Origin: Old Norse
Meaning: “ever ruler; always ruler.”
The name is derived from the Old Norse elements, ei meaning, “ever, always, one, only” and rikr meaning “ruler.”
The last element of rikr shares a root that can be traced back to Indo-European. Compare the Celtic rix (king), the Latin rex (King) and the Sanskrit raja (King).
The oldest record of the name can be traced to a rune stone in Sweden, dated from around the 1st century C.E. It reads: “Erik and suir and Tonna erected this stone for their father, Gudmund.”
In Scandinavia, Erik has been used among nobility and royalty since Viking times. It was borne by several Danish, Norwegian and Swedish kings and rulers. It was also the appellation of Eric the Red, (Eiríkr inn Rauda), a 10th-century Norse explorer who is credited for his discovery of Greenland.
The name was introduced into the English speaking world by Danish settlers during pre-Norman times, however, the name was never common in Medieval England. It was revived in 19th-century Britain, thanks in part to the novel Eric, Little by Little (1858) by Frederic William Farrar.
In the United States, its early popularity is more likely due to the sudden influx of Scandinavian immigrants during the late 19th-century. Ever a classic in Scandinavia and among the Scandinavian diaspora, Eric was continually given to the descendants of the first bearers who settled the North American shores.
In 1880, Eric appears as the 600th most popular male name, by 1896, when Swedish immigration was at its peak, he had jumped several hundred spaces, coming in as the 388th most popular male name in the United States.
The highest Eric has ever peaked in U.S. naming history was between 1973 and 1976 coming in as the 13th most popular male.
Currently, he stands as the 86th most popular male name, (2008).
In other countries, his rankings are as follows:
- # 80 (Canada, B.C., 2008)
- # 48 Erik (Hungary, 2008)
- # 32 Erik (Norway, 2009)
- # 50 Erik (Sl0venia, 2005)
- # 9 (Sweden, 2009)
Other forms of the name include:
- Aric (Anglo-Saxon: original English spelling)
- Eryk Эрык (Belarusian/Polish)
- Erig (Breton)
- Erik ЭрикDanish/Dutch/Czech/Estonian/Finnish/German/Hungarian/Norwegian/Russian/Spanish/Swedish/Ukrainian
- Eric (Danish/English/Norwegian/Slovene/Swedish)
- Erick (Danish/English/German)
- Jerik/Jerrik (Danish)
- Jerk (Danish/Swedish: dialectical form)
- Eerik (Estonian/Finnish)
- Eirikur (Faroese)
- Eerikki (Finnish: dialectical form found in Karelia)
- Ertto (Finnish: dialectical form from East Finland)
- Erkka/Erkki/Erkko/Erkku (Finnish)
- Jerkka (Finnish)
- Éric (French)
- Erich (German)
- Eiríkur (Icelandic)
- Jórekr/Jórekur (Icelandic)
- Erico (Italian/Spanish)
- Ericus (Late Latin)
- Eiríkr (Old Norse)
- Eirik (Norwegian: Nynorsk)
- Érico (Portuguese)
- Erke (Sami)
- Erk (Swedish: obscure dialectical form)
- Erker (Swedish: obscure dialectical form)
- Jerker (Swedish: dialectical form)
Finnish diminutives are: Eera, Eeri, Eiro, Eppo, Eppu, Era and Ero.
Its feminine form of Erica has also left an impression on the English-speaking world. The fact that it also coincides with the the Latin name for heather, may have also boosted the name’s popularity.
Currently, Erica ranked in as the 293rd most popular female name in the United States, (2008). The highest she ranked was between 1986-1988, coming in as the 31st most popular female name.
Other variations include:
- Aricca (Anglo-Saxon: obscure Medieval form)
- Erika Эрика (Czech/Danish/Dutch/German/Hungarian/Icelandic/Norwegian/Russian/Slovak/Slovene/Swedish)
- Erica (Danish/Dutch/English/Italian/German/Norwegian/Romansch/Spanish/Swedish)
- Erikka (Danish/Finnish)
- Erikke (Danish)
- Jerika (Danish)
- Ericka (German)
- Eirika (Faroese)
- Eerika/Eerikka/Eriikka (Finnish)
- Eryka (Polish)
- Érica (Portuguese)
A feminine Finnish pet form is Eekku.
The designated name-day is May 18.