Derek is a masculine given name that originated in Europe thousands of years ago. During my etymological research, I’ve learned the meaning of the name Derek and what it represents.
Meaning of the Name Derek: A pet form of the Dutch given name Dierderik, the meaning of the name Derek is “ruler of the people” or “gifted ruler.”
Origins of the Name Derek
The name Derek originated in the Netherlands where it was derived from the given name Diederik. Etymologists believe that Derek was first used as a given masculine name around the 14th century. During this period, the Dutch name Diederik was anglicized to Derek.
Prior to the 14th century, other pet variations of the name Diederik were used, including Derik and Derck. But it wasn’t until the 14th century when the name Derek began to appear. Specifically, Derek van Kappel was the ruler of Keppel, Gelderland during the early 1300s. After his death in 1495, his son – who was also named Derek van Keppel – took control of the throne.
With both father and son bearing the name Derek, they were largely responsible for popularizing the name Derek. While they initially introduced the name to the Dutch providence of Gelderland, usage of the name Derek quickly spread throughout Europe before making its way to North America.
The popularity of the Name Derek
In 1929, Derek was the 3,953rd most popular boys’ name in the United States, with birth records showing only 13 newborn boys were named Derek during this year. Derek gradually became more popular in the years to follow, however. In 1939, Derek ranked as the 1,397th most popular boys’ name in the country. In 1949, Derek climbed to the 642nd most popular boys’ name in the United States.
By 1959, Derek was the 254th most popular boys’ name in the United States. Derek peaked in 1982 when it ranked as the 50th most popular boys’ name in the country. As of 2011, Derek is the 181st most popular boys’ name in the United States.
Famous men named Derek include American baseball player Derek Jeter, American football player Derek Barnett, American football player Derek Combs, Irish racecar driver Derek Daily, English football player Derek Bell, American actor Derek Cecil, British actor Derek Griffiths, English artist Derek Hill, American musician Derek Hough, English film critic Derek Malcolm, American musician Derek Murphy and Canadian artist Derek Brueckner.
Popular variants of the name Derrek include Derrick, Derick, and Dirk.
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