Biblical name (of uncertain derivation) of a Moabite woman who left her own people to remain with her mother-in-law Naomi, and afterwards became the wife of Boaz and an ancestress of David. Her story is told in the book of the Bible that bears her name. It was used among the Puritans in England in the 16th century, partly because of its association with the English vocabulary word ruth meaning ‘compassion’. It has always been popular as a Jewish name, but is now also widespread among people of many different cultures and creeds.
German (also Krämer), Dutch, and Jewish (Ashkenazic): occupational name for a shopkeeper, peddler, or hawker, from an agent derivative of Middle High German, Middle Low German krām ‘trading post’, ‘tent’, ‘booth’. This name is widespread throughout central and eastern Europe.