German masc. name and surname, literally "folk-rule" (Dutch Diederik), from Old High German Theodric, from theuda "folk, people" (see Teutonic) + rihhi "rule," from Proto-Germanic *rikja "rule," from PIE root *reg- "move in a straight line," with derivatives meaning "to direct in a straight line," thus "to lead, rule." Variants or familiar forms include Derrick, Dierks, Dieter, Dirk. Compare Theodoric. Theodric the Ostrogoth, who held sway in Italy 493-526, appears in later German tales as Dietrich von Bern (Verona).