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Fresh Scandinavian Baby Name Choices

Appealing Norse names from Annalie to Viggo

posted by: Sophie Kihm View all posts by this author

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.

Scandinavian Names for Girls

AnnalieThis may look like an alternate spelling of smoosh name Annalee, but Annalie is actually the Finnish form of Hannah. She’s definitely a fresh substitute.

Freja– Freja is a beautiful Danish name–one of my favorites. In Norse mythology, Freyja is the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. Another, more American-friendly spelling is Freya.

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.

Malin– This contraction of Magdalene is simple, strong, and easy to pronounce and spell. Malin Akerman is a Swedish-Canadian actress often seen in movies and on TV.

Marit– I met my first Marit the other day, and she made me fall in love with her name. She’s a variation of Margaret, and has ties to Norwegian royalty.

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.

Sunniva– The cheerful Sunniva–that’s SOON-ee-vah–means “sun’s gift.” Sunny, Eva, and Evie make lovely nicknames, though I like it in its whole form.

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.

Scandinavian Names for Boys

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.

Jens–  Jens would be a  spunky way to honor a Grandma or Aunt Jennifer–but even if you don’t know any Jennifers, Jennys, or Jenns (I would be shocked), Jens still makes a fantastic name for a son.

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.

Timo– Timo is familiar yet unusual, easy to pronounce, and an all-around attractive name. You could use it as a nickname or honor name for Timothy, but I much prefer him on his own.

Thoren– Thoren is an elaboration of the Scandinavian god name Thor, and also a surname. People who like Thor and Tor but want a longer name to fall back on should strongly consider Thoren.

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.

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About the author

Sophie Kihm

Sophie is a graduate student at the University of Chicago. She loves helping people name things—whether it's their child, car, or pet fish. When she's not thinking about baby names, Sophie enjoys travel, fashion, and art and design.
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3 Responses to “Fresh Scandinavian Baby Name Choices”

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JanuarySong Says:

November 2nd, 2015 at 1:23 pm

We named our baby boy born in June, Viggo River. We hail from the US and so far most comments on his name are the polite but confused, “Well that’s different!” but a few like it and reference the actor. I’m eager to see how he grows into it.

megan_donuts Says:

November 2nd, 2015 at 6:35 pm

Oh, I love so many of these names! I’m crushing on Tove right now.

ammy Says:

November 3rd, 2015 at 5:15 pm

Annalie is not a Finnish form of Hannah.

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