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Scandinavian Names

Scandinavian Names

Scandinavian names are a hot group, attracting new interest from parents beyond the Scandinavian countries. The Scandinavian names here include names with origins in all the Scandinavian countries — Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, but not Finland.

Scandinavian names that have found favor in the wider world include, for girls, the royal Astrid, the botanical Dahlia, and the short form Mia. For boys, popular Scandinavian names include the hard rock Axel, the gentle Anderson, and the expansive Magnus.

Scandinavian names we expect to be hearing more of include Leif, Signe, and Sunniva.

If you want more names from one of the individual Scandinavian countries, check out our complete lists of Swedish baby namesNorwegian baby names, and Danish baby names. Or browse our full roster of Name Origins.

MiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian word name or Scandinavian short form of Maria
  • Meaning:

    "mine or bitter"
  • Description:

    Mia originated as a short form of Maria, which ultimately derived from the Hebrew name Miryam. In modern times, Mia has been used as a nickname for names including Amelia, Emilia, and Miriam. Mia is also an Italian and Spanish word meaning 'mine.'

KaiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin, Scandinavian, or Hawaiian
  • Meaning:

    "to rejoice or sea"
  • Description:

    The new Maia, the next Kayla, Kaia has been on the charts since the year 2000. You might see it as a female form of the also-rising Kai, which means sea in Hawaiian and is sometimes used for girls as well, or as a Kardashianization of the ancient goddess name Caia.

CasperHeart

  • Origin:

    Dutch form of Jasper, Persian
  • Meaning:

    "bringer of treasure"
  • Description:

    This ancient name, also spelled Caspar, is finally shedding its ghostly image and moving into the 21st century. Popular in the Netherlands and Scandinavia, where it's sometimes shortened to Cas, Casper could ride the style coattails of cousin Jasper. Casper was one of the Three Magi who brought gifts to the infant Jesus along with Melchior and Balthasar.

AxelHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian variation of Absalom
  • Meaning:

    "father of peace"
  • Description:

    A classic in its native Scandinavia, Axel has a cool rock 'n' roll flavor in the US, thanks to Guns N' Roses' Axl Rose (born William). Axel is a popular Scandinavian form of the Biblical Absalom, who was a son of King David, and is the name of the title character of William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom.

DahliaHeart

  • Origin:

    Flower name, from Swedish surname
  • Meaning:

    "Dahl's flower"
  • Description:

    One of the flower names, used occasionally in Britain (where it's pronounced DAY-lee-a). It seems to have recovered from what was perceived as a slightly affected la-di-dah air. The flower was named in honor of the pioneering Swedish botanist Andreas Dahl, which means dale.

LeifHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian
  • Meaning:

    "heir, descendant"
  • Description:

    Leif is one of the most recognizable Scandinavian names, thanks to Icelandic explorer Leif Erikson, and is still one of the best, with a pleasant aural association with the word leaf.

LarsHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian from Latin Laurentius
  • Meaning:

    "crowned with laurel"
  • Description:

    Lars is a perfect candidate for a cross-cultural passport: it has been heard often enough here to sound familiar and friendly, yet retains the charisma of a charming foreigner.

AndersHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian variation of Andrew
  • Meaning:

    "strong and manly"
  • Description:

    Friendly, unusual, but a decidedly Old Country version of Andrew and one of the classic Scandinavian names. It made a brief appearance in the US Top 1000 in 2006 and then reentered in 2010. Its rising popularity could be attributed to the interest in Anderson, which has been gaining steadily over the last fifteen years.

    Trivia tidbits: The patronymic Andersson is the second most popular surname in Sweden, and in Denmark, Donald Duck is called Anders.

KaiHeart

  • Origin:

    Hawaiian
  • Meaning:

    "sea"
  • Description:

    This appealing multi-cultural name, pronounced KYE, is beginning to be used for girls as well as boys. Among its many derivations and meanings: "sea" in Hawaiian, "forgiveness" in Japanese, "willow tree" in Navajo, "food" in Maori, and "earth" in Scandinavian. For girls, it debuted on the US Top 1000 in 2010.

ViggoHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian
  • Meaning:

    "war"
  • Description:

    Though to most Americans Viggo is a one-person name attached to intense actor Mortensen, it is actually an old Norse name dating back to the Vikings, and is currently the 32nd most popular appellation in Sweden. Viggo Mortensen is a Jr., sharing his name with his Danish father. We think this name is so, well, vigorous, that it might appeal to others as well. Taylor and Natalie Hanson seemed to agree when they chose it for their fourth child.

GunnerHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian variation of Gunther
  • Meaning:

    "bold warrior"
  • Description:

    The kind of nouveau macho name favored by NRA-leaning parents. Killers' frontman Brandon Flowers gave it to his son in 2009. Gunnar is another spelling that makes the name a bit less militaristic.

NessaHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian
  • Meaning:

    "headlands, promontory"
  • Description:

    Like its cousin Tessa, Nessa -- a shortening of Vanessa or Agnes or Anastasia among other possibilities -- is an attractive nickname that can stand on its own.

HaroldHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian
  • Meaning:

    "army ruler"
  • Description:

    The name of the last Anglo-Saxon king of England before the Norman conquest, and a name that's long been associated with a pipe-smoking, bespectacled grandpa or uncle.

AndreaHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of Andrew, Greek
  • Meaning:

    "strong and manly"
  • Description:

    Andrea — a feminine form of Andrew (and a male name in several European cultures) — comes with a good selection of pronunciations — ANN-dree-a, AHN-dree-a, or ahn-DRAY-a — each with a slightly different image: girl next door/slightly affected/downright mysterious

SoniaHeart

  • Origin:

    Russian and Scandinavian variation of Sophia
  • Meaning:

    "wisdom"
  • Description:

    Early European import, well known in the 1940s via Norwegian skating movie star Sonja Henie, that has sailed back across the Atlantic, despite the rising popularity of other Russian names.

AndersonHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian
  • Meaning:

    "son of Anders"
  • Description:

    Anderson shot up quite a bit on the popular names list in the 2000's, no doubt in large part due to the prominence of white-haired cable newsman Anderson Cooper. Perhaps surprisingly though, Anderson was even higher on the list in 1880. Actress Edie Falco named her son Anderson in 2005. Though there haven't been many first-named Anderson namesakes, there have been countless notables bearing the surname, including Hans Christian, Marian, Maxwell, Sherwood, Gillian, Laurie, and Pamela.

MajaHeart

  • Origin:

    German, Slovene, and Scandinavian form of Maya; also, Arabic
  • Meaning:

    "splendid"
  • Description:

    Whether you pronounce it my-a, ma-zha or ma-ha, Maja is an intriguing choice. Sometimes associated with Goya's famous painting "The Naked Maja." As a cognate of Maya, it's a Top 10 name in Slovenia and Sweden and is also popular in Germany and Norway.

SolveigHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian
  • Meaning:

    "the strong house or daughter of the sun"
  • Description:

    Common in Scandinavia, this name has rarely come to our shores. The name of the heroine in Ibsen's Peer Gynt, Solveig is currently a widely-used name in Norway. Pronounced authentically, with a silent 'g', it becomes much more appealing.

MalinHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian diminutive of Magdalene
  • Meaning:

    "high tower or woman of Magdela"
  • Description:

    A multi-cultural name that's in the Norwegian Top 50 and well-used throughout the Scandinavian cultures. Malin has the advantage of being at once simple and unusual.

JohannesHeart

  • Origin:

    German, Dutch, Scandinavian, and Estonian variation of John
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    An Old World name that might have a chance to rise again with other ancient and worldly forms. Be sure to say yo-HAHN-es.