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15 July 2013 @ 10:49 pm
Word of the Day - Valkyrie!  
Valkyrie, n.
[‘ Any of several goddesses or minor female deities supposed to hover over battlefields, deciding which fallen warriors should be conducted to Valhalla. Also in extended use. Cf. walkyrie n.’]
Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈvalkᵻri/, U.S. /vælˈkɪri/, /ˈvælˌkɪri/
Inflections: Plural Valkyries,  unchanged.
Forms:  α.   17 Volkyria,   17– Valkyria (plural Valkyriur),   18 Valkyriae plural,   18– Valkyrior plural,   18– Valkyrja (plural Valkyrjur).  β.   17– Valkerie,   17– Valkyrie,   18 Valkery.  γ.   18 Walcyrie,   18– Walkyrie.   Also with lower-case initial.
Etymology: <  Old Icelandic valkyrja (plural valkyrjur), lit. ‘chooser of the slain’, cognate with or formed similarly to Old English wælcyrie walkyrie n.; compare Old Icelandic Valkjósandi, lit. ‘chooser of the slain’, a byname of Odin. The Old Icelandic word was also borrowed into other European languages, as Danish valkyrie (1665), Swedish valkyria (1697), German Walküre (18th cent.), French Valkyrie (1756 in the source translated in quot. 1770 at β. ; also Walkyrie (1824)), etc.
In β. forms probably originally after French Valkyrie; in γ. forms chiefly after German Walküre (although in quot. 1849 apparently influenced by Old English wælcyrie walkyrie n.).
Scandinavian Mythol.
Any of several goddesses or minor female deities supposed to hover over battlefields, deciding which fallen warriors should be conducted to Valhalla. Also in extended use. Cf. walkyrie n.
For a discussion of the possible origin and development of the concept see H. R. Ellis Davidson Gods & Myths of Northern Europe (1964) 61–6, and compare also U. Zimmermann in J. Hoops's Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde (ed. 2, 2007)  XXXV. 595–602.

In later use often with reference or allusion to Wagner's epic music drama Der Ring des Nibelungen (libretto published Zurich, 1853).
1768 T. Gray Fatal Sisters in Poems 79  (note) The Valkyriur were female Divinities, Servants of Odin (or Woden) in the Gothic mythology.
1778 A. Grant Lett. from Mountains (1807) II. ix. 55 The prophetic Volkyria may once more say [etc.].
1806 W. Herbert Sel. Icel. Poetry i. 119 Two of the Valkyriæ or virgins of slaughter.
1829 F. D. Hemans Sword of Tomb in Forest Sanctuary (ed. 2) 115 The far-renown'd, Whom the bright Valkyriur's warning voice Had call'd to the banquet where gods rejoice.
1868 C. K. J. Bunsen God in Hist. II. 464 The hero..did not receive the name of Helgi from his mother and father; the Valkyria first applies it to him in her address..a name of acknowledged lofty import.
1892 C. F. Keary Norway & Norwegians iv. 104 Valkyriur (sing. Valkyria) is the name of these maidens of Odin; and some of the most exquisite passages of northern poetry are those which refer to them.
1973 A. Hiltebeitel tr. G. Dumézil Destiny of King 127 His [sc. Óðinn's] auxiliaries in this function are not masculine figures but the Valkyrjur, who see that the perpetual banquets of Valhöll are properly provided for.
1770 T. Percy tr. P. H. Mallet Northern Antiq. II. 99 These Goddesses are called Valkyries.
1784 E. Jerningham Rise Scand. Poetry Advt. p. iii, The Valkeries are a female troop whom Odin sends to the field of battle upon invisible steeds.
1801 M. G. Lewis Sword of Angantyr in Tales of Wonder xxxiii, 'Tis the Valkyries who sing, While they spin thy vital thread.
1881 P. B. Du Chaillu Land Midnight Sun II. 420 Are you Scandinavian valkyries who travel through the air?
1944 J. D. Adams Shape of Bks. to Come iii. 51 He proves himself a fit mate for that heavily muscled young Valkyrie, Moran, who can toss off half a tumbler of whisky without a quiver.
1952 E. Birney Trial of City 63 When he tried his eyes on the lake ospreys would fall like valkyries choosing the cut-throat.
1981 G. Clare Last Waltz in Vienna (1982) ii. 107 His enormous Valkyrie of a wife.
1991 German Hist. 9 386 Her minute and scrupulous work elucidates such problems in the Ring as..the nature of valkyries.
2005 J.-P. Pustienne Ernest Hemingway 25  (caption) Holding the hand of his mother, Grace, a veritable Valkyrie and a diva.
1800 German Mus. Apr. 310 The charming goddesses of death (Walkyries) walked round the table, administering the heavenly beverage in golden horns.
1835 F. Lieber Stranger in Amer. iii. 51 If his store happened to be out of coffins.., he was quick in filling up the gap. Was he not a Walkyrie incarnate?
1849 A. D. Wackerbarth in  tr. Beowulf Introd. p. xxviii, Thrythr, though it signifies Virgin, being, like Hygd, the Name of a Walcyrie.
1884 Overland Monthly Aug. 158/2 Ettmüller finds traces of the Walkyrie myth.
1930 Waterloo (Iowa) Daily Courier 5 June 1/6 Amy Johnson, with golden hair like Wagner's Brunhilde, was acclaimed Thursday a walkyrie of the air at a dinner given her by 1,100 women admirers of her flight from England to Australia.
1945 Jrnl. Educ. Sociol. 18 500 Wotan and his swollen Walkyries.
1997 Financial Times (Nexis) 24 Nov. (This Week section) 12 In Wagnerian times Germania was given a Walkyrie look as sentinel of the Rhine.
2000 Scotsman (Nexis) 19 Aug. 14 Turbulent Wagnerian clouds out of which the Walkyrie on a bad hair day might have ridden.
Valˈkyric adj. likened to the Valkyries.
1913 A. Harrison in Eng. Rev. Aug. 110 Thompson's odes read like Walkyric word-battles.
1995 M. Dome & M. Wall Compl. Guide Music of Metallica 85/1 Ulrich hammering his kit as if trying to wreak some kind of valkyric havoc.