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Ulrich (German pronunciation: [ˈʊl.ʁɪç]), is a German given name, derived from Old High German Uodalrich, Odalric. It is composed of the elements uodal- meaning "(noble) heritage" and -rich meaning "rich, powerful". Attested from the 8th century as the name of Alamannic nobility, the name is popularly given from the high medieval period in reference to Saint Ulrich of Augsburg (canonized 993).

There is also a surname Ulrich. It is most prevalent in Germany and has the highest density in Switzerland. [1] This last name was found in the United States around the year 1840. [2] Most Americans with the last name were concentrated in Pennsylvania, which was home to many German immigrant communities. Nowadays in the United States, the name is distributed largely in the Pennsylvania-Ohio region [3].


Documents record the Old High German name Oadalrich or Uodalrich from the later 8th century in Alamannia.[1] The related name Adalric (Anglo-Saxon cognate Æthelric) is attested from the 6th century (Athalaric King of the Ostrogoths; Æthelric of Bernicia). The name of Agilolfing duke Odilo (fl. 709–748) may represent a short form of the name.

Count Udalrich I (fl. 778–814), a son of Gerold of Vinzgau, founded the Alamannic Udalriching dynasty, ancestral to the counts of Bregenz. The given name occurred frequently in the Alamannic Hunfriding dynasty in the 9th to 10th centuries; examples include Odalric, Count of Barcelona (fl. 850s) and Odalric, Count of Thurgau (fl. 920s). The name is recorded in an Icelandic form as Óðalríkr only in the later medieval period.[2]

In the Middle High German period the name generally commemorated Saint Ulrich, Bishop of Augsburg (c. 890 – 4 July 973), who twice defended Augsburg from attacks by Magyars.

The Swiss Reformer Ulrich Zwingli etymologized his given name as Huldrych (Huldricus, Huldaricus), i.e. "rich in grace".[3] In the wake of Zwingli, during the 16th century and well into the 18th century, it became a fashion - especially for Protestant writers - to Latinise the given name Ulrich as Huldricus.[4]

The name was popularly given in 20th-century Switzerland, especially from the 1940s to the 1960s, peaking at rank 16 in 1947, but dropping below rank 100 in 1972.[5] In Czechoslovakia, Oldřich was popularly given in the 1940s to 1950s, peaking at rank 18 during 1946–1951.[6]


The German given name was adopted in Czech and Slovak as Oldřich, Oldrich and in Scandinavian as Ulrik, in Slovenian as Urh, in Latvia as Uldis.

Common German hypocoristics are Uli or Ulli (Swiss Ueli) and historically Utz. A Czech/Slovak hypocoristic is Volek and a Polish one Ryczek.

Feminine forms Ulrikke and Ulrika have been recorded from the early modern period.

People with the given name[edit]

Medieval to early modern[edit]

Modern era[edit]

People with the surname[edit]

Fictional characters[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Oadalrich (791, 808), Hoadalrich (805), Uadalricus (803), Uodalrich (Annales Alamannici), Udalrich (Annales Fuldenses) E. Förstemann, Altdeutsches Namenbuch (1856), 980f.
  2. ^ Skálholtsbók; see Guðrún P. Helgadóttir, Hrafns Saga Sveinbjarnarsonar (1987), p. 87.
  3. ^ Zwingli's given name was Ulrich, but he used the latinized spelling Huldricus or Huldrychus Zwinglius beginning in the 1520s. In his enrolement in the University of Vienna (1500), he still latinised his name as Udalricus Zwingling de Lichtensteig. (Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli : the reformer of German Switzerland (1900), p. 57.) His signature at the Marburg Colloquy (1529) was Huldrychus Zwinglius (Schuler, Schultess (eds.), Huldrici Zuinglii opera, 1830, p. 55).
  4. ^ e.g. Huldricus Mutius (Ulrich Hugwald), Huldricus Huttenus (Ulrich von Hutten), 'Hulrdicus Euchaustius, so in a 1776 edition of the acts of the Council of Trent.
  5. ^ behindthename.com (Ulrich)
  6. ^ behindthename.com (Oldrich)

External links[edit]

  • "Ulrich" (PDF). Ancestry.com. Profile of surname; note: contains errors.
  • Uodalrich (nordicnames.de)