Dieter, Dietrich, Derek, Dirk, Till

Gender: Masculine
Origin: German

      Both Dietrich and Dieter are similar in sound, but slightly different etymologically, now considered dated in their home country of Germany, as well as in Austria and Switzerland, Dieter (DEE-ter) is derived from the Old Germanic elements theud meaning “people” and hari meaning “army.” While Dietrich (DEET-reekh) is a derivative of the ancient Germanic Theodoric, which is derived from the elements theud, (again, meaning people), and ric meaning, “power; ruler.”

      Derek is a low Germanic form of Dietrich. Derek became quite prevalent in the United States circa the late 1960s, he currently comes in at #159.

      Dirk is also an offshoot, being a Dutch diminutive form. This particular form was introduced into the English speaking world by actor Dirk Bogarde, (1921-1999). In the United States, Dirk is not as popular as Derek. The last he was seen was back in 1989 coming in at #993.

      Then there is the simpler version of Till, which is currently very popular in Germany and other Germanic countries, it is an off shoot of the old Low German name, Tielo, which is a variation of Diede, a diminutive form of Diederich. The name was borne by a 7th-century Saxon saint, who was kidnapped and taken hostage Saxony, after his release, he became a Benedictine monk.

      The popular French male name, Thierry, is also a distant relation of Diedrich. The name was borne in the early middle ages by Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, who eventually became King of Italy. In Germany, Dieter and Dietrich’s designated name days are September 7th.

      Other forms of the name include:

      • Theoderich (Ancient Germanic)
      • Diede (Dutch: initially a diminutive form, used as an independent given name; DEE-de)
      • Diederick/Diederik (Dutch)
      • Thierry (French)
      • Thiadrick (Frisian: older form)
      • Tiede (Frisian: TEE-de)
      • Tiark/Tjark/Tjerk (Frisian: TYARK/TYERK)
      • Diederich (German: archaic and obscure)
      • Dierk (German)
      • Dietreich (German: obscure)
      • Dirich (German: Northern dialectical form, archaic)
      • Till/Til (German: modern form of Tielo, the name is currently very trendy in German speaking countries)
      • Tillo (German)
      • Detrik (Hungarian)
      • Theodoricus/Theudoricus (Latin)
      • Ditericus (Latin)
      • Dieterik (Low Saxon)
      • Tielo (Low Saxon)
      • Didrik (Swedish)
      • Tudor/Tudur (Welsh)

      Some Germanic diminutive forms are: Dietz, Dedo/Deddo, Derk, Diedo, Didi and Diet.

      Feminine versions are:

      • Dietke (Dutch: DEET-ke)
      • Tiada/Tjada/Tjadina (Frisian)
      • Tjalda/Tialda (Frisian)
      • Dieta/Dita/Didda (German)
      • Dietra (German: obscure)
      • Tilina (German)
      • Tilla (German: also used as a contraction for Otilia and Matilda).

      4 thoughts on “Dieter, Dietrich, Derek, Dirk, Till

      1. While I am not a huge fan of Dietrich and Dieter, I quite like Thierry, and also Derek has a special feel to it.
        I must admit, though, that I prefer some of the “more modern” Frisian forms.

        Uhm, I’ll add a few variants if you don’t mind. At least I hope you don’t mind….

        A not too common variant of Dietrich is Dietreich (DEET-riekh).
        The Old Frisian form of Dietrich is Thiadrick (TEE-ah-drick)
        whereas the “Old Northern German” form is Dirich (DEE-reekh).
        Another Northern German variant would be Dieterik (DEE-ter-ick) and the Low German form is Diederick. In addition to those, the Latinized form Ditericus and the Hungarian Detrik can also be found. Somewhere I read that Dederic is used in Denmark and Diederik in the Netherlands.
        The modern Frisian form of Dietrich is Diedrich. The Frisian diminutive is Tiete (TEE-də) whereas Diede (DEE-də) is used in the neighbour country, the Netherlands.
        Older German short forms include Dietz, Dedo, Deddo, Derk, Diedo, Didi and Diet.

        Now, as if all those forms weren’t enough, there are several modern short forms for both Dietrich and Dieter as well as all the other names beginning with Diet- .
        Till and Til were quite popular during the 1980’s and are still used off and on today. In fact, they were such a “success” that people started to elaborate them to Tillmann, Tillman, Tilmann and Tilman. Also Tielo (TEE-loh) and Tillo can be found. The latter also formed out two feminine equivalents: Tilina and Tilla (Tilla is also a German short form for Matilda/Mathilda/Mathilde/Mechthild and Ottilie).
        Some genuine Frisian short forms of Dieter and Dietrich are Tjark (Tyahrk), Tjerk (Tyeark) and Tiark (TEE-ark); given that it’s a Frisian name, Tjark became quite popular: in 2008 he managed to hit the German top 500. Feminine forms are Tjada (TYAH-da), Tiada (TEE-ah-da), Tjadina (TYAH-dee-nah), Tjalda (TYAHL-da) and Tialda (TEE-ahl-da).
        Other feminine short forms of Diet-names are Dieta, Dita, Didda and Dietke.

        Dieter’s feminine form is Dietra (not too common, though).

        Some common feminine Diet- names: Dietburg, Dietgard,Dietgart, Diethild, Diethilde, Dietlind, Dietlinde, Dietmut, Dietmute, Dietrun, Dietrune….

        • Thanks for all those variants. I have seen quite a few Tills in the German and Swiss Birth Announcements but I had no clue as to the origins. I would have never guessed Dietrich. Tilina is quite pretty. Since Till is so trendy in German, I think he is going to need an article all of his own 🙂 Is Tillmann a made up name or is it a name with separate origins that just happens to have the Till element in it? I think since Tillman sounds surnamey, he would make an appealing choice for American parents.

          • Tillman really does sound surnamey, doesn’t it?
            I’ve only ever seen it listed as an elaboration of Till, so I tend to claim that it’s a made up name; though made up quite long ago. 😉
            When I googled Tillman, I actually found it as a surname (though it seem to be rather rare as such). I think it went the same way as Thomas and Jacob that started out as first names and got also used as surnames at some point.

            Oh yes, Till doesn’t look very Dieter-y anymore, huh? 😉
            Then again, considering that it passed by Tielo before it finally became Till… it makes a little more sense to me 😉

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