The given name Eric, Erich, Erikk, Erik, Erick, or Eirik is derived from the Old Norse name Eiríkr [ˈɛiˌriːkz̠]. The first element, ei- may be derived from the older Proto-Norseaina, meaning "one, alone, unique", as in the form Æ∆inrikr explicitly, but it could also be from *aiwa "everlasting, eternity", as in the Gothic form Euric. The second element -ríkr stems either from Proto-Germanic *ríks "king, ruler" or the therefrom derived *ríkijaz "kingly, powerful, rich, prince"; from the common Proto-Indo-European root *h₃rḗǵs. The name is thus usually taken to mean "sole ruler, autocrat" or "eternal ruler, ever powerful". Eric used in the sense of a proper noun meaning "one ruler" may be the origin of Eriksgata, and if so it would have meant "one ruler's journey". The tour was the medieval Swedish king's journey, when newly elected, to seek the acceptance of peripheral provinces. Eric is one of the most commonly used Germanic names along with Robert, William, Edward and others.

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