fem. proper name, from French Mathilde, which is of Germanic origin, literally "mighty in battle;" compare Old High German Mahthilda, from mahti "might, power" (see might (n.)) + hildi "battle," from Proto-Germanic *hildiz "battle" (see Hilda). Matilda (1102-1167), daughter of Henry I, claimant to the throne during the Anarchy, usually is not reckoned among the kings and queens of England.
The name also was late 19c. Australian slang for "a traveler's bundle or swag," hence the expression waltzing Matilda "to travel on foot" (by 1889).
In my electorate nearly every man you meet who is not "waltzing Matilda" rides a bicycle. ["Parliamentary Debates," Australia, 1907]
The lyrics of the song of that name, sometimes called the unofficial Australian national anthem, are said to date to 1893.
updated on December 04, 2018