Thoughts on the origin of the names Ralph, Ralf, Rolf, Rollo, Rudolph and Rudolf

Ralph seems to have many variations over the years in many countries, such as Rolf, Ralf, and I’ve even heard Rollo.  But its origins is interesting.

Ralph comes from the Old Norse name Hrolf.  This is actually a contraction of the name Hroldolf.  This name would later turn into Rudolf or Rudolph.  This means that the modern names Ralph and Rudolph have the same root word origin! 

Hroldolf is made up of two parts:  Hrold and Olf.  Hrold means ‘famous’ or ‘renown’.  Olf would later turn into Ulf and, subsequently, to Wolf.  This means the word means something like ‘famous wolf’.  This appears to be a Viking name, or a name given to a warrior.

I have even speculated that the world Hrold, which may be pronounced like “Her-ald”, may be related to the English “hooray” or “hoorah”.  This is primarily because they are affirmations of something desired or wanted (that is, “famous”). 


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

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