Where did the baby name Rommel come from in 1943?

Movie poster for "The Desert Fox" (1951)

We’ve talked about the baby name Hitler before, but that particular Nazi-inspired name was never common enough to be included in the U.S. baby name data.

Rommel, on the other hand — a reference to German field marshal Erwin Rommel (1891–1944) — debuted in 1943, right in the middle of WWII:

  • 1945: unlisted
  • 1944: unlisted
  • 1943: 5 baby boys named Rommel [debut]
  • 1942: unlisted
  • 1941: unlisted

Erwin Rommel was put in charge of the German Africa Corps in February of 1941, during the North African Campaign (which included the Tunisian Campaign). Rommel achieved “stunning early victories there,” and the British press dubbed him the Desert Fox. But the Allies were eventually victorious in North Africa, and the Germans surrendered in May of 1943.

The baby name Rommel might have been a one-hit wonder in the data had the movie The Desert Fox (1951), a biographical film about Rommel that portrayed the German officer very sympathetically, not come out nearly a decade later.

  • 1953: 7 baby boys named Rommel
  • 1952: 8 baby boys named Rommel
  • 1951: 6 baby boys named Rommel
  • 1950: unlisted
  • 1949: unlisted

The movie was based on the Desmond Young book Rommel: The Desert Fox (1950), the first Rommel biography. It was particularly popular in Britain.

What does the German surname Rommel mean? It may have originally been a nickname for a noisy person, as it derives from the German verb rummeln, meaning “to make noise” or “to create a create a disturbance.”

What are your thoughts on the baby name Rommel?


2 thoughts on “Where did the baby name Rommel come from in 1943?

  1. I don’t buy the etymology of Rommel being derived from rummeln “to be noisy”. It is a perfect short form of the old dithematic name Romuald (from hrom meaning “fame” and wald meaning “rule”)

  2. That seems like a logical theory. I’m not sure why my source didn’t mention that Germanic names starting with the rom-/hrom- element might be a potential origin of the surname as well.

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