By Sophie Kihm
Scandinavian names are among my very favorites. I love their minimalism—which is very reflective of the culture. Names from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland can make great imports: It’s easy to picture American children with many of the following baby names.
Hedda– Hedda was originally a short form of Hedvig, the Scandinavian version of the German Hedwig. It’s long been associated with the Ibsen play Hedda Gabler, and later with the infamous Hollywood gossip columnist, Hedda Hopper.
Linnea– Linnea is a gorgeous name with scientific cred. She comes from the surname of Carl Linnaeus–a botanist, physician, and zoologist who created the modern method of scientifically naming organisms. For a biology-themed sibset, try Linnea and Darwin.
Signe– Signe–also spelled Signy–is a name found in Norse mythology, where Signy (with an accent over the Y) is the twin of Sigmund and the wife of Siggeir. In Sweden and Norway, Signe is pronounced SEENG-nee, however in Denmark is it said more like SEE-nee.
Tove– Tove is quintessentially Scandinavian. She’s best known here as the name of author and illustrator Tove Jansson, the creator of the Moomin series. Tove is pronounced as Tova, which is an alternate, easier spelling for the English-speaking.
Espen– Espen–with his similarities to the name Aspen and favorite sports network ESPN–strikes me as a perfect name for a Scandinavian-American child. Even better if there are Osborns in your family–the name comes from Asbjorn, from which Osborn derived.
Frey– When novel names become suddenly trendy, people tend to tire of them quickly. That’s what happened to me and Gray/Grey. When parents first started bestowing their children with the name, I thought, “how cute!,” and “so creative!” Now it bores me to tears. Frey is a spectacular alternative. He’s fresher, edgier, and practically unheard of.
Lars– Sweet, sweet Lars is one of my all-time favorites. He sounds so kind and gentle (though maybe Ryan Gosling’s character in Lars and the Real Girl is coloring my perception). If you prefer it as a nickname, it works as a short form of Laurence or Larson/Larsen.
Oslo– Oslo is the capital of Norway, and a really distinctive candidate for the name of your baby boy. Some people argue that he’s not “name-y” enough, but since Oslo shares a likeness to Oswald, Otto, and Lazlo, I beg to differ.
Viggo– Viggo is a cool, strong name that would be easy to use in America, introduced by actor Viggo Mortensen and used by the Taylor Hansons. He’s currently most popular in Sweden, where he ranks #45, though his popularity peaked in 2009 at #26. Oddly enough, he doesn’t even rank in Norway, his country of origin.