A variant of the Old German name Walthari, Walter is a masculine given name that first appeared around the 6th century. After looking into its Germanic origins, I’ve discovered the meaning of the name Walter.
Meaning of the Name Walter: The meaning of the name Walter is “ruler of the army,” “army ruler” or “leader of the army.” Walter was derived from the Old German name Walthari, which contains two elements: walt, meaning “rule,” and hari, meaning “army.”
Origins of the Name Walter
The name Walter originated in Europe around the 6th century when Walthari – the name from which it was derived – was used as a given name for boys. While several boys were named Walthari during this time, the name didn’t gain widespread recognition until it was borne by the king of the Lombards. The Lombards were a group of Germanic people who settled on the Italian Peninsula from the 6t century to the 8th century, and they were led by King Walthari.
Over the years, the name Walthari was converted into Walter. In the 10th century, a series of poems were written containing stories about a legendary king named Walter of Aquitaine. Specifically, the Latin poem “Waltharius” tells the story of Walter of Aquitaine and how he successfully defending against an invasion led by opposing king Gunther. Of course, Walter of Aquitaine wasn’t a real king, but he still helped popularize the name Walter by introducing it to millions of poem readers throughout Europe.
The popularity of the Name Walter
Although it still ranks as one of the top 400 boys’ names in the United States, Walter was particularly popular during the late 1800s and early 1900s. From 1880 to 1896, it was the 13th most popular boys’ name in the United States, according to birth records. In 1897, it climbs to the 12th most popular boys’ name in the country.
Walter peaked in 1914 when it ranked as the 10th most popular boys’ name in the United States. The name has since lost some of its popularity. But in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and Italy, you’ll still discover the name Walter being given to countless newborn boys.
The name Walter has been popularized by dozens of famous men bearing this name, some of whom include American filmmaker Walter Disney, American author Walter Kin, German chess player Walter Neophaus, American journalist Walter Cronkite and U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale.
Popular variants of the name Walter include Valter, Walt, and Wouter.
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