Norse áss)
  • Osbert, Oswald, Osmond red, rad – “wise” or “counsel” comes fr Old Eng ræd, Old Norse rad
    Conrad, Alfred ric, rich – “ruler” or “power” comes fr Old Ger ric, Old Norse rikr
  • Eric, Henry, Richard rud, rod – “fame” fr Old Ger hrod, Old Eng hreod
  • Rudolf, Robert, Roderick sig – “victory” fr Old Norse sigr, Old Ger sige
  • Sigurd, Sigmund wald, vald, hold – “rule, power” fr Old Ger wald, Old Norse valdr, Old Eng weald
  • Oswald, Walter, Arnold ward – “guard” fr Old Eng weard
  • Howard, Edward win – “friend” fr Old Eng wine
    Alvin, Edwin

German Names German given names are called ‘Vorname’ and can be more than one. Typically, a full German name includes given name (1 or more) and a surname (family name). European names remain common sources used in Germany for naming their children. Laws dictate what names Germans are allowed to give to their children. The top names used in Germany today are: Va, Emma, Alison, Heidi, Raaf, Abigail, Haakon, Ada, and Aaby.

German Surnames Fischer, Schmidt, Becker, Schneider, Zimmermann, Hoffmann, Wagner and Schultz are common surnames originating from Germany. Schwartz is a last name often associated with great German athletes like Hans Schwartz, 1934 FIFA World Cup football star, Heiko Schwartz, Olympian swimmer, and Alois Schwartz, former football player turned manager in 2009. Famous people who changed their German names in for Hollywood stage names include Ralph Lauren (born Ralph Lifshitz), Tony Curtis (born Bernard Schwartz), Winona Ryder (born Winona Laura Horowitz), and Stephanie Powers (born Stefania Federkiewicz)

Is That German ? Some names with German origin sound so cute, many people would be surprised to discover their true origination.

  • Abby F steadfast and highborn
  • Alicia F noble, nobility
  • Alisha F nobility
  • Allison F noble, kind
  • Ava F bird
  • Axel M father of peace
  • Bill M will-helmet
  • Emily F eager, industrious
  • Emma F all embracing, industrious
  • Erica F honorable ruler
  • Madison F mighty warrior’s child
  • Rachel F female sheep, ewe
  • Sophia F wisdom
  • Lamar M famous land
  • Hannah F loved by God
  • Zara F princess or lady