Pronounced RICH-ard (English), ree-SHAR (French), ree-KARD or ri-KARD (other variants)

Richard is a name of Germanic (Teutonic) origin meaning "strong ruler" (or alternatively hard, powerful, noble, rich, brave, or stern ruler). The etymology of the name is:

History attributes the Normans with bringing this name to England where it gained in popularity. Three English kings had this name including Richard I (Richard the Lion-hearted - leader of the Third Crusades in the 12th century), and later kings Richard II and III who were made famous by Shakespeare.

Other Languages, Shortened Forms, and Nicknames

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Last Names based on Richard

Circular Meanings

As seen in the american underworld dictionary writeup above, Richard can mean policeman. This is believed to have come from the phrase private dick (e.g., Dick Tracy), a term meaning private detective. Since Dick is a nickname for Richard, this term has gone from "Richard" (the name) to "Dick" (the nickname) to "private dick" (in another form) back to "Richard" (new meaning) simply from common use.

It should be noted that in the military, lower ranking (male) individuals are sometimes referred to as swinging richards which is another circular reference to a different meaning of the word "dick". Swinging Richards is also a common name for gay bars.

Richard is also said to mean turd in Cockney rhyming slang where Richard = Richard the Third = Richard the Turd, as in "That's guy's is a complete Richard."

See also: Fredrick - ruler of peace

Richard has been a popular boys name for centuries. It has been on the top ten names list since at least the 1300s.1

Being so old, Richard has picked up a long history of nicknames and perversions. It's best-known forms are Rich, Rick2 (or Ric) and Dick. In the 1200 through the 1400s, rhyming nicknames were common, so in addition to Dick we were also saddled with Hick -- now no longer in use as a nickname, but still present in our language as a term for an unworldly, back-country rube. Other forms of Richard have also been made into generic terms -- we have Richard Roe (the counterpart to John Doe), the phrase 'every Tom, Dick, and Harry', and Dick has become synonymous with 'jerk'.

Richard also gained the nickname Hudde (from the second syllable) in the north of England, which eventually gained the the suffix -son, becoming the source for the popular surname Hudson ('the son of Mr. Hudde'), and the related surnames of Hudd, Huddeson, Huddson, Hudeson, Hudsone, Huddy, and Hutson.

Originally, the name Richard came to Britain from France, entering Middle English as Rycharde. Following it back to Proto-Germanic it has its roots in rik, meaning "ruler" and harthu, meaning "hard." In modern times, this is usually translated as 'brave ruler' or 'strong ruler'.


1. In Europe in the 1300s, as far as we have recorded, the top ten boys names were: John, William, Richard, Robert, Thomas, Walter, Roger, Geoffrey, Henry, and Adam. Not much has changed over the centuries.

2. Rick is also a nickname for the unrelated name Eric.

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