I am expecting a baby with a Swedish man, and we have spent days, no, scratch that. We have spent weeks discussing what we are going to call our child when it arrives next year.
As it would happen, I like Swedish names like Leif and Freya, and he likes English names like Harry and Jack. Everything I suggest he laughs at and says 'Fy fan, NEJ!' And everything he suggests, I grunt at, and say 'not a chance that's gonna happen!'
Our list of baby names is currently about five miles long, though we'll be able to shorten it within a week, as we're due to find out the gender of our little one.
Many of my favourite names incidentally come from Sweden, though I was more than surprised about a few listed here, especially the name Axel. In my head that is a name which has always been connected to the American West.
The Swedish government has taken a stand with outlandish names, and they actually have the authority to step in if they feel that you have not taken your child's best interests to heart when choosing their name. As a result, you're not going to find anything wacky here!
When I think of the name Anja, I can't help but grin, as the name belongs to a good friend of mine - a brilliantly talented, beautiful young woman. Pronounced AHN-yah, it rolls off the tongue just perfectly. Speak it aloud and hear for yourself.
The name itself means 'gracious' or 'favoured.' It was first used in Sweden back in 1856 and it was between 1930 and 1939 that it had its strongest usage in the country.
Anja is a name which ranks high in Austria, Poland and Croatia too. It's also a popular choice in the Netherlands. Back in 2014 there was a total of 7,868 bearers of the name in the whole country. While she might not be Swedish, one favourite famous bearers of this name is Austrian musician Anja Plaschg AKA Soap&Skin.
I have had a long term love for the name Casper, ever since watching Casper The Friendly Ghost on rental for my 10th birthday. The Scandinavian form of Jasper, Casper is currently the 50th most popular name for boys in Sweden. It's popular in Norway too, ranking at 73. In Denmark it's also a common choice, though the Danes tend to opt for the spelling Kasper.
Despite having heard the name on a regular basis for over 20 years, it wasn't until I started writing this article that I found out the meaning behind it, and that meaning is 'Master of the treasure.'
One celebrity who opted to use the name for their offspring was super model Claudia Schiffer. One nickname your little one could go by, and which is cheek-squeezingly adorable is Cass. In 2015 the name Caser was given to 86 boys in the US.
If I can stop thinking about the Duchess of Cornwall for just a minute, I can actually start to like the name Camilla. I think I agree with the dozens of people who say that it's a name which grows on you.
We all want our children's names to have positive meanings behind them, and you can't really go wrong there with Camilla, as it's a name that's linked to life and fun and kindness.
While Camilla is a name that you will hear being used often in Scandinavia - it's actually considered overused in Denmark and Norway! - it wasn't until 1817 that it was actually first used in Sweden.
Some cute nickname that I have encountered for Camilla include Cammie, Camille, Cammy, Mila, Camilka and Mily. (My favourite would have to be Mila!)
Niklas is the Swedish form of Nicholas, and while I don't know what you are thinking, I have to say that I much prefer this shorter form and the fact that it isn't as overused as Nicholas is. The meaning is also pretty epic - 'victory of the people.' One of the common nicknames in Sweden is Nicke, which is just freaking adorable.
I was extremely surprised to find that this name was actually only first used in Sweden in 1953. Curiously, it was actually rejected as a given name in Iceland in 2004. Beats me as to why they didn't think it was suitable! Niklas was most popular in Sweden between the years 1970 and 1989. Apparently people with the name Niklas tend to be creative and excellent at expressing themselves.
My is one of the choices on my baby names list. It is the Swedish diminutive of Maria and has several equally as gorgeous variants including Maja Majken and Mia. (Mia is another one I am considering...I know it is used by every second set of parents, but still...)
A little confusingly, it is not actually pronounced like the English word 'My' but rather 'Mu.' Though if we were to use it, I'd go with the English 'My.' You might remember Little My from The Moomins, the tough and angry little girl.
In the English version of the cartoon, her name was pronounced the English way. Tove Jansson, the author of The Moomins actually took the name from mathematics. My is also a Vietnamese name meaning 'elegant,' and in Czech and Solvak it means 'we.'
I have never thought much about the name Helen, but Elin, the Scandinavian form of the name, totally has my heart, and the meaning 'light' is just perfection. While I think Helen is a bit dull, Elin is fresh, inspirational and timeless. I suppose that the majority of us will be familiar with the name because of Tiger Wood's ex-wife Elin Nordegren.
In Sweden, it's pronounced EH-lin, but I have also read that it can be pronounced ay-lin instead. There is something rare and beautiful about the name Elin, and its specialness seems to have caught on in the US because in 2016 266 little girls were given it. It's said that people who are named Elin value truth, justice and discipline and are a strong force to people whose lives they touch.
Alexander is massively popular in Sweden. You hear it used here all the time. In 2015 it ranked as the 11th most common name for little boys. Currently in the US it stands as the 13th most popular name, 4 numbers up from 2016.
Considering just how masculine this name appears and sounds, I wasn't all that surprised to learn that countless kings and emperors have held the name. Also take into account the meaning - 'protector of men.'
Considered to be a 'fashionable classic', Alexander is one of those names that will never go out of date, and the potential for nicknames is brilliant! Alex, Lex, Alec and Xander - take your pick. George and Amal Clooney choose the name Alexander for their son born in 2017. (And Ella for their little girl.)
Karin is the Swedish short form of the name Katherine, and is pronounced CAR-inn. It's often accidentally pronounced Karen which, as I've found, has riled many a women! I wince at the name Karen, there just isn't anything to it. But Karin is so pretty and different. It really is amazing what changing one letter can do...
When you look at the name Karin, there is nothing over the top with it. It's actually really quite minimalist, which suit it's meaning ' pure' perfectly.
Karin is very common in the Netherlands (though more among the older generation) and in Switzerland too. Some of the cute nicknames include Kari and Bine. One of my favourite holders of the name Karin would have to be the incredibly talented Swedish musician Karin Dreijer Andersson of The Knife and Fever Ray.
Never, never, never in a million years would I have associated the name Cai with Sweden! A variant of the name Kai, other variants include Caj, Kaj and Kay. While I might not be head over heels in love with the name, there are plenty of people who are. One person said that 'it sounds like it belongs to someone who is strong, proud, and has a great sense of humor!'
The Norse meaning behind the name Cai, include 'chicken' and 'hen,' which, while admittedly might not be the greatest meanings in the world, the name itself is exotic sounding and extremely memorable. It's also easy to spell and pronounce
If you love the name but are feeling a bit morose about the meaning, in China the meaning of the name Cai is 'wealthy'! Other meanings I've found include 'colour' and 'colourful.'
I have only ever met one Filippa - Pronounced fee-LIP-ah in Swedish - before and I will forever associate her with Gretchen Grundler from the brilliant kids TV show Recess. (Tell me you used to watch it on a weekend too!?)
Filippa is the Swedish feminine form of Philip and is ranked as the 89th most popular name for girls in Sweden. It is an even more common choice in Denmark where it is ranked at 43. (I did not see that one coming.) You will sometimes hear the nickname Flippa being used. The meaning of the name Filippa is 'lover of horses,' or 'horses friend.'
One Filippa you may be familiar with is the Swedish/French model Filippa Palmstierna Hamilton who was discovered on the streets of Paris by French photographer Marc Hispard when she was 15.
Fredrik - pronounced FREH-drick - is the Swedish (and Norwegian) form of the name Frederick. The name Fredrik was first used in Sweden in the 14th Century, and has been used by royalty on multiple occasions. It is a name that you will hear being used very often in Sweden, and is currently ranked as the 19th most popular name for boys.
While it may be centuries old, I think that the spelling of Fredrik makes it timeless, and I believe that it will fit an everyday little boy born in 2017 very nicely. Fredde, Fred and Freddy are common nicknames.
It is also commonly heard being shouted across playgrounds in Norway and Denmark too, where it's currently the 53rd most popular name for boys. Fredrik originates from the word 'fred' which means 'peace,' and the word 'rik' which means 'rich.'
Anyone else remember being a massive fan of the Red Sonja movie when you were a kid? Yeah? Epic wasn't it. Not quite sure how it would look nowadays though...
Anyway, it was way back in the early 90's when I first encountered the name and it's kind of stuck to me. I'm not sure how I feel about it, but it will forever bring up powerful memories of one kickass warrior woman. I've heard Sonja being used a lot in the (almost) two years I've lived in Sweden, but it wasn't until this article that I realised that it originated here.
A variant of Sonja, it's pronounced Sawn-yah, though it can also be pronounced SOH-nyah which is apparently more common. It means 'wisdom,' and is also quite a popular choice in Iceland.
The first time I heard the name Bo being used (other than in my childhood nursery rhymes) was when Swedish TV presenter Ulrika Johnson called her daughter Bo. When I talked to my Swedish boyfriend about it, he insisted that in Sweden it is considered to be a masculine name. I am imagining that Ulrika may have been inspired by the American actress Bo Derek.
The origins of the name Bo lie in Old Norse and it means 'to live,' or 'who lives in one place.' It has been used since the 1800's as a forename.
As well as being used in Sweden, you will find that it is an ordinary name in the Netherland's too, though it is not all that common. In Sweden, a common nickname for someone called Bo is Bosse.
I have never been a fan of the name Stephen, but Stefan, Stefan I can work with. It is edgy and cool and modern sounding/looking. (Even though I am really sure that I have heard it being used countless times in fairy tales.)
Stephen on the other hand is just, well, drab. I don't feel anything special when I think of the name Stephen, but Stefan, it would seem, has limitless potential. It's meaning is 'crown' or 'garland,' which, okay, isn't all that fascinating, but I still think this name is a winner.
In 2016 the name Stefan was given to 263 boys. Though it hasn't been in the top 1000 in Sweden since 1999. A nickname that you will hear being used is Steffe (which I actually really kinda like!) Interestingly, it was the name of Princess Aurora's father in Disney's Sleeping Beauty.
It would not have occurred to me that the name Christina would be a name used in Sweden, but how terribly wrong I have been! It was actually held by a Queen of Sweden in the 17th Century. It does have a real air of sophistication about it. But it's also very strong and feminine at the same time. I've read some people saying that it sounds 'too bland,' and that it is 'really overused,' but I have to disagree.
The name itself means 'beautiful,' which doesn't surprise me, as pretty much all of the Christina's I have met in my lifetime have been stunning...though they haven't always had the personalities to match. Though it is also said to mean 'Christian.' A couple of nickname options include Christy, Chris, Tine and Chrissy.
I have always really loved the name Emelie, but, like the name Christina, I had no idea that it came from Sweden! Pronounced EM-e-lee, Emelie is the feminine form of Aemilius, and is an alternative spelling to Emily, a name which I used to like as a youngster, but have grown tired of. Emelie is something a bit different, a bit mysterious, while at the same time feminine and ever so sweet. I can imagine a little girl born in the spring time being called Emelie.
In Sweden, it is ranked as the 67th most popular name, while in the US it isn't ranked in the top 1000 and hasn't featured there since 1890! When I envisage someone called Emelie, I think of someone who is a dreamer, who loves to create art and be outdoors.
Axel is yet another name that I would not have associated with Sweden (the dad of a friend from my childhood was called Axel, and he was as American as you could get. That was my first association with the name, so I suppose that's stuck with me for the past 17 years.) but it is actually the 9th most popular choice for boys.
'Axel' actually means shoulder in Swedish, so the name could possibly symbolize strength. It is also a popular choice in Denmark. In Germany, Axel is often used as a nickname for Alexander in Germany. Several times I came across people on forums complaining that it's the part of a car. Though don't let that put you off. I think it's one of the strongest names we have on this list, and I don't think you're going to find one more masculine!
The name Cecelia never really moved me when I was a child, nor when I was a teen (except for the brilliant song 'Cecelia' by Simon and Art Garfunkel.) It didn't even move me when I was in my 20's. But now, in my 30's, I am finally coming to appreciate this truly beautiful name. Despite the fact it's meaning of 'blind' is slightly morose.
Though I have encountered plenty of people called Cecelia in Sweden, it hasn't actually made it into the top 1000 since 2002. I love the Norwegian variant of Sissela, I might even actually prefer it! Yes, I know it sounds like something that would crop up in Game Of Thrones, but that's partly what makes it so special. Some typical nicknames in Sweden include Cissi and Cilla.
I have never particularly liked the name Emma. There. I said it. But I can't escape the fact that they love it to bits in Sweden. They love it so much that it is actually the 30th most popular name for girls. It's even more popular in the US where, in 2016 it was ranked at 1st place!
Though I might think the name is a bit worn out - I have heard it my entire life - the meanings surrounding it are ideal and include 'whole' and 'universal.' One inspirational Emma is, of course, Emma Watson who played Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies. She's also a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, and helped to launch the UN Women campaign heforshe which calls for men to advocate gender equality.
Erik is one hell of a strong name. It is right up there with Axel when it comes to masculinity, and it has been the name of several kings of Sweden, including King Erik IX (12th century) who is the patron saint of the Nordic country. (He is memorialised on the 18th of May, in case you were wondering.)
I think it has something to do with the K being used instead of a C. It appears stronger, and also maintains a stronger Scandinavian association. In 2016 it was ranked as the 37th most popular name in Sweden. And the same year in the US, it came in at 356.
Erik is one of those names that would work just as well on a baby as it would a grown man.
Love the name Helena. There is something so romantic and wistful and graceful about it. I smell spring flowers when I think of this name, and a woman at peace with the world. It is an extremely popular choice here in Sweden, and all of the Helenas I have had the pleasure of meeting have had the kindest souls and the very best of intentions. I wasn't surprised to find out that it means 'bright, shining light.'
Pronounced he-LE-nah in Swedish, it is, as you have probably guessed, a form of Helen. I do really like the Dutch pronunciation too of hay-LAY-nah. While you hear it used all the time in Scandinavia, in America it only ranks in at 518. One of my favourite Helena's would have to be the brilliant actress Helena Bonham Carter.
I much, much, much prefer the name Jon to John. You will, no doubt, automatically associate the Scandinavian form of the name with Jon Snow from Game Of Thrones, I know I did. But honestly though, how much cooler is it?! There's also Jon Bon Jovi...I am guessing he thought that Jon was cooler too, because his birth name is actually John!
In Sweden, they don't pronounce it how you know John to be pronounced though. Oh no. The J is pronounced like a Y and it comes out sounding like YOON. It isn't actually bad. Try it yourself. Jon does have religious connections, and means 'God is gracious.' It had a peak in the US back in 1969 but it's popularity has declined steadily since then - heck knows why!
Genuinely one of my favourite names ever. It is near the top of our name list, should we have a baby girl. I was first introduced to the name through Roald Dahl and his excellent novel Matilda. Then through the song Waltzing Matilda. I was a little bit surprised to learn about what it means though - 'strength in battle.' Who would have thought!?
It is a massively popular choice in Sweden, and ranks at number 59. They also really, really like it in Australia where it sits as the 21st most popular name, might have something to do with the fact that Waltzing Matilda is the 'unofficial national anthem.' Heath Ledger (who was Australian) and Michelle Williams daughter is called Matilda. Three irresistible nicknames include Mattie, Tilly and Tilda.
Many moons ago I used to babysit for a little boy called Jonas. It took me forever to get the pronunciation of his name right. I always wanted to pronounce it using J, when as a matter of fact, it's pronounced YOO-nas. I still struggle sometimes today.
While it's not a name that I have pondered on much before moving to Sweden, it is actually quite the strong and handsome choice, and it ages wonderfully. You can just as well imagine a baby boy with this name, as you can a man about the enter retirement.
One famous Jonas from Sweden that I know of is Jonas Åkerlund. Briefly a member of black metal band Bathory back in the 80's, he re-created himself as a music video director. He's responsible for dozens of award winning videos including Madonna's Ray Of Light video, as well as Lady GaGa's Paparazzi.
Klara, a form of Clara is one of the most popular feminine names we've had here on the list! In Sweden in 2015 it was ranked as the 15th most popular choice for girls. And I can't say that it came as that much of a shock. I mean, it's gorgeous! They like it in Iceland too. As well as sounding and looking beautiful, it has an equally attractive meaning too - 'clear' and 'bright.'
Pronounced KLAR-rah in Sweden, some nicknames including the rather unique Klarka and Kaja. Back in 2012 it was only given to 68 baby girls born in the US, making is an especially distinctive choice.
People called Klara are always hungry to learn and are known to make excellent academics or scientists. They also have a very strong sense of independence and they have a tendency to do things their own way.
Sources: BehindTheName.com, NameBerry.com, BabyNameWizard.com