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!
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.
As the 21st Century marches ahead, the names of the early decades of the 20th Century have renewed appeal as "antiques." 1920s favorites in particular are finding a new life: names like Vivian, Iris and Max have come charging back into style. What '20s names might yet be waiting in the wings, undiscovered?
Here's an attempt to answer to that question as thoroughly as possible. I've combed through the historical name stats and tried to identify every popular name of the Roaring '20s that hasn't yet come back but maybe, possibly could.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
To qualify for my list a name had to be:
• At or near its popularity peak in the 1920s
• Much less popular in the second half of the 20th Century, so that it now sounds suitably old-fashioned
• Not among today's top 500 names for boys or girls
• A feasible fashion choice based on contemporary tastes
The last item is the tricky one. Taste is subjective, but I followed current style by ruling out names that are particularly dense with consonants, like Bernice and Durward. Next to go were names that are so unfamiliar today that they sound merely surprising rather than antique, like Hulon and Trula, and names that have crossed the gender divide since the '20s, like Meredith for boys. Other factors were less cut-and-dried but could tip the balance against a borderline name, like the "yoo" sound in Buford and Eunice.
The end product is a list of well over 100 uncommon throwback names worth thinking about. Not every one hits the fashion bullseye. Chances are that most will still sound outmoded to you. But if you're drawn to old-fashioned names, I'm guessing that a few on this list will strike you as pleasant and intriguing surprises. I certainly have my favorites, and I'm curious to hear yours.
|1920s Names with Comeback Potential|
Heard any stylish names lately? I'll bet you have, whether you're looking for a name for your own baby or just talking to friends, going to the movies, reading the news or even playing a video game. Names are part of every corner of our culture, and we can't help but pick up on trends. We're all experts on the names in our own spheres of life.
Now you have a chance to put that knowledge to use. Our annual Baby Name Pool challenges you to pick three baby names that you think rose in popularity last year, and three that fell. It's that simple. When the U.S. government releases its official 2016 name stats in May, I'll tally the results and crown the year's baby-naming champions, complete with 12 months of unparalleled bragging rights.
If you haven't played before, you can read more details and check out the previous year's top names as a starting point. Then convince your friends and coworkers to enter and compete against you. This is an equal-opportunity contest, by the way -- we've had male and female winners.
All entries must be received by April 30, 2017.
Ready to go? Fill out your ballot now!