On the heels of Deirdre, we have another Irish mythological choice – one we expect to gain modestly in the coming years.
Thanks to Photoquilty for suggesting Bridget as our Name of the Day.
First, we must confess that Photoquilty suggested Brighid. But every way we sliced it, this post ended up being mostly about her Anglicized sister. So here it is – all about Bridget, Brighid, Brigid, Brigit, Bridie, Biddie and so on.
Should you find yourself in Ireland, your Brighid will be the one-syllable BREED or BREEGE. In the US, it’s always a two-syllable name. Just like Kaitlyn eclipsed Caitlin, choose one of the more authentic versions and unfortunately, some will think you’ve opted for a kreeatif reinvention instead.
In the Celtic pantheon, Bridget was big noise – a popular goddess associated with fire, cows, poetry, healing and sacred wells. She’s also credited with great intelligence, so you’ll occasionally find her listed as the counterpart of Athena and Minerva.
The name has three possible sources:
- First, from the words breo and saighit, fiery arrow. Given her dominion over flame, it’s not implausible;
- Second, the noun brígh means strength. It’s a logical and simple source;
- Lastly, while it lacks etymological roots, “exalted one” does match with the goddess’ reputation – and appears to be the favored meaning in most baby name guides.
Apparently, Bridget the goddess merged with the fifth century Saint Brigid of Kildare. Some call her the Irish Mary. Her popularity bridges old traditions and the new faith. While Bridget was considered too sacred to bestow on a daughter for centuries, by the early Renaissance, she was fairly common.
There was a second Saint Bridget – though she was born Birgitta of Sweden. While it seems likely that the fourteenth century saint’s name has different roots, they’re unclear, and the two monikers are effectively merged. Between the Irish and the Swedish figures, it’s little wonder that Bridget translates to virtually every European language and beyond.
In the US, she remains colored emerald green. In nineteenth century American slang, Bridget’s diminutive Biddy meant servant. A similar history hasn’t held back Abigail, but we think you’d best look elsewhere for a nickname.
Bridget is big in pop culture. There’s the flawed-but-lovable Bridget Jones; actresses Bridget Fonda and Bridget Moynahan; and a generation of girls is growing up with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’ Bridget “Bee” Vreeland.
We think Bridget’s appeals stems not just from her story, but because she’s one of the -et girls. Call it an antidote to years of ends-in-a choices for our daughters.
Colorful Scarlett ranks #219 (variant Scarlet is #723) and starbaby Violet is right behind at #231. We’re also seeing the rise of Juliet (#516, with Juliette at #595).
At #357, Bridget has fallen from her peak of #112 in 1973. But she hasn’t fallen too far, and we hear her considered more and more often. After all, the -ets are an exclusive club. True there’s Ayelet, Nicolette and Harriet. But after those three, we’re stuck with noun names like Poet and Velvet or that Malibu surfer girl, Gidget. So if Scarlett and Violet continue their trek up the charts, we suspect Bridget will fare well, bolstered by her history of use.