John Fred William Riepe & Anna Wilhelmina [Luetger] Riepe Joseph Creighton Riepe, Sr. Bertha Fredericka [Riepe] Lord Ruby Fern Riepe & Otis Wendell Riepe Sophia [Peine] Riepe Josephine Catherine [Riepe] Ernst  

German Names, Nicknames, and Origins

German Naming Customs
German Names, Nicknames & Origins
Riepe Surname





Name Origins

There are so many reference materials for names and their origins, that I will not attempt to discuss  this in detail.  Generally speaking, most German names are attribute names often characterizing prowess in battle.  Below you will find a table with some of the more prevalent German names in Riepe lines, along with their American versions, origins, meanings and nicknames.


I have attempted to list some of the nicknames commonly used by the Germans pre 1900, but the list is by no means complete.  If you have any additional nicknames you are aware of and would like to see added, please let me know.

Be aware that nicknames commonly used today are not always the same ones people used a century or more ago.  Nicknames change, evolve, and go in and out of fashion as do given names.  Many nicknames such as "Bert" and "Bertie", were used for Albert, Adelbert, Bernhard, Herbert, Norbert, and Robert, as well as for women's names such as Alberta. 

Too, some nicknames were used for very different given names.  For example, "Mollie" was a nickname for Amalie and also for Margaret (and its variations).  "Belle" was used for Isabelle, Isabella, Elizabeth, etc.

If you are unsure of an ancestor's given name, but know his/her nickname, I suggest using your browser's "find" function on this page to locate various possibilities of given names.

German English Origin Meaning/ Notes Nicknames
Adam (same) Hebrew "red earth"  
Adelbert, Adalbert, Albert, Elbert Albert Old English "highborn" or brilliant", from adal meaning noble and beraht meaning bright.  All these given names are variations of Albert Al, Bert, Bertie
Agnes (same) Greek "chaste", from Greek adjective hagnos Aggie
Alberta, Elberta Alberta Old English feminine of "Albert" (see above) Bert, Bertie
Alfred (same) Old English "counsel of the elves" Al, Fred, Freddie
Alma (same) Latin "nourishing"  
Alpha (same) Greek first letter of the alphabet, "A", often used for a first born daughter  
Amalie, Emilie, Amalia Emily, Amelia Old German "industrious" or "work" Molly, Mollie
Anna Anna, Ann Latin form of Hannah Ann, Annie, Nancy, Nannie
Anton Anthony Latin "invaluable" or "beyond price" Tony
Arthur (same) Celtic poss. "bear" or "rock"  
Asa, Ase (same) Hebrew "doctor"  
Atlee, Atley (same) Old English "the meadow"  
August, Augustus (same) Latin "worthy of respect" Gus
Benjamin (same) Hebrew "son of the right hand" Ben
Bernhard, Bernhardt Bernard Old German "bear brave" Bert, Barney
Catherina, Katherina Catherine, Katherine Greek "pure" Kate, Katie
Caroline (same) Old German feminine of Charles, Karl and Carl Carol, Carrie, Lina
Casper, Caspar (same) not clear, poss. Persian "he who guards the treasure" Christ
Christian (same) Greek "anointed" or "Christian"  
Christianna, Christine (same) Greek "anointed" or "Christian" (feminine of Christian) Anna, Tina
Christoph Christopher Greek "carrier of Christ" or "bearer" of Christ" Chris
Clara (same) Latin "clear" or "bright"  
Cruzon (same) Spanish "cross", from the Spanish word cruz  
David (same) Hebrew "friend" or "beloved" Dave
Dewey (same) Welsh Welsh form of David  
Diedrich, Diederich Dedrick Low German form of Theodoric "ruler of the people"  
Dora (same) Greek short form of Dorothy, Dorothea, or Theodora  
Dorothea, Dorothy (same) Greek "gift of God".  note: Dorothea and Theodora are variations of each other, with the syllables reversed Dora, Dolly
Edna (same) Hebrew "pleasure" Inez
Edward (same) Old English "wealthy defender" Ed, Eddie
Elisabeth, Ilsabein Elizabeth Hebrew "pledged to God" Elsbeth, Else, Elsie, Elise, Lise, Lisbeth, Lizbeth, Liz, Lizzy, Lizzie, Belle, Bette, Betty
Elmer (same) Old English "noble / famous / highborn / renowned"   
Emil (same) Latin "eager to please"   
Emma, Emeline, Emmaline, Emmalda (same) Old German "embracing everything" Em, Emma, Emmie, Emmy
Engel Angel   "ruler forever", feminine of Eric   
Erika Erica Scandinavian "ruler forever", feminine of Eric   
Ernest (same) Old English "sincere" Ernie, Ernst, Earnest
Esther (same) Persian "star" Hester, Ettie
Ewald (same) Old English "law" "powerful"   
Florence (same) Latin "prosperous", from Roman masculine name Florentius Flo, Floss, Flossie
Franklin (same) English "free landholder"  Frank
Franz (same) Latin "Frenchman", form of Francis  
Friedrich, Friedrick Frederick Old German "peaceful ruler" Fred, Fritz
George (same) Greek "farmer", from Greek word georges meaning "earth worker"  
Gerhard, Gerhardt Gerard Old English "spear brave" Gerard, George
Gertrude (same) Old German "spear strength" Gert, Gertie, Trude, Trude
Gustavus (same) Latin "worthy of respect" Gus, Guss
Guy (same) Old German "wood" or "wide" Harry
Hannah, Hanna (same) Hebrew "grace" or "favour" Anna, Ann, Johanna, Jane
Harriet (same) Old German feminine of Harry or Henry Hattie, Nettie
Harry (same) Old English form of Henry or Heinrich  
Heinrich Henry Old German "ruler of the home or estate" Harry
Helene Helen Old German "sun"or "light", from the Greek word helios, Helene is the German form of Helen which is originally Greek Nellie
Henrietta (same) Old German feminine form of Henry or Heinrich Hennie
Herbert (same) Old German "army bright" Herb, Herbie, Bert, Bertie
Herman, Hermann, Herrmann Harmon Herman Old German "army man" Herm, Hermie, Hemy
Hilda (same) Old German short form of names containing hilde, which means "battle", e.g., Hildegard means "battle guard"  
Hugo (same) Old German "mind, intellect", form of Hugh  
Ida (same) Old German "work"  
Ignatz, Ignatius (same) Old German poss. "fire" or "burning", German form of Latin name, Ignatius Natz
Inez (same) Latin "pure", Spanish variation of Agnes Agnes
Jacob (same) Hebrew "he who supplants" Jake
James (same) English form of Jacob  Jim, Jimmy
Janet (same) Hebrew feminine of John Jan, Jane, Nettie
Johanna (same) Old German German form of feminine of John Hanna, Hannah, Anna
Johann John Hebrew "the Lord is gracious" Hans
Joseph (same) Hebrew "Jehovah increases" Joe
Julianna (same) Latin feminine form of Julius or Julian Julie, Julia
Julius, Julian (same) Latin "youthful" Jule, Jules, Julio
Karl, Carl Charles Old German "man"  
Lavinia, Lavina (same) Latin from Lavinium, an ancient Etruscan city  
Lawrence (same) Latin from the city of Laurentium, near Rome, known for its laurel trees  
Lelah (same) Arab "night"  
Leonhard Leonard Old German "lion brave" Leon, Lee, Leo, Leonard
Lothair, Lothar Luther Old German "famous army"  
Louisa (same) Old German "renowned in battle", feminine of Louis Louise
Lydia (same) Greek from an area in Asia called Lydia   
Mabel (same) Latin "lovable" (short form of Amabel)  
Madge (same) Greek "pearl" (short form of Magarete, and Margaretha)  
Magdelene. Magdelena (same) Aramaic from the town of Magdala on the Sea of Galilee Lena, Maggie, Molly
Margarete, Margaretha Margaret Greek "pearl" Maggie, Peggy, Molly, Mollie, Polly
Maria Mary Latin Maria is the Latin form of Mary.  Mary is a Hebrew name, though the meaning is disputed - some say "rebellious", while other say "bitter" Marie, Ria
Marjorie (same) French short form of Margaret  Marge, Margie, Patty
Martha (same) Aramaic "lady"   
Martin (same) Latin "warlike"   
Matilda, Matilde, Mathilda Matilda Old German "battle mighty" Mattie, Tilde, Tilda, Tillie
Norbert (same) Old German "renowned northerner" Bert
Norma (same) Latin "normal" Normie, Norm
Oliver, Olliver Oliver Latin "olive tree" Ollie
Oscar (same) Scandinavian "divine spear"  
Otto (same) Old German "prosperous" Ott, Ottie
Peter (same) Greek "rock" Pete, Petie
Richard (same) Old German "dominant ruler"  
Robert (same) Old English "bright fame" Bob, Bert
Rosa (same) Latin "rose" Rose, Rosie
Ruth (same) Hebrew "friend " or "companion" Ruthie
Sarah (same) Hebrew "princess" Sara, Sadie, Sally
Selma (same) Old German "godly helmet"   
Sophia (same) Greek "wisdom" Sophie
Theresa, Theresia, Therese (same) Greek "harvest" Tess, Tessie, Tessa
Theodore (same) Greek "gift of God" Theo
Walter (same) Old German "ruler of the army or people" Walt
Wilhelm William Old German "will helmet" Will, Willy, Bill, Billy, Helm
Wilhelmina, Wilhelminia, Wilhelmine (same) Old German "will helmet", feminine form of Wilhelm Wilma, Mina, Minnie


Copyright © 2000-2011 Anne S. Riepe.  All rights reserved.
Last modified:  Saturday, January 15, 2011 06:17 PM