Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Alfred

Alfred is a modern English rendition of the Olde English masculine name Ælfræd. The name is comprised of the Olde English elements “ælf” meaning ‘elf’ (one with supernatural powers), and “ræd” which means ‘to counsel’. Alfred is one of those few English forenames that both predated and survived the Norman Conquest of 1066. The endurance of Alfred as an English name is owed in part to the 9th century King of England, Ælfræd the Great (849-899). He became the King of Wessex at the age of 22 during a period of history when those pesky Danes were attempting to invade southern England. After a series of battles, Ælfræd was able to unite the whole of England in a successful defense and became the first King of the Anglo-Saxons. The “great” moniker would be bestowed upon him centuries later; the only English monarch to achieve such a status. Illiterate at first, Ælfræd became a self-taught scholar and translated Latin books into Olde English. He is also considered the “father of the English Navy” because he built a fleet of ships to prevent future invasions. Due to his enduring fame and prominent place in English history, the persistence of the name Alfred after the Norman Invasion can be owed to him. At the end of the Middle Ages, the name would become rare until a later revival in the 19th century. Today Alfred is most popular in the Scandinavian countries of Denmark and Sweden where the name is pronounced more like AHL-frət.

All About the Baby Name – Alfred



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Alfred is an example of a well-known and formerly common masculine name that has really gone out of style in America. These old turn-of-the-century boys just haven’t fared as well as the old-fashioned ladies. Alfred entered the 20th century at position #42 on the charts (1900) when names like Walter, Fred, Ralph, Herbert, Elmer and Floyd rounded out the Top 50. Alfred maintained a Top 50 spot on the American charts for well over 50 years, from the late 19th century all the way up through 1932. After that, Alfred fell off the Top 100 in 1952 and would slowly decline on the charts in the ensuing decades. By the 1990s and 2000s, Alfred’s drops on the charts became much more pronounced as the name came to be considered frumpy and old-fashioned. Today the name is barely a Top 1000 favorite. In fact, the Spanish/Italian form of the name (Alfredo) is quite a bit more popular than old Alfred. Still, Alfred is an English classic; a gentleman’s gentleman. Makes us think of Batman’s valet (manservant) Alfred Pennyworth. There’s just something so dignified about this name, and the option of Alfie as a nickname is perfectly charming. Parents opting for names like Alfred are representative of those who buck the trends. And more power to them.

Quick Facts













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Cultural References to the Baby Name – Alfred

Literary Characters


Alfred Doolittle is the father of Eliza Doolittle in George Bernard Shaw’s 1912 play, Pygmalion, (made as a British film in 1938), from which Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe adapted the hugely successful Broadway musical (1956) and subsequent film (1964), My Fair Lady. Alfred is the quintessential working man with a thirst, a moral marrying man (six times) and a somewhat less than attentive father to his daughter. And he is unforgettable, especially as portrayed by the inimitable Stanley Holloway. He is willing to “sell” Eliza to Professor Higgins, but only for enough money as is fair – he’s no scam artist. After listening to some of Aflred’s richly phrased aphorisms, Higgins recommends him for a post lecturing on moral and social reform. This is exactly the sort of thing that Alfred Doolittle hates – he is becoming middle class and comfortable – no worse fate! Back to the dustbins for him – much more pleasant is the life that can be led “wiv a little bit o’luck”. All in all, an enchanting scoundrel!

Alfred Pennyworth is the proper and dignified valet to Bruce Wayne (and Dick Grayson/Robin) in the DC Comics series, Batman, first appearing in 1943. In fact, Alfred transcends this employee relationship, and is a kind of surrogate father to Batman. Alfred is also a behind-the-scenes mystery solver himself, his back story having had him a retired intelligence officer, who only goes into service at the dying wish of his father (now, that’s some deathbed curse!). Alfred makes the best of it, however, and once he discovers it, he is utterly trusted to keep the secret of the Dynamic Duo’s identities. Throughout the many years of the series, Alfred endures much on behalf of his charge, and sometimes is overtaken by dark forces himself. Ultimately, however, he is always there for Batman, donning disguises, fighting crime, rescuing “the boys”, mending limbs, healing injuries and, of course, serving up the occasional perfect brandy and soda. Alfred does all this with style, tempered with his entertaining and sarcastic wit – he is the perfect addition to any Batcave!

J. Alfred Prufrock is the narrator of T. S. Eliot’s classic poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, published in 1915. J. Alfred Prufrock is a man in a middle age crisis in a century undergoing a crisis of its own. He is a man caught upon the spires of indecision and frustration, and his narrative progresses in an almost dream-like state, one thought morphing into another as his stream of consciousness shifts. Shall he part his hair behind? Dare he eat a peach? And, of course, unspoken, is there a God? Is there love? Is there anything beyond these rooms where the women come and go, talking of Michaelangelo – that, indeed, may be the “overwhelming question”. In essence, J. Alfred Prufrock, for all his particularities and peculiarities, is Everyman – no Hamlet he! And Everyman and Everywoman today, as one hundred years ago, are creatures at the mercy of the universe’s immutable laws of what-we-know-not keeps us here and then disposes of us, leaving us all echoing his lament: “That is not what I meant at all. That is not it, at all”.

Childrens Books


We cannot find any childrens books with the first name Alfred

Popular Songs


Sunflowers for Alfred Roy
a song by Mariah Carey

a song by Hungry Lucy

Famous People


Alfred Hitchcock (film director)
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (English poet)
Alfred Nobel (scientist and namesake for the Nobel Prizes)
Alfred Matthew Yankovic (aka "Weird Al")
Alfred Molina (actor)
Alfred (various English royalties)
Alfred Hawthorne Hill (aka Benny Hill, comedian)

Children of Famous People


We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Alfred

Historic Figures


Alfred Hitchcock was the master of British and American horror films in the twentieth century, producing such classics as Psycho, Rebecca, Vertigo, North by Northwest and a score of others. He also produced a popular television program during the 1960s and 70s, featuring ironic commentary by him as host, and made cameo appearances in most of his films, becoming a well-known and iconic figure in the process. His cultivation of the cool blonde persona made for signature roles for such actresses as Eva Marie Saint, Grace Kelly and Tippi Hedren. Alfred Hitchock’s films often explored the psychoanalytical underside of human nature, the effects of sexual repression and the sometimes unholy alliances between mothers and children (particularly sons). At the same time, he disparaged the use of Method acting in his films, preferring the straightforward approach from the “learn your lines and be on time” school of acting. His own background was relatively inauspicious; the son of a greengrocer, Alfred rose to prominence and knighthood over his lifetime, stayed married to one woman for fifty-four years and was apparently a doting father to his only child, Patricia. The usual rumors notwithstanding, Sir Alfred Hitchcock apparently lived a life that was a far cry from his famously notorious characters.