Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Roland

Roland is an Old French masculine name with Frankish (Germanic) origins. It is made up of the elements “hrōd” meaning “fame” and “land” meaning “land, territory”. The name dates back to medieval Germany and France, and was eventually adopted by the Norman-French who brought the name to England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Roland was a real-life historical figure and Frankish hero who fought for Charlemagne during the 8th and early 9th centuries (during the Crusades); his exploits on the battlefield are famously depicted in the epic literary work “The Song of Roland”, a classical 12th century French poem and the oldest surviving major piece of French literature (French: La Chanson de Roland). For more information on Roland’s “song of heroic deeds”, see literary references below. Today the name Roland is most popular in Hungary where it ranks quite high. It has lost its popularity among English speakers so far in the 21st century. Orlando is the Italian equivalent and Rolando is used by both the Italians and the Spanish.

All About the Baby Name – Roland



The number one personality is a leader - strong and competitive. They are willing to initiate action and take risks. One personalities work hard toward their endeavors and have the ability to apply their creative and innovative thinking skills with strong determination. They believe in their ability to succeed and are too stubborn to be hindered by obstacles. Ones meet obstacles head-on with such mental vigor and energy that you better step aside. They resent taking orders, so don't try telling them what to do either. This is an intensely active personality, but they are also known as starters rather than finishers. They have a propensity to become bored and will move quickly to the next project if not properly challenged.  They are the ones to think up and put into action new and brilliant ideas, but they are not the ones to stick around and manage them. This personality has an enthusiastic and pioneering spirit. They are distinctly original.



The name Roland has greatly decreased in popularity in the last 50 years in America. In the decades from 1900-1930, the name Roland experienced some popularity, coming in at the 98th most popular given name for boys in 1924-1925 (which is the only time Roland hit the Top 100 list). Since the second half of the 20th century and on into the 21st century, Roland has lost his appeal. The Italian Orlando is now more popular in the United States by far. In any case, Roland is a confident and handsome name loaded with heroic traits. It’s currently underused and highly neglected in our opinion, so this one is worth considering for traditional or literary parents looking for more originality in a name. Yes, we’ve heard of the possibility of “Rollie Pollie” schoolyard teasing, but such banter is short lived and only applicable if your son happens to be chubby. Otherwise, it seems a silly reason to ignore a perfectly charming name. Roland is a cool name, end of story.

Quick Facts













Famous land; Renowned in the land









Cultural References to the Baby Name – Roland

Literary Characters


Sweetheart Roland is a German fairytale and one which was collected by the Brothers Grimm. In typical fairytale fashion, Sweetheart Roland tells the story of a witch who has two daughters – the ugly one was her real daughter and so she loved her most. The lovely one was her stepdaughter and so she treated her poorly. The ugly daughter envied the pretty one’s apron, and so the mother-witch promised to get it for her. A plan was devised that the daughter would sleep in the bed that night against the wall, with the stepdaughter sleeping on the edge. The witch would go into the room in the middle of the night and cut off her stepdaughter’s head with an axe. But the lovely stepdaughter overheard the plan and cleverly switched places with her stepsister in the bed. The witch unknowingly beheaded her own daughter and left the room. The pretty stepdaughter went to her “Sweetheart Roland” and revealed what she had done, urging him to flee with her before the stepmother discovered what she had done. Roland told the girl to go back and get the witch’s magic wand, and also spread three drops of the stepsister’s blood throughout the house. When the witch called out to her daughter, the blood answered, giving the lovers some time to escape. The witch eventually found her dead daughter and, in a rage, vowed revenge. She put on her “seven-league” boots and managed to overtake the girl and Roland. But the girl used the magic wand to turn Roland into a lake and herself into a duck. The evil witch approached but was unable to lure the duck toward her; dejected, she returned home. The next day the pursuit resumed. When the witch approached, the girl turned herself into a rose bush and Roland into a fiddler. The witch asked the fiddler if she could pluck the beautiful rose. “Of course” said Roland in disguise, “and I shall play for you.” As the witch emerged herself into the rose bush to reach the flower, Roland played the fiddle faster and faster, forcing the witch into a magical dance as the thorns from the bush ripped her apart into a bloody mess until she died. Now free from the witch, the two lovers decide to marry. Roland left for his father’s house to order the wedding while the girl used the magic wand and turned herself into a stone, waiting for Roland’s return. While gone, Roland became distracted by several women who made him forget about his one true love. As the girl waited and waited, Roland never returned. Brokenhearted she changed herself into a flower, hoping a passer-by would trend on her and take her out of her misery. Along came a shepherd who saw the pretty flower and picked it to take home (not realizing it was the girl). Back in the shepherd’s hut, suddenly all the housework and chores were finished before he awoke; and when he returned from his flock, supper was always prepared. The shepherd was perplexed and so he went to a wise woman for advice. She told him to watch carefully for anything out of place and to throw a white cloth over it to break the magic spell. When he threw the cloth over the flower, a lovely maiden stood before him and revealed it was she who had done the housekeeping. The shepherd asked her to marry him, but the girl declared her heart only belonged to Roland even if he had forsaken her. She agreed to remain and keep the shepherd’s house. It came to pass later that Roland’s wedding day approached and every maiden in the land was required to sing at the celebration. The girl did what she could to avoid her turn, but at last she was forced to sing. When her lovely voice fell upon the ears of Roland, he instantly cried out: “I know the voice! That is my true bride, I will have no other!” And so the lovely girl married her “Sweetheart Roland” and the two lived happily ever after. The End!

French: La Chanson de Roland is the oldest known French epic poem. The epic deals with Charlemagne’s campaign against the Saracens (Muslims) in Spain in the late 8th century, intended as a call-to-arms by Christians against the heathens. Based on true events (but with typical literary liberties), Roland and the rear guard under his command are betrayed by his step-father and sold out to the King of the Saracens. They are ambushed and outnumbered and left without reinforcements to defend against the oncoming Saracens. Fellow soldier and close comrade to Roland, Oliver, implores his best friend to blow his “olifant” (elephant) horn to summon back the main forces. Roland refuses (why, we’re not told exactly but perhaps meant to demonstrate the hero’s valiancy, bravery and hubris – qualities which were considered important on the battlefield). As the losses become staggering, Roland finally blows the horn so forcefully that he bursts his temples, dies on the battlefield, a martyr, while facing toward his enemy’s land. He is promptly whisked away to heaven by the angels Gabriel and Michael along with assorted cherubim. The good Oliver, we hope, also makes it into celestial territory, albeit without heavenly escorts. So goes “The Song of Roland”.

"The Song of Roland” is the oldest known French epic poem, dating from around the time of the First Crusade in the late 11th century, and most probably intended as a call to arms by Christians against the heathens. The Christian King Charlemagne is engaged in a conquest in Spain, with one recalcitrant city and king standing. Through a series of treacherous betrayals within the ranks, Charlemagne’s nephew Roland, the hero of the poem, is left without reinforcements to defend against the oncoming Saracens. His good friend, the sensible, prudent and upright Oliver, implores him to blow upon the Oliphant horn and summon Charlemagne back with help. Roland refuses, with the result that twenty thousand men lose their lives. When this disaster is made clear to him, Roland blows mightily upon his horn of elephant tusk in order to summon Charlemagne back for revenge. This last act bursts his lungs, and he dies on the battlefield, a martyr, to be escorted to heaven by angels. The good Oliver, we hope, also makes it into celestial territory, albeit without heavenly escorts.

Childrens Books


We cannot find any childrens books with the first name Roland

Popular Songs


Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner
Warren Zevon

Roland the Roadie and Gertrude the Groupie
Dr. Hook

Song of Roland
a song by Kamelot

a song by Interpol

Famous People


Roland Kirk (jazz musician)
Roland Joffé (director)
Roland Michener (Canadian politician)
Roland Parise (astronaut)
Roland Harper (football player)
Roland Hooks (football player)

Children of Famous People


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

Historic Figures


We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Roland