If you’re one of the many die-hard fans of the Marvel movie Thor: Ragnarok, chances are you’re familiar with the word Valkyrie — but do you know what it means? Or where the Valkyrie come from? Not to worry; The Word Counter is here to help!
In this post, we’re diving into the exciting world of Norse mythology to provide you with all the information you need to understand our word of the day, Valkyrie. So, if you’re looking for information on these strong female heroines — look no further and keep reading.
What Is the Definition of Valkyrie?
According to the Collins Dictionary, the word Valkryie refers to any of the maidens of the god Odin who lead the souls of heroes slain in battle to Valhalla.
What Is the Etymology of Valkyrie?
The word Valkyrie comes from Old Norse valkyrja (plural valkyrjur), which is made up of two words: the noun valr (which refers to the slain on the battlefield) and the verb kjósa (meaning “to choose”). Together, these words mean “chooser of the slain.”
That said, the Old Norse valkyrja (meaning “Choose of the Slain”) is cognate to Old English wælcyrġe. From the Old English and Old Norse forms, philologist Vladimir Orel (a Russian linguist and etymologist) reconstructed the Proto-Germanic form walakuzjǭ.
However, it’s possible that the term had been borrowed into Old English from Old Norse.
What Is Valhalla?
Simply put, Valhalla is Odin’s Hall of Heroes, where the spirits of slain warriors battle each other all day, return to life and good health in the evening, and spend the night feasting and drinking. Only warriors who died in battle could be taken to Valhalla.
That said — and according to Norse belief — Valhalla (aka the “Hall of the Slain”) was just one of five possible afterlife destinations, with the other four including:
- Fólkvangr — Presided over by Freya, the goddess of fertility and magic, who chooses half of the dead on the battlefield for her realm (with the Valkyries choosing the other half for Odin).
- The Realm of Ran — Presided over by the goddess Ran who claims those that die at sea.
- The Realm of Hel (or Helheim) — Was presided over by the jötunn Hel and was primarily for the people who died of sickness or old age. Not to get confused with Christian ideas of Hell, the realm of Hel wasn’t a place for the wicked but an afterlife for those who didn’t die in battle.
- The Burial Mound or Helgafjell (aka the “holy mountain”) — One’s grave or tomb, which was considered the final home of the dead throughout Scandinavian history.
What Are the Names of Valkyries?
Similar to the Biblical angels, valkyries were powerful female figures and the foreboders of war who rode fearlessly into battle on horseback.
It’s unclear as to how many Valkyries ever existed, but some fearsome Valkyrie names have been listed in the Old Icelandic sources, such as Grímnismál, Völuspá, Helgakviða, Hundingsbana, Völsunga, Sigurðarkviða. These include:
- Brynhildr (Völsunga saga), whose name translates to bright battle.
- Hildr makes an appearance in the legend of Hedin and Högni, in Ragnarsdrápa and in the Edda. Her name translates to battle.
- Sigrdrífa appears in Sigrdrífumál. The meaning behind her name is victory-urger.
- Sigrún makes a debut in Helgakviða Hundingsbana II. Her name translates to victory rune”
- Sváva makes an appearance in Helgakviða Hjörvarðssonar. Her name means sleep maker.
- Geirahöð is found in the manuscripts of Grímnismál. Her name means battle spear.
- Hlaðguðr svanhvít is King Hlödvér’s daughter as well as the sister of Hervör alvit. Her name translates to swan-white.
- Mist appears in the Poetic Edda poem Grímnismál. Her name means mist or cloud.
- Ráðgríðr is a well-known Valkyrie in Norse Legend. Her name means council-truce.
- Skalmöld is one of the many Valkyries who decide which vikings will die in battle. Her name means sword-time.
- Þrúðr is an old Norse Valkyrie who serves refreshments to the Einherjar (aka “army of one”) in Valhalla. Her name means strength or power.
What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Valkyrie?
While there are currently no known antonyms for Valkyrie, below you will find a few synonyms of Valkyrie provided by the WordHippo Thesaurus:
- Chooser of the slain
What Are Translations of Valkyrie?
You may understand that a Valkyrie is one of a host of strong female figures who serves under Odin, but do you know how to say our word of the day in a different language?
Here are some common translations of Valkyrie for you to study below:
- Afrikaans — Valkyrie
- Arabic — فالكيري
- Bulgarian — Валкирия
- Chinese (simplified) — 女武神
- Croatian — Valkyrie
- Czech — Bohyně norské mytologie
- American English — Valkyrie
- Danish — Valkyrie
- Dutch — Walkure
- Finnish — Valkyria
- French — Valkyrie
- German — Walküre
- Greek — Βαλκυρίες
- Italian — Valchiria
- Japanese — ワルキューレ
- British English — Valkyrie
- Korean — 발키리
- Norwegian — Valkyrie
- Polish — Walkiria
- Portuguese — Valquíria
- Russian — Валькирия
- Spanish — Valkyrie
- Swedish — Valkyria
- Thai — วาลคิรี
- Turkish — Valkür
- Ukrainian — Валькирия
- Vietnamese — Valkyrie
What’s the Difference Between Valkyries, Vikings, and Shieldmaidens?
According to Norse mythology and Eddic poetry, the Valkyries were fierce females who decided which warriors lived and died in battle. These “choosers of the dead” were “shieldmaidens.”
Shieldmaidens were Scandinavian she-warriors who marched alongside the strongest men to fight in some of the bloodiest battles in Viking history. A Viking (aka Norseman or Northman), on the other hand, refers to a male member of the Scandinavian seafaring warrior.
Simply put, our word of the day refers to a figure in Norse mythology depicted as a strong warrior woman — usually on horseback, a boar, or a wolf and armed with a spear — who makes the decision about the fate of warriors in battle before carrying the dead to Odin’s Valhalla.