Bold Boy Names: How about Thor?
Should they name their son Thor? He’s big on the heroic heritage pick, but she fears it might be too much name for a mere mortal.
I’m writing with an odd conundrum. My husband is dead set on naming our son Thor.
My husband’s family is Norwegian and very proud of their heritage though they’ve been in the US for several generations. My father-in-law is named Thor. My husband is one of the few men in his family without a clearly Scandinavian name. He’s Kurt, with family members called Lars, Per, Nils, Ole, Bjorn, and even Torbjor.
But he doesn’t want just any Scandinavian name. He wants to name his son after his father.
I shut down the possibility the minute we started talking about marriage and kids. I adore my father-in-law, and he wears his name well. He even loves Thor movie memorabilia.
Therein lies my problem. I fell asleep during the Avengers movie. My favorite names are Henry, Thomas, Jack, August, or Jude. Maybe something from a novel. I don’t want to explain for the rest of my life that he wasn’t named after a superhero. I can’t stop thinking about the looks I’d get from other parents. (I know I shouldn’t care, but I do.) Plus, we plan on having more than one child. What would we possibly name a sibling for Thor?
And yet, since we found out we were having a boy, Thor is starting to grow on me! I love seeing how excited it makes my husband to talk about how much my father-in-law would love it. I know a little boy would probably love to be named Thor, and now a tiny part of my brain is considering it, which I never thought would happen. Am I going crazy? Can I name a child Thor? Should I?
The Name Sage replies:
Normally, I can advocate for nearly any family name.
But … Thor?
During your father-in-law’s childhood, Thor was the rough equivalent of Orion or Finn MacCool. Many of us know the legends and myths; if nothing else, it makes the name more familiar. Back in the 1950s and 80s and so on, Thor probably seemed different, even edgy.
Today, thanks to the Marvel universe, nearly everyone immediately thinks of the muscle-bound Asgardian warrior played by Chris Hemsworth. Word is that Marvel has mapped out another ten years – or more – of movies. Would a kindergartener like to share his name with a big screen hero? Sure. By middle school, that might not be the case.
Still, it’s impossible to know how your son will feel. Let’s focus on a few facts:
First, the name has steadily increased in use. Over the last decade, nearly 1,000 newborn Thors have arrived. Yours might be the only Thor in his class, but he wouldn’t be one-of-one. Credit the rise of other Th- names like Theo, as well as our affection for strong boy names. In fact, Thor started to rise a few years before the first movie debuted – so it’s not all about the big screen version of the character.
Big, bold names are more common in general, and Thor specifically has risen in use. Now factor in your family ties, and there’s good reason to consider giving this super-charged name to your son.
But if you’re still hesitating – or if you can’t quite bring yourself to imagine your son sharing his name with the hammer-wielding hero – let’s talk about some compromises:
First, you can pick a rock-solid middle name. You’ve noted that your husband won’t entertain Henry Thor. But how ‘bout Thor Henry? Because if your son does arrive at middle school and find himself really disliking his Marvel moniker, he can also be known as T. Henry.
Second, you might choose an elaboration of Thor. Thorin or Thorsen or Thorsten or Thornton all work, and most are derived from Thor. Or maybe Hawthorn, even? They’re still unusual, but they’re also easy ways to get to the nickname Thor. Pulitzer Prize winning author Thornton Wilder makes that option impeccably literary.
You might also include a middle initial that leads to a nickname. Thor James could be TJ. Thor Riley could be TR. The list is endless, but it’s yet another way to name your son Thor, but have a back-up name in place.
But there’s a second issue, beyond the question of whether Thor feels like the right name for this child. While every couple compromises when naming a child, it should never feel like you’re using a name that makes you uncomfortable. So if you cannot embrace the name, you and your husband should move on and choose something fresh, even if that means going back to other Scandinavian names or your original list.
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on December 20th, 2017 at 12:43 am
Although it’s not entirely out of the question, it’s a bit much to me. I’d go with one of strong sounding top rated Scandinavian names like Magnus, Axel, and make Thor the middle name. Your son’s home name could easily be Thor, then. 🙂
on December 20th, 2017 at 1:35 am
When my son was in preschool, there was a boy named Thor in his class. His mother said that when she was pregnant with him, she and her husband hadn’t yet come up with a name for him, so their neighbors, a gay couple, would playfully call her unborn child “Thor.” She and her husband went along with the “joke” and referred to the baby as Thor throughout her pregnancy. However, although they would never have considered the name originally, after all the months of pregnancy it eventually stuck! By the time he was born, they couldn’t think of him as anything other than Thor. He was a cute little boy who wore the name well.
on December 20th, 2017 at 2:13 am
I actually think that Theodore is your best bet – the ‘Th’ and ‘Or’ syllables are both very strong so it’s not much of a stretch to get Thor as a nickname. Theodore is more accessible than Thor and gives plenty of nickname opportunity if your son grows tired of Thor as he gets older!
on December 20th, 2017 at 2:42 am
People all over the world are using mythological names. If Freya and Minerva are fine, why not Thor? It’s a family name so it is proven that it isn’t too tragic, using it is normal. I would definitely use it.
on December 20th, 2017 at 2:44 am
I know a Thor in his mid-twenties. He loves his name and finds the movies fun. He even dressed up as Thor from the Avengers one Halloween. I think it is cool to have a name that connects to one’s heritage and family. Compromise with your husband by picking one of the literary names you like as a middle. Your son can always go by that name if he chooses. As far as siblings go, the Thor I know has a name that reflects their mother’s heritage and his brother’s name reflects their father’s. Maybe baby 2 can reflect your background or share the name of one of your family members. The names maybe don’t go together in a typical sibset way, but are perfect for that family.
on December 20th, 2017 at 2:56 am
I know a Thor, so the name feels very wearable to me. That said, I love the Thor James (TJ) suggestion that Abby made above. Nicknames are so much fun and Thor doesn’t really lend well to any other options.
Another idea (if you want more children) might be to shelve Thor for now and to use Thora for a future daughter. All the lovely meaning, without the inconvenient Avengers connection.
on December 20th, 2017 at 3:06 am
Personally, I love the name Thorsten. It softens the name somewhat while still being directly relately to the name “Thor”.
on December 20th, 2017 at 3:50 am
I like Thor James (TJ)
on December 20th, 2017 at 5:23 am
Thor James and TJ is great.
on December 20th, 2017 at 6:27 am
Yes to Thor!! Twenty plus years ago, as a teeneager I babysat for a little boy named Thor. He was the coolest kid and the name suited him so well (even in conservative SC). A few years later, I named my first pet cat Thor. Again, the name suited him so well and I was complimented on his name allll the time. When it was time to name my sons, two of them pretty much have Thor in their names, Arthur and Theodore (third is Felix, husband named him). I would have used Thor, but my cat was still living. Anyways, I’ve lived with and loved three Thor-ish names over the past 15 years and can whole-heartedly recommend the name! Between the Scandinavian heritage and honoring your husband’s father, the name would be perfect. I don’t think it needs a longer form, but if you’d like Thornton (most common), Thorton, Thurston, Arthur and Theodore would work. Good luck and congrats!
on December 20th, 2017 at 6:33 am
My son’s name is Caspian. Perhaps he’ll hate being called Prince Caspian as a teenager. But I’m personally betting that the meaning will trump everything else. Thor isn’t bad at all. Use a literary middle so he has a Plan B, then make the name special by emphasizing the meaning as he’s growing up. I’m sure that he’ll love the tie to his grandpa. And certainly his grandpa’s excitement will rub off for him.
If not, some other cool names are Anders, Leif, Lars, Ture, Soren…
on December 20th, 2017 at 6:47 am
I had a student named Thor, and believe it or not, the kids didn’t mention the superhero connection. They just liked him for being him. If you really don’t want it for a first name, though, the “T” lends itself to a “J. T.” nickname.
on December 20th, 2017 at 8:09 am
One of my siblings is called Tor (same name as Thor but also an English and Hebrew name) and I have met a couple of grown up Thors and an Odin.
Personally, I’d find a longer Thor- name like Thorgood, Thorbjorn or Thorquil. Or Thorald, Thorvald or Thorby.
on December 20th, 2017 at 9:37 am
I like Thor. Have for years and I would consider spelling Luther wrong and going for Luthor for Thor and for honoring my hubby Louie.
on December 20th, 2017 at 9:48 am
I quite like the sound of it but it does feel like a lot to live up to, in a way that Freya doesn’t.
Thorin feels like a lovely way to tone it down a bit, while still giving him and you the option to use Thor pretty much exclusively if you want to.
I see someone has already mentioned it above, but I LOVE Tor! One of my very favourites, and takes it just far enough away from the Marvel hero not to invite constant comments.
Having said all that, I don’t think that Thor is unusable – especially since it’s a family name. I’m rather taken with Thor Henry, in fact!
on December 20th, 2017 at 10:30 am
Thor is my favorite nickname for Arthur. I also like the idea of it as a nickname for Theodore
on December 20th, 2017 at 11:18 am
Oh my god, I absolutely adore Thor! I’m a big mythology nerd, and I must admit, I have a soft spot for Chris Hemsworth and Marvel movies. I also really like simple yet strong the name feels but I see that I have a very eccentric naming style and that for a lot of people a boy named Thor would seem weird. But you surely have my support on this one!
on December 20th, 2017 at 12:29 pm
I’d also say that Thor is absolutely fine as a first name, that options like Thorsen or Thornton are good, and having a more traditional middle name provides an easy exit if Thor proves too much.
But then I think having a bold name usually ends up being an advantage and a source of pride for the wearer: I know a Pandora who loves her name, a Lulu who often gets told about dogs people know with that name (this doesn’t seem to bother her) and a Beige who is far more colorful than her name suggests. These are all women, yes, but apparently boys’ names are becoming far bolder and more style oriented lately, so I’m guessing Thor won’t stand out nearly as much as he would have 20+ years ago.
Also, I don’t think it’ll be that odd if Thor’s future siblings don’t share his bold-sounding name style. If they also have a family connection, or possibly a sound or letter, I’m sure they’ll work well together.
on December 20th, 2017 at 1:42 pm
I know a young Thorson, called Thor. At first I thought it was a bit much but it’s grown on me. I say go with an elaboration of Thor but call him Thor (only if you decide you love the name, though). Otherwise, remind your husband that baby will (presumably) carry his family surname so middle name Thor should be plenty big of an honor. If he does get Thor, I say you get to claim the middle for a family name from your side or just one you love.
That being said, I do think you probably need to find some other Norse/Scandinavian names you like for any future siblings so that Thor won’t stand out like a sore thumb. Maybe something like Thor, Ingrid and Soren.
on December 20th, 2017 at 2:47 pm
I also love the suggestion of Theodore with Thor as a nickname or Thor with a classic middle name.
I think Thorin might be too associated with the Hobbit dwarf, which could create another pop culture reference in and of itself.
Thor is an awesome name and the family connection adds to it.
on December 20th, 2017 at 3:42 pm
Tell your husband he must compromise…so he can either pick the first name or the last name. Actually, your name list is much more to my style (I have two sons, Jack Hudson and Owen Henry) but Thor would be better suited to a middle name in my opinion simply because of the magnitude of that name. Can you ask how your father-in-law felt growing up with that moniker? Perhaps he would suggest against it as a first name anyways.
on December 20th, 2017 at 3:57 pm
Theodore nickname Thor is great, and seems to match your style! Or if you daughter name her Thora, it’s much less marvel
on December 20th, 2017 at 4:12 pm
Thor is great, it doesn’t need anything to make it better.
on December 20th, 2017 at 4:51 pm
I’d go for Thorsten over Thornton. The way the syllables break, Thor-sten is a Thor name and Thorn-ton is a Thorn name. More specifically, Thorsten is a Scandinavian name that means “Thor’s stone,” and Thornton is Gaelic and means “town of thorns.” If the point is to honor his Scandinavian heritage, go for the one that most closely matches. The grandson can still be called Thor as a nickname to honor Grandpa, and Thorsten is a non-Marvel name to use when you want to be a little more under the radar. Thorsten Henry has a nice flow, and would go really well with a future little brother named August, for example.
on December 20th, 2017 at 4:55 pm
I’d go for Thorsten over Thornton. The way the syllables break, Thor-sten is a Thor name and Thorn-ton is a Thorn name. More specifically, Thorsten is a Scandinavian name that means “Thor’s stone,” and Thornton is Gaelic and means “town of thorns.” If the point is to honor his Scandinavian heritage, go for the one that most closely matches. The grandson can still be called Thor as a nickname to honor Grandpa, and Thorsten is a non-Marvel name to use when you want to be a little more under the radar. Thorsten Henry has a nice flow, and would go really well with a future little brother named August, for example – or another Scandinavian name like Anders paired with one of your favorites like Jude.
on December 20th, 2017 at 5:21 pm
Sure Thor might be linked to the movies right now, but hopefully the child will live for at least another 80-100 years. I bet the hype will be over in a few years and he can live the rest of his life with an amazing name. If you are really worried, having his full name be Theodore does not seem too bad of an idea though.
on December 20th, 2017 at 7:53 pm
I love love love Thor. My father is Swedish and grew up around plenty of Thors. I really feel your son will love being connected to his cool Scandinavian heritage and grandfather. We used Le1f for our son.
on December 21st, 2017 at 8:29 am
I know a father son named Thor and Thorson. I wish he named his daughter Thora, but it was just too much for them.
on December 21st, 2017 at 5:03 pm
I have Theodore with the nickname Thor on my baby name list! I think that sounds like an amazing compromise of familiar with roots. I suppose Thoreau could also be an option? Sounds very similar but instead literary.
on December 23rd, 2017 at 9:12 pm
I think Thorin would be beautiful and feels like a good compromise between your taste and your husband’s, while still honouring your father in law – which it seems like you would be happy to do!
Sadly I feel Thor is too tied to the Marvel universe now. Perhaps if you lived in Scandinavia it would be seen as a traditional name, but I think most people will assume you love the movies!
PS. Thorin has the great meaning of ‘brave, daring one’ as opposed to Thor’s ‘thunder’.
on December 25th, 2017 at 11:05 pm
My grandmother was named Mary Theresa because while her father was deadset on naming her after his mother (Mary), his wife was against it. Compromising, they named her after his mother but called her Tery instead.
What I’m saying, name your son Thor Henry/other-middle-name but call him by his middle name. It isn’t unheard of, and that that’ll make your husband and father-in-law happy. (Plus, you can always chose your next children’s first names. My parents switched off for my brother and me; my dad chose my name and my mom chose my brother’s.)
You can decide on whatever you two want, but Thor is a cute name and the Marvel fad will die down eventually. In all honesty, Thor is an adorable name and the history behind your son’s name-stake would be quite interesting. A child and eventual man would probably like the name Thor anyway.
Unusual names, in my opinion, are always the best.
on January 27th, 2018 at 7:38 pm
If you do it you have to own it.
My husband has Greek heritage and to honour that we went with Leonidas. We call him Leo and I honestly have never had anyone bat an eyelid. My other children are Tobias, Imogen and Maximus. With out surname I could virtually have free reign on all the names that many people love but are just to heavy to be held by a Smith or Jones.
Think of it as an opportunity to have a name that is a great talking point.
P.s my boys go by Toby, Leo and Max so nicknames are all the rage.
on January 28th, 2018 at 5:31 am
All I think about when I hear the name Thor is this dreamboat “bad boy” I (and every other girl in school) had the hugest crush on growing up. His name was never strange to me or to anyone else. In fact, it was so cool we all thought it was a nickname!
on January 28th, 2018 at 5:32 am
Also, I am 28 years old for reference 😉
on February 5th, 2018 at 9:20 pm
My nephew is named Thor. No Scandinavian family history, though. At first I thought the name was a bit much, but now the kid is 10 and he fits his name perfectly. They live on Hawaii and he’s this tan blonde boy named Thor. He’s bold and funny and athletic. Most names feel like too much but once they are attached to a person and their personality develops, the name usually ends up fitting beautifully. Now, I love it. Thor is an awesome kid and I wouldn’t imagine his name to be anything else. As a side note, his sister is Nash and she’s 17 now. She fits her name perfectly, too.
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