Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Oswald

Oswald is a Germanic name rooted in the elements “ōs” meaning “god” and “weald” meaning “rule”; the name dates back to the beginning of the Middle Ages in England and was prevalent among the earliest Anglo-Saxons. The most famous name bearer was Oswald of Northumbria, an early 7th century King of Northumbria (which at the time was an Angles kingdom in the northeastern portion of present day England). After Oswald’s father was defeated and killed in an East Anglian battle, the boy’s maternal uncle became king which forced Oswald into exile. Much of this exile was spent in the Scottish-Celtic kingdom of Dál Riata where the youngster was converted to Christianity (thanks to the early missions of the Irish Saint Columba). Meanwhile, back in Britain, the King of the native Britons (Celts) and the King of Mercia (another Anglo-tribe) entered a pact to kill Edwin (Oswald’s uncle). Oswald’s brother (who was the king of the southern portion of Northumbria) was also killed when he tried to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Briton King Cadwallon. Now it was time for Oswald to come face-to-face with his nemesis Cadwallon. It is believed that Oswald came south from Dál Riata, perhaps allied with some of his new pals the Scots and the Picts, and met Cadwallon at battle in Northumbria. He carried a cross and prayed to his new Christian god asking strength for his army. According to legend, an apparition of St. Columba appeared before Oswald promising victory and the death of Cadwallon. Despite being outnumbered by the Britons, Oswald was indeed victorious (much of his army converted to Christianity after the battle convinced there must be something to this one divine power they apparently witnessed). Oswald went on to reestablish a united Northumbria and came to be regarded as the most powerful king in Britain. Saint Aidan was sent from Dál Riata to help King Oswald convert his people to Christianity; an endeavor which proved successful. The king was ultimately killed in battle with the Mercians around the age of 38 in 642 A.D. Healing miracles have been attributed to the battle site where Oswald was killed known as Oswestry (in England near the Welsh border). King Oswald was martyred and came to be regarded as a saint (his Feast Day is August 5, the day he died). His actions in life are remembered to be pious and saintly despite his tradition as a Germanic warrior-king. Perhaps his name’s etymology is no accident: “God’s rule; divinely powerful”. Oswald’s cult was so popular in Britain it actually managed to spread to mainland Europe in medieval times. The name fell from fashion by the later Middle Ages but was revived again in the 19th century. Today, however, Oswald is back out of style.

All About the Baby Name – Oswald

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME OSWALD

The Number 2 personality in numerology is all about cooperation and balance. It's the number of diplomats and mediators. They are not leaders, but strive rather for harmony in partnerships. These are the peacemakers. Equality and fairness are important in their dealings, and they are willing to share power and responsibility to achieve a harmonious outcome. This personality is calm and patient, waiting for things to evolve instead of pushing aggressively for an outcome. They are good-natured and easy-going, and care deeply on an emotional and spiritual plane. Twos appreciate beauty and nature and are intent on making the world a better place.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME OSWALD

Oswald was a familiar yet only quasi-popular name in the United States dating back to the late 19th century. This name managed to stay on the Top 1000 list of American boy names up until 1933. From that point on, for about 80 consecutive years now, Oswald has been out of circulation. This old warrior-king has permanently retired to the Land of the Forgotten. However, as more and more parents seem to be embracing names like Omar and Arlo, we wondered: why not Oswald? Oswald doesn’t just have old-fashioned charm; he’s got some serious ANCIENT charm going on. Not to mention nicknames like Oz, Ozzie and Ozzy keep this old bugger up-to-date and cool.

Quick Facts

ON OSWALD

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

N/A

PRONUNCIATION:

AHZ-wald (German: AWS-vahlt)

SIMPLE MEANING:

God's rule; divine power

Characteristics

OF OSWALD

Cooperative

Considerate

Compassionate

Nurturing

Sensitive

Patient

Loving

Kind

Gracious

Balanced

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Oswald

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME OSWALD

We cannot find any significant literary characters by the name of Oswald

Popular Songs

ON OSWALD

Oswald Defense Lawyer
a song by The Fall

Famous People

NAMED OSWALD

Oswald Avery (medical scientist)
Oswald Achenbach (German artist)

Children of Famous People

NAMED OSWALD

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

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME OSWALD

We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Oswald