Viking Names For Men

Viking names for men: The most interesting Old Norse male names and their origins

If you have ever wondered what Viking names for men mean or why they were chosen, this article will shed light on the Old Norse male names that were used by Vikings and many of which are still common in modern Scandinavia.

We have previously explored Viking girl names and ancient Norse names, and this time we will go through a comprehensive list of Viking boy names. 

Whether you are looking for Viking baby names for your child or are just interested in cool Viking names in general, this is your definitive list for Viking names for boys.

How did Vikings choose their boy names?

Vikings were known as ruthless, powerful warriors that roamed Scandinavia and surrounding areas. Vikings worshipped Norse gods and prayed to them for strength and durability. 

When naming their babies, Vikings kept their gods in mind and often chose names that were somehow connected to the gods.

Vikings also paid tribute to ancestors and deceased family members in their naming practices. If the father of the child died before it was born, the newborn was practically always named after the father.

Even when Vikings used names that were not tributes to gods or family members, the names always carried meaning. Nature was a common theme, as were characteristics — these names could range from Arne (eagle) and Ulf (wolf) to Trygve (trustworthy) and Frode (wise).

While Viking girls were often named after things that Vikings hoped to bring to village life, such as peace (Frida) or new life (Liv), Viking boys were typically named after things that represented strength, authority, and power — for example, Njal (giant) and Harald (ruler) were popular Viking boy names.

Viking Names For Men

Viking names for boys

Arne/Aren

Arne and Aren are fairly common Nordic male names and their popularity goes back to the Viking times. Arne/Aren originates from the Old Norse word ǫrn, which means eagle.

For those who want to give their child an old Viking name but want something that is easy for English-speaking people to pronounce, Aren is a particularly good choice because it is pronounced very similarly to Aaron. 

Although Aren is typically a Nordic male name, it could be used on a girl as well as it sounds similar to Erin.

Birger

The name Birger derives from the Old Norse word bjarga, which means to help, save, or rescue. Vikings used the name Birger to indicate that its user was a keeper of something — of strength, power, or their loved ones. 

A hefty name for a baby, perhaps, but quite a powerful one for a warrior.

Birger is a fairly common name in Scandinavia but less so in English-speaking countries, likely due to its similarity to the word burger.

Bjorn/Bjørn/Björn

The name Björn has been popular in Scandinavia, particularly in Norway, for centuries, and is one of the most popular Viking names still in use today. Björn literally means bear, making it quite a cool choice for a name.

Among Vikings, Björn was a common choice for names with double meanings. For example, Thorbjörn combines the name with the equally (if not more) popular Thor. Asbjörn means God (ans) and bear, while Gunnbjörn derives from the word gunnr (war).

Bo

The name Bo was originally a nickname, at times spelled as Bua. Bo meant “a resident,” “a dweller,” or “one who lived,” referring to people who were thought to get the most out of life. 

The variation Beau is better known in English-speaking countries. Bo should not be confused with Borg, which means fortress and is often used in last names (Thorborg, Rosenborg, etc.)

Erik

The name Erik may not sound very exotic since it is still so common, but it goes back to Viking times and is considered to have originally gained popularity due to the ruler Erik the Red. 

In fact, to Vikings, Erik meant “the great ruler” or “the eternal ruler” — ei means eternal and rikr means ruler.

The spelling Eric is more common outside of Scandinavia, and Erika/Erica/Ericka are common female Nordic names that are used around the world.

Erland

The name Erland was originally derived from the Old Norse word ørlendr (foreigner). Its earlier version, Erlendr, derived from the same word. Other alternative spellings include Erlend, Erlan, and Erlind.

Some experts believe that Vikings who had children with women from other countries used the name Erland or its other versions to indicate that the baby was a mixture of Viking blood and foreign blood. 

Viking Names For Men

Finn

Finn is a Viking male name that is believed to have referred to, as one might expect, the Vikings’ neighboring people that spoke a strange language and had very pale complexions and hair.

Finn was typically used as an extension of another Viking name, resulting in such names as Finngeirr (geirr means spear), Finnbog (bog means bow), and Thorfinn.

Frode

This name carries a heavy legacy, as it was the name of several Danish kings. Derived from the Old Norse word fróði (clever or wise), the name is also said to be an eponym for Freyr, the Viking god for virility and fertility.

This name is likely best known for its other version, Frodo, which was the name of one of the main characters in the book and movie Lord of the Rings. Frode is the more common version in Scandinavia and is particularly popular in Norway.

Gorm

Gorm was considered to be a very prestigious name during Viking times, as it derives from the Old Norse words guð/góð, which mean God or “God-given”.

Gorm was also the name of a Viking king, Gorm the Old, who ruled for a handful of years in the latest decades of the Viking ages. 

He was the father of Harald Bluetooth, whom many consider to have been the first true king of Denmark and who played a pivotal part in introducing Christianity to the area.

Gustav/Gustaf

One of the most common Vikings names for men still in use today, Gustav/Gustaf is believed to have derived from the Old Norse words gautr (Goth) and stafr (staff). 

Although the meaning “Goth’s staff” sounds quite unusual, the name gained further popularity when a Swedish king in the 16th century was named Gustav.

The current King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf, is likely the best-known carrier of this name today. The name remains popular throughout Scandinavia, where it is at times spelled as Gösta or Göstav. 

The last name Gustaffson/Gustavsson (“Gustav’s descendant”) is also very common in Nordic countries.

Halfdan

One of the more uncommon Viking names for men during modern times, Halfdan means “half Danish”. 

The name was originally a nickname for people who were half Danish but became widely used throughout the years, gaining more popularity when Viking leader and commander Halfdan Ragnarsson became prominent in the community. 

More recently, the television show Vikings has featured a fictional character called Halfdan.

Viking Names For Men

Harald

Harald is a very common name in Scandinavia, with King Harald V of Norway perhaps its most famous carrier. The name has been prominent in the Norwegian monarchy for centuries, dating back to Harald Hårfagre (Harald Fairhair) who was believed to have been the first king of Norway.

The name derives from the Old Norse words here (army) and weald (leader), making it quite suitable for leaders. The spelling Harold is common in English-speaking countries.

Havelock/Havelok

Although Havelock may sound like a simple combination of two English words, the name comes from the Old Norse words haf (sea) and leikr (contest, competition). 

The legend of Havelok the Dane was prominent in 13th century Middle English mythology, although the story is not thought to have been based on a real person named Havelok.

An apt name for babies whose parents are fans of the sea or live near it, Havelock/Havelok is not very common today but perhaps will see a surge in popularity soon.

Ivar/Iver

The name Ivar comes from the Old Norse name Ívarr, which in turn derived from the words ýr (bow) and hariar (warrior) — thus, Ivar could be understood to mean an archer.

Ivar and its variation, Iver, are common names in Sweden and Norway in particular. 

Ivar the Boneless was a well-known Viking leader, who in modern times has been featured as a character in the television show Vikings and in the book series The Last Kingdom (although the series was also made into a television show, Ivar the Boneless was not included in the screen version).

Knud/Knut

If the name Knut raises an inexplicable feeling of tenderness in you, it is no wonder: Knut was the name of the orphaned polar bear at Berlin Zoo whose plight made headlines in 2006–2007. 

The name Knut, however, traces back to Viking times: it originally refers to a knot and was used to describe the bond between people.

Many Scandinavian royals have also carried this name, as did the famed Norwegian writer and Nobel Prize winner Knut Hamsun. 

Kol

Not to be confused with “Skol!”, the Swedish/Norwegian/Danish term for “Cheers!”, Kol is a Viking name that originally meant “dark” or “coal”. Although the original meaning might sound a bit gloomy, Vikings also used the word to also describe victory throughout dark times.

The variation Kole is also known throughout Scandinavia. The name Cole, which derives from Kole, is a common name in English-speaking countries.

Viking Names For Men

Leif/Leifr

The name Leif became well known after explorer Leif Erikson, also known as Leif the Lucky, set foot on continental North America during Viking times. 

Leif comes from the word leifr, which means descendant — because of this, the name was often used as a part of longer names, such as Herleif (warrior descendant). Vikings used both Leifr and Leif as names, but today Leif is much more common and popular.

Loki

Thanks to the Marvel Studios movies, Loki is perhaps more popular as a name than ever before. 

Norse mythology describes Loki as a trickster god, but this did not stop Vikings from naming their children after him — regardless of his reputation as cunning, he was a companion of such other gods as Thor and Odin. 

All three names were popular among Vikings, as they were believed to bring the strength of the gods to their carriers, in addition to paying tribute to the gods.

Magnus

Another incredibly common Viking boy name in today’s modern world, Magnus originally derived from the Old Norse words magn (power) and hús (house). 

Due to the mighty meaning behind the name, many leaders — including roughly a dozen Swedish and Norwegian kings — have carried it throughout the years.

Vikings used the name Magnus, but it was also beloved by ancient Romans; the Emperor Magnus Maximus is perhaps the best-known example. Today, Magnus remains a very popular name throughout Scandinavia.

Njal

The name Njal originally referred to a giant or a champion and carried great prestige. Other variations include Njáll and Njål, although the name Niall is better known today.

The name Neil, which is of course quite popular in English-speaking areas, is also said to have derived from Njal.

Oliver

The origins of the name Oliver have been debated widely, as some experts claim it comes from Germanic names or the Latin word for an olive tree planter. Some claim that it derives from the Old Norse name Óleifr, which in turn became Ólaf over the years.

Regardless of the origin, Oliver was a common name among Vikings and is undoubtedly one of the most popular Viking-era names today — in fact, the name Oliver has reigned the baby-naming charts in many countries throughout the past decade or so.

Ragnar

Ragnar has been a popular name in Scandinavia ever since the Vikings roamed the area, but the name has gained popularity internationally in recent years due to the television show Vikings

The show’s character Ragnar Lodbrok is based on the legendary Viking of the same name, who later became a king in both Sweden and Denmark. 

Today, the name is particularly popular in Iceland.

The name Ragnar derives from the Old Norse words ragin (counsel) and hari (army). In Norse mythology, Ragnarök refers to an apocalyptic series of events that was expected to result in the death of all the gods and the drowning of the world.

Roar

The name Roar may sound quite self-explanatory to English speakers, but it actually derives from the Old Norse name Hróarr and means “a fighter of heaven”.

Such more common names as Rutger and Roger are believed to have come from the name Roar. Today, Roar is a fairly common name in Norway, although its heyday was in the 1960s and 1970s.

Viking Names For Men

Skarde

All Viking names for men carried meaning, and some were more unusual than others: Skarde, for example, means “with a cleft chin”. Perhaps Viking parents chose this name only after seeing their babies after birth? 

Other known meanings include hare-lip and notch, although some are a bit kinder: merciful, wisdom, and knowledge.

Whatever the original meaning might have been, Skarde and its variations Skardi and Skarthi are fairly uncommon today. However, Skarde was a character in the television show Vikings and will perhaps gain more interest soon.

Soren

The name Soren, which can also be spelled as Sören or Søren, comes from Danish origin and carries Viking heritage.

Soren meant “stern” or “serious” but, despite its somewhat dark meaning, remains a popular name in Scandinavia in its various forms. Soren is particularly popular in Denmark.

Sten

The name Sten comes from the word steinn, which meant stone in Old Norse. It was used either by itself or as a part of longer name, like Torsten/Thorsten (Thor’s stone).

Sten is still a very popular name in Nordic countries, particularly in Sweden.

Sven/Svend/Svein/Sveinn

Sven is likely among the best-known Scandinavian names in the world. 

Derived from the Old Norse word Sveinn, which means “young warrior”, the name has taken on many forms throughout the years: Sven is probably the most common version, but Svend, Svein, and the original Sveinn are not uncommon either.

In more recent years, the name Sven has gained popularity after being featured in the Disney movie Frozen and in the sequel to the film Happy Feet.

Tor/Thor

Another of the Viking names for men that has become well known in recent years due to movies, Tor/Thor was perhaps the most popular and respected god among Vikings. 

The name became widely used not only on its own but also as part of longer names and combination names, such as Thorfinn, Thorbjörn, Thorgeirr, and Thorvald.

The name Thor also produced many alterations, like Torsten, Troels, and Toke. The name Thor originated from the Old Norse word for thunder, Þórr.

Ulf/Ulv/Úlfr

On par with Björn, Ulf/Ulv is another Viking name that refers to an animal — in this case, a wolf (úlfr). Variations include Ulfur, Ulfhild, Arnulv, and Ingolf. The original name remains popular in Scandinavia, usually in the form Ulf.

Viking Names For Men

Åke/Åge/Áki

This name derives from the Old Norse word áki, which means ancestor. 

There are many versions of the name, including simply Áki, but the spelling with the “Swedish O,” Å, has largely replaced the more traditional version throughout the years — due to its similarity to the English word “age”, this name is perhaps not the best choice for Viking name enthusiasts in English-speaking countries.

There are countless Viking names for men

This list of Viking male names is extensive but still only scratches the surface — many names that remain popular today have Viking roots, and there are countless Viking names for men that were popular during the Viking era but became more obscure throughout the following centuries.

If this collection of Viking names for men inspired you, make sure to check out our list of Viking girl names and our comprehensive list of Viking baby names.

Scandification: Discovering Scandinavian.

Now read these:
Your guide to Viking female names
Popular Nordic names and origins

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