Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his November 23rd column, he looks at the history of the name Elsa.
Elsa is a Germanic short form of biblical saint’s name Elizabeth, which is Hebrew for “my God is an oath.” The first famous Elsa was also a fictional princess. Around 1200, German knight Wolfram von Eschenbach wrote “Parzival.” This epic poem includes the story of Lohengrin, Parzival’s son. When the Duke of Brabant leaves his throne to daughter Elsa, Lohengrin arrives in a boat pulled by a swan, promising to defend Elsa’s reign if she never asks his name. He weds Elsa. They rule Brabant for years until she finally asks the forbidden question, when he glides away in the swan boat.
The 1850 United States census included 1,169 Elsas. Elsa was still mostly a nickname. Immigration increased the number of Elsas and established it as a separate name. On Social Security’s yearly lists, Elsa peaked at 215th in 1890. After “Frozen” was released, newborn Elsas more than doubled in 2014, ranking the name 286th, but that was a flash in the pan. By 2018, Elsa plummeted to 888th, a startling reversal.
Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Elsas in history!