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Viking names: The best old Norse names and their origin

Have you ever wondered where Viking names came from, or what makes these old Norse names so special? Nordic names taken from the early Viking settlers are still common throughout Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark, among other regions. 

Today, parents give their children Viking names as a way of paying homage to their heritage. Old Viking names can be strong and bold, or beautifully elegant, depending on where you look. 

For every god of thunder (Thor), there are dozens of delightful names like Rune, Erik, and Freja. 

Whether you’re looking for inspiration in the form of Viking baby names, or you’ve just met some locals in Scandinavia with Cool Viking names, you’re in the right place. 

We’re going to introduce to Norse names, and what they really mean right here.

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Where do Viking names come from?

Viking names are the titles most commonly chosen by the Norse settlers from Viking times. 

The influence of the Nordic pantheon was pretty significant for the Vikings, with boys often named after gods like Thor, or Troels, and girls named after Ing, and Thurid. 

Names related to the enemies of certain deities in the Nordic landscape were often quite common originally too, like the wolf Fenrir, or Bjorn (bear). 

Viking names have maintained significant popularity over the decades, often appearing on runic inscriptions and even place names throughout Scandinavia. Old Norse names are often passed down through the generations to family members, particularly in Royalty. 

Some Vikings also had bynames originally, which indicated a place a person was from, or their kinship. For instance, “Thor, Son of Odin” might sound like something that belongs just to a Marvel movie, but these titles were once pretty common in Scandinavia. 

History seems to indicate that the Viking people were extremely creative with their names and by names. Today, Viking names still hold a significant place in the hearts of locals across the Nordic region

However, when Christianity emerged in the late Viking period, many of the most popular names were replaced with titles from Christianity. 

Discover the hidden Viking in you.

Viking and Norse naming conventions

To give you a better insight into the history of Viking names and how they work, let’s take a look at some of the naming conventions most commonly followed by these people. As mentioned above, the most common Norse names often came from the names of gods. 

Thor was one of the most popular elements of boy’s names for quite some time, and Astrid and Asta were quite common for girls. 

Vikings also chose Nordic names based on:

Relatives and family 

It was quite common for Vikings to name their children after a direct ancestor or deceased relative. Vikings believed that this helped to celebrate the life of the person who was no longer with them. 

Additionally, Vikings believed that naming a child after a dead relative allowed some of the deceased person’s luck to pass onto that child. If someone died while a child was still in the womb, the child almost always took the name of that relative. 

Names with multiple elements 

Many Viking names only had a single element to consider, but others had several elements mixed together. For instance, Bjorn is a name that means bear, but Bjornstein means “bear rock”. 

Variation and alliteration 

Alliteration was a common practice in Viking names, with the same sound used at the beginning of the name for multiple children, like siblings called Olief, and Olvir. 

Variation was common too, which involved changing a single element of the name while leaving everything else the same for the remaining children. Siblings may have been called Hallfrid, Hallkel, Hallgerd, and Hallbera for instance. 


Vikings didn’t necessarily have surnames in the same way we have them today. Patronymic names were more common, for instance, Thor Odinson means Thor, son of Odin. Patronymics referencing the father were more common than names referencing the mother. 

Cool Viking names 

Many names from the Viking age are still common among children within the Scandi region. Names like Hilda, Eric, and Frode are common Norway, with names like Rune and Sigrid often appearing in Denmark. 

Popular shows about the Viking culture, such as HBO’s Vikings, is also increasing interest in Ancient Norse names. 

More than just a reference to history, old Viking names are often thought to contain special power and blessings, bestowing greater endurance and protection throughout a person’s life. 

Let’s take a look at some popular names and what they mean. 

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Male Viking names: Viking names for boys

If you’re interested in Old Norse male names, then you’re in luck, there are plenty to choose from. Norse male names range all the way from Ake and Axel, to Thor and Dustin. 

Let’s check out the meaning of a few options here. 

1. Ake

Ake is a Swedish and Viking name which comes from the word “ancestor”. Usually, this name pays homage to an important forebear in the family and may be a way to show respect to your ancestors. The name “Ake” sometimes converts to “Aki” too. 

2. Aren

Aren is one of the easiest Viking male names to adopt if you’re in the Western world, because it sounds very similar to Aaron. The title reflects royalty and strength, and sometimes translates to mean “Eagle” too. 

Although this name has lost some of its popularity in the US and other locations throughout the world, it’s still common in Scandinavia. 

3. Axel

Axel is a name related to the better-known Alexander. Usually, this Scandinavian name refers to a man of peace and serenity. Vikings used this name to refer to a child that could bring harmony to a location. Variations of the name include “Aksel”, and “Axl”. 

4. Bo

Interestingly, the name Bo doesn’t come from a traditional Viking forename so much as a nickname, which meant “to live”. 

This nickname referenced people who got the most out of life, or it could be a reference from someone who stayed in one place throughout their lives, rather than travelling and exploring. 

The name became pretty popular again in the early 2000’s, with the rise of people like Bo Burnam and Bo Jackson. 

5. Bjorn

If you’re familiar with Swedish history and pop culture, then you probably know the name Bjorn already. This is the name of the guitarist from ABBA. Bjorn is one of the most common of the Viking names for men today, meaning “Bear”. 

It actually began to gain more popularity again in the 2010s, with plenty of people rediscovering the name. 

6. Erland

Erland is one of the most elegant Nordic male names, with various meanings and origins. Most people believe that the name Erland comes from “Erlender” which means foreigner. However, Proto Norse words could indicate that “Erland” also stands for importance and dedication. 

7. Erik

Perhaps the name with the most sovereignty on this list, Erik stands for “eternal ruler”. More than the standard “Eric” we see in other parts of the world, this Viking spelling describes a Viking explorer with excellent bravery and strength. 

The name often harks back to renowned Viking leader, Erik the Red. 

8. Finn

Finn usually means white or fair and was often used in Viking names for men to refer to someone with light skin and hair. Finn is also more popular in the Western world these days, where it has various spellings, including Fynn. 

9. Gustav

One of the more powerful male Viking names on this list, Gustav or Gustaf is a male name that’s both Swedish and Viking in decent. This name basically means the Goths, Geats, or weapons of the Gods. 

This title is still common enough today that you’ve probably heard of it before now, but it’s more common in Nordic countries. 

10. Harald

Harald is the old Norse version of the name Harold, made up of the terms Valder (leader), and Har (Army). Essentially, the term means the leader of a powerful army or group. Harald peaked in popularity in Norway thanks to Harald, the King of Norway took the throne in 1991. 

11. Havelock

Havelock is a bit of an odd name when it comes to Viking names for boys. It translates to “sea competition”, which may mean that this name often appeared to describe children whose families were connected to the sea through exploration and fishing.

12. Kol

A little creepy compared to some of the other Viking men’s names we’ve covered, Kol often references the dark. However, the term can also mean “victory of the people”, or victory through dark times. 

Kol also has the common spelling variations of Kole, and Cole, so you may have seen it in different forms around the world. 

13. Loki

Loki is a name that most people already feel familiar with thanks to the Marvel movies, and plenty of great literature. 

The name for the god of mischief and destruction in Norse, Loki refers to a trickster, but it’s still a popular choice for boys around the world, particularly now that it’s so common in pop culture. 

14. Leif

An appealing option for those interested in Nordic male names, Leif is a Viking title that usually means heir, or successor. 

This title has been around for quite some time, both in the US, and in the history books — thanks to Leif Ericson, who some people believe discovered America before Christopher Columbus. 

15. Oliver

This is probably a name you haven’t always associated with the Vikings. Usually derived from names like Olivier and Olaf, Oliver is a common title that means descendent, or warrior of the elves

The title is still extremely popular around the world today, although most people aren’t familiar with its Scandinavian roots. 

16. Soren

Coming from Danish origin, with Old Norse heritage, Soren usually means stern or serious. A title that’s often a lot gentler than you’d expect, Soren is pretty common in Scandinavia, but it doesn’t have a huge base in the Western world yet. 

17. Thor

Thor is probably the best-known of all the male Viking names – and for a good reason. Coming from the Norse term “Thunder”, Thor was the god of strength, storms, and thunder, as well as being the son of Odin. 

This powerful name is gaining more popularity in recent years thanks to its presence in popular culture. 

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Female Viking names: Norse names for girls

Boys aren’t the only ones that can benefit from a wide selection of historical Viking names. Scandinavian baby names for girls often frequently come from Old Norse origins too. 

Just like Viking boys’ names, female Viking names are most commonly derived from mythology and Norse gods. However, there are some other titles that come from various other forms of inspiration too. 

Let’s check out some of the most popular Norse female names today.

1. Ase

Ase can be a boy or a girl’s name, depending on your background and preferences. The Vikings would see this as a completely female name, however, as it means “Goddess”. There’s a Hebrew version of the name “Asa” or “Ase” which means healer too. 

2. Astrid

You’re probably pretty familiar with the name “Astrid” already. This Viking name means godly or divine, and it often refers to people with significant strength. Astrid is pretty common around the world, with a number of spelling variations available. 

You may have heard of the author Astrid Lindgren, who wrote Pippi Longstocking. 

3. Brenna

Another of the most powerful Nordic female names around, Brenna means “Sword” in Old Norse. The title has also got routes in Gaelic, where it usually refers to a raven or a drop of water. 

This impressive female name also connects with “Brenda”, which we often hear more commonly around the Western world. 

4. Brunhilda

Brunhilda is the name of an Armor-wearing warrior in Viking mythology. This title often refers to a leader in the Valkyries, responsible for battling evil, and guiding lost warriors into their afterlives in Valhalla. 

5. Dagny

This might sound like an odd name to you, but it’s a title you’ll find quite frequently in the Scandinavian region. Dagne, also spelled Sagne, or Dagnie, means that a new day has begun. 

It’s a popular title from the list of Viking girl names as it seems to celebrate hope and revitalization. 

6. Eda

Eda is a beautiful name that’s spread around the world over the decades, taking on different meanings. In Old Norse it stands for the goddess of time and wealth. It can also mean to strive for wealth, and may occasionally be spelled with a double D. 

7. Freya

Also spelled Freyja or Freja, Freya is an extremely popular Viking name, with roots in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. This unique name is constantly at the top of the list for one of the most common titles in Scandinavia, and it usually means “a noble woman”. 

8. Frida

With variants like Freda and Freida, this name has spread across Eastern and Central Europe. Although this title is often connected with the Germanic people, it also has a background in Viking lore

Among Nordic female names, Frida often means “peace”. 

9. Hilda

Hilda is one of many female Norse names that derives from the shorter title, Hild. The word Hild also links back to the old Norse word “Hildr” which meant battle. The name Hilda has a background in the stories of Valkyries who would guide fallen warriors to Valhalla. 

10. Helga

Helga is one of the Norse names for girls on this list that you have probably heard already, especially if you’ve watched shows like “Hey Arnold!” in the past. This Viking girl name means “Divine woman”, or women of the gods. 

11. Ingrid

Another beautiful option among Viking female names, Ingrid, or Inkeri in some regions, means beautiful woman or goddess. The title comes from the Old Norse word Ingirior, which means “beloved” and fair. 

12. Kari

The name Kari from Viking female names usually links back to connotations of purity, chastity, and even virginity. Kari is a well-known name throughout the United States and other regions of the world and may also be spelled as “Kerry” or “Karie”. 

13. Liv

Liv might not be one of the first titles you’d pick for a list of Viking female names, however it has some pretty deep roots in Scandinavian heritage. The name Liv literally translates to “Of life”, and it’s a beautiful title for Nordic girls. 

Liv is pretty popular in various parts of the world today, and you’ve probably already heard of Liv Tyler, the daughter of Steven Tyler. 

14. Selby

Often transformed to Shelby, or Shelbi, Selby is a Viking name from Viking stories, which means “the farm of willows” or “where the willow trees grow”. Selby gained a lot of popularity in the early nineties, and there are a handful of actresses and famous people with this title today. 

15. Sigrid

Looking for Viking girl names for your warrior daughter? Sigrid could be the perfect option. Sigrid Wolf is the name of an Austrian Olympic gold winner in Skiing, for instance. 

This name means “amazing victory”, but it can also refer to a beautiful woman who can lead her tribe or army into battle. Common nicknames include Sig, and Siri. 

16. Tove

Tove is a name most common in Sweden today, although it has Nordic and Norwegian origins linking back to the Viking rule. Tove is a version of an Old Norse name which usually connects to the female version of Thor. 

This title is all about strength, leadership, and the ability to master the elements. 

17. Yrsa

We love this name, which has gained a lot of popularity in Iceland over the years. Yrsa translates to wild bear, or wild she-bear. It’s an excellent reference to the wild landscapes of the Nordic region that the Vikings explored in the early years of life in places like Iceland and Norway. 

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Inspired by our Viking names?

Viking names are still a rich and meaningful part of Scandinavian culture, and definitely something that’s worth learning about — particularly if you have friends with Viking names. 

Even if you’re not searching for Nordic names for your own child, it’s great to learn about the stories and myths that have led to some of the most popular names in Scandinavia

To learn more about Scandi history, make sure you check out some of our other stories here on Scandification. 

Why not share some of your favourite Viking names with us on social media too?

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