Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Eric

Eric is the preferred English spelling of the Old Norse name, Eirik. Eirik is derived from the North Germanic “ei” (meaning “ever, always”) and “ríkr” (meaning “ruler”). The name was introduced to England by Scandinavian settlers and Viking invaders during the Middle Ages, but it didn’t enjoy widespread usage among English-speakers until the 19th century. One of the reasons behind Eric’s increased popularity in England in the 1800s was owed to a widely-read book by Frederic Farrar called “Eric, or, Little by Little” published in 1858. You might say it was a 19th century, Victorian-era version of an adolescent coming-of-age story wherein the protagonist, Eric, “in spite of the inherent nobleness of his disposition, falls into all folly and wickedness, until he has learnt to seek help from above.” The book was an instant bestseller and the name stuck (see literary references below). Eric is still extremely popular among Scandinavians, particularly in Sweden (although the Swedes favor the spelling Erik with a “k”), and the name was borne by many notable Scandinavian kings and powerful Viking warriors. Erik is also a top name in Norway, Belgium, and Hungary. In the United States and Canada, Eric (with a “c”) is the favored spelling. It is also surprisingly popular in Catalonia and Spain.

All About the Baby Name – Eric

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME ERIC

The number Eight personality has everything to do with power, wealth and abundance. Somehow, this personality has been blessed on the material plane, but their authoritative and problem-solving traits provide evidence that their good fortunes are not just the luck of the lottery. They are well earned. This is the personality of CEOs and high-ranking military personnel. Eights are intensely active, hard-driving individuals. Success is only meaningful to them after a job well-done.  They are remarkable in their ability to see the larger picture right down to the smallest details, and organize a strategy around success. They then have the ability to direct a group around them toward any goal, and realize individual potential to get the most out of their team.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME ERIC

Eric was a moderately popular baby boy’s name 100 years ago, but started to climb the charts more aggressively in the 1940’s. Eric’s glory days came between 1965 and 1989, during which time Eric was on the Top 25 list of most-commonly used boy names for 25 straight years. His high point of popularity came in the years from 1973 to 1976 when Eric was the 13th most favorite baby boy’s name nationwide. The name has slowly dropped in usage since 1990 but is still hanging out around the Top 100. Eric has a strong Germanic sound, a distinct Nordic flavor, and it hearkens us back to the days of marauding Viking warriors. Having been around for many centuries, the name is a classic but definitely not old-fashioned. It’s simple, masculine and handsome. The name Eric is solid choice for a boy’s name. It’s one of our “eternal” favs.

Quick Facts

ON ERIC

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

Nordic

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

118

PRONUNCIATION:

AIR-eck

SIMPLE MEANING:

Eternal ruler

Characteristics

OF ERIC

Authoritative

Powerful

Tough

Tenacious

Wealthy

Problem-solver

Achiever

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Eric

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME ERIC

Eric is one half of the twin set, “Samneric”, in Nobel Prize winner William Golding’s first novel, Lord of the Flies, published in 1954. They are identical twins, part of a group of British boys marooned on a desert island who are trying to survive and to self-govern. Eric and his brother are responsible for keeping the signal fire lit, and in so doing, they discover the body of a downed pilot, whom they mistakenly take to be “The Beast”, the mythical monster the boys have conjured up. Eric’s main virtue is loyalty to his twin – in the hierarchy of the island, Eric is too young to be a driving force; he and his brother are among the “littluns”. In fairness, Eric tries to stay on the path of righteousness, as represented by Ralph, but he is just too immature to withstand the torture inflicted upon him, although his lack of stamina does cause him pain and guilt. Eric bears too heavy a responsibility of symbolism to be allowed to be “just a boy”.

Eric Williams is the protagonist of Frederic W. Farrar’s 1858 boys’ novel, Eric, or, Little by Little. Novel is a generous word – it is a warning tale of the evils that may beset a good little Victorian boy despite his best intentions. Eric is a twelve year old at a boy’s boarding school who wants to be – heaven forbid! – accepted by his peers. Although he himself is pure of heart, he does not speak out against the evidence of wrongdoing in others, lamentably thereby sealing his fate. Oh, the horrors of the underbelly of public school! There is smoking, drinking, bad language, cheating – and throughout it all, Eric joins in, knowing the peril to his immortal soul! Actually, some of the goings-on sound quite amusing, and one suspects Mr. Farrar of relating them with some enjoyment, albeit coated with pious admonition. Don’t you worry – Eric gets his comeuppance. He runs away to sea and contracts a fatal illness; returning home to the welcoming hearth of his aunt’s home, Eric prepares to die – “oh, happy, happy at last – too happy!” So let that be a lesson to you. Or not.

Written by a morally upright, private-school headmaster turned author named Frederic Farrar in 1858, “Eric, or Little by Little” is a mid-Victorian schoolboy instructional pamphlet masquerading as a lengthy novel. Enormously popular in its day, the story follows young Eric Williams from his entrance into an all-boy’s boarding school in pastoral England to his premature death as a repentant young man. Sandwiched in between these two milestones are all the “adventures” leading Eric down the path of temptation and escalating bad behavior until his final salvation (punishment?) through death. Conservative Victorian parents loved the novel for its God-fearing earnestness, hoping their own little boys might learn a valuable lesson through Eric’s follies and fate. Repressed pubescent Victorian boys probably loved the novel for all of its titillating naughtiness (drinking, smoking, cheating, and general tomfoolery). Through his protagonist Eric, Farrar demonstrates how even good-natured, innocent boys can easily be enticed into bad decisions and poor behavior; but the final message was one of “universal reconciliation”. In other words, God’s love and mercy will spare even the greatest of sinners.

Popular Songs

ON ERIC

Eric B. is on the Cut
a song by Eric B. & Rakim

Eric B. is President
a song by Eric B. & Rakim

Eric B. Never Scared
a song by Eric B. & Rakim

Eric the Half A Bee
a song by Monty Python

Eric's Song
a song by 12 Stones

Eric's Theme
an instrumental by Vangelis

Eric's Trip
a song by Sonic Youth

Eric
a song by Agents of Good Roots

Famous People

NAMED ERIC

Eric Arthur Blair (real name of George Orwell)
Eric Clapton (musician/guitarist)
Eric Dickerson (foortball player)
Eric R. Kandel (Nobel Prize winner, medicine)
Eric F. Wieschaus (Nobel Prize winner, medicine)
Eric Hilliard "Ricky" Nelson (singer)
Eric Arthur Blair (real name of George Orwell)
Eric Clapton (musician/guitarist)
Eric Dickerson (foortball player)
Eric R. Kandel (Nobel Prize winner, medicine)
Eric F. Wieschaus (Nobel Prize winner, medicine)
Eric Hilliard "Ricky" Nelson (singer)
Eric Arthur Blair (real name of George Orwell)
Eric Clapton (musician/guitarist)
Eric Dickerson (foortball player)
Eric R. Kandel (Nobel Prize winner, medicine)
Eric F. Wieschaus (Nobel Prize winner, medicine)
Eric Hilliard "Ricky" Nelson (singer)

Children of Famous People

NAMED ERIC

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

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME ERIC

Eirīkr Þōrvaldsson (Old Norse) was a 10th century Icelandic explorer credited with founding the first Norse settlement in Greenland. He received his “red” moniker due to the color of his hair; in any case, Eric the Red’s story is indeed a colorful one. As a child, Eric’s father Þōrvald was banished to Iceland from Norway after killing a man, and young Eric went along for the ride. Like father, like son, apparently, because when Eric was just over 30 years of age, he, too, would be exiled from Iceland for the act of manslaughter. Perhaps he received his “red” sobriquet as a result of his fiery temper, as well. As Eric explored the area west of Iceland in search of a place to settle, he discovered Greenland. After finding inhabitable fjords (coastal inlets), he returned with his family to live out his three year sentence. The Þōrvaldsson family lived in near isolation for those three years in exile, but they spent much of that time exploring the lands and seas to the west. Incidentally, Leif Ericsson (the first European explorer of North America – outside of Greenland), was Eric the Red’s son. After returning to Iceland, Eric convinced hundreds of Icelanders to assist him in colonizing the new-found land (and several hundred took him up on his offer). Eric the Red purportedly named the gigantic ice sheet Greenland in an effort to attract settlers. The Greenland colony flourished to about 5,000 Norse inhabitants but ultimately fell apart in the 14th/15th centuries due to a much colder climate resulting from the Little Ice Age, ongoing conflicts with the native population and general undernourishment from soil erosion and famine. In the early 17th century, Denmark re-established sovereignty over the land mass.