The Onomastics of the Gothic language (Gothic personal names) are an important source not only for the history of the Goths themselves, but for Germanic onomastics in general and the linguistic and cultural history of the Germanic Heroic Age of c. the 3rd to 6th centuries. Gothic names can be found in Roman records as far back as the 4th century AD. After the Muslim invasion of Hispania and the fall of the Visigothic kingdom in the early 8th century, the Gothic tradition was largely interrupted, although Gothic or pseudo-Gothic names continued to be given in the Kingdom of Asturias in the 9th and 10th centuries.


The names of the Goths themselves have been traced to their 3rd century settlement in Scythia. The names Tervingi and Greuthungi have been interpreted as meaning "forest-dwellers" and "steppe-dwellers", respectively. Later on, the terms Ostrogothi and Visigothi have also been understood to mean "Eastern Goths" and "Western Goths", although all four etymologies are not without detractors.[1]

Jordanes gives partly mythological genealogies leading up to historical 4th to 5th century rulers:

Another important source of early Gothic names are the accounts (hagiography) surrounding the persecution of Gothic Christians in the second half of the 4th century. Many of the Gothic saints mentioned in these sources bear resemblance to Syrian, Cappadocian and Phrygian names, following in the baptismal tradition of that time.

Even though the Muslim invasion of Hispania (715 AD) and subsequent fall of the Visigothic kingdom in the early 8th century caused most Gothic naming traditions to be lost, a type of Gothic or pseudo-Gothic[2] naming tradition continued in the Kingdom of Asturias, which by that time had become the central driving force behind the Christian reconquest of Andalusia. Thus, Alfonso I of Asturias was originally given the Gothic name *Adafuns or Adalfuns, becoming one of the most popular names in the medieval Iberian kingdoms.

In France, where remnants of the old Visigothic Kingdom still remained (Gothic March),Gothic names continued to be common up until the 12th century.[3]

List of names

Gothic names of the 4th to 6th centuries include:

recorded name Gothic form
etymology lifetime identity/source
Ariaricus fl. 330s Balthi Therving king
Aoricus fl. 340s Therving king
At(h)alaricus Aþalareiks aþal(a) "noble" + reiks "ruler" d. 534 king of the Ostrogoths
Athanaricus Aþanareiks aþni "year" + reiks "ruler" fl. 369, d. 381 Therving king
Ermanaricus Airmanareiks Ermana "all men" + reiks "kingdom" c.f. Arminius, Herman, Manrique Amali king of the Greuthungi
Odotheus/Alatheus Audaþius or Alaþius auda- "wealth", or ala- "all"(?)[4] plus þius "servant" fl. 380s king of the Greuthungi
Alaricus Alareiks ala "all"(?)[4] + reiks fl. 395–410 Visigothic king
Fritigernus Friþugairns friþus "peace" + gairns "desiring" fl. 370s Therving leader
Friþareikeis Friþareiks friþa "peace" + reiks "ruler" (i.e. Frederick) d. 370s martyr[5]
Wingourichos, Jungericus Wingureiks fl. 370s Therving official
Gainas fl. 390s Gothic Magister militum
Sigericus sigu "victory" + reiks "ruler" d. 415 Amali king of the Visigoths
At(h)aulphus Aþaulf or Ataulf aþa(l) "noble" or ata "father" + ulf "wolf" r. 410–415 Balthi king of the Visigoths
Theodericus Þiudareiks þiuda "people" + reiks "ruler" (see Theodoric) r. 418–451 Balthi king of the Visigoths
Ragnaris Raginariþ[6] ragina (c.f. Vandalic Raginari ) and riþ, both meaning "counsel" d. 555 A Hunnic leader allied with the Ostrogoths

See also


  1. ^ Arne Søby Christensen, Heidi Flegal (trans.), Cassiodorus, Jordanes and the History of the Goths: Studies in a Migration Myth 205f.
  2. ^ H Reichert, "Sprache und Namen der Wandalen in Afrika" in: Albrecht Greule, Matthias Springer (eds.), Namen des Frühmittelalters als sprachliche Zeugnisse und als Geschichtsquellen, 50f.
  3. ^ Wolfram (1990:p. 233)
  4. ^ a b the element ala- may be polygenetic
  5. ^ recorded in the Gothic calendar fragment
  6. ^ Schönfeld (1911), p. 184.