Scandinavian Names Are Ready to Travel the World

February 17, 2020 Clare Green
Scandinavian baby names: latest top names from Norway and Sweden

Scandinavian baby names are very much in style at the moment. As we turn to Nordic countries for decor and lifestyle inspiration, so many parents look there for names. You may want to honor Scandinavian heritage, be inspired by pop culture – whether that’s Frozen or Ragnarok – or simply be looking for something different.

In the last few weeks, first Sweden and then Norway released their baby name statistics for 2019. We’ve compared them, and picked out some of the best that deserve more love in the wider world.

Top 10 Names in Norway and Sweden

Even at the top of the charts, each country has its own favorites. Five boys’ names appear in both countries’ Top 10 – Lucas, Oscar, Oliver, William and Noah – and there are three shared girls’ names: Ella, Olivia and Maja.

There are some very wide taste gaps. Jakob, Henrik, Sofie, Ada and Ingrid are in Norway’s Top 10 but in Sweden don’t even make the Top 50. Matteo, Alice, Vera, Ebba and Wilma are in the Swedish Top 10 but not in the Norwegian Top 50.

Here are the full Top 10 lists for both countries. (Norway’s list combines spelling variations.)

Norway: top girls’ names

1 Emma
2 Nora / Norah
3 Sofie / Sophie
4 Ella
5 Olivia
6 Ada
7 Sofia / Sophia
8 Sara / Sarah / Zara
9 Maja / Maia / Maya
10 Ingrid
10 Leah / Lea

Norway: top boys’ names

1 Jakob / Jacob
2 Lucas / Lukas
3 Filip / Philip / Fillip / Phillip
4 Oskar / Oscar
5 Oliver
6 Emil
7 Henrik
8 William
9 Noah / Noa
10 Aksel / Axel

Sweden: top girls’ names

1 Alice
2 Olivia
3 Astrid
4 Maja
5 Vera
6 Ebba
7 Ella
8 Wilma
9 Alma
10 Lilly

Sweden: top boys’ names

1 Lucas
2 Liam
3 William
4 Elias
5 Noah
6 Hugo
7 Oliver
8 Oscar
9 Adam
10 Matteo

Strikingly Scandi names

Looking further down the charts, there are more differences between the neighboring countries than you might expect. Norway and Sweden share less than half the names on their Top 50 lists: 18 for girls and 22 for boys. Sometimes this is because names take different forms in the two languages: Swedish parents use Liv and Matteo, while Norwergian parents prefer Live and Matheo. Both countries like a mixture of internationally popular names and local specialties, but often different ones.

These names are popular in both Norway and Sweden, but not so well-known in the rest of the world. (Their ranks are in brackets.)

Alma (15 in Norway, 9 in Sweden): in Scandinavian languages, this is a diminutive for names like Amalia.

Astrid (23 in Norway, 3 in Sweden): one of the hottest imports to the US, Astrid is in the Top 700 nationally but ranks at 26 on the Nameberry charts.

Axel (Aksel is 10 in Norway, Axel is 25 in Sweden): another red-hot import with a rock-and-roll edge.

Hedda (22 in Norway, 34 in Sweden): the fastest-rising girl name in Sweden, known to English speakers via columnist Hedda Hopper and dramatic heroine Hedda Gabler.

Linnea (30 in Norway, Linnéa is 40 in Sweden): this flower name is falling in its homeland, but is an under-the-radar gem in the wider world.

Ludvig (34 in Norway, 16 in Sweden): a Scandi member of the Louis family.

Saga (39 in Norway, 14 in Sweden): if you like names like Story and Sonnet, Saga takes it to the next level.

Selma (21 in Norway, 20 in Sweden): with its clunky Germanic charm, Selma has actually risen in the US since The Simpsons first aired.

Sigrid (44 in Norway, 43 in Sweden): love Astrid but worried about popularity? Lesser-known Sigrid could be the answer.

Nowhere but Norway

These are our favorite names that are in the Top 50 in Norway, but not in Sweden.

Aurora (27): a perfect name for girls born in northern climes – and also the top girls’ name in Alaska.

Frida (14): this peaceful name feels fresher than Freda.

Henrik (7): a punchy twist on Henry.

Ingrid (10): the third member of the “-rid” gang of names has a glam Hollywood feel thanks to legendary actress Ingrid Bergman.

Magnus (16): a Nordic alternative to Marcus with royal credentials.

Olav (20): not to be confused with the snowman, this is an absolute classic in Norway.

Oline (48): almost unheard of in the English-speaking world, this could be a pretty alternative to Olivia and Olive.

Sander (23): short for Alexander, gentler than Xander…and sounds like an occupational name too.

Tobias (22): this biblical choice is in the US Top 300, but Norwegian parents love it even more.

Tuva (35): from ancient roots connected with the god Thor, Tuva shares sounds with Luna and Nova but has never made the charts in the States.

Strictly Swedish

Here’s our pick of names in the Top 50 in Sweden, but not in Norway.

Albin (41): a sweet little name meaning “elf-friend”.

Alva (18): add a letter to Ava and you get a perky unisex name that’s much rarer.

Elvira (40): this is firmly on the vintage shelf for English speakers, but shares sounds with popular names like Olivia and Emilia.

Freja (13): an extra-Scandi twist on a rising goddess name.

Gustav (48): a Swedish royal name that – to anglophone ears – sounds like a more hipster version of August.

Juni (39): the month of June in Swedish (and several other Germanic languages).

Liv (49): this mini-name, meaning “life”, has become popular in the States in recent years.

Loui (33): an interestingly spare spelling, Loui is unisex but more popular for boys in Sweden.

Nils (14): a distinctively Nordic form of Neil.

Vidar (46): from Old Norse roots, this would make a fresh and underused mythological choice.

Which of these names do you like best? And does your style lean more Norwegian or Swedish?

About the author

Clare Green

Clare Green writes Nameberry's weekly round-up of the latest baby name news, including celebrity announcements, unusual naming stories, and new statistics from around the world . Clare, who has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, lives in England, where she has worked in libraries and studies linguistics. You can follow her personally on Instagram and Twitter.

View all of Clare Green's articles


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