Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment. In Denmark, hygge is a way of life. If you’d like to find a baby name that embodies a sense of coziness and calm, consider choosing a popular name from the Nordic countries. Nordic means “north” and refers to Northern European countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Greenland, and Iceland.
While you might associate these places with the Vikings, today they’re known as peace-loving nations with robust social programs. In Iceland, naming structures are very different as they do not always use surnames. Instead, their second name is a reference to their father’s or mother’s name, so if the father was called Jon, the son’s second name would be Jonsson, whilst the daughter’s second name would be Jonsdottir. So quite literally Jon’s son or Jon’s daughter. And, in Denmark and Sweden, parents must choose from an approved list of names.
While unique to most Americans, these sorts of naming practices do result in some classic names that parents return to again and again. Here are our favorite 25 Nordic baby names for boys and girls that are ready to invade America.
This handsome Norwegian boy’s name can also be spelled Jarl or Järle. Jarl is a Scandanavian title meaning “chieftain,” “nobleman,” or “earl.” It is roughly the English equivalent to an earl. In Sweden, Jarl has a naming day on October 11.
Across Scandanavia, you’ll hear the popular name, Inge. It’s a gender-neutral name and in Denmark, 24,284 babies were given this name last year. The name enjoys ceremonious naming days in three countries: Norway’s December 17, Finland’s June 21, and Sweden’s February 11. Ing was the Norse god of peace and fertility.
The Swedish name for boys, Dustin is often shortened to Dusty and enjoys popularity around the world. The name comes from the Old Norse word Þórstæinn. A combination of ‘bor’ and ‘stein’, it translates as ‘thunder’ and ‘stone’ respectively.
Thanks to many Viking invasions, Norse names made their way to England’s shores and into the English common vernacular. Brenna is an ancient Norse name that was adopted in English and over time turned into Brenda. The name comes from the Old Norse word, Brandr which means “sword.”
Nils is a Scandinavian given name, a chiefly Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish variant of Niels, cognate to Nicholas and Neil. Nils is an extremely popular name for boys in Sweden. It means “victory of the people.”
Another quintessential Swedish name, Svea is favored by many parents across Scandanavia. This attractive name for girls means “of the Swedes.” This name would be a welcome alternative to Sara or Leah.
The name Malthe is a boy’s name meaning “rule” or “power”. The name has been used in Denmark since the 13th Century, and is once again very popular there, now being in the Top 10 names for boys.
Freja belonged to the Norse god of love and now belongs to many girls in Sweden and especially in Denmark. Freja is commonly spelled, Freya in the US. The name means “noble” or “lady.”
The Swedish boy’s name Sigge has a fantastic meaning! It means “victory bear.” It’s an extremely popular name in Sweden and is commonly used as a nickname for those named Sigmund or Sigfrid. We think it can stand on its own!
Liva is a popular name in many different cultures. The Norse origin of the name, Lifa means “protection.” In Norway, the name connotes “life.” And, in Hebrew, the name means “my God is a vow.” This name would be a great alternative to Liv or Olivia.
For a name with a bit of whimsy, consider the moniker Fiske for your son. This Norwegian habitational name from a farm in western Norway, named from Old Norse fiskr “fish” and vin “meadow.” In Denmark, it’s an occupational name that means “fisherman.”
A unisex name that’s been gaining popularity across the Nordic countries since the 1980s, Eira is an appealing name for both boys and girls. It is a variation of eir, meaning “protection” or
“help” and has been given its own name day on August 9 in Finland.
Lamont is a name that dates back to the Vikings and made its way to Scottland as a result of invasions. Lamont is from the Old Norse name Logmaðr, meaning “lawman.” It still means
“lawyer” and although it peaked in the 1970s in the USA, it has since declined in popularity. Lamont deserves some love.
This offbeat name of Norse origin has a couple of meanings. As a modern form of the Old Norse and Icelandic name Þúfa, it means “mound” or “knoll.” In Swedish, tuva means a “mound of grass” or “tuft.”
Thor is a flex. Thor was the Norse god of strength, thunder, war, and storms, the son of Odin. He was armed with a hammer called Mjolnir and wore an enchanted belt that doubled his strength. The name means “thunder” and although it might seem like a stereotypical Nordic name, parents aren’t too shy to use it. It’s one of the most popular names for boys in Scandanavia.
This Greenlandic name is unisex and its meaning is unclear. It is thought to be an Old Swedish and Finnish form of Kárr, meaning “curly-haired,” “reluctant,” or “obstinate.” It could even mean “from the marsh.” Alas, the name has a great sound and we think it would be a great name for a baby girl.
Einar is consistently popular in Scandinavia but hasn’t appeared in the USA charts since the beginning of the 20th Century. From the Old Norse name Einarr, the name means “solo warrior.” This name shares the same roots as einherjar, the word for the slain warriors in Valhalla. If you’re specifically looking for a Viking name, this would be a quintessential one.
A great alternative to Ava (which is pretty fantastic), Alva is a feminine name that’s favored in Sweden and Norway, and its not-so-distant cousin, Elva is popular in Denmark. From the Old Norse alfr meaning “elf,” this name has a whole bunch of charm.
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Although the name has become popular in many English-speaking places, Colby comes from Old Norse. Kolibyr means “dark” or “coal” and was used by the Vikings to describe someone with a dark complexion or weathered face. Although this name has been traditionally given to baby boys, we like it just as much for girls.
Runa is so popular in Finland and Norway that it enjoys naming days in both countries. June 2 in Norway and February 28 in Finland. In Norse, the meaning of this female name is “mighty strength.” It is also associated with the word rune which means “secret.”
Tage is a popular Swedish name for boys that actually comes from Denmark. The Danish word taki means “to capture” and can be traced back to Old Norse. We love this cute name for boys and you’ll not only hear it in Sweden, but it’s also still enjoyed by parents in Denmark as well.
Lykke is a Nordic name that’s spelled differently in a few languages. In Danish, lykke. In Swedish, lycka. In Icelandic, lukka. The word and name means the same in each language, “luck” or “good fortune.” Swedish pop star Lykke Li is one famous example.
If you’re a fan of the name Thor, you’ll also probably like Loke. It’s the modernized spelling of the Old Norse name, Loki. The name is derived from the Norse word lok which means “end” or “to close.” It’s a very popular name for boys across Scandanavia.
Tilde is the Nordic answer to the German name Mathilde and popular English name Matilda. Tilde is an extremely popular name for girls in many Scandanavian countries. The name means “battle-mighty.” We love this spelling and think it offers some variety we don’t see very often in the US.
Sven is a popular Scandanavian baby name that’s got broad appeal. It’s already a very popular name for boys in Germany. The name comes from Old Norse and means “young warrior.” Sven sounds great and would be fitting for a very cool little boy.
Scandinavian names are popular among all the Nordic countries. Their strong meanings coupled with their lyrical sound make these monikers handsome choices for parents everywhere. For a little Viking flare or just variety, these names would be perfect for your little one.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
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