Bridget is an anglicization of the Irish Gaelic Brighid, which is of somewhat debated meaning. One theory is that it is derived from the Gaelic brígh, meaning, “power, strength, vigor, virtue.”
Another theory put out by Gods and Fighting Men (1904), translated by Lady Augusta Gregory, is that it is from the Gaelic breo-saighit meaning, “fiery arrow.”
Other sources have suggested it to mean “exalted one.”
In Celtic mythology, this was the name of an extremely important and powerful goddess.
According to the medieval Irish anthology, Lebor Gabála Érenn, Bridget was a goddess of poetry and was the daughter of Dagda. She was also associated with fire, wisdom and anything with an elevated status, whether it be a high mountain top, or someone of high social status.
The name was also borne by an early Irish saint, whose story and legend often melds with that of the ancient goddess. St. Bridget of Kildare was believed to have been a nun and one of the first converts under St. Patrick.
The St. Bridget’s Cross is often attributed to her, according to legend, she came upon a dying non- Christian man, in an effort to convert him to the new religion, she made a cross from the reeds that were beside him. That is all that is known of the origins of the St. Bridget’s Cross, but traditionally, a new one is made each year, on the feast of St. Bridget, (Feb. 1) while the old one is burned.
The feast of St. Bridget, which in some calenders falls on the 1st or 2nd of February,was originally one of the major festivals of the Celtic calender, known as Imbolc, it marked the first days of spring.
The name Bridget spread outside the Celtic world to the Germanic countries, it was popularized in Scandinavia by St. Bridget of Sweden, a Swedish noblewoman, mystic and founder of the Bridgettine order of nuns. She was also the mother of St. Katherine of Vadstena.
Between the 18th and 19th-centuries, when Irish immigrants first settled in the United States, the name was so common among the Irish, that Bridget or its diminutive form of Biddy became a slang term for any Irish woman.
Currently, Bridget 394th most popular female name in the United States, 2008. Its cognate of Brigitta is currently the 88th most popular female name in Hungary, (2008).
Other forms of the name include:
- Brigit (Asturian/Scottish)
- Birkide/Birxita (Basque: beer-KEE-de, beer-SHEE-tah)
- Brec’hed (Breton: modern)
- Brigantis (Breton: ancient)
- Brigita Бригита (Bulgarian/Croatian/Czech/Latvian/Lithuanian/Romanian/Slovak/Slovene)
- Brígida (Catalan/Portuguese/Spanish)
- Brigantia (Celtic)
- Berit (Danish/Norwegian: BEH-reet)
- Birgit (Danish/Norwegian/Swedish: BEER-geet)
- Birgitta (Danish/Dutch/Estonian/Finnish/German/Icelandic/Lithuanian: beer-GEET-tah)
- Birgitte (Danish/German: beer-GEET-te)
- Birte/Birthe (Danish/Norwegian: BEER-te)
- Gitte (Danish: originally a diminutive form, used as an independent given name: GEET-te)
- Bridget (English/German)
- Pirjo (Finnish: PEER-yo)
- Pirkko (Finnish” PEERK-ko)
- Piritta (Finnish: PEE-reet-tah)
- Priitta (Finnish: PREET-tah)
- Brigitte (French: bree-ZHEET)
- Bríxida (Galician: BREE-shee-dah)
- Berecyntia (Gaulic)
- Brigindo/Brigandu (Gaulic)
- Birgid (German: BEER-geet)
- Brida (German: obscure)
- Brigida (German/Sardinian: bree-GEE-dah)
- Brigitta (German/Hungarian)
- Bríd (Irish-Gaelic: BREED)
- Brídín (Irish-Gaelic: brid-EEN)
- Brighid/Brigid (Irish-Gaelic)
- Bedelia (Irish)
- Bride (Irish: BRIDE or BREED)
- Brigidine (Irish)
- Brigida (Italian: BREEJ-ee-dah)
- Brigidina (Italian: obscure)
- Briej (Limburgish)
- Brede (Manx)
- Breesha (Manx)
- Breeshey (Manx)
- Breda (Norwegian: BREH-dah)
- Brita/Britta/Brit/Britt (Norwegian/Swedish: BREE-tah, BRIT-tah, BRITT)
- Bryda (Polish)
- Brygida (Polish: brih-GEE-dah)
- Braida/Brida (Romansch)
- Brìghde/Brìde (Scots-Gaelic)
- Gittan (Swedish: originally a diminutive form, used as an independent given name: GEET-tahn)
- Ffraid (Welsh: FRAID)
A Swiss German diminutive form is Brigittli. German short forms are: Biggi, Briggi, Gitte, Gitti and Gittl.
Irish and English diminutives are: Biddy, Bride, Bree, Brie, Bridie and Bridge.