Nifty Norse Baby Names

Apr 3rd 2017

Names from Norse mythology has been given a popularity boost in recent years. From television shows like The Vikings to the blockbuster films Thor and How to Train Your Dragon, American audiences have embraced the inspiration of Asgard.

The names below range from trendy to unusual to downright rare, but their sounds are all strong and unique. All have roots in Nordic and Germanic languages, with many found directly in mythological stories. Let’s take a look at fourteen uncommon choices influenced by Scandinavian lore!


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Thor. Mighty and memorable, Thor is a classic in Norway that’s begun to find favor in the United States - thanks especially to the film series starring Chris Hemsworth. This thunderous choice may be a lot to live up to, but with Messiah and King on the rise, why not pick an equally bold name?

Astrid. Derived from old Norse for “divinely beautiful,” it’s no wonder that Astrid has fans all over the globe. It’s vibe is smart and savvy, and it’s the kind of name that will age well along with your bright and beloved little one. Namesake Astrid Lindgren, author of Pippi Longstocking, is an excellent literary connection, too.

Soren. Already Americans have embraced the subtle and stunning Soren: it currently ranks at #577 on the top 1000. It’s still relatively underused, but Soren’s attractive and accessible sound make it a fantastic choice for those who want something familiar but not trendy.

Valka. Never recorded in the United States, elegant Valka made a recent appearance in How to Train Your Dragon 2 (voiced by star Cate Blanchett). It’s derived from the same root as Valkyrie, but its simple form and feminine style help Valka feel more glamorous than fantastical.

Gunnar. Some may choose it as a spelling variation of Gunner, but Gunnar has deep roots in Scandinavian legend. It was worn by a king of Burgundy, and fittingly holds the meaning of “warrior” - perfect for those who want a thoroughly masculine name.

Liv. Small yet sophisticated, Liv works well as either a nickname for Olivia or a formal choice on its own. It’s derived from a few etymologies relating it to “life” and “protection,” imbuing this compact name with a sense of strength and adventure. It’s already begun to rise up the top 1000, partially inspired by actress Liv Tyler.

Magni. One of the sons of Thor in legend, Magni is a name that sounds both modern in its individuality and classic in its historical authenticity. With the meaning of “mighty”, Magni is a tenacious pick for all kinds of personality types, from the sympathetic to the strong-willed.

Ingrid. Long associated with classic Hollywood star Ingrid Bergman, this gorgeous name actually comes from the Norse god Ing. While Ingrid gained fans in the US in the 1960’s, it was never overly popular. Polished and chic, Ingrid could attract attention today for its trendy I-beginning and fabulous namesakes.  

Odin. Handsome Odin has quite a lot going for it: from its similar sound to Owen and Aiden to its powerful divine connection, it’s only natural that the name has already settled into the top 500. Odin is friendly with an eccentric streak, and its eponym is a favorite in Scandinavian and Germanic culture - interestingly enough, Odin is also the source of the word “Wednesday”.

Saga. Though it’s reminiscent of a word name, like Story or Epic, Saga is actually the name of the Norse goddess of poetry and history. It’s concise, beautiful, and unforgettable, already a favorite in Norway, Sweden, and Iceland. While it may raise some eyebrows, Saga has the substance to back up its splendor.

Viggo. Another name associated with Hollywood via actor Mortensen, Viggo fits in with today’s trends while still maintaining its rugged uniqueness. It’s not too far off from O-factor favorites Leo, Hugo, or Diego, but it has an energetic and suave vibe that sets it apart.

Freya. Incredibly popular across the pond, feminine Freya - and spelling variants Freja and Freyja - has begun to be discovered by American parents. It’s a pretty and positive name originally attached to the goddess of love and beauty in Norse mythology. Despite its background, Freya has only become a well-used choice in recent years.

Loki. Though he’s a villain in the Marvel films, Loki has captivated audiences with his wit and cunning - enough to motivate an increase in baby boy (and girl) Lokis. This fun and boisterous name fits in formally with Biblical options Levi and Eli, but adds an element of mischief - as any trickster god might!

Signe. While it may be confused with similar-sounding Sydney, this ethereal name has a more quirky personality. Signe has a few connections in mythology, and comes from the meaning of “new victory”. It’s been recorded in the US since 1884, thanks to its appealing and graceful aura.

Comments

1
April 3, 2017 7:17 PM

Gunnar is cognate with Gunther in German and Guthhere in Old English. It is a typical Germanic bithematic name. The first element (originally gund-) is a root meaning war, and the second element (-hari) is a root for host, army. So the "meaning" of Gunnar is war host, war army, not warrior.

2
April 5, 2017 11:49 PM

The name Signe is pronounced "SEE-nuh", it doesn't sound like Sydney at all. (My cite: a friend and HS classmate named Signe.)

3
April 7, 2017 12:46 AM

Miriam, I have come to appreciate the non-Laura-Wattenberg posts because they inevitably bring with them some snappy corrections from you!

In re: Signe, the pronunciation SEE-nah is used in some countries (I think Danish based on the fact that Seena Owen the silent film starlet used Seena as her stage name for Signe), but in other countries the g is less silent. I know a little Signe, and her pronunciation definitely is closer to SEEG-nah (I think the exact sound of the G might be an Americanization, though).

4
By JuLu
April 10, 2017 4:44 PM

You're right, the pronounciation of Signe varies between the Nordic countries. In Sweden we say Sing-neh.

 

And with regards to Loki or Loke I think it's definitely one of those questionable taste names due to the mythological character. A bit like naming your child Judas or Lucifer. 

5
April 11, 2017 10:50 AM

@JuLu, in 2015, 19 unfortunate little boys were saddled with the name Judas, and 7 even more unfortunate little boys were named Lucifer. In comparison, 114 boys and 6 girls (!) were named Loki.

(Judas has seen low but steady usage since 1969. Lucifer first showed up in 2002. Loki saw sporadic usage starting in 1996, and then really started increasing around 2011, so I'm guessing at least part of its popularity can be ascribed to Mr. Hiddleston.)