Problems naming two main characters

I'm having serious problems naming my two main characters, because everyone says that the names I chose just don't fit.


My first main character is a 14 year old girl. She has got blonde hair, green eyes, she is funny, sarcastic, a bit laid back, kind of cunny, her head is often up in the clouds dreaming of an adventure she would have with the eventual love of her live, she has sort of a gift to start discussions, she usualy thinks about the good bit and the bad bit of things or situations before jumping into conclusions, and is a person in MUCH need of some adventure. When she is nervous, she plays with an elastic around her wrist (which she never uses). SHE IS PORTUGUESE, SO, IF YOU KNOW ANY PORTUGUESE NAMES FOR HER, PLEASE, TELL ME.


My, well, second main character, is a 14 year boy. He has got brown-red hair, beautiful green eyes, in a fight or discussion, never lets his oponent have the upper hand, he's quite social, likes big feasts, but also loves poems (specialy Fernando Pessoa's poems), tales and the sound of seagulls and waves. HE IS VIKING, SO, IF YOU KNOW ANY VIKING/OLD NORSE NAMES FOR HIM, PLEASE, TELL ME, AND HIS LAST NAME IS BJORNSTEIN.





September 23, 2014 9:51 PM

What is the setting (time and place of this story)?  If your character is a Viking, then Portugal as a country does not come into existence until after the end of the Viking Age.  A viking and a Portuguese person cannot co-exist.  During the Viking Age what is now Portugal was first ruled by the Moors, and then as the Reconquista proceeded it became part of the Spanish kingdom of Leon, and later Galicia.

In any case, Vikings did not have last names, only true patronyms., so Bjornstein as a last name would be completely inappropriate for a Viking.


Here are some sources for forming Viking Age names:

September 24, 2014 9:22 AM

hi, thanks or the info about old norse last names, i didn't know, so maybe just bjornson or something like that. In fact, there is some timetravel in the story. The girl is teleported by Thor to the Viking period, year 814, or I might just change it in order to involve that with some kind of happening in Denmark/Norwegian history. By the way, she lives in the year 2014, just like you and me.

September 24, 2014 10:07 AM

The correct form would be Bjarnarson, not Bjornson.

By EVie
September 23, 2014 9:55 PM

What names did you previously have picked out? Portuguese girls' names and Old Norse boys' names are both pretty big categories--maybe we can help you find ones that are similar to what you were thinking, if you give us a bit more guidance.

Also, what time period is this set in? When you say Viking, do you literally mean Viking, as in 8th to 11th century? (I'm guessing not, since you talk about a modern Portuguese poet and your female character having an elastic on her wrist). Because that will give you a very different set of options than if you just want a modern name of Scandinavian origin like Eric or Olaf. Actual Viking names take forms like Arngrímr and Ragnvaldr. Likewise, if you're looking for a Portuguese name from between the 8th and 11th centuries, that's going to be a bit complicated, as Portugal didn't exist back then (the whole Iberian peninsula was under Muslim rule in this period, and before that was Visigothic). If you are using a modern setting, then don't use the word Viking, as it's not accurate--just say Scandinavian, or better yet, Norwegian/Swedish/Danish/Finnish/Icelandic/Faroese, whatever you intend.

This is a good resource for info on Viking names:

If you just want to browse modern Portuguese names, try here:

ETA: Hah, Miriam, you beat me to it.

September 24, 2014 9:34 AM

First, I thought of Diana, because I really like that name, but everyone told me that, that name did NOT fit the girl AT ALL. And then, I thought of Maria or Ema, but these names don't mean anything to me...

The Viking boy lives in the year 814, but the girl lives in 2014, so the story envolves time travel. 

September 23, 2014 10:13 PM

(Drat, Miriam got here first... <grin>)

As Miriam said, "Bjornstein" is completely wrong for a Viking, and the only way an Old Norse boy can interact with a Portuguese girl is if the story involves time travel. (Given the description of the girl involving an elastic around her wrist, I'm pretty sure there must be time travel in your story, because the Vikings did not have elastic.)

Here are some articles on Iberian names before circa 1600:
Scroll down to the second subsection, "Portuguese and Galician Names".

Behind the Name has a short description of modern Portuguese naming:
This website is generally fairly reliable for the origins/derivations of given names commonly used in English. Their coverage can be spotty for other languages, but with 562 names, Portuguese appears to be better-represented than most.

September 24, 2014 9:28 AM

Yes, timetravel happens in the story, because Thor teleports her. And do think "Bjornson" would be a better "last" name?

September 24, 2014 10:08 AM

No, it wouldn't.  The correct form is Bjarnarson.

September 24, 2014 10:35 PM

As a native Portuguese speaker and direct descendant of a Portuguese family (mama's from Lisbon), before anything, like Miriam advised decide the period your story is in and then figure out the names.

If you've really decided on Portuguese names here are some options for female characters. Please keep in mind that many spellings are different from Spanish or Italian spellings. It truly irritates me for example when a supposedly Portuguse character is named Inez when the standard spelling in Portuguese is Inês... although I must admit there are some variations.

Here are my suggestions:

1. Maria - without a shadow of doubt the most popular name in Brazil and Portugal since the advent of Catholicism.

2. Ana - Second most popular name

3. Inês

4. Eva

5. Vera

6. Luiza

7. Tereza

8. Francisca -Extremely old fashioned and more like a great-grandmother name. Francisco has been trending for boys, but for girls not even close.

9. Clara

10. Lúcia (pronounced Loo-Sya)

11. Beatriz (love this name! Beautiful meaning and also my sister's name)

12. Helena (Pronounced: Eh-Leh-na)

13. Laura (Lou as in ouch and ra)

14. Isabel

15. Catarina

16. Eva

17. Ângela

18. Suzana

19. Antonia

20. Margarida

Also, keep in mind that in Brazil and in Portugal double names are very common. People are named combinations like Maria Clara, Ana Luiza, Maria de Fatima, Maria de Lourdes, Maria Helena, Ana Clara, Ana Rita...They're not middle names, both are first names!

Also, I don't know if you looked into it or not, but in Portugal, children are given a first name (Eg: Tereza or Maria Antonia), the mother's surname (Eg: Silva or Cabral or Santos or Abreu...), sometimes a preposition (de, dos, da, e) and the father's surname. The result, something like Tereza Abreu dos Santos or Maria Antonia da Silva Cabral...

September 24, 2014 10:45 PM

I forgot to add a few other female names that are classics:

Elisa, Fernanda, Joana, Amélia, Amália, Rosa, Madalena (Usually Maria Madalena), Luzia (Loo-Zee-uh) and my own name, Alice (Ah-Lee-See).

September 25, 2014 9:49 AM

Yeah, thanks for the names, but I'm portuguese, I live in Portugal, I study in a portuguese school and my mum's portuguese.... I'm just really having a hard time finding a suitable name for my characters.

September 29, 2014 4:06 PM

I don't know anything about Portuguese names, but it sounds like what you want is a fairly modern name with that elusive "spunky" quality. In American English, these names tend to be on the short side (one or two syllables), and end in either a consonant or an -ee sound, but usually not -a or -ia (those are more likely to get labelled frilly). Sometimes they're unisex, or word-names, or just-barely-out-of-old-lady territory. Tastes vary dramatically on exactly which names fit this category--one person's spunky is another person's cutesy or musty--but names I have heard put into this category, in no particular order, include Zoe, Lucy, Juno, Robin, Kit or Kat, Georgie, Ivy, Ruby, Piper or Pippi or Pippa (one of the rare "spunky" names that end in -a...I think it's all the ps that do it), and the list goes on. Are there Portuguese names that fit some of these criteria, and do they call to mind a not-too-girly girl with a lot of fizz? If so, I think that's your sweet spot for the character you describe.

Your readers who say Diana doesn't "fit" are probably thinking that the name is too elegant (read: older and more feminine) than the character. But you could still use the name, if you think it's what her parents would have named her--not all of us have a name that really reflects our inner selves, and book characters don't necessarily need to, either. A character I love is Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching, who fits a lot of the characteristics you give your character (she has First Sight and Second Thoughts, which basically means that she sees the world the way it really is, and thinks about why she thinks about things the way she does); 'Tiffany' at first seems like waaay too frilly and fancy a name for her, and that becomes kind of a part of her character arc--not that she becomes frillier or fancier, but that she finds a new way to think about the name that fits with who she is.

For your male character, I'd just look at the sources other folks have given you for generating a Viking name and look for one you like the sound of, that's clearly Viking-ish. If it's fairly unfamiliar but easy to pronounce and remember, readers will asociate it with your character and whatever characteristics he has will afterward be associated with the name.

BTW, I think you maybe mean your main character is "kind of cunning"--"cunny" is a not-polite word for female genitalia.

Good luck--sounds like a rolicking adventure!

September 30, 2014 5:00 PM

That's exactly what I want! Thanks! But, since you don't know anything about portuguese names, could ou tell me some english one, so that maybe I could sort of translate them to portuguese? BTW, I thought that the girl's friends could call her Di (spelled Dee - Diana is spelled Dee-Ana, with an "open" A) or Di-di or something like that. What do you think about it? 

I was thinking naming the viking boy Arn, Leif, Eirik(I'll maybe pass this one because my dad's name is Eric, so...), or so. If you could give me any other sugestion, or if there's more description needed, just ask. (and thanks for the tip in "kind of cunning"! I didn't know that!)

September 30, 2014 5:44 PM

At that period it would be Arni, not Arn.  Norse (Viking) names are declined (as they still are in Iceland), so the nominative forms would be Leifr and Eirikr (the -r is the case ending, not part of the root).  For your purposes you could ignore the case endings.  Other possibilities: Bjorn, Brand, Egil, Einar, Erlend, Erling, Finn, Geir, Gunnar, Hakon, Harald, Havard, Helgi, Hrafn, Hrolf, Ivar, Kaare, Ketil, Knut, Odd, Orm, Sigurd, Snorri, Stein, Stig, Stigand, Svein, Triggvi, Ulf, Yngvar.

I picked out some of the shorter, easier, and in some cases, more familiar, names.  If it fits with the plot of your story, you can prefix Thor- to some of these names: Thorbjorn, Thorstein, Thorketil, Thorleif.

October 1, 2014 12:04 AM

I like the nickname Di/Dee--I think this is a pretty spunky sounding name (short, with that -ee ending sound--probably would be -i ending in Portuguese?). Di-Di I think is too...girly, or French, or something. How old is your character? If she would have been born in late 1997 or shortly after maybe she could have been named for Princess Diana, who died in August 1997--it was big news all over the world, and I could imagine someone naming their daughter for her around that time. The names I already mentioned, plus a few more:

  • Zoe (pronounced Zo-ee; I'm not sure what the Portuguese phonetics would be, maybe Zo-i)
  • Lucy
  • Juno
  • Piper or Pippi or Pippa
  • Georgie
  • Robin
  • Kit or Kat
  • Ivy
  • Ruby
  • Daphne
  • Macey or Maisie
  • Poppy
  • Zola

Zs and Ps seem to be pretty spunky consonants.

Of the names Miriam suggested for your hero, Gunnar, Sigurd, Stig, and Ulf all seem like very Viking-looking names that are especially easy to pronounce for someone who knows zilch about Norse spellings/pronunciations (me). But if you're writing for a Portuguese audience, maybe some of the others would make more sense to folks who speak Portuguese.

October 1, 2014 1:00 PM

The is VERY apreciated, very, very much! BTW, do you know any kind of app or program that let's you design your characters with details or something for free? Just to decide realy realy which of the many names you've given me should I name the boy? It's just that I not familiar with anything from Norway or Denmark, specially names... Thanks!

October 1, 2014 2:10 PM

If you are just writing this story for yourself, then just do whatever pleases you.  If, however, you are writing this with the eye toward publication and a wider audience besides yourself and family and friends, you really need to do significant researc.  If your current day character is going to time-travel back to Viking-age Scandinavia and you are not at all familiar with Viking-age Scandinavia, your story will not be in the least convincing.  Good historical fiction is built on a foundation of extensive research.  Successful writers of historical fiction authenticate every single detail in their story or novel.  Otherwise there is no point in using a historical setting.

October 1, 2014 3:23 PM

No, what I meant was that I'm not familiar with today's Norway and Denmark, but I'm doing research on the viking age

October 1, 2014 3:57 PM

Why would present-day Norway and Denmark be relevant to a story set in the Viking Age?

October 1, 2014 4:30 PM

I was just talking about names, plus, my character will visit Denmark, but not many, many places, just what's important for the plot