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Norse Mythology Names: Thor, Odin, Freya & Co.

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As Thor thundered onto multiplex movie screens last week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel was inspired to check out the other gods in the Norse mythology pantheon.

Even if you haven’t hit the multiplex lately, you’ve probably heard that the hammer-wielding Thor is winning critical acclaim and drawing in crowds.  Could the movie inspire parents to look north to Norse mythology names for baby name inspiration?

After all, we’ve borrowed from Greek and Roman mythology for generations.  From classics like Diana to current favorites like Luna, there’s no shortage of appealing options.  Pierce Brosnan has a son called Paris, and Chris Noth named his firstborn Orion.

Norse mythology names are not as well known, and many of them are awkward in English.  (Frigg would be downright cruel, no matter how noble the figure.)  Most of the list below comes from the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda, two compilations dating to the thirteenth century, but including much older oral traditions.

The movie is based on Marvel Comics’ superhero version of Thor, not the literary works.  It takes some liberties with the original storyline, like transporting the god to New Mexico.

Whether you’re a fan of the comic or looking for a name that celebrates your Scandinavian heritage, there are some interesting possibilities to be found.

GIRLS

Astrilde – Invented in the sixteenth century invention as a Norse equivalent of Cupid, she’s not part of the original pantheon, but appears in plenty of poems.

Atla – A minor water goddess.

Edda – Several theories explain why Icelandic scholar Snorri Sturluson chose to name his collection the Prose Edda.  One of the most popular theories is that it comes from a Latin phrase meaning “I compose.”  The Edda Awards are Reykjavik’s answer to the Oscars.

Eir – A goddess of healing and medicine, her name means mercy; it’s pronounced ire.

Eisa – A daughter of trickster god Loki.  The first syllable sounds like ice. 

Embla – The Norse equivalent of Eve, created from a tree along with her partner Ask.

Freya – The goddess of love and beauty, also spelled Freyja and Freja.  She’s been popular in England in recent years, but remains rare in the US.

Idunn – The goddess of spring guarded golden apples, capable of giving eternal youth to anyone who ate them.  Dunn rhymes with dune; the pronunciation of the first syllable varies from ih to ee.

Saga – A goddess often depicted drinking with Odin, she’s the source of the word saga – and could join Story and Fable on the playground.

Signe – A princess who meets a tragic end, and possibly an update to the fading Sidney.

Sunna – Strictly speaking the sun goddess would’ve been called Sol, but Sunna is her Old High German equivalent, and the more wearable form.

Verdandi – Along with her sisters Urd and Skuld, Verdandi was one of the Norns, goddesses charged with determining destiny, like the Greek Fates.

BOYS

Alvis – A dwarf who courted Thor’s daughter, until the god tricked him out of marriage.

Brokk – The English Brock comes from a word meaning badger, but Brokk was a dwarf who beat Loki at his own game, and forged Thor’s hammer in the process.

Gunnar – You could dismiss this as a hyper-masculine, too-aggressive choice but he is a legitimate mythological figure – with a hyper-masculine, too-aggressive meaning.  Gunnar is derived from the words for war and warrior.

Heimdall – This might not make for a great first name choice, but the character is fascinating.  He guards a burning rainbow bridge between our world and the realm of the gods, and his horn can be heard across all dimensions.

Hogun – Surname Hogan conjures up a bunch of television and pop culture references, but Hogun is one of the Warriors Three, Thor’s loyal back-up.  But like Astrilde, he’s an invention, this time by Marvel Comics.

Laufey – Originally a female character, Marvel Comics changed Loki’s mom to Loki’s dad, but kept the name.

Loki – The bad boy of Norse myth, he graduates to all-out villain and archnemesis of Thor in the movie.  But if Bodhi and Bode are stylish, mainstream options, maybe Loki isn’t so outrageous.

MagnusThor’s son was called Magni, meaning strong, but kings of Norway and Sweden have answered to Magnus for centuries.  Will Ferrell has a son called Magnus, and it is very popular in Scandinavia.

Njal – From an Icelandic saga based on a real ruler, Njal is better known to us as Neil.  The Vikings borrowed him from the same source – the Gaelic Niall.  Some sources give him a two-syllable pronunciation, but most suggest that he sounds more like nyahl.

Odin – The chief god, Odin probably owes his recent rise to parents seeking alternatives to Aidan and company, but Anthony Hopkins’ turn as the king of Valhalla could help.

Thor – The thunder god and latest hero of the box office, the god’s name would fit right in with Cash and Gage.

Tyr – It looks like a creative respelling of tire, but Tyr was Thor’s brother and a god of justice.  His name sounds more like tier.

Vidar – Another of Odin’s sons, a god of revenge.

 

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