Gender: Feminine
Origin: Germanic
Meaning: “might in battle; strength in battle.”
Eng (mah-TIL-dah)

The name is composed of the Germanic elements, maht meaning, “might, strength” and hild meaning, “battle.”

In the English speaking world, the name has existed since Anglo-Saxon times, in the form of Mæðhilde but the Anglo-Norman forms of Matilda and Maud had replaced the former by the 10th-century.

The name was so common among the Norman aristocracy that it took on the reputation as a “Norman name.” The Normans extended their power throughout Western Europe and introduced the name to non-Germanic countries such as Italy, Spain, France and Portugal.

The name was borne by several medieval personages, who include:

St. Matilda (895-968), the first wife of Henry I the Fowler and mother of Otto I. The details of her life are recorded in the Res Gestae Saxonicae, (Deeds of the Saxons), as well as in the vita antiquior and in the vita posterior. Despite her royal lineage, St. Matilda was known for her piety and charity.

It was later borne by the wife of William I the Conquer, Matilda of Flanders, also known as Maud Le-Vieux, (1031-1083).

In Italian history, it was borne by Countess Matilda of Tuscany (1046-1115), who was known for her support for Pope Gregory VII and for her military exploits.

Edith of Scotland, (1080-1118), changed her name to Matilda upon marrying Henry I of England.

Another English queen who bore the name was Matilda of Boulogne, (1104-1152), wife of Stephen of England. It was also borne by the daughter of Henry II of England, Matilda, the Duchess of Saxony (1156-1189).

In Portugal, it was borne by their first queen-consort, Matilda of Savoy (1125-1158).

Maud was a common vernacular form used more frequently among the lower classes in both England and France. Maud is believed to have originated among the Low Germans since Matilda of Flanders, (who introduced this form of the name), was the daughter of Baldwin of Flanders. Also, in Medieval Dutch and Flemish, when a t appeared between two vowels, it was usually dropped, hence the creation of Maud.

The name was prevalent in England until the end of the 15th-century and was revived at the end of the 19th-century. The name was considered rather old fashioned between the mid to the latter part of the 20th-century, but is now suddenly rising in popularity in several countries.

Currently, in England, she is the 43rd most popular female name, (2008). Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 14 (Australia, 2008)
  • # 53 (Chile, 2006)
  • # 26 (France, 2006)
  • # 485 (the Netherlands, 2009)
  • # 25 (Norway, 2009)
  • # 25 (Sweden, 2009)
  • # 828 (the United States, 2008)

Its diminutive offshoot of Tilly is currently the 93rd most popular female name in the United Kingdom, (2008).

Other forms of the name include:

  • Matilda Матильда (Afrikaans/English/Finnish/Lithuanian/Russian/Slovak/Spanish/Swedish)
  • Mahthildis (Ancient Germanic)
  • Mæðhilde/Mǣþhild (Anglo-Saxon)
  • Matylda (Czech/Polish)
  • Mathilde (Danish/Dutch/French/German/Norwegian)
  • Machteld/Mechteld (Dutch)
  • Maud (Dutch/English)
  • Maude (English: MAWD)
  • Tilda (English/Finnish/Swedish)
  • Tilly (English: used as an independent given name)
  • Malda/Maldi (Estonian)
  • Milda/Mildi (Estonian)
  • Matilde (Estonian/Italian/Portuguese/Spanish)
  • Mahaut (French: archaic. mah-O)
  • Mahault/Maheu/Maheut (French: archaic)
  • Mechthild/Mechtilde (German)
  • Matild/Mátildá (Hungarian)
  • Matthildur (Icelandic)
  • Mafalda (Italian/Portuguese)
  • Matelda (Italian)
  • Mechtylda (Polish)
  • Matélda (Romanesque)
  • Mallt (Welsh)

Common German diminutives are: Mati, Matty, Hilde, Patty, Patsy, Tilli and Tilly.

English short forms include: Mattie, Tilly and Tilda.

A Dutch and Limbergish pet form is Til.

An Italian short form is Ilde.

A common Germanic diminutive occasionally used as an independent given name is Mette.

Obscure Italian masculine forms include: Matildio and Matildo.

The designated name-day is March 14.

It is also the name of a popular Australian national folk song, Waltzing Matilda.


  4. Das große Vornamenlexikon, Rosa and Volker Kohlheim, Dudenverlag, Mannheim 2007, S. 292
  5. Ladó János, Bíró ÁgnesMagyar utónévkönyv. Budapest: Vince Kiadó. ISBN 963 9069 72 8 (2005)

Thecla, Tekla

Saint_TheclaGender: Feminine
Origin: Greek
Meaning: “glory to God.”

She is a bit clunky and technical sounding. I had a great grandmother by this name and grew up near a parish that bore the name St. Thecla. Apparently it was a popular name in Poland at the turn of the century, spelled Tekla, my great-grandma anglicized her name to Tilly, after settling in the United States.

According to the Acts of St. Paul, Thecla also known as Taqla, was a young noblewoman who decided to live a life of chastity after hearing St. Paul’s discourse on virginity. Her mother and fiancé were very upset with her, and ordered her and Paul to be burnt at the stake, only to be miraculously rescued by a storm. Disowned by her family, Thecla had no other choice but to travel with Paul to Turkey. There she caught the eye of another nobleman, but when she refused his advances he tried to rape her, when Thecla managed to beat him off, she was accused by the local authorities of assaulting an innocent nobleman and was sentenced to be torn apart by wild beasts, also from which she was miraculously rescued. In the Eastern Churches, St. Thecla is considered equal to the Apostles and is regarded as a proto-martyr. She was used as an ascetic role model for women. Her feast is held on September 23 in the Roman Catholic Church and on September 24 in the Eastern Orthodox Church. St. Thecla is particularly venerated among Middle Eastern Christians, especially in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, where she is known as Taqla or Takla. In fact, there is an ancient nunnery dedicated to St. Thecla in Syria, known as Deir Ma Takla it is said to be built upon the cave where Thecla’s tomb is allegedly located. According to local legend, the cave was created when Thecla was escaping persecution, the mountain opened up miraculously to hide Thecla in the depths of the newly formed cave. In Tarragona Spain, she is considered the patron saint and each year a large festival is held in her honor. Her name also happens to coincide with the Spanish and Catalan word for “key” on the computer keyboard, so in recent years, she has been regarded as the patron saint of computers. As for the etymology of the name, it is supposedly derived from the Greek Theoclea or Theoklea which is composed of the elements theo meaning “god” and clea meaning “glory.” Other forms include the Slavic Tekla, the French Thècle, the Arabic Taqla and Takla, and the Spanish/Italian Tecla.