Scandinavian Boy Names: A Hot New Trend
by Linda Rosenkrantz
Thanks to the confluence of some media celebrities and starbabies (Will Ferrell and his Swedish wife Vivica Paulin alone have three sons with Scandinavian names), literary sensations, etc, there’s some definite Nordic noise happening. Some of these Scandinavian boy names have already registered on the national list and some have only resonated with Nameberries so far. Here are some Nordic names to watch.
SCANDINAVIAN BOY NAMES: What’s hot now
ANDERS—Currently #785 nationally and 266 on Nameberry, this classic Scandinavian version of Andrew has been rising since 2010, along with patronymic Anderson. Unnecessary trivia tidbit: In Denmark, Donald Duck’s name is Anders And.
AXEL— Now a Top 100 name in the US and 32 on NB, the Scandinavian variation of Absalom has a heavy metal vibe vs Axl Rose and is the name of the youngest of the Ferrell boys. A common name in video games, it is spelled Aksel in Denmark and Norway.
BJORN—Best known via tennis great Björn Borg (and, not incidentally, the Baby Bjorn carrier), Bjorn now ranks at #869 and 480 on Nameberry. It has also been a royal name in Sweden and a character in The Hobbit.
BO—This strong, all-purpose Norse nickname is now at #575 in the US and -oops—58 for dogs, including the Obama pet Portuguese Water Dog. Nonetheless, it has a lot of substance and swagger for a 2-letter name.
GUNNAR–#470. A key figure in Norse legend, this traditional Scandinavian fave is now making inroads here. Musician Gunnar Nelson is the son of Ricky and grandson of Ozzie and Harriet. In the US, less authentic spelling Gunner ranks even higher.
KAI—This multi-cultural name, found also in Hawaii, Germany, Japan and Wales, ranks at 113 in the US and rising. Jazz trombonist Kai Winding was born in Denmark; Kai is a character in Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen.
LEIF—The name of explorer Leif Ericson, the first European to land in North America is #303 on Nameberry, and is still very popular throughout Scandinavia, where it’s pronounced either as lafe or life, not the most common US pronunciation of leaf, which gives it a nature vibe..
MAGNUS—Another choice of the Will Ferrell family, Magnus was also chosen by Elizabeth Banks. This powerful name dates back to Charlemagne’s Latin name ‘Carolus Magnus,” meaning great. Magnus has appeared in works from The Pickwick Papers to Matilda to Vampire Chronicles. A rapid riser, it’s now at #782 nationally, 105 on NB.
MATHIAS—Sitting comfortably in the 398th spot, Mathias is another rapid riser, an appealing possible namesake for an Uncle Matthew. Alternate spelling Matthias is close behind at #407. Mathias is #13 in Norway.
ODIN—One of the most promising Scandinavian names for boys, Odin is the top god in Norse mythology, presiding over art and wisdom—as well as a few less positive things. It’s currently #338 in the US, 40 in Norway. Could make a stylish international alternative to Top 25 Owen.
SOREN—This sensitive and gentle Danish name, long associated with philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, has struck a chord with modern parents, inspired by a number of literary characters, including a warrior in George R.R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons. Soren gets a lot of love on NB, where it ranks a high #25.
STELLAN—Another strong Scandinavian up-and-comer, first spotted on actor Stellan Skarsgard and then his namesake son of Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany. Stellan is up at #251 on NB and we expect it to move even higher.
VIGGO—Vigorous Viggo was introduced to the international namescape by Danish-American actor Viggo Mortensen, who inherited it from his father. Serious babynamers Natalie and Taylor Hanson picked it in 2008 and Berries are falling for its lively o-ending charm, taking it to #301
SCANDINAVIAN BOY NAMES: Coming up cool
IVAR—A royal Viking name that has just squeezed onto the NY Top 1000.
LARS—A perfect sweet-spot exotic-lite name, easy to pronounce and spell. Recent bearers include Danish director Lars von Trier and Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, plus the Ryan Gosling character in Lars and the Real Girl.
Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond Satran of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. In addition to contributing stories on trends and celebrity naming, she guides the editorial content and manages the Nameberry Twitter and Facebook accounts. You can follow her personally at Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.
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on September 9th, 2019 at 8:59 am
Love Kai, Soren, Stellan and Ivar! Eero is intriguing too.
on September 9th, 2019 at 10:18 am
Oslo is my little berry! And although Oslo is his middle, it’s the name he goes by. We love it too, thanks for the shout out!
I vote that Nameberry updates their description of ‘Oslo’ to reflect how awesome the name is, and it’s cool place-name, O-ending potential. 🙂
on September 9th, 2019 at 3:02 pm
The name of the character in The Hobbit is actually Beorn, not Bjorn. The names may be related, but according to the research I found Beorn is from Anglo-Saxon, not any of the Scandinavian languages, & means “warrior” rather than “bear.” However, as Beorn the character is a shapeshifter who can take the form of a giant bear, it seems pretty clear that Tolkien intended to play up the similarities of the names.
Linda Rosenkrantz Said
on September 12th, 2019 at 4:19 pm
on September 13th, 2019 at 9:28 am
Linda, it’s beautiful! Thank you!
on September 26th, 2019 at 2:44 pm
Lars is one of my top boys names. We could never use it for a myriad of reasons, but I’d be tickled pink to meet a little Lars.
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