Origin and Meaning of the Name Brenda

Brenda is a popular girl’s name in the Celtic areas of Great Britain, especially Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. Etymologists argue as to the meaning of Brenda. Some say it is a feminine version of the male Irish Brendan, in honor of St. Brendan the Navigator. Others say it may come from the Old Norse word brand, meaning flaming sword, or be an feminine form of Brandolf (sword wolf). Whether or not the name Brenda was originally the feminine form of Brendan, it is now used that way.


The popularity of Brenda has dropped (and it was not in the top 100 baby girls’ names in Wales in 2013). It was quite popular in the late Victorian era, as well as during the 1940s-1960s, but has been declining since the beginning of the 21st century. It is used in the UK from Yorkshire (judge Brenda Hale, Baroness Hale of Richmond) to Somerset (artist Brenda Pye) to Kent (actress Brenda Blethyn).

The name Brenda can be found around the world: athlete Brenda Archer (Guyana), athlete Brenda Castillo (Dominican Republic), singer Brenda Fassie (South Africa), actress Brenda Fricker (Ireland), singer Brenda Lee (USA), athlete Brenda Matthews (New Zealand), politician Brenda Robertson (Canada), athlete Brenda Schultz-McCarthy (Netherlands), actress/taekwondo black belt Brenda Song (USA, of Hmong and Thai heritage).

Useful Resources

See the meaning and popularity of other Welsh girls’ names on our website.

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