In honor of Rudy Valentino’s 90th Jahrzeit (death anniversary), I decided to do a post about the wonderful, underrated name Rudolph. Given my dinosaur tastes, I associate the name with my beautiful favorite actor instead of an animated reindeer.
Rudolph is the English spelling of Rudolf, which comes from the Germanic name Hrodulf (contracted form Hrolf). It’s derived from the elements hrod (fame) and wulf (wolf). Thus, the meaning is akin to “famous wolf.” The spelling Rudolf is German, Dutch, Polish, Czech, Russian, Armenian, Slovakian, Slovenian, Serbian, Hungarian, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Croatian.
Rolf is a German and Scandinavian variation, and Rodolf is an uncommon German and Dutch variation. Another Dutch variation is Roelof. Rudi is the German and Hungarian nickname, Ruedi is the German-Swiss nickname, and Ruud and Roel are Dutch nicknames.
Rodolphe and Rodolph are French forms. Rodolfo is Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. Spanish nicknames include Fito and Rodolfito. A Swedish nickname is Roffe.
Roul was the Medieval English and French form (not to be confused with Raoul, though they do have a related wolf etymology). Other obsolete forms are Hrólfr and Hróðólfr (Old Norse), and Hrothulf and Hroðulf (Old English/Anglo–Saxon).
Rollo, or Rolo, is the Latinized form of the Medieval French Roul, and came into general usage in the English-speaking world in the 19th century. Rolph is an uncommon English variation of Rolf. Rudy, of course, is the English spelling of the nickname.