Audrey, Ethelreda

Gender: Feminine
Origin: English
Meaning: “noble strength.”
(AW-dree)

Audrey, an Anglo-Norman form of Etheldreda, has been popular since the beginning of the 20th century.

The name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Aethelthryth or Ethelreda.

It was borne by an early English saint who had been the princess of East Anglia. She chose to become a nun and founded an Abbey in Ely. She suffered from an unsightly tumor on her neck, which, she understood as being divine retribution for all the expensive jewels she wore on her neck in her youth.

Her feast is held on June 23, and each year, a huge festival was held at her former Abbey, in Ely, where cheap trinkets were sold. This is where the English word tawdry comes from, a corruption of the way the locals would pronounce Saint Audrey.

The name went out of usage around the Reformation, though William Shakespeare bestowed it on a character in his As You Like It (1599). It went through a revival around the 1920s. The name is still very popular, it was the 51st most popular female name in 2007. It is also ranked among the top 100 most popular female names in France, Belgium and Quebec.

The name was borne by actress Audrey Hepburn.

Other forms include: Aldreda,  Dreda, Etheldreda, Etheldred, Etheldra & Audrina are variations.