Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Matilda

Matilda is the medieval Latinized form of an Old German female personal name Mahthildis (Olde English: Mæðhilde), from the Germanic elements “maht” meaning “might” and “hild” meaning “battle”. Therefore, the name essentially means “mighty battler” or “strength in battle”. Saint Matilda was the 10th century wife of Henry the Fowler, King of the Germans, noted for her devotion to prayer and generous almsgiving. The name was made popular in her honor mainly around the regions of Saxony and Bavaria. The name was eventually popularized in England by the Norman-French following the Norman Conquest of 1066. Matilda of Flanders was the wife of William the Conqueror and, after his conquest of England, she became Queen Consort of England. Matilda was also a baby-making machine, delivering nine children to William, including two future kings of England (William II and Henry I). The English adopted the name but in the more colloquial form of Maud. Maud fell out of favor by the 15th century but was later revived (along with the Latinized Matilda) in the 19th century. Today the name Matilda is extremely popular in Australia (ranked on the Top 20 of most favorite girl names Down Under). Practically a national anthem in Australia, “Waltzing Matilda” is an old folksong about traveling by foot with all of one’s possessions, slung over one’s back in a Matilda (a “swagman's bundle”). Therefore, the name gives us a romantic gypsy-like impression. Matilda is also quite popular for girls in England, Sweden and Chile. Pretty diverse group of users, we’d say!

All About the Baby Name – Matilda



Romance is the hallmark of the Six personality. They exude nurturing, loving, and caring energy. Sixes are in love with the idea of love in its idealized form - and with their magnetic personalities, they easily draw people toward them. Like the number Two personality, they seek balance and harmony in their life and the world at large. They are conscientious and service-oriented, and a champion for the underdog. These personalities naturally attract money and are usually surrounded by lovely material objects - but their human relationships are always primary. They thrive in giving back to others rather than being motivated by their own desires. This is when they achieve great things. Sixes are natural teachers, ministers and counselors.



Although trendy in Australia and England right now, Americans apparently haven’t gotten the Matilda memo yet. But let’s back up a bit. The name was actually close to being a Top 100 favorite in America during the late 1800s. As we entered the 20th century over 100 years ago, Matilda remained a moderately high favorite, but as the decades advanced, the name went into a slow and steady decline. By 1965 Matilda retreated into the shadows when the name dropped off the charts altogether. Her hiatus from usage would last an astonishing 40+ years until her homecoming in 2008. We’re pretty certain Heath Ledger’s untimely death in 2008 had something to do with the resurgence of this name (he and actress Michelle Williams have a daughter named Matilda Rose). Regardless of Matilda’s reentry onto the charts, this is a name highly underused and still relatively rare in America despite the popular usage among our English-speaking friends in Australia and England. Matilda is delightfully old-fashioned, chalk full of medieval royal importance and loaded with “mighty” strength and charm. As a Germanic name, Matilda has a strong and confident sound without surrendering her femininity. She’s not at all flowery and girly, but she is charming, charismatic and delightfully impish. Possible nicknames include: Maude, Millie, Mattie, Tillie and Tilda.

Quick Facts













Mighty battler, Strength in battle










Cultural References to the Baby Name – Matilda

Literary Characters


Matilda is the subject of one of Hilaire Belloc’s verses in his 1907 parodic children’s book, Cautionary Tales for Children: Designed for the Admonition of Children between the ages of eight and fourteen years. Matilda’s sin is outlined in her tale, that being “Matilda, who told lies and was burnt to death”, a most heartening “admonition” for youngsters, and one which surely must have delighted them. Matilda is a take on the boy who cried wolf – she delights in calling up the neighborhood fire departments and declaring the house to be on fire – when all the engines come roaring to the rescue and her lie is found out, Matilda’s aunt has to pay the firemen for their troubles. Some days later, Matilda’s aunt goes to the theater, leaving the naughty child behind, of course, and this time a fire really does break out. In spite of all her screams and pleas, no one believes her this time…”And therefore, when her Aunt returned, Matilda, and the House, were burned”. That’ll show you little firebugs between the ages of eight and fourteen!

Matilda is one of Dante Aligheri’s guides in his 14th century epic, The Divine Comedy. After passing through the horrors of the Inferno and then the seven terraces of Purgatory, Dante arrives at the allegorical Earthly Paradise, representing the innocence of mankind before the Fall. Against this gorgeous and lush backdrop, the beautiful Matilda appears, singing and gathering flowers in a meadow. She explains to Dante the purpose of the two streams running through this paradise, one whose waters erase all memory of sins committed, the other which enhances all memory of good deeds. After hosting a procession of hundreds of mystic symbols of Heaven and the Church, Matilda re-introduces him to his beloved Beatrice, who will be his guide in the upper regions of Paradise. This is the finest gift that Matilda can have given him; humbly Dante places himself in her care and guardianship.

Matilda Wormwood is the title heroine in Roald Dahl’s 1988 children’s novel, Matilda (also adapted into film, radio and a musical). Matilda is an extremely precocious eight year old girl of high intelligence and low lineage. Wealthy though her family is, they have no respect for her innate gifts, and belittle her constantly. Matilda does not take this sitting down, however – she rises to the challenge by concocting ever riskier tricks to play on them. In addition to her I.Q., Matilda is also blessed with the power of telekinesis, which comes in handy when she helps her beloved teacher, Miss Honey, win back her home and inheritance. The problematic elders are handily taken care of when Matilda’s parents are fleeing from the law after her father’s irregular business dealings have been discovered – this provides her the opportunity to go live with Miss Honey, and all’s well that ends well. Sounds like every child’s dream.

Childrens Books


We cannot find any childrens books with the first name Matilda

Popular Songs


Sweet Matilda
by Clint Eastwood & General Saint

And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
by The Pogues

Matilda Mother
a song by Pink Floyd

a song by Harry Belafonte

Waltzing Matilda
an old Australian folksong

Famous People


Katherine Mathilda "Tilda" Swinton (actress)

Children of Famous People


We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Matilda

Historic Figures


Matilda was born into nobility as the daughter of the Count of Flanders, one of the original fiefdoms of France. On her mother’s side, Matilda was the granddaughter of the King of the Franks, Robert II of France. Her cousin Duke William II of Normandy took a liking to the fresh young beauty, but she rebuffed his marriage proposal which had been delivered by messenger; Matilda believed marrying William would be marrying down. You see, William was a bastard, the child of his father, the then Duke of Normandy, and his mistress. According to legend, the outraged William rode his horse from Normandy to Bruges in order to confront the arrogant girl himself. It was said he found her on her way to church, grabbed her by her braids, threw her off her horse and then rode away. Others say this even took place in her father’s house where William, again grabbing the insolent girl by the braids, threw her to the ground and then left. Apparently this made quite an impression on Matilda, for she suddenly found herself in love! Despite her father’s objections, not to mention the opposition of the Church (on the grounds of consanguinity because the pair were cousins), Matilda and William were finally married in 1051. Once married, Matilda added Duchess of Normandy to her titles. By all accounts, the union was a happy one. Certainly it was a success in the bedroom, as the couple produced nine children together. Once her husband successfully conquered England, Matilda then became Queen Consort of England (although she preferred to stay in Normandy).

Typically left off the long list of English monarchs, Matilda is considered by some as the first female monarch in English history. Here’s how it all went down. Matilda (or Maud) was the daughter of King Henry I of England. Her 17 year old brother, William, was heir to the throne but died in a maritime disaster while sailing from Normandy to England. Unwilling to hand the throne to his now sole heir Matilda, Henry I went about trying to sire more babies with his second wide (Matilda’s mother had since died). In the meantime, Matilda has been betrothed to the Holy Roman Emperor (Henry V); this marriage gave her the title “Empress” Matilda. Her father King Henry I now hoped his daughter would produce a son to keep the family lineage going, but she and the Emperor had no children after 11 years of marriage. After the Emperor died, Matilda remarried the Count of Anjou and with him she [phew] had three sons (one of which would later become King Henry II of England). Now Henry I was satisfied in passing the throne to his daughter knowing a son would soon follow keeping the family dynasty alive and well. She was a mere woman after all, so the King had to persuade the barons to accept her succession. They all promised, of course. Waiting quietly in the shadows, however, was Matilda’s cousin Stephen who swooped in at the moment of Henry’s death and usurped the throne from Matilda who was in Normandy birthing her third son at the time. The double-crossing barons supported Stephen and quickly crowned him King of England. So from this perspective, Matilda was never a crowned monarch of England but she was the rightful successor to her father. Karma is a bitch, though. Stephen’s reign was referred to as “nineteen long winters” and the ongoing rivalry between cousins for the throne created turmoil, unrest and civil wars throughout England, sheer anarchy. Clearly, this Matilda was a courageous “mighty battler” who refused to give up. After years of battles, a war torn Matilda finally gave the reigns over to her oldest son to fight his own battles for the throne; after which a war torn King Stephen agreed to pass the reigns to Henry rather than his own son William, as long as he could see his reign to the end (this agreement was known as the Treaty of Westminster). Matilda lived long enough to see her son become Henry II, King of England – the very royal position which she – because of her double-x chromosomes – had been unjustly denied.