20 Best Scandinavian Celebrity Names
Scandinavian names have been slow to enter the American stockpot of names. Maybe it’s because they’re not as romantic as the Italians, as genial as the Irish, as energetic as the Russians, or as instantly chic as the French.
But there are a lot of great, neglected Swedish, Norwegian and Danish names to be discovered, and those of internationally known Scandinavian celebrities have provided a pathway in. Here are the names of some such notables, both past and present, which are both appealing and accessible– and definitely worth considering.
Astrid—the prolific Swedish author Astrid Lindgren is best known as the creator of Pippi Longstocking. Her royal Scandinavian name has been neglected here in favor of the more familiar Ingrid, but is just as attractive.
August—August Strindberg was not only a major Swedish playwright (Miss Julie his most famous play), but also a novelist, poet and painter. August is by far the most popular month name for boys, and has been chosen by several celebs, including Mariska Hargitay and Jeanne Tripplehorn
Bibi–—Swedish actress Bibi Andersson, born Berit Elisabeth, is best known for her roles in the films of Ingmar Bergman. Bibi—also spelled Bebe—is a spunky-nickname cousin of Gigi, Coco, Kiki, Lulu, et al.
Britt – Britt Eklund was a Bond Girl in the 1974 The Man with the Golden Gun. Britt is a contracted form of Birgit, but be aware that it does come with the strong possibility of being confused with Bret/Brett—or as a shortening of Brittany.
Bjorn—Swedish tennis ace Björn Borg is considered one of the greatest players of all time. His first name (pronounced be-yorn), the Scandinavian form of Bernard, is familiar to parents via the popular Baby Bjorn child-carriers.
Claes—American-born Pop Art sculptor Claes (pronounced Klahs) Oldenburg, is the son of a Swedish diplomat. Though it looks good on paper, the spelling of Claes might be confusing to a non-Swede, making Claus a safer spelling.
Greta—Garbo, the iconic and legendary Swedish star, whose cinematic career spanned from the silent era into talkies, is known for her enigmatic aura. Her first name, a short form of the Scandinavian/German Margarethe, still carries a faintly exotic air, and, at Number 684, remains an intriguing, underused option.
Ingrid—Luminous Swedish star Ingrid Bergman was a triple Academy Award winner, best known for her haunting presence in the classic film Casablanca. Ingrid has been a fully integrated immigrant since 1940, when Bergman first became known here. An attractive, recommended choice, as is the similar Sigrid.
Kai—Kai Winding was a popular Danish-born jazz trombonist and composer, whose multi-cultural (Hawaiian, Japanese, Native American) name has been climbing steadily, now at an all-time high of Number 202. Other cultural cred: Kai’s leading role in The Snow Queen, appearances in several video games, and as the son of Jennifer Connelly.
Lars—Dynamic Danish-born drummer Lars Ulrich was a founding member of the iconic heavy metal band Metallica. This Scandinavian form of Laurence is so foreign but familiar, simple yet rich, that we wonder why more parents aren’t warming to it. Lars is currently a Top 25 name in both Belgium and the Netherlands in addition to being an enduring classic in Scandinavia.
Leif—Leif Ericson was the Norse explorer who beat Columbus by reaching North America in the early eleventh century. Pronounced LAFE in its natural habitat, it is more likely to have the naturey LEAF sound here.
Liv—Norwegian Ingmar Bergman actress Liv Ullmann was the inspiration behind the naming of American actress Liv Tyler. Again, it is pronounced LEEV in Scandinavia, LIV here. Just the kind of short, strong female name that is growing in popularity, it was used by Julianne Moore for her daughter.
Nils—Half-Swedish rock musician Nils Lofgren has been a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. Like Lars, Nils (NEELS), the Swedish form of Nicholas, is an oldster name in its native habitat, but would sound fresh here.
Noomi—This more open, cheerier form of Naomi arrived here via the actress who played Lisbeth Salander in the original Scandinavian film version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Noomi Rapace. She has a sister named Saerún and a husband named Ola.
Sonja –Sonja Henie was an Olympic figure skating champion who came to Hollywood and became a glamorized movie star in the late 1930’s and 1940’s. This spelling turns the already exotic Sonya/Sonia even more so.
Stellan—Born John Stellan, the Swedish actor known as Stellan Skarsgård, recognized for appearances in such blockbusters as Pirates of the Caribbean, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Avengers, and who inspired the baby name of Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany’s son, is the father of eight children, including Valter, Ossian, Eija and Kolbjörn. Equally usable is the first name of philosopher Søren Kirkegard, which could be seen as an update of Loren. And no, I say as the mother of a Chloe, you don’t have to use the accent.
Stieg—Another Girl with the Dragon Tattoo reference: Stieg Larsson was the creator of the series novels. Stieg is actually a nickname based on his firsts–Karl Stig–Erland –but we could see it being picked up on as an independent choice. Stig, on the other hand, is a very common Scandinavian name.
Vendela—The gorgeous Norwegian-Swedish model uses this as her single-owner name, but some others seeking an unusual V-name might want to consider it.
Viggo—This vigorous Scandinavian name was introduced to American audiences by actor Viggo Mortensen, who inherited it from his father. It’s now in the Top 30 in Sweden and has definite potential as an exotic o-ending name here. The Taylor Hansons chose it for their fourth child.
Viveca— Celebrated Swedish actress Viveca Lindfors, born Elsa Viveca was one of several notables bearing this pretty, feminine V-name in a variety of spellings, including the Swedish-born wife of Will Ferrell and the non-Scandinavian Vivica A. Fox.
Would you/have you considered a Scandinavian name for your child?
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on November 15th, 2012 at 12:42 am
If we ever gave a second daughter, her name will be Ingrid! Surprisingly, my husband was the one to suggest it and it instantly fit. I’m currently trying to come up with a feminine middle name to use with it. I also love Viggo, but it’s a bit rhyme y with our girl name, Margot.
on November 15th, 2012 at 1:02 am
I’d forgotten that I loved Stellan. Thanks for reminding me!
on November 15th, 2012 at 1:23 am
I love Astrid and Ingrid, if only I could get the hubs on board.
And I believe that Britt is actually pronounced Breet.
on November 15th, 2012 at 3:37 am
I love Leif and Viveca – great list!
on November 15th, 2012 at 5:30 am
I love this post! Scandinavian names have always intrigued me and I like that they are less common than other European appellations.
on November 15th, 2012 at 5:31 am
I can love Stellan and August!
on November 15th, 2012 at 7:41 am
I think Stig is such a cool name, but it’s so synonymous with The Stig of Top Gear fame that I couldn’t use it.
A Scandinavian boys name I love is Jens. Viggo is really cool.
And Greta is one of my favourite girls names (if I ever have twin girls, they’ll be Ursula and Greta)!
Scandinavian names are pretty boss. Great post!
on November 15th, 2012 at 7:51 am
Stellan and Greta are my favorites!
on November 15th, 2012 at 8:15 am
I would say Henrik (Ibsen) is missing, especially with Henry climbing up the charts, but it’s a good list! 🙂
Greta, Liv, Sonja and Stellan are my favourites, but only Liv and Sonja are in use in Norway these days. Liv is more popular, but variant Live is used twice as often.
The names on the list I could actually see Norwegian parents using for their children today are Astrid, Ingrid, August and Liv, the others are either too Swedish or Aunt-ish.
@ Selkiepunk – Britt is pronounsed BRIT, Brit is pronouced BREET (and Brita is BREE-tah). The double consonant means a short vowel sound preceding it. Some dialects might do it differently though, but most Norwegians at least would expect Britt to be BRIT and be surprised if it were otherwise.
on November 15th, 2012 at 8:36 am
I love these — Astrid has always been a favorite and Niels is top of my boys’ list right now. Two other Scandi faves of mine are Hedda and Linnea.
on November 15th, 2012 at 9:48 am
Stellan and Greta are recent loves of mine – I’d seriously consider using them in the future.
on November 15th, 2012 at 10:35 am
I love, love, LOVE the name Astrid! I have since I first discovered it in the nove White Oleander when I was 15. Its a great name!
on November 15th, 2012 at 11:13 am
Britt, Liv, Kai and Nils would be a great one-syllable sibset.
I also love Greta. Sonja, Astrid, Ingrid and Noomi for girls and August, Lars and Viggo for boys.
on November 15th, 2012 at 11:25 am
Great post! There are some great names here- Kai, August, Greta, Ingrid, Liv, Sonja and Viveca are my faves. I really used to love Kai before it got super trendy… Oh well.
Also, I like Stellan, but for some reason it reminds me of Stalin. Am I alone in that?
on November 15th, 2012 at 11:27 am
Also, I think Greta and Ingrid would make a great sibset
on November 15th, 2012 at 12:01 pm
It’s Björn, not Bjorn. It changes the pronunciation, not using the “dots” is like changing an “o” to an “u” or I don’t know. Pronunciation is more like “Bjern” than “Bjorn”.
on November 15th, 2012 at 12:13 pm
Love blogs like this. Some of the listed were already on my favorites list but I enjoyed reading about the others!!!
on November 15th, 2012 at 12:44 pm
As you see from my username, my daughter is named Ingrid, and we get lots of positive response to it. My husband is Swedish, and my side of the family is from Norway/Denmark, so we were looking for Scando names. My good friend had her daughter, Greta, three weeks after Ingrid was born, and we joke that they are our little Swedish actresses. My Danish grandfather’s name is Torben, which I think is a great boy’s name — maybe for our next if we have a son. I also like Soren and recently took a shine to Vidar. Thanks to Dearest for calling out Henrik — I even like Ibsen as a possibility.
on November 15th, 2012 at 12:58 pm
Good to see Astrid and Leif and Ingrid on nameberry. Love Leif as a girl’s middle! I prefer Noemi not Noomi as a replacement for Naomi. Lovely post.
on November 15th, 2012 at 8:08 pm
I love Scandinavian names! Astrid, August, and Kai are all on my name list, as is Liv as a nickname for Livia or Liviana.
on November 29th, 2012 at 2:40 am
I love international names, they’re so unique and the best part is that they aren’t made up! The Scandinavian names I like from this set is Live, and I’m really glad to see it’s pronounced LEEV instead of live and I like kai, but I like it better with a j at the end, kaj . Also my name is Brittany and my nick names are Britt and be be 🙂
on May 3rd, 2013 at 10:59 am
When I went to visit my family in Sweden, I got to meet my great uncle Nils. And his name was not pronounced NEELS it was pronounced Nils. Same thing with Linnea being pronounced Li-neer. I also had a cousin named Liv. And, guess what? It was pronounced Liv even with their swedish accents it was still Liv not Leev. It’s so annoying to see these made up pronunciations.
on June 2nd, 2013 at 5:02 pm
Viggo has been on my long list for a while. I’d have no qualms about using it.
on June 2nd, 2013 at 5:05 pm
Also, I got a Cabbage Patch doll when I was a kid, and I didn’t like the middle name they gave him, so I changed it to Lars.
on June 13th, 2013 at 11:46 pm
Some other common scandinavian names:
F: Else, Elsa, Berit, Inger, Kristin, Wenche, Vibeke, Marit, Sigrid, Ingvild, Marthe, Ranveig, Bente.
M: Johan, Gunnar, Didrik, Ole, Ola, Simen, Ludvig, Per, Tore, Olav, Haakon, Harald.
on January 26th, 2014 at 11:27 am
Where I come from we pronounce Leif like Life. Great list by the way 🙂
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