- Origin: German
- Meaning: “famous wolf.”
- Gender: Masculine
The name is derived from the Germanic Hrodulf, which is composed of the elements hrod (fame) and wulf (wolf). The name was borne by several European rulers.
In England, it has been in use since Anglo-Saxon times, its Anglo-Saxon form of Hroðulf was usurped by the Norman Rudolph and Rodolph in the 11th-century.
In the English-speaking world, the name has come to be associated with the Christmas folk hero, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, based on a children’s book written by Robert L. May in 1939.
Rudolf appeared in the U.S. Top 1000 between 1887-1932, and peaked at # 715 in 1916. He appeared 3 times in the French Top 1000 in 1914, 1931 and again in 1933, peaking at #454 in 1934. He was in the German Top 20 between 1893 and 1936, peaking at #11 in 1899 and in 1916.
In France, it’s native form of Rodolphe appeared in the Top 1000 between 1900 and 2001 and peaked at #79 in 1970.
Its contracted form of Rolf has been in occasional use in England since the 11th-century. It was a favorite in German-speaking countries in the 1920s-50s, peaking at #11 in 1947. In Norway, it peaked at #14 in 1945. Rolf has also appeared in the American and French charts, though not very high. Rolf peaked at #210 in France in 1943 and #772 in 1960 in the U.S.
It his diminutive form of Rudy, often used as an independent given-name, is the one which has gained some traction in recent years. Rudy appeared in the French Top 100 between 1979-1984, and peaked at #76 in 1980. Rudy’s current rankings in the popularity charts are as follows:
- #271 (England & Wales, 2018)
- #822 (U.S.A., 2018)
Rudolf is used in Albanian, Armenian, Czech-Slovak, Dutch, Hungarian, Icelandic, Polish, Serbo-Croatian, Slovene, the Scandinavian languages and Russian.
Other forms include:
- Hroðulf, Hrothulf (Anglo-Saxon)
- Roel, Roelof, Ruud (Dutch)
- Rodolf (Catalan)
- Rolph (English)
- Rudo, Ruudo, Ruudolf (Estonian)
- Róðolvur (Faroese)
- Ruuto, Ruutolffi, Ruutolhvi, Ruutolppi (Finnish)
- Rodolphe (French)
- Roele, Roelef, Roelf, Rolef, Rolof, Roloff, Roluf, Roolof (Frisian)
- Rudolp რუდოლფ (Georgian)
- Roff (German)
- Rudi (German, Hungarian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovenian)
- Rudo (German)
- Rul (German)
- Rûtulfe, Ruutuulfi (Greenlandic)
- Rhodólphos Ροδόλφος (Greek)
- Rúdólf (Icelandic)
- Rodolfino (Italian)
- Rodolfo (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish)
- Ridolfo (Italian)
- Rudolphus (Latin)
- Rūdolfs, Rūdis (Latvian)
- Rudolfas, Rudas (Lithuanian)
- Doffen (Norwegian)
- Roffe (Norwegian, Swedish)
- Hróðólfr, Hrólfr (Old Norse)
- Rudulf (Polish, archaic)
- Duff, Dusch, Riedi, Ruosch (Romansch)
- Ruedi (Swiss-German, diminutive form, occasionally used as an independent form)
Feminine forms include:
- Rudolfia (Danish, Norwegian)
- Rodolphine (French)
- Rudolfine (German, Scandinavian)
- Rodolfa, Rodolfina (Italian, Spanish)
- Rodolfetta (Italian)
- Rudolfa (Polish, Scandinavian)
- Rudolfina (Hungarian, Polish, Scandinavian)