Origin: Old Norse
Meaning: wolf counselor
British English (RAFE); American English (RELF)
The name is derived from the Norse male name, Raðulfr, which is composed of the elements, rað (counsel) and ulfr (wolf). The name has been in usage in England since Anglo-Saxon times, due to viking settlers and remained common even after the Norman conquest. Throughout the centuries, the name has gone through an evolution. In Medieval times it was often rendered as Ralf, then by the 17th-century it was commonly spelled Rafe to reflect the proper pronunciation and by the turn of the century Ralph became a household name (pronounced RELF) in the United States. Within the United States, it was also commonly used as a diminutive form of Raphael or at least as an English equivalent by various immigrants.
The highest the name has ever ranked in U.S. naming history was between 1914 and 1917, consecutively ranking in at # 21. As of 2010, it was the 968th most popular male name. It is currently the 447th most popular male name in the Netherlands (2010).
Its Latin equivalent of Raul ranked in significantly higher, it was the 336th most popular male name in the United States (2010), the 48th most popular in Catalonia (2009) and the 32nd most popular in Spain (2010)
Other forms of the name include:
Rault (Old French)
Raoult (Old French)
Roul (Old French)
Raðulfr (Old Norse)
Ralphie is a common diminutive form in the English-speaking world.
The name was borne by a 12th-century male saint. It is also borne by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Designated name-days are: March 7 (Estonia), March 27 (Sweden) July 7 (France), August 27 (Sweden)
Raul is also the name of a volcanic island in the Kermadec archipelago.
- Ernst Förstemann, Altdeutsches namenbuch (1900), page 1219