The Most Popular Names in the Nordics (Real Data)

Last Updated on Categorized as Names
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It’s pretty common to see top lists of the most common names in individual countries, but since the Nordic countries mostly have similar names (or at least a lot of overlap) I was curious about what the most common first names in the Nordic region as a whole are.

So I set out to gather all the name data I could find from the different countries national statistical databases, added them all up, merged similarly spelled versions and local varieties of names, and compiled the results into neatly presented tables that make it easy to see the popularity of each name in the region as a whole.

If you’d like to find more Nordic names, check out my ultimate list of Nordic & Norse names.

Let’s start off with the most common ones right off the bat:

What Are the Most Common First Names In the Nordics Today?

The most popular first names in the Nordic region as a whole are Maria (195 779), Anna (186 657), and Eva (141 800) for females, and Lars (160 522), Jan (149 096), and Mikael (147 037) for males.

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Interestingly, most of these names can be traced back to Hebrew origins, with traditional Germanic and Old Norse names being slightly less popular overall these days.

Let’s keep going by looking at the full lists of the most popular first names in the Nordics next, along with a short meaning for each name. Then we’ll go on to figure out which names are most popular among newborn babies specifically.

1

The Most Popular First Names in the Nordic Region

According to official name statistics from all the Nordic countries

We’ll start looking at what the most common names are for all the Nordic countries combined, for the population as a whole and for newborn babies specifically. I’ve only counted when the names are used as first names, and not as middle names.

Using the latest available data from the official statistics databases of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Iceland, we can get a pretty good sense of which first names are most popular right now in the region as a whole. However, the numbers are not always exact, as some of the databases only cover the top 20, 50, or 100 names. The lists below still represents a fairly accurate estimation of the most popular names in the Nordics.

First NameMeaning# of Nordic People
MariaMaria is the Greek and Roman form of the Aramaic Mariam (and Hebrew Mirjam). It’s been used in Sweden since the 14th century and means “rebellious”“long-awaited child”, or “loved” depending on the source.195779
AnnaAnna stems from the biblical Hebrew Channa (mother of Maria and grandmother of Jesus), which means “mercy” or “the pardoned”. May also be related to the Celtic goddess Anu.186657
EvaEva is a biblical Hebrew name meaning “life-giver” or “living one”, stemming from the Hebrew word Chawa.141800
AnnAnn is the English form of Anna, originating from the Hebrew Channa (meaning “mercy” or “the pardoned”).101777
EmmaEmma is a name with Germanic roots, originally a nickname for Ermin/Emerentia (meaning “great”“whole”, or “universal”. It has later also been used as a nickname for Emilia.98248
LenaLena can be either the Scandinavian short form of the biblical Hebrew name Magdalena (which means “woman from Magdala”), or the English short form of the Greek name Helena, which means “the enchanted” and is commonly associated with Helen of Troy (a.k.a. “the most beautiful woman in the world” in Ancient Greece).97834
SaraSara is a biblical Hebrew name that means “countess”, and was the name of Abrahams wife in the old testament.93623
KarinKarin, or Karen, is the Scandinavian short form of Katarina, stemming from the Greek word Katharos which means “pure” or “chaste”.93237
MarieMarie is another form of Maria and comes from the Aramaic Mariam (and Hebrew Mirjam). It means “rebellious”“long-awaited child”, or “loved” depending on the source.87835
IngerInger is a Nordic name stemming from the Old Norse name Ingegerd, which means (“farmstead”, or “protected”).81075
KristinaKristina is the female form of Kristian/Christian, which stems from the Latin Christianius that means “the Christian”.78243
SusanneSusanne is the French form of Susanna, a Greek name that originates from the Hebrew Shoshanna, which means “lily”.74536
IngridIngrid is a Nordic name that comes from the Old Norse Ingifridh, which means “beautiful” or “beloved”.74292
JennyJenny, or Jennie, is the English short form of Johanna, which in turn stems from the Hebrew Jochanna (meaning “God has mercy”).70450
HannaHanna comes from the Hebrew Channa and means “mercy” or “the pardoned”.69749
LindaLinda is a short form of any name ending in -lind, -linde, or -linda which is usually names of German origins. Linda means “soft” or “mild” in Old German, and “the beautiful” or “the petite” in Latin.69644
IdaIda is a name with Old German origins, and means either “the diligent” or “the active”. Popular in Scandinavia as the sister in Astrid Lindgren’s children’s book “Emil of Lönneberga” was called Ida.69238
MarianneMarianne is the French form of the Latin Mariana, which means “female”.69221
CamillaCamilla is a name of Latin origins, and means “servant of the sacrificed” or “sacrificial priestess”.65517
UllaUlla is an Old Norse name that stems from the male name Ull, the Norse sun god. It may also derive from the German Ulrika, which means “heritage” or “powerful”. 65361
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
NameMeaningNordic People
LarsLars is a short form of the Latin Laurentius which means “crowned with laurel wreath” or “man from Laurentum”.160522
JanJan is a German short form of Johannes, which is of Hebrew origins and means “the lord has mercy”. 149096
MikaelMikael, or Michael, is a biblical Hebrew name that means “who is like God”.147037
ThomasThomas comes from the Greek Θωμᾶς (or Thōmas) which stems from the Aramaic word for “twin”.143862
ErikEric is a Nordic name that originates from the Old Norse Airikr which means “lone ruler” or “always powerful”.132328
AndersAnders is a Nordic name that stems from the Greek word Andro which means “human”, “man”, or “miracle” depending on the source.131683
PerPer, also Pehr and Pär, is the Nordic short form of the Latin/Greek Petrus, meaning “rock”.131392
PeterPeter is the English form of the Latin/Greek Petrus, meaning “rock”.119423
DanielDaniel is a Hebrew name that means “God is my judge”.106155
ChristianChristian, or Kristian, stems from the Latin Christianius that means “the Christian”.103884
MartinMartin stems from the Latin Martinus, which means “Martian”.99722
HansHans is a German short form of Johannes, which is a Hebrew name that means “the lord has mercy”.98816
JohanJohan is a short form of Johannes, a Hebrew name meaning “the lord has mercy”. There are three Swedish kings named Johan throughout history.98641
FredrikFredrik, or Frederik, is a name of German origins meaning “peaceful ruler”. There has been a total of eleven Scandinavian kings with this name, most of them Danish.95804
HenrikHenrik, or Henric, stems from the German Heinrich that means “ruler of the home”. 94966
JonasJonas stems from the Greek/Latin Jonah that in turns comes from the biblical Hebrew name Yonah, which means “white dove”.93088
MattiasMattias, or Mathias, is a Greek form of the Hebrew name Mattitjahu that means “god’s gift”.92645
JohnJohn, or Jon, is the English short form of the Greek Johannes, which stems from a Hebrew name meaning “the lord has mercy”.89881
AndreasAndreas is a Greek name that stems from the word Andro which means “human”, “man”, or “miracle” depending on the source.88276
KarlKarl or Carl (usually nicknamed “Kalle”) is a Nordic name originating from the Old Germanic Karlaz, which means “free man”. A total of ten Swedish kings, including the current Carl XVI Gustaf, has the name Karl.86069
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
2

The Most Popular First Names For Nordic Newborns

How the Nordic region as a whole names their babies

What Are the Most Common Nordic First Names For Newborn Girls?

The five most popular girl names in the Nordic region are Ella, Olivia, Alma, Maja, and Emma. We can see a clear trend toward more international names for newborn girls in the Nordics, but with a couple of old Norse names still going strong (such as Freja and Astrid on 6th and 8th place).

First NameMeaning and origin# of Nordic Newborns
EllaElla is a Hebrew name that means “Goddess”. Also used as a short form of Gabriella, Eleonora, Elin, Daniella, or Elisabeth.1280
OliviaOlivia means “Olive Tree” in latin, and has been in use in Sweden since the 18th century.1268
AlmaAlma probably stems from the latin Almus, which means “mild”. It may also come from the Spanish word for “soul”: Alma.1255
MajaMaja is a Scandinavian/German/Slavic form of the greek Maia (meaning “princess”), and also a short form of Maria in Sweden since the 14th century (which either means “rebellious”, “long-awaited child”, or “loved” depending on the source.1241
EmmaEmma is a name with Germanic roots, originally a nickname for Ermin/Emerentia (meaning “great”, “whole”, or “universal”. It has later also been used as a nickname for Emilia.1122
FrejaFreja is the godess of fertility in Norse mythology, and means either “wife” or “ruler” in Old Norse. Freja the goddess is also connected to love, war and magic, and was traditionally written as Freyja.1097
NoraNora is of either Roman or Arabic origin and means “light” or “god is my light”. It became popular in Scandinavia after Henrik Ibsen named his main character Nora in “A Dollhouse”, portraying the perfect wife and mother. Is sometimes written as Norah and Noora.1094
AstridAstrid is an Old Norse name that means “god and peace” or “beautiful”. In Old West Norse it was written as Ásfríðr, and in Old East Norse as Estrid. In Norway the name is sometimes written as Astri.1082
SelmaSelma has Celtic roots connected to the town of Shelma (which means “beautiful view”). It may also be used as a short form of the German Anselma, which means “god’s helmet”.920
AliceAlice stems from the Germanic Adelheid which is made up of the two words “noble” and “light”.903
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

What Are the Most Common Nordic First Names For Newborn Boys?

The five most popular boy names in the Nordic region are Oliver, Noah, William, Elias, and Lucas. We can see a clear trend toward more international names for newborn boys as well, with Oscar being the only name with Old Norse roots in the top 10.

First NameMeaning# of Nordic Newborns
OliverOliver is an English name with likely Greek roots. It means “calm and peaceful”, but is also connected to the word olive.1870
NoahNoah is originally a biblical Hebrew name that means either “rest”, “comfort”, “royal”, or “star”.1818
WilliamWilliam, or Vilhelm/Wilhelm, is a Germanic name in use in Scandinavia since the 12th century. The name is built on the two words “will” and “helmet”.1672
EliasElias is a Hebrew name that means “my god”, and is usually a show of faith in one of the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam).1629
LucasLucas is of Roman/Greek origins and means “of Lucania” (a region in southern Italy) as well as being connected to the patron saint of doctors, artists, and creatives.1614
OscarOscar comes from the Celtic “Oscur”, which in turn is believed to have come from the Old Norse Ásgeirr with the meaning “spear of the gods”. The Frankish form of the name is Ansgar. Another theory behind the name is that it stems from the two Celtic words “os” and “cara”, which would mean “friend of the deers” in Celtic.1499
EmilEmil is likely of Roman origins (as Æmilius) with the meaning “enthusiastic” or “driven”.1361
AlfredAlfred is an Old English name (spelled Ælfræd) which means “advice of the elves”.1293
LiamLiam is an Irish form of the name William (a Germanic name meaning “will” and “helmet”)1280
HugoHugo is a short form of the Germanic Hubert, which means “light of reason”.1207
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

A curious observation is that Nordic people seem to have a stronger preference toward the top 3 names when it comes to female names, but when it comes to male names the top 10 is significantly more evenly distributed.

In other words, Nordic parents seem more likely to pick a popular name for their baby girls, while they are a bit more open to picking a slightly less popular name for their boys.


Sources:

https://www.scb.se/hitta-statistik/statistik-efter-amne/befolkning/amnesovergripande-statistik/namnstatistik/

https://www.dst.dk/da/Statistik/emner/befolkning-og-valg/navne/

https://www.ssb.no/en/befolkning/navn/statistikk/navn

https://www.avoindata.fi/data/fi/dataset/none

https://www.statice.is/statistics/population/births-and-deaths/names/

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By Karl Andersson

As a native Swede with a Finnish mother, Karl identifies as both Nordic and Scandinavian. He left Sweden at 19 to explore the world, and stayed abroad for almost 8 years—during which he backpacked, worked every job there was, earned a degree from UC Berkeley, and met the future mother of his children. He ultimately returned to his native Malmö with his love, where they now have 3 Swedish-American boys eager to explore the world.

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