On the hunt for a gorgeous German baby name that honors their heritage?
Or perhaps you’re drawn to the allure of vintage baby names.
No matter your motivations, these Old German names could be the way to go.
They’re cool, quirky, and anything but run-of-the-mill.
And the best part?
It’s tradition in Germany to give your child several first names.
So if you’re stuck and can’t choose just one, feel free to use many!
In this article: 📝
- What is the most German first name?
- What is a classic German first name?
- What is the rarest German name?
- More Old German names for girls
- More Old German names for boys
What is the most German first name?
While we can’t say for sure what the most German first name ever is, we can give you ideas for those that have been around for a long time.
The Germanic peoples of Northern Europe traveled down from Scandinavia in the first millennium BC.
The language they spoke closely resembles Germanic languages today, although their tribes were made up of Vandals, Franks, Saxons, Swedes, and others.
Old German names were often combinations of specific roots like ermen in the case of Emma, or adal in Ada.
That’s why you’ll see so many of the same themes running throughout the names.
Often those of nobility, peace, bravery, and strength.
We’ve broken them down separately into Germans names for boys and girls below, but we encourage you to go with the title that speaks the loudest to you.
What is a very German name for a girl?
If you want an authentic German name, embrace the old-fashioned.
Or at least the most enduring.
Here are the most German names for girls that have held the top spot for decades:
- Amelia: This name meaning “work” comes from Amalia.
- Claudia: Meaning “enclosure” or “lame”—an intriguing meaning for a name made famous by supermodel star Claudia Schiffer. 📸
- Ella: Most associate this sweet name with its Hebrew meaning of “goddess”. Others consider Ella a variation of the German word alia meaning “other”. Either way, it’s a long-favored German girl’s name.
- Emma: Originally a diminutive form of Germanic names that began with the ermen root, meaning “whole” or “universal”, Emma has come to hold its own.
- Emmeline: Also a derivative of Amal/Amalia meaning “work”, this classic name has all sorts of charm.
- Gisila: This name we now know as Giselle is as gorgeous as the famous model herself. It means “pledge”.
- Greta: An Old German baby name infused with Hollywood glamor thanks to Greta Garbo. It means “pearl”. 📽
- Heidi: Another German model to make the top spot. Heidi is the shortened version of Adelheid, meaning “noble and serene”.
- Ida: This short and sweet name means “industrious one” or “youthful”.
- Ilse: Meaning “oath of God”. You might recognize this as Elsa. ❄️
What is a very German boy’s name?
The most common German names are often taken from Biblical inspiration or tend to be rooted in Latin, Greek, and Germanic languages.
These are the top traditional German names for boys that have rarely swayed over the years:
- Bruno: Here, we have to talk about Bruno and its old German meaning of “armor”, “protection”, and “brown”.
- Dieter: Meaning “army of the people”. A long-reigning popular German, Dieter has been borne by German politicians, actors, athletes, and celebrities over the past century.
- Fritz: Meaning “peaceful ruler”. ✌🏼
- Johann: Meaning “God is gracious”.
- Karl: This well-known German name meaning “free man” evolved into the royal-sounding Charles. 🤴
- Hans: As much a popular Scandinavian boy’s name as a German one, Hans means “God is gracious”.
- Klaus: Meaning “victory of the people”.
- Otto or Otis: This luxurious name means “wealthy”. 💸💸💸
- Reinhard: A variation on Reynard, meaning “counsel” and “brave” or “hardy”. 🏋🏽♂️
- Wilhelm: An enduring Old German name related to William. It means “will helmet”.
What is a classic German first name?
So we’ve tackled the most German first names with a shout-out to the most popular picks that have captured parents’ hearts for over a century.
But what about the more traditional German names?
Nothing says classic than those old German names gearing up to make a comeback—after all, what is a classic but a beautifully aged piece that never goes out of style…
Classic German names for girls
These traditional German girl names are sure to cause a stir in the near future. Watch this space!
- Astrid: This authentic German name means “super strength”. 🦸🏻♀️
- Berhta: This might look like a spelling mistake, but it is actually the older form of what we now know as Bertha, meaning “bright and famous”.
- Caroline: With its many forms like Karolina, Carrie, Lina, and Kerrolyn, this versatile name means “strong”. 🏋🏼♀️
- Frieda: A lovely German girl’s name meaning “peaceful”, rooted in the Old High German Fridu.
- Gertrudis: Now known as Gertrude, this classic name means “strength”.
- Inga: Feminine form of Inge, meaning “hero’s daughter”. A subtle self-five. 🙌
- Linda: This modern-sounding name is actually a medieval short form of Germanic names with the root lind, meaning “flexible”, “soft”, or “mild”.
- Lorelei: Meaning “alluring”, this German name is unsurprisingly the name of Marilyn Monroe’s character in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. 👱♀️
- Millicent: This old-fashioned name meaning “gentle strength” comes with the adorable diminutive of Millie.
- Willa: This feminine version of the classic name William means “resolute protection”.
Classic German names for boys
You may recognize some of these Old German names—the hallmarks of a true classic name.
Who knows, you may even see one in a whole new light:
- Archibald: This long name is so easily shortened to the ever-popular stand-alone Archie, and means “truly brave”. 🧗♂️
- Dietrich: Meaning “ever-powerful ruler”.
- Ernst: Meaning “vigorous”.
- Frederick: This powerful-sounding name means “peaceful ruler” and pares down so nicely into Fred.
- Heimrich: This Old Germanic name means “estate ruler” and has evolved into Henri and Henry over the years. All three are super strong and commanding. 👑
- Günter: Meaning “battler” and “warrior”.
- Norbert: Once popular, this cute name has become a bit of a rare gem. It means “bright North”.
- Robert: Another one we’ve all heard before, this name means “bright flame”. 🔥
- Ulrich: Meaning “prosperity” and “power”.
- Vulfgang: A true classic, this Old German name molded into Wolfgang over the years. Sure, it may have fallen out of favor in the past few decades, but with a meaning like “one who follows the path of the wolf”, it’s definitely en route for a comeback. 🐺
What is the rarest German name?
Again, the more ancient ones probably top the list when it comes to the most rare.
In many of the names below, you’ll see we’ve included the original version of the name as well as the more modern form (which is often easier to pronounce!):
- Adalberht: Meaning “noble” or “bright”. This fearsome name softened over the years into the cute Albert. ♂︎
- Adalfuns: This name becomes Alfonso in more modern times. ♂︎
- Adelheidis: This tricky to say if-you-don’t-speak-Old-German name has evolved into the gorgeous Ada, which means “noble”. ♀︎
- Alia: This name meaning “completely” or “fairy maiden” has both Hebrew and old Germanic connections. Its more modern version is Ella. ♀︎
- Chlodovech: This ancient form of Ludwig means “famous warrior”. ♂︎
- Eberhard: This strong name meaning “brave as a wild boar” is more commonly seen in its modern form Everett. ♂︎
- Edeltraud: Pronounced e-del-trowt, it means “of noble attitude”. ♀︎
- Godafrid: An Old High German name that once belonged to a 9th-century Danish Viking leader. This older form of Godfrey means ”god” and “peace”. ♂︎
- Haribert: This old Germanic name has shifted into Herbert over the years and means “army”, “warrior”, and “bright”. ♂︎
- Heimo: This interesting boy’s name draws on the root of heim, meaning “home”. ♂︎
- Odilia: With roots meaning both “fatherland” and “wealth”, this stunning name is a great choice if you’re looking to rock a vintage vibe. ♀︎
- Saxa: This fabulous girl’s name is the older form of the more familiar Saskia and refers to a Saxon woman. ♀︎
More Old German names for girls
When it comes to old German girl names, these are our favorites.
They are strong, fierce, and striking. What a gift to give to your girl child!
- Alba: A lovely little name meaning “elf”. 🧝🏼♀️
- Alheit: An Old High German short form of Adelheid. It means “noble kind”.
- Anke: Meaning “God has favored me”. A variation of Anna, popular in Germany and the Netherlands.
- Anneliese: Another variation, this time joined with the Dutch name Leise. Together they form the meaning “graced with God’s bounty”.
- Ava: A name that has become popular in recent times, Ava is a short form of Germanic names beginning with avi, like Avila. It means “birdlike” or “voice”. 🎶
- Charlotte: Meaning “free one”. Its pet name Lotte is also an Old German favorite.
- Elke: Meaning “noble”. An Old German name made iconic by the 1960s actress Elke Sommers. 🎞
- Genovefa: This ancient name evolved into Genevieve, meaning “of the race of women”.
- Gesche: An Old High German name meaning “spear” or “power”.
- Gisela: Meaning “pledge”.
- Hanna: The less common version of the Hebrew girl’s name Hannah. This one is actually a short form of Johanna and means “God is gracious”.
- Hedy: From the Old High German name Hedwig, it means “battle” or “combat”.
- Hilda: This strong female name has a mighty meaning—“battle”.
- Hildegard: Another badass German name from the Old German word hild. This one also means “battle” and has been in use since the 8th century.
- Ima: This lovely variant of Emma is ever so sweet.
- Ingeborg: A rare German name rooted in Old Norse. It means “the help of Ing” and has been in (limited) use since the mid-19th century. Its most iconic bearer? The feminist Austrian poet, Ingeborg Bachmann. ✍🏼
- Käte: Meaning “pure”—a German variation of Katherine.
- Leyna: Meaning “little angel”. 🪶
- Matilda: This popular name means “battle mighty”.
- Margaretha: Meaning “pearl”, Margaretha is rooted in the Greek margarítēs.
- Maud: Meaning “strength in battle”. ⚔️
- Monika: Meaning “advisor” or “unique”.
- Nadine: A lovely name meaning “brave as a bear”. 🐻
- Pepin: Meaning “perseverance”.
- Roderica: Feminine form of Roderick meaning “famous one”.
- Rosmunda: This is the Germanic form of the lovely Rosamund, meaning “protection”.
- Roza: From its Germanic roots, Roza means “fame”.
- Saskia: A name that shares Dutch heritage. It means “saxon”.
- Sigfrida: Meaning “peaceful victory”. 🧘🏾♀️
- Sonja: Primarily of Scandinavian origin, this variation of Sophia has been a favored choice in Germany for decades. It means “wisdom”. 🦉
- Waltraud: A combination of the Old German elements wald (meaning “rule”) and drud (meaning “strength”).
- Win: Meaning “friend,” this simple little name packs a gentle punch. 👭
- Zelda: Meaning “gray warrior”.
- Zinnia: More a surname than an Old German name, but we think Zinnia has a hip flavor to it. Meaning “flower”, it stems from the 18th-century German botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn. 🌷🌻🌹
More Old German names for boys
These Old German boy names have been around for thousands of years, and many are still in use today. Check out our top picks!
- Agi: A little name with a big meaning—“edge of a sword”. 🗡
- Alaric: Meaning “ruler of all”. ‘Nuff said!
- Aldo: This lovely name means “old” and possibly “noble”.
- Alfwin: This magical-sounding name means “elf friend”. A close relative of the adorable Alvin. 🧝♂️🧝🏽
- Anzo: An interesting name meaning “giant”.
- Baldwin: This German name meaning “bold” and “friend” makes a strong first name.
- Bernhard: The German variation of Bernard, this strong name means “bear” and “brave”.
- Bertram: This name means “bright raven” and would be perfect for a dark-haired baby.
- Conrad: Means “brave counsel” and is still a common name in modern Germany.
- Eadmund: This royal name found itself changing to Edmund, and means “wealth” and “protection”.
- Emmett: We’ve already heard all about the girl name Emma, but did you know it has a masculine version too? It means “universal” or “truth”.
- Erwin: Meaning “army” and “friend”.
- Ferdinand: Meaning “journey” and “daring”. 🚵♂️
- Gaston: From the Old German Gasto, this name means “foreign warrior”.
- Gerhard: Loose the ‘h,’ and we have the modern form of Gerard, meaning “spear” and “brave and strong”.
- Gerold: This is the German form of Gerald, meaning “spear” and “rule”.
- Gilbert: This lovely name means bright pledge”.
- Hermann: Meaning “army man”.
- Kuno: This majestic name refers to “clan” or “family”. 👨👩👧👦
- Lanzo: The Old German form of Lance, meaning “land”.
- Leonard: Meaning “brave lion”, this is a lovely name for a little fighter. 🥊
- Leudbald: The Old German for Leopold means “people ‘’ and “bold”.
- Louis: Not just regal-sounding, this name also means “renowned warrior”.
- Luther: Meaning “warrior”.
- Manno: Meaning “man”, this short form of various Germanic names stands well as a name in its own right.
- Milo: Meaning “soldier” and “merciful”, Mylo is an alternative spelling.
- Norman: This historic name meaning “Northman” refers to Vikings. 🛶
- Raymond: Meaning “wise protector”, this German name is one many of us are familiar with.
- Regin: A form of Rein meaning “advice counsel”.
- Richard: This name with Germanic roots meaning “ruler”, “mighty”, “brave”, and “hardy” has stood the test of time.
- Rocco: This stunning ancient Germanic name means “rest” and is a popular boy’s name at the moment.
- Rupert: This German form of Robert means “bright fame”.
- Sigimar: A powerful name meaning “fame” and “victory”.
- Waldhar: This name became the Walter we now know and means “ruler of the army”.
- Waldo: This one means “powerful” and “ruler”. 🧜🏼♂️
- Wilbur: This cute name for a baby boy means “resolute” and “brilliant”.
- Willifrid: The old form of Wilfred, which means “peace”. 🕊
And remember, if you can’t choose, picking more than one name for your child makes it all the more German!