[ 2 syll. wal-ter, wa-lt-er ] The baby boy name Walter is pronounced in English as WAOL-TahR or in German and Polish as VAAL-TehR †. Walter is primarily used in English, French, German, and Scandinavian, and its language of origin is Germanic. The name is from 'waldhar' (army ruler, folk ruler) which is itself of the elements 'wald' and 'heri' (meaning army, warrior). The Normans introduced it into England in the 11th century, replacing the form Wealdhere (Old English). The original pronuncation of the name Walter with a silent 'l' gave rise to various forms with a droppped 'l'. The name was borne by the famous German lyric poet Walther von der Vogelweide (1170-1230), the English explorer and writer Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618), and the prolific Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832).
The name Walter is widely used; it has 60 forms that are used in English and other languages. English forms include Walder, Walley, Wallie, Waltar, Walte, Walten, Walters, Walthar, Waltor, Waltur, Walty, Waltyr, Watson, and Woulter. Other English variants include the contracted forms Wally, Walt, and Wat, and the diminutive forms Watkin and Watt.
Forms of Walter used in other languages include Bhaltair (Gaelic and Scottish), Bhàtair (Scottish), Dima (Russian), Dimka (Russian), Galtero (Spanish), Gauther (French), Gauthier (French), Gautier (French), Gualberto (Spanish), Gualterio (Spanish), Gualtiero (Italian and Spanish), Gutierre (Spanish), Gwallter (Welsh), Ladislav (Czech), Landislaus (Polish), Quaid (Irish), Uaid (Irish), Ualtar (Irish), Vacys (Lithuanian), Valter (Latvian, Lithuanian, and Scandinavian), Valters (Latvian), Valtr (Czech), Valtteri (Finnish), Vanda (Lithuanian), Vandele (Lithuanian), Vladimir (Russian), Vladko (Czech), Volya (Russian), Vova (Russian), and Vovka (Russian). The contracted form Weit (Dutch) is another foreign variant.
Walter is a classic favorite. Currently it is still a fairly popular baby name for boys, though to a lesser extent than it was in the past. Its usage peaked in 1901 with 1.487% of baby boys being named Walter. It ranked at #12 then. The baby name has since steeply slipped in popularity, and is of occasional use in recent times. In 2012, its usage was only 0.040% and its ranking #376, but it was nevertheless the most frequently used among all boy names in its group. The name Walter has been mostly given to baby boys, though it has also been used as a girl name in the past century. In 1939, the name Walter was given to 144 times more baby boys than girls.
† Pronunciation for Walter: W as in "we (W.IY)" ; AO as in "ought (AO.T)" ; L as in "lay (L.EY)" ; T as in "tee (T.IY)" ; AH as in "mud (M.AH.D)" ; R as in "race (R.EY.S)" ; V as in "vow (V.AW)" ; AA as in "odd (AA.D)" ; EH as in "ebb (EH.B)"
Details of famous persons named Walter:
Actor Walter Koenig, born 14 September 1936, Chicago, Illinois.
Actor Walter Matthau, born 1 October 1920 - 1 July 2000, New York, New York.
Actor Stacy Keach, born Walter Stacy Keach, Jr, 2 June 1941, Savannah, Georgia.
Author Sir Walter Scott, born 15 August 1771 - 21 September 1832, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Columnist Walter Mossberg, born Walter Stephen Mossberg, 27 March 1947, Providence, Rhode Island.
Explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, born 1552 - 29 October 1618, Devonshire, England.
Fictional Ninny Walter Mitty, born 1939.
Filmmaker Walter Murch, born 1943, New York, New York.
Politician Walter "Fritz" Mondale, born Walter Frederick Mondale, 5 January 1928, Ceylon, Minnesota.
TV Newscaster Walter Cronkite, born Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr., 4 November 1916, St. Joseph, Missouri.