Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Frederick

Frederick has Old French origins from the Germanic elements “frid” meaning ‘peace’ and “rīc” meaning ‘ruler, power’. Frederick has a long and noble history dating back to the Middle Ages on continental Europe. The name was borne by several Archdukes of Austria (12th to 13th centuries); Holy Roman Emperors (12th to 15th centuries); Kings of Denmark (15th to 20th centuries); Kings of Prussia (17th to 19th centuries); and Kings of Saxony (18th to 20th centuries). The Norman French introduced the name to England in the 11th century but it did not take hold among the British until centuries later under the influence of the House of Hanover, the German dynasty who assumed the British throne in 1714 starting with King George I (who also happened to be the grandfather of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia). Another famous name bearer was American Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), a former slave turned powerful orator and abolitionist. Variations of this name include Fredrick (Finnish); Frédéric (French), Friedrich and Fritz (German); Fredo (Italian), Federico (Spanish). Diminutives and pet forms are Fred, Freddie and Freddy. Frederick is surprisingly more popular in England today than you might think – currently a Top 100 favorite over the pond.

All About the Baby Name – Frederick



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Frederick has had an interesting ride on the U.S. popularity charts. As with the British, the name Frederick has been a long time favorite and time tested among Americans dating back to the 18th century. By the end of the 19th century, this name was on the Top 50 list of most heavily used male names in the United States. Frederick remained on the Top 100 most popular names list until falling off in 1958. From that point on, the name showed a very slow and modest decline as the decades advanced toward the 21st century. It wasn’t really until the 1990s that Frederick went quickly out of vogue dropping much more significantly in usage year over year. Like Arthur, Louis and Walter – Frederick is considered yesteryear. However, there remains something undeniably handsome and dignified about this name. It is as strong and confident as Captain Frederick Wentworth, Jane Austen’s romantic hero from her 1818 novel “Persuasion”. Frederick remains classic and timeless if even a bit too old-fashioned for many parents of today. Fritz and Freddie are cute nicknames (you could even use Derrick). Like many names of Germanic origin, Frederick is more sturdy and powerful sounding than the romantic Latin-based names. But it also has a nice balancing, yin-yang quality with the duel meanings of “power” and “peace”.

Quick Facts













Peaceful ruler










Cultural References to the Baby Name – Frederick

Literary Characters


Frederick Wentworth is the young, handsome, ambitious (but poor) naval officer with whom Anne Elliot falls in love in Jane Austen’s final completed novel, Persuasion, published in 1817. Having been “persuaded” by her vain, aristocratic family to break with him, she does so, only to encounter him seven years later, now wealthy and remotely unforgiving of her. In the meantime, Anne’s family’s fortunes have decreased, due to the profligate nature of her father. It is Captain Frederick Wentworth who now proves to be the more desirable match. Frederick is the epitome of the self-made man who rises in society due to his hard work and application rather than by the mere acquisition of money passed down through generations. To his credit, Frederick does not allow his having been once rejected to rule his actions. Through more meetings and interactions with Anne, he comes to realize that she is, indeed, a fine woman who had been wrongly “persuaded” against him as a girl. Laying false pride aside, Frederick makes another overture to Anne, and we are given not just a happy “Cinderella” ending, but a vision of a future for this couple that will thrive on respect and equality.

Frederick Tingley is a character in Jane Austen’s novel, Northanger Abbey, published posthumously in 1817. Captain Frederick Tilney is the quintessential bad boy, kind of a “Wild One” Marlon Brando type for the 18th century – this is going to make us like him right away. He pursues Isabella Thorpe, even though that young lady is already engaged to the heroine Catherine’s brother, James Morland. We need to give Isabella her share of the blame here – as soon as her fiancé is out of sight, he’s out of mind. She is disappointed that he is not as wealthy as she had imagined, and she is ripe picking for the likes of Frederick. She flirts shamelessly with Frederick, even when James has returned to town, much to James’ embarrassment. James breaks off the engagement and Isabella’s reputation is in tatters. Exit Captain Frederick Tilney. So, yes, he has behaved badly, but he didn’t do it alone. We say, cut him some slack!

Frederick is a character in William Shakespeare’s popular romantic comedy, As You Like It, believed to have been written in 1599/1600 and likely first performed in 1603. Frederick is the usurper of his brother’s throne, and only allows his niece, Rosalind, to remain at court because she is the best friend and cousin of his own daughter, Celia. Frederick eventually banishes Rosalind, and she and Celia run away together to the Forest of Arden in – guess what? – disguises, Rosalind as a young man and Celia as a poor young girl. Here they meet up with the exile Duke Senior and of course, many of his supporters and various hangers-on. While a lot of cross-dressing and merry-making is going on, Duke Frederick mounts an army against his exiled brother, but abruptly aborts his mission when he meets and is converted by an old religious hermit. Frederick now becomes the good guy – he restores the court to his brother, renounces his old life and remains in the forest to live a life of religious contemplation. So everybody does live happily ever after!

Childrens Books


We cannot find any childrens books with the first name Frederick

Popular Songs


Hey Frederick
a song by Jefferson Airplane

a song by Patti Smith

Fisticuffs in Frederick Street
a song by Toy Dolls

Famous People


Frederick Douglass (abolitionist)
Fred Astaire (born Frederick Austerlitz, actor, dancer)
William Frederick Durst (aka Fred Durst, musician)
Sir Frederick Grant Banting (co-discoverer of insulin)
Freddie Prinze (born Frederick Karl Pruetzel, actor)
Friedrich Nietzsche (philosopher)
Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara, musician)
Frederick (several kings, archdukes and Holy Roman Emperors throughout Europe)

Children of Famous People


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

Historic Figures


Buffalo Bill Cody was born in Iowa in 1846 (the same year Iowa gained Statehood into the Union) but moved to Kansas as a young boy (his Canadian-born parents were vehemently against slavery). Before the age of 25 it seems Cody had already ridden the Pony Express, fought in the Civil War, scouted Indians on behalf of the U.S. Army, and worked as a bison-killer, a fur-trapper and a stagecoach driver. In fact, Bill Cody responded to a Pony Express advertisement at the age of 14; the ad called for "skinny, expert riders willing to risk death daily." That must tell you something right there. Obviously from this vantage point, Cody would have seen a lot of the Old Rugged West. A man with a colorful personality and a penchant for storytelling, Buffalo Bill Cody brought the Wild West Show to eager audiences across the eastern United States and Europe. The rogue cowboy themes of his show delighted audiences everywhere for four decades; Wild Bill Hickok, sharpshooter Annie Oakley and Indian Chief Sitting Bull performed for him. Buffalo Bill Cody was a real legend – his character, love of excitement, infectious personality and pioneering spirit has come to represent everything that is the Old West. He lives on in our imagination…

Buffalo Bill Cody was arguably the most popular and colorful American of his times. He was born in the Iowa Territory to parents who were outspoken abolitionists, which often led to the family being ostracized by others. It does not appear to have had any ill effects on young William, who seems to have taken life into an enormous embrace. At various times, he was a soldier, an Army scout, a fighter in the Civil War, a rider for the Pony Express, a buffalo hunter, and – foremost – a showman of the highest caliber. He won the Medal of Honor and he was a 32nd degree Free Mason. It is said that William Cody earned his nickname after singlehandedly taking out almost 4,300 head of bison in an eighteen month period. We cannot accuse him of wanton slaughter, however, since they were killed for food, and they numbered in the millions at the time (although they are almost extinct now). He seems to have been a respectful emissary to the Indian nations, and he employed many willing Native Americans in his “Wild West” shows, which toured all over the United States and Europe to great acclaim, including command performances before crowned heads. All over Europe, as well as in America, people clamored to see this embodiment of a dying era in frontier history. When he died of kidney failure in 1917, he was widely mourned, and since that time his legend has dimmed little with the years.

Frederick Douglass is the protagonist of his own memoir, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, penned by the famous former slave and orator himself and published in 1845, greatly influencing the abolitionist movement. He describes the evils and brutality of the slave system into which he was born, he knows not what year. Very possibly the son of the plantation owner, Frederick never really knows his mother, having been separated from her at a very young age. Frederick paints a picture for us of a world cruelly experienced, of a world in which one human can be owned by another, in which overwork and beatings are the everyday norm. From such oppressive beginnings, the mighty spirited Frederick rises to undreamt of heights, self-educating and paving the road to personal enlightenment. Never does he stray from his commitment to assisting those whose fate matched his own and to abolishing the demonic system that allowed it to be so.