What Does The Name Earl Mean?


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Will Martin answered
This name was quite popular in the US in the 20th century, though elsewhere it is very rare. It was originally an aristocratic title (and, in Britain, still is), third in importance in the Peerage (the first two are Duke and Marquis; Duke is also sometimes used as a given name in the US, e.g. musician Duke Ellington.) The title of Earl is equivalent to the French Comte, and in fact an Earl's wife is still known as a Countess. A special title is Earl Marshall, head of the College of Arms.

The word probably developed from Old English eorl, or "warrior," which itself came from the Old Icelandic word for man.

The name, which can also be spelled Earle or Erle, is pronounced "url" and there is a (rare) feminine equivalent, Earla or Erla. Famous Earls include the actor James Earl Jones.

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