From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Ælfwine (also Aelfwine, Elfwine) is an Old English personal name. It is composed of the elements ælf "elf" and wine "friend", continuing a hypothetical Common Germanic given name *albi-winiz which is also continued in Old High German and Lombardic as Albewin, Alpwin, Albuin, Alboin. Old Norse forms of the name are Alfvin and Ǫlfun.

The name is often interpreted as "elf-friend", a translation notably made use of by J.R.R. Tolkien in his legendarium, where an Ælfwine is a character who "befriended the elves", but both the ælf and the wine element are frequent elements in Germanic anthroponymy, and these elements have in historical practice be combined without a compound meaning.

The modern names Alwin, Alvin may be a reduction of this name, or alternatively of Adalwin, the Old High German cognate of the Anglo-Saxon Æthelwine.

Middle Ages[edit]

The name of the elves is clearly of Common Germanic age. As an element in given names, it is not found in the earliest period, but it is well attested from the 6th century.

The name is first attested as that of Alboin (r. 560–572), king of the Lombards. In Anglo-Saxon England, it first occurs with the child-king Ælfwine of Deira (c. 661 - 679). The Old High German name is found in the 8th and 9th centuries in the forms Alfwin, Alfwini, Albuwin, Albuvin, Albewin, Albuin, Alpwin, in the 11th century also as Elbewin.[1] The forms in alf are strictly speaking Low German, the forms in alb High German. The Old English ælf, elf are a result of the i-mutation in North Sea Germanic.

People with this name from the later Anglo-Saxon period include:

People with the Old High German name:

  • Albuin, margrave of Carinthia (10th century)
  • Albuin, son of the above, bishop of Brixen (d. 1006)

The earliest evidence of the name in Scandinavia dates to the 11th century. The Old Norse form of the name may thus be a loan from Low German or Anglo-Saxon. The name is attested on an 11th-century runestone in the Younger Futhark spelling alfuin, and possibly on a second one, as aulfun.[2] An Old Swedish spelling of the name was Alwin.[3]

In the Norman period, both Ælfwine and Æthelwine were shortened to Alwin. This subsequently became a surname.


The name is extinct by the Late Middle Ages. It may have lingered longest in the Italian form Alboino, a name of Paolo Alboino della Scala (1343–1375), after Alboino I (d. 1311). It survived only in the English surname Alwin (variants Alwen, Alwyn, Allwyn, Elvin, Elwin, Elwyn), and there only by conflation with similar-sounding Anglo-Saxon names.

Alvin was introduced as a given name in the United States, derived from the surname, in the 19th century. Early bearers of this "revived" given name were Alvin Adams (b. 1804) Alvin Saunders (b. 1817) and Alvin Peterson Hovey (b. 1821). Since the 2000s, Alvin (and to a lesser extent Alwin) has increasinly been used as a given name in Sweden. The Swedish Statistics office as of 31 December 2010 reported Alfvin as the surname of 43 people in Sweden, and as the given name of one person. The much more common Alvin was the surname of 279 people, and the primary given name of 3,077 people. [4][5] The name Alvin rose quickly in popularity in Sweden after 2002, peaking in 2009 at rank 27 of boys' names.[6] By contrast, popularity of Alvin peaked in the United States in the 1920s (reaching rank 67 in 1927) and has declined steadily since.[7]

J.R.R. Tolkien[edit]

Further information: The Lost Road and Elendil

In J.R.R. Tolkien's legendarium

See also[edit]


  1. ^ E. Förstemann, Altdeutsches Namenbuch (1856), 53f., 61f.
  2. ^ DR384, Vester Marie 2; DR287, Bjäresjö 1
  3. ^ Lena Peterson, Nordiskt runnamnslexikon (2001).
  4. ^ scb.se
  5. ^ nordicnames.de; scb.se
  6. ^ behindthename.com; Swedish Statistics office, 2010 data.
  7. ^ behindthename.com; Elvin shows a similar distribution, but with lower overall scores.