"Frozen" Inspired Baby Names: The Nordic-Chic Names That Are Hot This Winter

Jan 4th 2015

 baby name roundups by theme

Across America, kids and parents alike are still singing the praises of Disney's hit movie Frozen, and it doesn't seem that we'll ever let it go. The characters are magical, relatable, and truly loveable, the story is a fairy tale with a twist, and we love its sentimental throwback appeal. Not to mention the music from Frozen is catchy, heartfelt, and inspiring enough to spawn a countless number of parodies on YouTube.

We've already imagined that the power of this unstoppable animated tale reaches beyond the usual confines of a mundane-but-cute kids movie. Frozen is permeating our culture, including the names we choose for our children. While we won't have stats for 2014 until just before Mother's Day, we could already see the uptick Elsa was showing just after the movie was released. And Elsa was a strong contender for Name of the Year, though in the end the winner was a name influenced by Frozen as well.

The movie did give us a taste of some intriguing Nordic names, but take a look with us at our favorite options beyond Frozen's few characters. You'll find that America has been influenced by names from the North for several years now, and they are bold, charming, and fit for the gilded pages of a fairytale storybook.

  1. Aksel, Axel: This name may sound perfect for a rockstar or a muscle-car mechanic, but it has deep Nordic roots and a grounded history. The Danish form of the biblical name Absolom, Axel has been around Europe for centuries, a favorite in Denmark and beyond. We know and love it from a few modern references, including the main characters in steampunk favorite Journey to the Center of the Earth, and the movie series Beverly Hills Cops, plus Guns N' Roses' rocker Axl Rose. This name goes far beyond a straightforward troublemaker name into the territory of a storied Scandinavian crossover hit.

  2. Astrid: Americans are ready...Aren't we? For some, the bold sound coupled with fears of teasing potential can create hesitation for parents (no thanks to The Office). But don't cross this gorgeous, powerful name off your list just yet. With royal connections including the current Princess of Belgium, Astrid is dignified but not without a sense of cheerfulness. Author of the Pippi Longstocking series, Astrid Lindgren gives the name a sentimentality that we all adore.

  3. Britta, Britt: These peppy names herald from Sweden, home of the celebrated Saint Birgitta. If you love the sounds of these names like we do, be prepared to convince your friends and family that Britt has nothing to do with the name Brittany, and Britta has nothing to do with water filters (spelled Brita). Do America a favor and use these names anyway; we think they are bright and cheerful, with cross-cultural appeal and charm.

  4. Elin: A Scandinavian and Welsh form of Helen, this name was brought to our attention during a messy celebrity divorce. Tiger Woods' glamorous ex-wife, Sweden-born Elin Nordegren, gets credit for earning our sympathies and inspiring our baby names at the same time. It's about time we noticed this lovely name, and since classic favorites like Ellen paved the way, we think Elin can sit comfortably next to Eden and Ella.

  5. Elsa: Before Elsa was a princess of Arendelle and a misunderstood Snow Queen, she was a charming variation of Elizabeth (or a form of Alice in Spanish) gaining more popularity in the US. With use across the globe and a favorite in Sweden, Disney made a perfect choice with Elsa's name. It's easy to pronounce and has a long history, though it's especially famous for a character in Wagner's romantic opera Lohengrin (this opera gives us the “Here Comes the Bride” processional). That's a lot of attractive qualities packed into just four little letters. We predict this name will continue its upward trend, with more parents choosing Elsa for their little princesses in 2014 and beyond.

  6. Finn: You may think of Finn as having Irish roots, but it's also an Old Norse name referring to a Finn, or someone from Finland. Any way you look at it, it's hard not to love this light-hearted little name that has a sense of boyish independence, bringing to mind Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. But Finn is also a modern Hollywood favorite, with notable characters in shows like The Sopranos, Glee, Vampire Diaries, and movies like Cars and The Lego Movie. Finn is even rumored to be the name of the lead character in the upcoming Star Wars film as well. Celebs love it for their babies like the rest of us do, and we're glad this European-styled sweetheart is here to stay.

  7. Freya: Freya's time has come. With a sound as appealing as Fiona or Flora, Freya is a wildly popular choice across the pond, recently ranked as the 20th most popular girls' name in England and Wales. The name heralds from Norse mythology as the goddess of love, beauty, war, and death. Spelled Freja in Sweden and Denmark, and Frøja in Norway.

  8. Greta: This international short form of Margareta has an Old Hollywood feel, with a meaning to match its retro-glam image—pearl. Swedish actress Garbo made this name a hit as she graced the silver screen in top movies during the silent film era and beyond. We love it again today for its global appeal and elegance, though it turns into an adorable name on a little girl. Celebrities like David Caruso and Kevin Kline chose this name for their daughters.

  9. Gunnar: There's no beating around the bush with a name like Gunnar—it's a deadly serious, muscled name meaning “warrior” that strikes us as so tough we can't help but grin thinking of a toddler wearing it. Gunnar has deep roots in Old Norse, borne by a character in Norse legend, as well as a famous Viking. The military-inspired name Gunner is gaining momentum every year, pulling this storied name from its frosty Nordic past into the realm of red-hot modern choices. We're just glad it feels far removed from its clunky relative Gunther.

  10. Ingrid: If you're looking for a name that's sturdy and dripping with feminine glamor at the same time, look no further than the Old Norse name Ingrid. In America, this name takes us back to Hollywood's Golden era, when Swedish actress Bergman was stunning audiences with her role in Casablanca and other classics. Today, American singer Michaelson (who is half Swedish) has lent her indie-pop style to the name, making it one we can see on a modern girl with a flair for the arts.

  11. Kai: People who love this name can commiserate that there are almost too many different potential sources and meanings for Kai. We're interested in its Scandinavian roots, and so were the creators of Frozen, who gave this name to a minor character in the movie. It's a loveable, one-syllable hit that can be counted among the top 200 names for boys in the US. We're just a tad bit behind other countries who already adore this name, including England, Canada, Scotland, and the Netherlands.

  12. Linnea: A Swedish darling, Linnea has been a top girls' name in Sweden and Norway for years. This Nordic classic has yet to make waves in America, as one thing holding it back is the “Lin” beginning that we haven't seen since the days of Linda and Lindsey. But we think its exotic syllabic flow is right on target with choices like Alana, Elena, Selena, and Lucia. Linnea is an intelligent, feminine choice in honor of the heralded Swedish scientist Carl Linneaus, for whom the pink and white Linnaea or “twinflower” is named.

  13. Magnus: No one will accuse you of not thinking big enough if you choose the name Magnus for your son. It's the Latin word for “great,” and the foundation behind words like magnificent and magnify. But Magnus' story is explained further by an incredible list of Nordic royalty, including seven kings of Norway and three kings of Sweden. It's bold, kingly qualities like these that can take a name from international oddity to melting pot favorite. While it's still rare in the US, Magnus is showing some signs of life and recently appeared in the top 1,000 boys' names for the first time. Chosen by Will Ferrell and his wife, Swedish-born actress Viveca Paulin for their son.

  14. Mathias, Matthias: This up-and-coming name hits several sweet spots for modern namers. It's Biblical, international, and its interesting ending puts a spin on the tried-and-true Matthew. With siblings like Jonas, Elias, and Levi in the mix for this name on Namipedia, we can see the charm this name holds for parents with a faith-influenced style. Matthias is a very popular choice in Germany, Iceland, and Sweden.

  15. Niko: It's hard not to love the sound of this Finnish form of Nicholas. With a long o ending like Leo, and a a crisp k in the middle, Niko comes across as an exotic but accessible charmer that Namipedia users rate high on the “sexy” scale. It's one of the most popular boys' names in Finland, and Niko has set his sights on America, quickly climbing the charts each year.

  16. Odin: Odin is another sizzling name pulled straight from the folklore of the icy North. Norse mythology tells of the supreme god Odin who reigns over wisdom, art and creativity, war, and death. This powerful name comes from an Old Norse word meaning both “wit, poetry” and “frenzy, rage”. But any foreboding overtones this name has is downplayed by its charming sound, with some parents using Odie as a nickname.

  17. Olaf: Do you wanna build a snowman? In the US, Olaf is rare and forever connected with characters like Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events, and now the zany snowman from Frozen. But more exposure to this Old Norse name with kingly and saintly associations only makes us more familiar with its distinctive sound. Can Olaf triumph over our quirky caricatures to become a name worth considering? Only time will tell.

  18. Soren: Americans tend to drop the umlaut on the traditional Norwegian Sören, but no matter how it's written this name is fresh and catchy. This Nordic gem has been quietly gaining popularity, recently reaching the 600s after it first appeared in the top 1,000 US boys' names back in 2003. And that's when the first book in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series was published, featuring tales of a young barn owl named Soren. The Danish Søren is linked to the philosopher Kierkegaard.

  19. Thea: A beautiful name that sounds familiar and comfortable even though it's rare, Thea is an enigmatic surprise used often in Norway and Sweden. While it's pronounced TAY-ə in Europe, Americans will read it as THEE-ə. And we happen to love it either way.

  20. Thor: The Old Norse god of war, thunder, and strength, Thor is another intense name from the land of the Vikings. He's usually depicted in shades of gold (Hair? Check. Optional wings? Check. Helmet? Check. All gold.), with a red cape, though the most important accessory he bears is his hammer. He was transformed into a superhero by Marvel comics, and became a big screen heartthrob played by Chris Hemsworth in a series of movies. Thor is really unusual in the US, but we couldn't create this list without this iconic Nordic superstar.

Point your browser Northward with a few of the Baby Name Wizard's posts.

All the Fins in the Sea

Authentic Ethnic Names, Baked Fresh Every Day!

Names in Translation: Astrid Lindgren Edition

The First Step to Finding Your Perfect Baby Name

Jan 1st 2015


This may be the most general piece of advice I've ever given. It applies to parents who like classic names and to parents who want to get creative. It applies to short names and long, popular names and rarities. It applies whether you're looking for an Irish name to sound good with the surname O'Flanagan, an "R" name to honor your grandpa Rodney, or a cowboy name that's like Colt but not exactly Colt.

No matter what your criteria are, you can start your name search by ignoring them altogether.

Choosing a baby name isn't like shopping for a new refrigerator. A practical checklist of requirements can't pinpoint the right model. That's because the ultimate test of a successful name choice isn't function, but emotion: the feeling in your heart every time you say your child's name, and the emotional response of other people who hear it. If you're looking for a name with right gut impact, why not start your search by listening to your gut?

Try this. Brainstorm a list of names that you're drawn to, even if you can't possibly choose them for your own child. Just focus on your emotional impression -- names that make you smile, or make you feel predisposed to like the person. If you hear a name and instictively go "ooh," it makes the list.

It doesn't matter if Elliott sounds terrible with your last name, or your cousin already named her daughter Piper, or you could never really pull the trigger on Bellatrix. For now, you're just aiming for that warm, happy tingle of name love.

With your "list of love" in hand, you can turn back to the practical criteria you set out with. If a name on the love list actually satisfies the criteria, hurrah, you may be done! If not, let the list be your emotional anchor as you set out to find the perfect name. Look it over: do any common elements or impressions emerge? Perhaps a bunch of the names feel "sparkly" to you, or sound like they're posed for a handsome ancestral portrait. Carry these emotional filters with you as you review lists of Irish saints' names, or names starting with R.

You can also use the "list of love" as your starting point for the Baby Name Wizard name-finding tools. Type your favorites into the Name Matchmaker and tell it what other qualities you're looking for. Or use the sibling name suggestions in the Baby Name Wizard book to find names that capture some of the same elusive magic as the names on your list.

No matter your approach, hang on to the positive feelings and don't let your head override your heart. When it comes to names, first impressions matter.

 

25 Baby Names for Future "Men of Action"

Dec 26th 2014

 
Most parents look for names that sound strong and confident. Some, though, demand even more. They want their baby names turbo-charged! Enter the Men of Action.

This name style leapt out at me when I analyzed regional name trends for the Baby Name Wizard book. The names were brash and spiky, packed with X's and K's and one-syllable power punches: Ryker, Maddox, Gage, Drake. Together, they sounded ready to storm an action movie or a first-person-shooter game. But in some parts of the U.S., they're more likely to make up a preschool class list.

The Men of Action names are popular throughout the plains states, their lightning-bolt style shining in nurseries from Wyoming and North Dakota down through Oklahoma. Their dominion reaches West into Idaho and East into Tennessee and West Virginia. In Men of Action country, the x-tra dynamic spelling Jaxon is now more popular than the traditional Jackson. If that spirit calls to you, you'll find plenty of options for your own future action hero below.

Blaze

Braxton

Bryson

Cash

Cannon

Dax

Drake

Gage

Jace

Jagger

Jax

Jaxon

Jett

Kade

Kyler

Maddox

Nash

Paxton

Ryder

Ryker

Talon

Tate

Titan

Tyson

Xander