Hi There,

I was visiting my grandmother over the weekend and we were talking about family names. Her mother, my great -grandmother, was named Elwilda. I have never heard of anyone else with this name and also cannot seem to find its meaning either. That side of my family is Irish and English, if that helps! I would love to pass along its meaning to my grandmother if you find out, since she is clueless as well!


Dear Shea,

Thank you for asking about such an unusual name! You’re going to want to hear this story. The name Elwilda and its variation, Alwilda, are based on a legendary Scandinavian female pirate named Awilda (sometimes called Alwilda). The name itself is based on the Old Norse name Alfhildr (pronounced Alwilda), which literally translates to “Elf battle!”

The story of Awilda cannot be verified, since it’s been passed down generation upon generation. But the story goes that Awilda’s father, the King, arranged a marriage for her to marry Alf. Not the alien puppet, but the crown prince of Denmark. She was like “No, thank you,” and she and her girlfriends dressed up as sailors and went out to sea to escape the arranged marriage. They came across a a pirate ship that had no captain, so Awilda took over! Later, she ended up battling the exact prince she was slated to marry, and–as the story goes–they fell in love during the battle and married anyway.

So that is the story of your grandmother’s name. We have added the names Elwilda, Alwilda, and Awilda to the BabyNames.com database.


Awilda the Queen Pirate






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Jennifer Moss (she/her) is the founder of BabyNames.com, author of The Baby Names Workbook, and Producer of The Baby Names Podcast. Jennifer is widely regarded as the leading expert on popular baby name trends and the naming process, serving as the authoritative source on the subject for national and international media.

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