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Scandinavian names: Popular Scandinavian names and their meanings

Scandinavian names are everywhere these days. As people strive to bring more of the unique culture of the Scandi landscape into their lives, choosing baby names with Nordic origins is becoming more common. 

From hygge to beautiful furniture choices, the world is falling in love with all things Scandi, and it’s easy to see why. 

As travellers spend more of their time in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, they’re also looking up the meanings of the names they encounter on the road. 

Whether you’re trying to choose the perfect title for your new baby, or you’re just trying to get a better understanding of the naming conventions in Scandinavia, this is the article for you. 

Here’s everything you need to know about Scandinavian names. 

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Scandinavian first names for girls

Scandinavian names can trace their lineage back hundreds of years, to the Vikings, old Norse words, and countless other origins. Some of the most popular Scandinavian names are Germanic in nature and have spread to other countries around the world. 

Other popular Scandinavian names seem to be specific to the region or come with a unique spelling to set them apart from the crowd. 

To start our list of Scandinavian names, let’s check out some of the most popular girl names and what they mean. 

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1. Annika

One of the most popular girl’s names for those in search of cool Scandinavian names, Annika has been popular across the Scandi region for decades. Similar to Anna, Annika is a title with a range of spelling options, but it often translates to “Grace”.

2. Juni

One of the things making unique Scandinavian names so compelling is their pronunciation. Female Scandinavian names like “Juni” are actually pronounced “Yuni”. You can see a similar effect with the male name “Johan”. 

If you’re living outside of Scandinavia and you want to use the hard J sound, most people probably won’t know the difference. However, within Sweden and Denmark, expect to hear more J’s replaced with Ys. Juni just means “June”. 

3. Freja

Freya or Freja is a Scandinavian name in origin which literally translates to “Lady”. This beautiful female name is iconic in the Scandi region, because it comes from old Norse stories about Freya, the Goddess of love. 

4. Linnea

Linnea is a girl’s name with Scandinavian origin which translates to meaning “Linden or Lime tree”. 

It’s a botanical title that can also link with the pink mountain flower Sweden named after its botanist, Carl Linnaeus, the man who created the universally recognized strategy for classifying animals and plants. 

5. Kajsa

This beautiful name comes with a very unique spelling, bound to capture attention in any region of the world. It’s basically a Swedish version of the more common name, Katherine, which also translates to mean chaste and pure. 

The presence of the “j” in the center of the name intends to create a softer sound. 

6. Danique

We love this name for its exotic sound. Danique is essentially a Scandinavian version of the more common western name, Danielle. Danique has some connections to France as well as Scandinavia, and it often means “morning star”. 

7. Ebbe

More commonly pronounced as “Ebba” in Sweden, Ebbe is common across the Scandinavian countries, and it’s actually popular as both a girl’s name and a boy’s name. It means “Brave Boar” and sometimes appears as an alternative to names like Abbey. 

8. Elin

An enjoyable Old Norse alternative to Helena, Elaine, and similar titles, Elin is a form of an ancient Greek name — Helen. The title means the most beautiful woman, and it also translates to mean “fruit of wisdom” in some parts of the world. 

9. Janne

Janne is a diminutive form of names like “Johan” or “Janet”. In Norway, Denmark, and Estonia, it’s widely regarded as a name for women. However, in Finland and Sweden, you’ll find more boys with the name Janne than girls. 

Either way, the meaning of this title translates to something like “the grace of God”. 

10. Thora

We love this name for its connection to the Vikings and Old Norse Legend. Thora is the female version of Thor – the god of thunder in Norse mythology. Although many people pronounce this name with a “Th” sound, it’s actually supposed to be “Tor-ah”. 

Whichever way you look at Thora, it’s an extremely cool Scandinavian name. 

11. Marit

Swedish and Norwegian in origin, the name “Marit” is actually a shortened version of the name Margaret, which you’ve probably heard elsewhere in the world. 

You can also spell this name with an e, for “Merit”. The title translates to “pearl”, which makes it ideal for a beautiful young girl. 

12. Mette

Mette is a name with origins in Norse, Scandinavian, and German. Like Marit, it can also mean “pearl”, and it appears frequently in Denmark and Norway. The prime minister of Denmark is Mette Frederiksen, for instance.

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Scandinavian baby names for boys

There are plenty of beautiful Scandinavian first names out there for women. However, if you’re looking for something a little more masculine, don’t panic. 

With tons of Nordic names and Viking titles to refer to, you’re sure to find a name suited a little boy. 

Let’s explore some of the most popular options. 

1. Sander

Similar in sound to names like Zander and Alexander, Sander is a fantastic name for a young boy in Scandinavia. The title is very common across Sweden and Denmark, and there’s also another alternative to consider in the form of “Anders” too. 

2. Odin

Want a name with some serious power? Odin is one of the most popular gods in Norse mythology, and the source of an excellent Viking name for young Scandinavian men. 

The god is best known for his wisdom and excellent artistic skill. Although Odin is most popular as a name in Norway, it’s also a good alternative to Owen in Sweden and Denmark. 

3. Nyle

Nyle seems like a fairly exotic male Scandinavian name, but it’s actually just an alternative for a quite common moniker, Neil. This title, which sounds a lot like “Kyle”, means champion, or passionate person. It’s also regarded as exotic thanks to its connection with the river Nile. 

4. Stellan

Often associated with Sweden, Stellan is a popular boy’s name meaning“calm” or “peaceful one”. You might think this name comes from the female name “Stella”, but it actually has links to Old Norse language. 

5. Lars

One of the better-known Scandinavian names for men right now, Lars is a Scandinavian version of the better-known name, Lawrence. Lars is a lot like calling someone “Larry”, but it has a more unique ring to it. 

The medieval diminutive for this name was Larkin, and you could even consider “Lark” as a name too. Lars means “victory”. 

6. Matthias

Spelled either with one or two T’s, Matthias is a name gaining a lot of popularity across Scandinavia in recent years. Similar to the name “Matthew” in style, you can use the name “Matt” as a nickname. It basically translates to “gift of god”. 

7. Raum

Raum is a particularly cool Scandinavian name with origins in Germany and Norway. For those who like stories and mythology, Raum was once the name of a mythical Norwegian king, and it’s still a popular choice among families today. Raum usually translates to mean “big”. 

8. Jonas

Often pronounced with a Y, making it “Yonas”, Jonas is a Scandi version of the Hebrew name Jonah. Indeed, a lot of the most common Scandinavian names have a heritage connecting them to the bible. 

This might be why it’s so easy for names like Jonas to spread around the world. It means “dove”. 

9. Magnus

Probably one of the most noble names we’ll cover today, Magnus is a name finding its way into various royal circles throughout Scandinavia. The name literally means “the greatest”, which might make it the perfect choice if you have big plans for your baby boy. 

If the name seems too formal, you can always use the nickname, Gus. 

10. Soren

Soren, pronounced “Suhren”, is a great name for boys across the Scandi region. This title means “stern”, but it sounds wonderfully soft, making it a good choice for plenty of parents. 

The name Soren appears in Sweden, Denmark, and even the literary world. George R.R. Martin used this name in his Game of Thrones novels. 

11. Tycho

This is such a cute name for baby boys, and an excellent option if you’re looking for some great nicknames, like Ty. It comes from the Danish name, Tyge, which you might associate with the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. 

Essentially, Tycho means “hitting the mark”. 

12. Axel

Axel is the Danish version of a Biblical name “Absolom”, with a far more modern kick to it. Axel is a very trendy name gaining a lot of attention over the years. You could even call your kid “Ax” for short. 

The name basically means “father is peace”, which is a pretty odd translation, if you ask us. 

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The top stereotypical Scandinavian names

There are a lot of boys’ and girls’ names in Scandinavia gaining popularity around the world today. You may have heard of people called Soren and Axel long before today. 

However, if you’re really trying to bring a sense of Hygge or Lagom into your life, then maybe you’d prefer something more traditional. 

Here are a handful of the cool Scandinavian names we love with plenty of heritage and history: 

1. Jarle

Jarle, or Jarl is one of the male Scandinavian names more popular in Norway. This title basically translates to something like “leader” or “chieftain”, and it’s the English equivalent to your nobleman or Earl. Jarl even has its own naming day

2. Inge

Some of the most common names in Scandinavia are gender neutral, which is great if you want to stick to the same title no matter what. Inge is a popular name in Denmark, and it refers to the Norse daughter of protection, peace, and fertility. 

3. Svea

Svea is a primarily feminine name common in Sweden. This title makes an excellent alternative to common monikers like Leah or Sara. Known for its definition “of the Swedes”, it’s hard to find another title so deeply connected to Scandinavian roots. 

4. Malthe

Some people say Malthe is a name from Saxon origins, although we’re not totally sure. The title achieved a lot of popularity in the 20th century among Danish boys. There’s also a female version of the title, which is “Molte”. Malthe means power or helmet. 

5. Sigge

Popular among boys in Sweden, Sigge basically means “victory bear”, which definitely helps it to stand out among some of the more common Scandinavian names. Sigge is also a great nickname for people named Sigfrid or Sigmund. 

6. Liva

Liva is a popular name among a range of countries, including those in the Scandinavian region. Lifa stands for protection, but in Norway, it has a more common meaning of just “life”. Liva is a great alternative to the better-known names of Olivia or Liv. 

7. Fiske

Fiske is a mostly Norwegian name, although it has a solid standing in Denmark too. Fiske comes from the Old Norse word for Fish, so it’s usually used to refer to a fisherman. In Denmark, Fiske is a common last name, as well as a Scandinavian first name. 

8. Eira

Eira is another popular name in Scandinavia suitable for either girls or boys. This appealing title means “Protection” and comes from an older term “Eir”. In Finland, Eir has its own name day on the 9th of August every year. 

9. Tuva

Nordic names are just as common as Viking names in Scandinavia, with many titles having their own Norse origins. Tuva has a few meanings as a modern form of an Icelandic name meaning “knoll” or “mound”. In Swedish, the word “Tuva” translates to a mound of grass. 

10. Alva

Alva is a mostly feminine name and one of the most popular Scandinavian names in both Norway and Sweden. Elva is also popular in Denmark, as a not so different separate spelling. The name comes from the Old Norse “Alfr” which means elf. 

11. Lykke

This diverse name has a different spelling depending on where you go in Scandinavia. In Danish, Lykke is the most common choice, while Swedish people prefer Lycka. Lukka is a typical spelling for Iceland. In every country, the name translates to mean “good fortune” or luck. 

12. Sven

Finally, this popular Scandinavian baby name has wide appeal all across the globe. It’s one of the most common Scandi names you’ll find in the world, and it’s great if you’re looking for something with a Viking air to it. Sven means “young warrior” in Old Norse. 

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Scandinavian surnames 

Finally, before we wrap up our discussion of popular Scandinavian names, let’s take a closer look at some of the surnames common in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. 

Scandinavian surnames often come in a combination of both “ornamental” names, and titles referring to a person’s heritage, or their career. 

Here are some of the top options you may hear: 

1. Ahlberg

Common in Sweden, Ahlberg is a typical surname hailing from the Swedish names for Alder and Mountain. This is a great example of an ornamental surname. 

2. Bystrom

Often spelled Byström, this title is unique compared to the kind of surnames you’d see in the US and UK. Another example of a Swedish surname, it comes from the words for Village and Stream. 

3. Carlsen

A typical surname in Denmark, Carlsen follows the patrionymic naming strategy of adding a “Sen” to the end of a popular name. Carlsen just means “son of Carl”. 

4. Dahl

You’re probably familiar with this name from Roald Dahl the world famous author of various great children’s books. Dahl has a presence across Sweden, Denmark, and Norway as a popular surname. The title comes from Old Norse and means valley. 

5. Hagen

Another Old Norse surname to appear frequently in Norway (and the Netherlands), Hagen comes from the Old Norse “Hagi”, which means pasture or enclosure. 

6. Holst

Here’s a name you’ll hear in various regions of the world, including Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands. Holst is the title used to refer to people who came from a region just between Germany and Denmark, “Holstein”. 

7. Kron

Taken from the Swedish word “Krona” which means crown, Kron is a historical surname in Sweden and other parts of Scandinavia. Some experts believe the name may have been used to refer to people working in a royal household. 

8. Lindgren

Lindgren is a surname coming from the Swedish word “Lind” for the Linden Tree, and “gren” which means branch. The Swedish author Astrid Lindgren helped to increase awareness of the title all around the globe. 

9. Ness

Ness might seem like a fundamentally English or Scottish name, but it has roots in Norway too. Meaning “promontory” or headland, Ness comes from an Old Norse word that used to refer to people who lived at the “Nes”. 

10. Solberg

Solberg is a place-focused name in Norway and Sweden. This title traces back to the Old Norse words of “Sol” which means sun, and “Berg”, meaning mountain. This fantastic Scandinavian name is a great example of an ornamental surname.

11. Storstrand

Most common in Norway, Storstrand is a surname originally referring to someone from the Storstrand farm area in Norway. The farm’s name was chosen because it meant “big” and “beach”. 

12. Voll

A popular name in Norway, Voll used to refer to a local Norwegian who loved in a meadow or field. No specific field was necessary for this name.

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Getting to know the most popular Scandinavian names

These days, everyone wants a taste of the Scandinavian lifestyle. For some, that means learning about little daily rituals like Fika, and spending more time with loved ones. 

For others, it means decorating your home to align with the principles of hygge and focusing on minimalism when you make your aesthetic choices in life. 

If you’ve got a new arrival coming into your household soon, then learning about popular Scandinavian baby names could be an excellent way to bring some heritage into your child’s title. 

On the other hand, you can use the list above and our other articles about Scandinavian names to learn about the titles you hear on your trips around the Nordic landscape. 

Either way, it’s safe to say there are plenty of beautiful, unique and meaningful names to discover in the Scandi world. 

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