Swedish Last Names: Statistics, Meanings, Origins & American Versions

Last Updated on Categorized as Names
hero swedish last names

Your last name can tell you a lot about your family history if you’re Swedish; it can provide a hint of where you’re from, what type of work your ancestors did, and what social class they belonged to. As an example, if your American family name is Johnston, it was likely Johansson when your ancestors arrived in the US from Sweden, and there is a high probability that they came from western Sweden and worked as farmers.

Similarly, if your last name is Nelson it was likely Nilsson in Sweden, which meant that they were more likely farmers from southern Sweden.

Learn more examples like this and everything else you need to know about Swedish last names in this compilation of the most popular Swedish last names today, their origins, meanings, and any American versions of the name. I’ve also included examples of different types of last names, along with which regions they were statistically associated with.

We’ll start by taking a look at what the most common last names in Sweden are today, as well as what their American versions are for those of you trying to find out more about your Swedish roots.

The Most Common Swedish Last Names (Family Names) in 2022

sweden hockey team last names
Some Swedish last names on the backs of Swedish hockey players
Last Name#Origin, MeaningAmericanized
Andersson220 264Son of AndersAnderson
Johansson219 211Son of JohanJohnson, Johnston, Jonzon
Karlsson163 271Son of KarlCarlson, Carson
Nilsson150 616Son of NilsNelson
Eriksson121 565Son of ErikErickson
Larsson111 071Son of LarsLarson, Lawson
Olsson94 065Son of OlleOlson
Persson93 517Son of PerPearson, Parson
Svensson88 013Son of SvenSwanson, Swenson
Gustafsson63 453Son of GustafGustafson
Pettersson56 494Son of PetterPeterson
Jonsson50 579Son of JonJohnson, Jonhston, Jonzon, Jones
Jansson43 197Son of JanJanson, Johnson, Johnston, Jonzon, Jones
Hansson38 743Son of HansHanson
Bengtsson30 390Son of BengtBenson
Carlsson29 724Son of CarlCarlson
Jönsson27 869Son of JönsJohnson, Jones
Lindberg26 628Linden MountainLindberg
Petersson25 846Son of PeterPeterson
Magnusson24 504Son of MagnusMagnuson
Lindström24 035Linden StreamLindstrom
Gustavsson22 556Son of GustavGustafson
Olofsson22 174Son of OlofOlson, Oleson
Lindgren21 942Linden BranchLindgren
Axelsson20 862Son of AxelAxelson
Bergström20 440Mountain RiverBergstrom
Lundberg20 338Grove MountainLundberg
Lundgren19 697Grove BranchLundgren
Berg19 588MountainBerg
Jakobsson18 768Son of JakobJackson, Jacobson
Berglund18 441Mountain GroveBerglund
Sandberg17 206Sand MountainSandberg
Fredriksson16 852Son of FredrikFredrikson
Mattsson16 518Son of MatsMattson
Ali16 443Arabic name that means high, exalted.Ali
Sjöberg15 939Sea MountainSeaberg, Seaborg, Showberg
Forsberg15 931Spring MountainFosberg, Fosburg
Henriksson15 706Son of HenrikHenrikson, Hendrickson, Henrickson
Lind15 415Linden, LimetreeLind
Lindqvist15 310Linden BranchLindqvist
Engström15 117Meadow RiverEngstrom
Eklund14 654Oak GroveEklund, Ecklund
Lundin14 599Of the GroveLundine
Danielsson14 286Son of DanielDanielson
Håkansson13 913Son of HåkanHakanson, Hokanson, Hackanson, Hawkins
Bergman13 763Mountain ManBergman
Holm13 658IslandHolm
Gunnarsson13 637Son of GunnarGunnarson, Gunderson
Samuelsson13 152Son of SamuelSamuelson
Nyström12 885New RiverNystrom
Wallin12 863Of the DykeWallin, Wahlin, Wallen
Björk12 795BirchBjork, Burch
Lundqvist12 752Grove BranchLundqvist
Holmberg12 750Island MountainHolmberg
Fransson12 692Son of FransFranson
Johnsson12 397Son of JohnJohnson, Jonhston, Jonzon, Jones
Söderberg12 214Southern MountainSoderberg
Nyberg12 212New MountainNyberg, Newburg
Ahmed12 123Arabic name that means ‘the grateful’Ahmed
Arvidsson12 102Son of ArvidArvidson, Arwfedson, Arfedson
Isaksson12 021Son of IsakIsakson
Nordström11 836Northern RiverNordstrom
Lundström11 309Grove RiverLundstrom
Mårtensson11 269Son of MårtenMartenson
Björklund11 043Birch GroveBjorklund, Bjork, Burke
Berggren10 888Mountain BranchBerggren, Bergren
Eliasson10 886Son of EliasEliason
Sandström10 602Sand RiverSandstrom
Nordin10 434Of the NorthNordin
Mohamed10 169Arabic name that means ‘the praiseworthy’Mohamed
Ström10 098RiverStrom
Ekström10 030Oak RiverEkstrom, Eckstrom
Åberg10 025River MountainAberg, Aaberg, Oberg, Elberg
Hermansson9 874Son of HermanHermanson
Holmgren9 803Island BranchHolmgren
Hedlund9 611Heath Moor GroveHedlund
Sundberg9 501Strait MountainSundberg
Sjögren9 443Lake Branch, Sea BranchSjogren, Seagren, Showgren
Dahlberg9 285Valley MountainDahlberg, Dolberg
Hellström8 936Flat Rock RiverHellstrom
Öberg8 922Island MountainOberg
Martinsson8 880Son of MartinMartenson
Falk8 862FalconFalk
Blom8 838FlowerBlom, Bloom
Strömberg8 809River MountainStromberg
Ek8 807OakAkins, Ek
Månsson8 698Son of MånsMonson
Abrahamsson8 588Son of AbrahamAbrahamson, Abramson
Blomqvist8 563Flower BranchBlomqvist
Lindholm8 519Linden IslandLindholm
Hassan8 474Arabic name that means ‘handsome’, ‘good’, or ‘benefactor’Hassan
Norberg8 434Narrow Stream MountainNorberg
Åkesson8 381Son of ÅkeAckerson
Sundström8 358Strait RiverSundstrom
Dahl8 329ValleyDahl
Löfgren8 327Leaf BranchLofgren
Åström8 277Island RiverOstrom
Ibrahim8 208Arabic name that means ‘friend of god’Ibrahim
Söderström8 133Southern RiverSoderstrom
Jensen8 125Son of JensJensen, Johnson, Johnston, Jones
Jonasson8 123Son of JonasJohnson, Johnston, Jones
Data source: SCB (As of 2022-10-15)
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View all the names by tapping “Show More”

Here is a visual representation of how proportionally common the most popular Swedish last names are:

Top 10 vs. Top 11-100:

Top 100 Swedish last names:

Origins of Swedish Last Names: A Brief History of Swedish Family Name Customs

Swedes of olden times—going back to the Vikings and beyond— used to introduce themselves by their first name, followed by their father’s name (to eradicate any doubt of whom exactly they were). Over time, we gradually started using hereditary family names instead, which were picked in different ways depending on when it was, who you were, and what class you belonged to.

swedish noble last names heraldry
Swedish noble houses

The first sign of Hereditary last names in Sweden started around the 1600s among Swedish noble families, with the Swedish masses still changing last names from generation to generation up until the late 1800s (much like Icelanders do today), using paternal names based on the father’s name with the addition of -son or -dotter (son or daughter, e.g. Andersson).

Inspired by the customs of the noble families, patronymics ending on -son began to be passed on among the Swedish peasants toward the end of the 19th century, and took on the role of family names for the Swedish working classes. Fast-forward to today, and about 2.7 million swedes (around 25%) have a last name ending in -son.

Interestingly, the occurrence of paternal last names has gone down from 40% of the Swedish population in 1982, to 30% in 2012, and finally 25% in 2022.

The bourgeoisie class (today’s middle/upper middle class) also picked up on the trend of hereditary last names, and often choose to adopt nature-inspired names instead, such as Ek (“Oak”), Lindberg (“Linden mountain”), Lundqvist (“Meadow branch”).

hero swedish last names womens national team
A mix of last names from the players in the Swedish national football team.

This was also the preferred custom in northern Sweden among all classes, which has made it the most common style today, with 3.4 million Swedes (or around 35%) having a last name connected to nature.

It was also common at the time to pass on so-called “soldier names” as last names if you had served in the army, such as Sköld (“Shield”), Svärd (“Sword”), Rask (“Fast”), and Modig (“Brave”), and if you were a priest or academic it was likely that you passed down a latin or greek-inspired name.

Let’s now look at what your last name can say about where in Sweden you’re from.

The Most Common Swedish Last Names For Each Region

According to data from SCB, Johansson is the most common last name in western and northern Sweden, Eriksson and Andersson in central Sweden, Karlsson in eastern Sweden, and Nilsson in southern Sweden.

most common swedish last names per region 2021

It’s astonishing to see how clearly the popularity of last names is split among the different regions of Sweden, and could definitely give you a hint of where your family hails from in Sweden.

The Social Class of Last Names: 6 Different Types & Origins of Swedish Last Names

Most Swedish last names today fall into one of the following categories:

  • Burgeouise/craft-related names (e.g. Lundqvist, Ek) – 35% of total names
  • Patronymic names (e.g. Andersson, Svensson) – 25% of total names
  • Noble family names (e.g. Gyllenstierna, Leionhufvud)
  • Priestly or Academic names (often inspired by latin or greek)
  • Soldier names (e.g. Stark, Modig)
  • Foreign family names (historically mainly German)
swedish national team football last names 3
An example of a soldier name (Lustig), a patronymic name (Claesson), and a nature name (Forsberg) in Swedish.

Common Nature or Craft-related Family Names in Sweden

Last NameAmerican versionEnglish translation
LindbergLindbergh“Lindenmount”
LindströmLindstrom“Lindenstream”
LindqvistLindqvist“Lindentwig”
LindgrenLindgreen“Lindenbranch”
BergströmBergstrom“Mountainstream”
LundbergLundberg“Meadowmount”
LundgrenLundgreen“Meadowbranch”
LundqvistLundqvist“Meadowtwig”
BerglundBerglund“Mountainmeadow”
SandbergSandberg“Sandmountain”
HammarströmHammarstrom“Hammerstream”
JernbergJernberg“Ironmountain”
BlombergBloomberg“Flowermountain”
RotmanRothman, Rodman“Rootman”

Common Noble Family Names in Sweden

Common Short Swedish Noble Family Names

  • Brahe
  • Tott
  • Kagg
  • Wrede
  • Tessin
  • Toll
  • Sparre
  • Hård
  • Gedda
  • Banér
  • Bildt
  • Bonde
  • Mörner
  • Uggla
  • Piper
  • Ribbing
  • Taube
  • Wrangel

Common Compounded Swedish Noble Family Names

Last NameEnglish translation
Leijonhufvud“Lionhead”
Oxenstierna“Oxhead”
Stenbock“Stoneram”
Lindschöld“Lindenshield”
Stålarm“Steelarm””
Gyllenborg“Golden fortress”
Wallenstedt“Barricade place”
Rehnskiöld“Cleanshield”
Adelsvärd“Noblesword”
Ekeblad“Oakenleaf”
Ankarcrona“Anchorcrown”
Lillienstedt“Lilyplace”
Ankarsvärd“Anchorsword”
Armfelt“Armfield”
Björnstjerna“Bearstar”
Cronhielm“Crownhelmet”
Gripenskiöld“Griffinshield”
Gyllenkrok“Goldenhook”
Gyllenstierna“Goldenface”
Hammarskjöld“Hammershield”

Common “von” Names in Sweden

  • von Essen
  • von Bahr
  • von Döbeln
  • von Otter
  • von Platen
  • von Rosen

Common “af” Names in Sweden

  • af Söderberg
  • Boije af Gennäs
  • af Geijerstam
  • af Klinteberg
  • af Trolle

Common Swedish Noble Family Names of Foreign Origins

  • Lewenhaupt
  • De la Gardie
  • Wachtmeister
  • Creutz
  • Cronstedt
  • Fleetwood
  • Hamilton
  • Staël von Holstein

Common Clergical & Academic Last Names in Sweden

Common Swedish Priest Family Names

  • Sundelius
  • Johannis
  • Caroli
  • Laurentius
  • Svedelius
  • Moraeus
  • Ulvaeus

Common Swedish Academic Last Names

  • Eurenius
  • Linnæus
  • Fornelius

Common Soldier-type Family Names in Sweden

Last NameEnglish translation
ModigBrave
SvärdSword
SabelSabre
KlingEdge
GladHappy
MunterJolly
RoligFunny
FriskHealthy
HjelmHelmet
LindLinden

Sources:

https://www.jstor.org/stable/451589

https://www.jamestownswedes.org/2020/05/swedish-american-surnames.html

https://www.scb.se/hitta-statistik/artiklar/2015/De-naturliga-efternamnen/

https://www.isof.se/lar-dig-mer/kunskapsbanker/lar-dig-mer-om-personnamn-i-sverige/efternamn

https://fof.se/artikel/2003/1/fran-lindberg-till-beachman/

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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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