Viking, Norse, Scandinavian & Nordic Names: The Ultimate List

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Being an American-Swedish family (also rooted in Finland on my side) with a love and appreciation for the old Norse names, we have most likely gone through every single Viking, Old Norse, Scandinavian and Nordic name possible.

Why? Well, we scoured the web for the right names for each boy or girl that was about to enter the world each time we were pregnant with our three kids. As we didn’t know the sex of the babies until they were born, we looked up an equal amount of boy and girl names during our name research and made name shortlists for each other to approve or disapprove of as we went along.

I also wanted to see what the most common names in the Nordics as a whole were, so I set out to collect all the name data I could find from the official sources and spent weeks compiling it. The results are displayed below and are updated regularly as new data is presented by the authorities. For those that would like to explore more unique names, we also list our personal favorites and recommendations that will go well in both the Nordics and elsewhere in the world.

In the end, we opted for an Old Norse first name coupled with a more current Nordic middle name for each of our children, so in our recommended name lists you’ll find both classic Viking names as well as more modern Nordic names, along with the meaning of each name, and the number of people with the name as their first name.

Let’s take a look at the lists, starting with the data on the most common Nordic names.

1

Most Popular Nordic and Norse Names

We’ll start looking at what the most common names are for all the Nordic countries combined, first for newborn babies and then for the population as a whole. 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 are still a fairly accurate estimation of the most popular names in the Nordics.

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
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

We can see a clear trend toward more international names for newborn babies, but with a couple of old Norse names still going strong for newborn girls (Freja and Astrid). Let’s see how this compares to all the living people of the Nordics with the most popular first names overall.

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

The most popular first names in the Nordics as a whole are Maria, Anna, and Eva for females, and Lars, Jan, and Mikael for males. 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.

2

The Most Popular Viking Names In Use Today In the Nordics

Since my focus is also on specifically Norse or Viking names, I also sorted through all the names with Old Norse origin from the data I compiled, to see which of the old Viking names are still popular in today’s Nordic countries. Let’s take a look at the results!

NameMeaningNordic People
IngerInger is a Nordic name stemming from the Old Norse name Ingegerd, which means (“farmstead”, or “protected”).81075
IngridIngrid is a Nordic name that comes from the Old Norse Ingifridh, which means “beautiful” or “beloved”.74292
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.40768
ToveTove is a Scandinavian name that stems from the Old Norse Tófa, which is a short form of Þórfríðr. It means “beautiful thunder”.38031
FridaFrida is an Old Norse name that stems from the word fridh, which means “the loved one” or “the beautiful”.36620
LivLiv, or Lif, is an Old Norse name that literally means “life”, but can sometimes be linked to the Old Norse word hlif which can mean “protection”. In Norse mythology Lif was the woman who survived Ragnarök.31639
SigneSigne is an Old Norse name stemming from Signý, which means “new victory”. The name was initially mainly popular in southern Sweden (Skåne), but has steadily gained popularity in the rest of Scandinavia during the last century.29160
ÅsaÅsa, or Åse/Aase, is an Old Norse name that means “queen of goddesses”.28467
SivSiv, or Siw, is and Old Norse name that originated in Norse mythology as the name of Thor’s wife (Sif). It means “bride” or “wife”.27907
GunGun, or Gunn, is an Old Norse name derived from gunnr, which means “battle”. In Norse mythology Gun was one of the valkyries who rode out on the battlefield to pick out the chosen warriors who were about to die.26955
Hilde/HildaHilde and Hilda are Old Norse names that stems from hild, which means “battle” or “war”. In Norse mythology Hild was one of Odin’s valkyries.25854
GudrunGudrun is the modern form of the Old Norse name Guðrún, which means “wisdom of the gods”.23992
GerdGerd is an Old Norse name that is derived from the word garðr, which means “protection” or “fence”.22556
BodilBodil (or Bothild, Botilda, Boel), is an Old Norse name comprised of the two words bot and hild, which together means “better battle”.21378
IngaInga is an Old Norse name derived from the Norse goddess Ing, which is a different name for the goddess of fertility Freja/Frö/Frey, which in turn means “ruler”. It can also be a short form of any name that starts with Ing-, such as Ingegerd or Ingrid.20125
SigridSigrid stems from the Old Norse name Sigfrid, which means “beauitful victory”. 20071
FrejaFreja, or Frej/Frey/Frö, is an Old Norse name and the name of the goddess of fertility. It means “ruler” or “wife”.19317
AlvaAlva is an Old Norse name that is derived from Alv/Alf, which is a mythological creature in Old Norse folk tales and translates to “elf”. It can also be a short form of names beginning with Alv- or Alf-.17975
SagaSaga is an Old Norse name that means “she who sees” or “soothsayer”.16459
RagnhildRagnhild is an Old Norse name that is derived from two words that together means “battle of the gods” or “under the protection of the gods”. 15576
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
NameMeaningNordic People
ErikEric is a Nordic name that originates from the Old Norse Airikr which means “lone ruler” or “always powerful”.132328
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
JohnJohn, or Jon, is the English short form of the Greek Johannes, which stems from a Hebrew name meaning “the lord has mercy”.89881
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
BoBo is an Old Norse name that means “living”, “resident”, “farmer”, or “soldier”.84555
BjörnBjörn is an Old Norse name of Old Germanic origin, stemming from the word bernuz which means “bear”.79901
KjellKjell is a Nordic name that stems from Kættil or Kettil, which means “helmet”.73609
LeifLeif is a Nordic name that was originally a short form of names that contained leifr, which means “heir”61964
SvenSven, or Svein, is an Old Norse name that means “young man”, or “youth”.60009
HåkanHåkan—or Håkon, Haakon, Hakun—is an Old Norse name that stems from two words that together mean “of noble lineage”. The current Norwegian crown prince is named Haakon.38696
UlfUlf is an Old Norse name that means “wolf”. It is a popular name for Swedish men aged 30-60, but not very popular for newborn babies in the Nordics in general.35524
OlofOlof, or Olav, is a Nordic name that means “forefather”. Olav is traditionally a name of kings in Norway, and has been worn by five Norwegian kings. 31746
RuneRune is an Old Norse name that stems from the word runa that means “secret wisdom” or simply “letter”.31518
KnutKnut is an Old Norse name that means “knot”, and specifically relates to bonds between people. It can also sometimes be loosely translated to “the bold one” from an Old Germanic perspective.27934
TorTor is an Old Norse name derived from the Norse god of thunder, and the name literally means “thunder”. It was not traditionally given to young boys on its own, but instead as part of a second name such as Torbjörn and Torleif.27881
RolfRolf is a short form of the Old Norse Rodhulf, which is derived from the two words hrodr and ulf and can be translated to “noble wolf”.23345
GeirGeir is an Old Norse name that stems from the old Germanic word gaizaz, which means “spear”.22004
ToreTore, or Thore, is a short form of the Old Norse Thórir, that is thought to be a composition of the Norse thunder god Thor and the word verr, which together means “warrior of Thor”. 21124
OddOdd, or Oddur, is an Old Norse name that means “edge” or “pointy tip”.18913
GunnarGunnar is an Old Norse name derived from the words gunnr and haria, which gives the meaning “warrior of the army”, and specifically was thought of as a name for brave and bold fighters.17984
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Ingrid and Inger are the most popular Viking/Norse female names by a mile, followed by Astrid, Tove, and Frida. Furthermore, Erik is by far the most common Viking/Norse name for males, followed by Johan, John, Karl, Bo and Björn.

3

Our Favorites: The Best Norse and Nordic Names

Now that we know the most commonly used names, the most popular baby names, and the old Norse names that are still commonly used today, we can start narrowing down the shortlists with our favorites of the bunch (or from outside the list of the most popular ones).

A name’s popularity isn’t a huge factor for everyone, but some like their baby’s name to be unique, while others prefer to follow current trends. For us, we preferred somewhere in the middle; not too odd and not too common (lagom, as it were!).

The criteria for our personal shortlists are pretty straightforward:

  • The name has to sound good in both English and the Nordic languages (i.e. no Birger = Burger situations)
  • The name has to have a meaning attached to it that feels relevant (i.e. no names with unknown meanings/origins)
  • The name cannot be a fantasy-related/fictitious name (i.e. no GoT or LotR names)

Our Favorite Viking/Old Norse Names For Girls

NameMeaningNumber of people
HildaHilde and Hilda are Old Norse names that stems from hild, which means “battle” or “war”. In Norse mythology Hild was one of Odin’s valkyries.25854
YlvaYlva is an Old Norse name that means “she-wolf”. It is derived from the male name Ulf/Ulv, which means “wolf”.
SagaSaga is an Old Norse name that means “she who sees” or “soothsayer”.16459
SigneSigne is an Old Norse name stemming from Signý, which means “new victory”. The name was initially mainly popular in southern Sweden (Skåne), but has steadily gained popularity in the rest of Scandinavia during the last century.29160
EddaEdda is an Old Norse name that means “ancestor” or “old mother”.
ToveTove is a Scandinavian name that stems from the Old Norse Tófa, which is a short form of Þórfríðr. It means “beautiful thunder”.38031
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.40768
SigridSigrid stems from the Old Norse name Sigfrid, which means “beauitful victory”.20071

Our Favorite Viking/Old Norse Names For Boys

NameMeaning and origin# of Nordic people
RagnarRagnar is an Old Norse name that derives from the words regin and arr, and can be translated to “warrior of the gods” or “wise commander”.
MagneMagne, or Magni, is an Old Norse name that means “the powerful”. In Norse mythology Magne was Thor’s strongest son, born by the goddess Járnsaxa.
TorbjörnTorbjörn, or Thorbjörn/Thorbjørn, is an Old Norse name that is comprised of the names Tor and Björn, which gives the meaning “thunder bear”
HjalmarHjalmar is an Old Norse name that means “helmed warrior”.
IsarIsar is an Old Norse name that can be translated to “ice warrior” or “ice spear”.
ToreTore, or Thore, is a short form of the Old Norse Thórir, that is thought to be a composition of the Norse thunder god Thor and the word verr, which together means “warrior of Thor”.
ArvidArvid, or Arnvid/Arved, is an Old Norse name that originates from Arnviðr, which can be translated to “forest of eagles”.
MagnusMagnus is a Norse name with Latin roots that means “mighty” or “great”. It has been found on runes from the 1100s but ultimately comes from Roman times where it was commonly attached to mighty rulers.
JoarJoar is an Old Norse name that means “horse warrior”.

Our Favorite Nordic/Scandinavian Names For Girls

NameMeaning and origin# of Nordic people
SveaSvea is a Swedish name that has been in use since the 17th century. It derives from Moder Svea (“Mother Sweden”), a symbol of Sweden.
StineStine, or Stina, is a Nordic short form of Kristina, the female form of Kristian/Christian. It stems from the Latin Christianius that means “the Christian”.
LinneaLinnea is a Swedish name that comes from the family name of Carl Linnaeus, “the father of modern taxonomy”, and ultimately a flower that was named after the famous botanist.
MalinMalin is a short form of the biblical Hebrew name Magdalena (which means “woman from Magdala”).
ToveTove is a Scandinavian name that stems from the Old Norse Tófa, which is a short form of Þórfríðr. It means “beautiful thunder”.38031
LovisLovis is a name of 19th century German origin, and means “heroine” or “famous fighter”. It is also the name of Ronja’s mother in Astrid Lindgren’s children’s book Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter.
ElinElin is a Swedish 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).
AgnesAgnes is a Swedish name in use since the 13th century, and of Greek origin. It means “pure” or “chaste”.

Our Favorite Nordic/Scandinavian Names For Boys

NameMeaning and originNumber of people
AxelAxel is a Nordic take on the Hebrew name Absalon, and can be translated to “father of peace”.
MikkoMikko is the Finnish form of Mikael, or Michael, which is a biblical Hebrew name that means “who is like God”.
DidrikDidrik is the Nordic version of the Old German Theodarich, which means “ruler of the people”.
EbbeEbbe is a Danish short form of the Old Norse Esbjörn or Asbjörn, which means “bear of the gods”. It can also be used as a short form for the German Eberhard, which means “hard boar”
GisliGisli is an Icelandic name that means “arrow”.
FolkeFolke is a Nordic name that means “chief”. The House of Bjälbo (an Ostrogothian noble Swedish family that were kings of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark during medieval times) was known as Folkungar after their mythical forefather Folke Filbyter.
AlgotAlgot is a Nordic name that can be translated to “the noble goth”.
SivardSivard is a younger form of the Old Norse Sigvard, and means “guardian” or “watcher”.

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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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