Walter Name Meaning

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What Does Walter Mean?

Are you looking for a classic, traditionally masculine name that has grown in popularity in recent decades—but is still unique? Walter may be the name you are looking for.

The name Walter is Germanic in origin and means "commander of the army." The name is derived from the Germanic elements "wald" meaning "rule" and "hari" meaning "army." Walter is most often used in German-, Swedish-, and English-speaking communities.

The rise in popularity of "old-fashioned" names, such as George, Frank, Fred, Ava, Ida, and Violet, buoyed the name Walter as well. This name provides a solid, traditional vibe but also imparts a sweet, smart, bookish, and friendly feeling.

Walter is also a bit quirky, too, and still rather uncommon. Additionally, Walter has well-known nicknames—Walt and Wally—that offer additional facets. The name Walt feels strong, confident, and sleek, while the name Wally evokes humor and lovable charm.

  • Origin: Walter is a Germanic name meaning "commander of the army."
  • Gender: Walter is traditionally used as a masculine name.
  • Pronunciation: wal-ter

Although baby names are often separated by gender, Verywell Family believes that sex does not need to play a role in your name selection process. It’s important to select a name that you feel suits your new baby the best.

How Popular Is the Name Walter?

According to the Social Security Administration, the name Walter reached its peak popularity in 1914. It was ranked the 10th most popular name that year but remained quite popular throughout the first half of the 20th century. From there, the name Walter slowly decreased in usage until its low point in 2008, when it ranked 393th.

Since then, Walter has seen a steady upward swing in the rankings, climbing to 274th in 2020. Its highest placement in the past decade was 265th in 2017.

Walter evokes the period of the Greatest Generation, which encompasses those who lived through the Great Depression, World War I, and World War II. The tenacity, courage, ingenuity, and strength exhibited by those born in that era live on in names like Walter.

Name Variations

The following are Germanic variations of the name Walter:

  • Walthari
  • Waltari
  • Walthar
  • Waltar
  • Waltere
  • Waldheri
  • Waltheri
  • Walthere 
  • Walther
  • Valter

Similar Names

More boy names starting with W:

  • Wade
  • Walker
  • Wallace
  • Warren
  • Waylon
  • Wesley
  • Westin
  • Wilbur
  • William
  • Wilson
  • Winston
  • Wyatt

More popular old-fashioned boy names:

  • Aaron
  • Amos
  • Abraham
  • Albert
  • Charles
  • Edward
  • Edmund
  • Fredrick
  • Henry
  • John
  • Joseph
  • Nicolas
  • Otis
  • Phillip
  • Ralph

Common Nicknames

Nicknames for Walter include the following:

  • Wally
  • Walt
  • Walty

Suggested Sibling Names

Looking for a sibling name for Walter? Names that work well include:

  • Alex
  • Benjamin
  • Charles
  • Dorothy
  • Emma
  • Noah
  • Hannah
  • Harriott
  • Henrietta
  • Louise
  • Luke
  • Owen
  • Sarah
  • Violet

Famous People Named Walter

The name Walter stems from a storied history of famous Walters in politics, business, literature, and sports. Here are some notable figures your baby would share a name with:

  • Sir Walter Scott, celebrated Scottish novelist, playwright, historian, and poet
  • Walter Becker, American musician, songwriter, and record producer, best known as the co-founder of the band Steely Dan
  • Walter Brennan, American three-time Academy Award-winning actor
  • Walter Cronkite, trusted American TV journalist and anchorman
  • Walter Davis, American professional basketball player and six-time NBA all-star who primarily played for the Phoenix Suns
  • Walter Dean Myers, celebrated American author of young adult fiction
  • Walter Johnson, American baseball player who pitched for the Washington Senators from 1907 to 1927
  • Walter Jones, American Hall of Fame football player
  • Walter Mondale, American lawyer, politician, and the 42nd Vice President of the United States under President Jimmy Carter
  • Walter O'Brien, genius Irish hacker, coder, and entrepreneur
  • Walter Payton, legendary American professional football player for the Chicago Bears who is considered one of the greatest running backs of all time
  • Walter Matthau, American actor and comedian

Famous People Named Walt

Most people who go by the name Walt are officially named Walter. If you like the name Walt you can choose to use it as a nickname for Walter or simply name your child Walt. Well-known Walts include:

  • Walt Bellamy, American professional basketball player who won a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics as the starting center for the undefeated American basketball team
  • Walt Disney, American creator of the Walt Disney company, film producer, and animation pioneer
  • Walt Frazier, American NBA basketball star who led the New York Knicks to win the team's two national championships
  • Walt Whitman, famed American transcendentalist poet and essayist

More Baby Names

Still searching for the perfect baby name? Check out these related baby name lists for even more options:

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Ancestry. Walter name meaning.

  2. Social Security Administration. Popularity of name.

By Sarah Vanbuskirk
Sarah Vanbuskirk is a writer and editor with 20 years of experience covering parenting, health, wellness, lifestyle, and family-related topics. Her work has been published in numerous magazines, newspapers, and websites, including Activity Connection, Glamour, PDX Parent, Self, TripSavvy, Marie Claire, and TimeOut NY.