Origin: Old Norse
Meaning: “armour battle.”
Brynn and Matilda are on the rise, so why hasn’t Brynhild caught on? All we need is just one celebrity to be bold enough to use this name and then we’ll see it skyrocket into popularity. I am serious 🙂
The name is derived from the Old Norse, Brynhildr, which is composed of the elements, brynja (armour) and hildr (battle).
The name is borne by a valkyrie in Norse Mythology, she appears as a major figure in the Völsunga Saga.
The long tragic story starts off with Brynhild being transformed into a mortal woman by Odin for rigging a game between two warriors. A spell was cast upon her to sleep within a ring of fire, only a valiant warrior is able to break the spell and Sigurðr Sigmundson, aka Siegfried, does so by breaking through Brynhild’s armour. The two fall in love and are about to marry, but not is all as it seems. Brynhild takes Sigurðr to her family’s castle where he vows to marry her and love her forever, afterwards, Sigurðr takes off on a business trip, to meet with the Burgundian king, promising to return for Brynhild.
Enter Gudrun, the daughter of the Burgundian king and of the sorceress, Grimhild. Gudrun wants Sigurðr for herself, so she shows up at Brynhild’s castle and makes up a false prophecy, foretelling Sigurðr’s betrayal of Brynhild. Meanwhile, Gudrun’s mother, Grimhild, concocts a potion for Sigurðr, making him forget his beloved Brynhild. Sigurðr marries Gudrun. Grimhild decides that Brynhild would make the perfect wife for her son, Gunnar, but upon visiting Brynhild’s family home, Gunnar is stopped from entering by a magical ring of fire! Sigurðr, who had accompanied Gunnar on the trip, decides to shapeshift into the form of Gunnar and is able to enter the ring of fire. In the form of Gunnar, he proposes to Brynhild while carefully preventing himself from taking her virginity. Sigurðr and Gunnar reverse back to their natural forms, and Brynhild marries Gunnar. Now, this is where things get a bit ugly.
Brynhild and Gudrun get into an argument over whose husband is better. Brynhild boasts that Gunnar was brave enough to rescue her from the ring of fire, Gudrun, in anger, reveals that it was actually Sigurðr who rescued Brynhild and not Gunnar. In revenge, Brynhild incites Gunnar to kill Sigurðr by saying that Sigurðr took her virginity after he rescued her. Gunnar is too afraid to kill Sigurðr as he does not want to break his oath of brotherhood which he swore with Sigurðr, so he gives his younger brother, Guttorm, a magical potion that gives him an urge to kill, the victim being Sigurðr.
For whatever reason, Brynhild decides to throw herself on Sigurðr’s funeral pyre and the two are believed to have lived, happily ever after, in Hel, (not to be confused with the Christian Hell), as a couple.
The same story also appears in the Nibelungelied with slight variations, this in turn becomes the inspiration of Wagner operetic Ring Cycle.
It has been suggested that the Brynhild of mythology may have been based upon a Visigothic princess, Brunhilda of Austrasia (5th-century, C.E.).
As of 2010, Brynhild was the 8th most popular female name in the Faroe Islands.
Other forms of the name include:
- Bruneguilda (Catalan)
- Brunequilda (Catalan)
- Brynild (Danish)
- Brynhild (Faroese/Finnish/Scandinavian)
- Brunehaut (French)
- Brunehilde (French)
- Brunichild (German)
- Brun(i)hild(e) (German)
- Brünhild (German)
- Brynhildur (Icelandic)
- Brunilde (Italian)
- Brynel (Norwegian)
- Brønla (Norwegian)
- Brønnil(d) (Norwegian)
- Brynhildr (Old Norse)
- Brunilda (Portuguese/Spanish)
- Nilda (Portuguese/Spanish)
- Brynhilda/Brynhilde (Swedish)