Ralph is a contracted form of Old Norse Ráđúlfr meaning “wolf counsel”, made up of Old Norse elements ráđ (counsel) and úlfr (wolf). The name was first brought to England by Scandinavian settlers which was later reinforced after the Norman Conquest through its current form.
Wolves have a complicated relationship in Germanic mythology. They are viewed as a representation of chaos and destruction; in Norse mythology Fenrir was a giant wolf, the offspring of Loki and the giantess Angrboða, who was chained by the gods till the advent of Ragnarök, destined to kill the god Odin. However, Odin himself had two wolves (Geri and Freki) who were faithful pets and represented loyalty, bravery, and wisdom, as well as ferocity and cunning. In this case, it’s possible Ralph may have essentially meant something along the lines of being as wise or cunning as a wolf. Then again, it could have just been the result of two common name elements fused together and has no particular significance attached to it.
Ralph is also an English surname originating from the given name. In British English it’s pronounced rayf while in American English it’s ralf.
Meaning: “wolf counsel”
Usage: English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German
Pronunciation: In British English Ralph is pronounced as rafe while in American English it’s ralf
- Ráđúlfr (Ancient Scandinavian)
- Radulf (Germanic)
- Ralf (German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, English)
- Rafe (English)
- Raef (English)
- Raife (English)
- Raif (English)
- Raff (English)
- Raoul (French, Italian)
- Raul (Portuguese, Italian)
- Raúl (Spanish)
- Radolf (German, Dutch)
- Raül (Catalan)
- Rædwulf (Old English)
- Rádhulbh (Irish)