Choosing the right name for one's baby is the second most valuable gift mom can give following life. So it's important to start thinking early on, especially if she's going for a name that's one of a kind. Perhaps she likes a name because of what it represents, or maybe because it's beautiful. In ancient times, the Norse people put meaning at the forefront of their decision of what to call a baby.
Don't leave your partner in the dark. Discuss your ideas with them and let them have their input. Test potential names. See how they feel when you speak them out loud. Practice writing them down. Imagine what it would be like to use the name in public and private situations. Doing these things will help you make the right choice. Though be prepared that when baby comes, you might find that they look much more like a 'Jens' than a 'Yngve.'
Swedes have a special way with names. It's a rare occasion I encounter a Swedish name that I don't actually like. While it might have something to do with the fact that I'm a confessed Scandiholic, it has also come to my attention that, in fact, the world (okay, the internet) loves the majority of Swedish names too, so I'm not the odd one out!
In this post, we'll introduce you to 15 eclectic, irresistible Swedish names for boys that'll leave you wanting to do the customary Scandi thing and give your little boy several titles.
I have never been a fan of the name John. It's always seemed lackluster and common, but the Scandinavian variation of the name is anything but! While some might say that it reminds them of the Japanese currency Yens because it's pronounced the same way, I simply cannot hear this name enough. It's so easy on the ear.
In Denmark, Jens is a slang term for solider, which is a pretty good deal where slang is concerned I think. It could be a hell of a lot worse! Jens, pronounced JENS is a short but substantial name that works wherever you are in the world.
It's also a well-known name in the Power Metal scene. There's Jens Ludwig, the lead guitarist of German power metal band Edguy and Jens Johansson, the keyboardist of Finnish power metal band Stratovarius. So if you're into your metal, Jens could be a worthy choice.
The name Sigvard is as Nordic a name as you're going to find. Uber popular in Sweden, it's also regularly used in Norway and Denmark. And I'm not surprised. It's strong, powerful and extremely memorable. I wouldn't hesitate to give it to my little boy.
From the Old Norse words for victory, guard and defender, Sigvard's peak of popularity in Sweden was between 1910 and 1929 in Sweden, and 1900 and 1919 in Denmark. If you're clued up with your Viking history, you'll recognise Sigvard as the brutal, ill-tempered ex husband of the Norwegian shield maiden Lagertha. He also ruled over one of the more important commercial centers in all of Scandinavia.
While Sigvard was a drunk brute, don't let that overshadow the sheer awesomeness of this name. It didn't come as a surprise to discover boys called Sigvard tend to be skilled, sensible, and often obtain great power.
I have lived in Sweden for a little over a year now, and Joakim is one name I have encountered over and over again. While it's not given to so many youngsters nowadays, it was a hugely popular choice for boys between the years 1985 and 1988. (All of the Joakims I know were born during this time period.)
Pronounced YO-ah-kim, I love the original sound of this name and how it's a bit exotic but not so that it'll leave people scratching their heads in wonder. The Finish pronunciation YO-ah-keem is also lovable, and I'm in two minds about which pronunciation I prefer. I'm also massively fond of the meaning behind it - to rise or to establish.
Funnily enough, Joakim von And is Scrooge McDuck's Danish name. Another famous Joakim is Joakim Brodén, the singer from Sabaton, a Swedish power metal band who sing mostly about historical battles.
I have a real soft spot for the name Tore, though I've yet to meet one here in Sweden. And I like the name even better now that I know the correct pronunciation of TOO-reh. I'm besotted with the Norwegian and Danish variations of the name - Thore.
The name Tore originates from the Old Norse name Thórir, which is composed of thorr which translates to thunder, and arr which translates to warrior. So, break it all down and Tore means Thunder Warrior or Thor's Warrior. You would be getting your little boy off to the powerful start in life if Thor has his back!
As it stands, the name is also massively popular in Norway where about 18,000 people hold the name. If you think about the size of the population in Norway - around 5 million - it's something of a common choice for little boys.
For someone obsessed with wolves, I was surprised it took me a little while to fall in love with this name. At first I thought it was like a sound an irritated Neanderthal would use. But slowly, slowly I found myself being enchanted and simultaneously intrigued by it.
From the Old Norse byname Úlfr which means 'wolf,' Ulf is, as you will have probably guessed, pronounced just like wolf but without the W. A common name here in Scandinavia, Ulf is probably one of the most masculine Norse names that you're going to find.
The oldest recorded usage of the name Ulf in Sweden was from a rune-stone dating back to the 11th Century, making it all the more appealing. Ulf Lundell is a 'household' name in Sweden. He's a rockstar who has also written several novels. Then there's Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, better known as internet sensation PewDiePie.
I would be surprised to read of anyone disliking the name Viggo. I don't know about you, but when I envisage a little boy with the name Viggo, I see a studious, kind, thoughtful and inquisitive kid with a huge heart.
Of course, the Viggo we are all most familiar with is the Danish actor Viggo Mortensen who starred as Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Pronounced VIG-go (though I've also heard it pronounced Vee-goh), Viggo is a name dating back to the Viking age, and the short form of the name Vig(en) or Vik(en) is in reference to the English word for the inlet or the bay.
Viggo is a spunky name that works equally well on the eye and the ear. It's also strong but not overly masculine. It's an excellent choice if you want a memorable name with a strong sound and Viking roots.
My first encounter of the name Yngve came when I started dating my boyfriend, and he introduced me to the music of Swedish metal legend Yngwie Malmsteen AKA one of the 10 best guitar players in the world. Yngwie is an Americanised spelling of Yngve.
Yngve is one of those names that I find myself needing to think about before I write. And it's rare that I spell it right on the first shot. Yngvi was the Old Norse name of the Germanic god Ingu, who was later identified with Freyr, the god of fertility and one of the most important figures in Norse mythology.
The name Yngve is, nowadays, more popular with Swedish men over 50, and when you see it in use it's more often than not used as a middle name. Because of its Viking origins, it was an enormously popular choice during the national romantic era.
I have a friend on Facebook who has a little boy called Rune, and whenever she posts something about him on her timeline, I find myself pondering the name. To begin with I thought it was a bit of a cheesy choice, but as time goes on, I'm becoming more and more fond of it.
Pronounced ROO-ne or ROON (I'm still in two minds about which pronunciation I prefer), Rune originates from Old Norse rún which means secret lore. It's considered quite a common name in Norway. One baby name enthusiast online described it as having a 'dreamy quality' to it, which I have to agree with.
Interestingly, the inventor of the ABBA mirrored "B" logo was called Rune Söderqvist. He was also the designer of every ABBA album sleeve between 1976 and1986, as well as the stage set on the group’s tours of 1979 and 1980.
I first fell in love with the name Ivar when I heard it being used in the TV series Vikings. Ivar the Boneless - one of the greatest leaders of Vikings and the commander of the Great Heathen Army - was the eldest son of Ragnar Lothbrok and Asluag.
The meaning of Ivar is archer, yew warrior of bow warrior. It originates from the Old Norse elements yŕ which means yew or bow, and herr which means warrior or army. At the moment, it's the 57th most popular name for baby boys in Norway. Ivar is, quite hilariously considering its bad ass origins, a storage furniture system from Ikea.
I'm smitten with how the name Ivar sounds to my ear. It's a name that truly stands apart from the crowd. I can envisage it being used by a little boy who likes to walk his own road.
The name Per first crossed my path when I became friends with Swedish artist Pär Strömberg (Pär is a variant of Per) three or so years ago. Per is the Scandinavian version of Peter. Peter is another one of those names that's just a bit too plain, a bit too simple. It doesn't have enough jazz to it. Per is a snappier, more modern name that's still masculine.
Variants of the name include Peer from Norway and Denmark. In Sweden it's common to combine Per with other first names, for example Per-Erik or Per-Arne. It was an hugely popular choice in Norway in the mid-1900s.
People called Per have a tendency to be creative and brilliant at expressing themselves. They're drawn to the arts, relishing a career that puts them in the limelight. They also tend to become involved in many different activities, and can be reckless with their energy.
The name Richard has never really done anything for me, and the most interesting Richard I can think of is Richard The Lionheart. But its Swedish variant Rikard is a name that makes me sit up and pay attention. It's modern, it's slightly quirky, it's extremely cool...much cooler, I think, than Richard, a name which has been outdated for quite some time now.
Pronounced REE-kahrd, the earliest documented usage of the name in Sweden was back in the 1160's. It's strongest period of usage was between 1970 and 1989. Once again, the Rikards I know were born within this time frame.
Rikard means 'powerful leader,' and it really sounds as such. When you say it out loud it has a definite authority about it, and written down it's equally as strong. It's a name that's commonly used in Germany, Norway, Denmark and Croatia too.
I am still on the fence with this name, but it's a fascinating one so it needs to be mentioned. It's positioned as the 39th most popular name for boys in Sweden. It's ranked quite highly in Norway too, where it sits as the 68th most popular name. The name's meaning is something a bit special and means honored guest of God - Gus is the old name for god in Swedish, and tav is an old word for guest in Swedish.
The name Gustaf pronounced GOO-stahf (or GUS-tahv), has been borne by six kings of Sweden, including the 16th-century Gustav I Vasa. Another famed Gustav who you might have seen if you watch Vikings (he's Floki), is Gustaf Skarsgård, brother of Swedish beefcake Alexander Skarsgård. Gustaf is a variant of the spelling. Gustav is also the name of Garfield (the cartoon cat) in Sweden. And you will hear Gurra sometimes used as a nickname.
My sister dated a Kasper. That's how I first encountered this name (if I don't count Casper The Friendly Ghost). Whether it was his actual name or not, I don't know. I have a feeling he just called himself it because he thought it was cool. Kasper saw a peak in popularity in the 90's and I have to say that I think it does have that 90's vibe about it.
Pronounced KAHS-per and meaning treasurer, Kasper is a Scandinavian form of the name Jasper (a name I'm not really fond of...). I heard someone say that it 'sounds like breath being blown. Like a whisper.' I couldn't have thought of a more beautiful description.
One Kasper you may be familiar with is Kasper Schmeichel, the son of legendary Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel. He played in the English Premier League with Manchester City.
I could talk about this name until the sun falls from the sky, even though I can't quite put my finger on why I love it so much. It's soft yet masculine at the same time.
It's widely debated across the internet how Leif is correctly pronounced. To set the record straight (hopefully) it's pronounced LAYF, yep, rhyming with 'safe.' It is not pronounced Leaf. Well, you won't find people in Scandinavia pronouncing it like that anyway.
It originates from the Old Norse name Leifr which means 'descendant' or 'heir.' Though I've also read about it meaning beloved. The world's most famous Leif was Leif Eriksson, a Norse explorer who reached North America in the early 11th century. Not only did he reach American he was also the son of Erik the Red. The name Leif was given to 186 boys born in the US in 2015.
The name Nils first came into my life when I was eight years old, and pulled the book The Wonderful Adventures of Nills off my best friend's bookshelf. Written by Swedish author Selma Lageröf, the book was published in two parts 1906 and 1907 and is considered a masterpiece of children's literature. It tells the tale of Nils Holgersson, a mischievous teenager who is shrunk by an elf and given the power to be able to understand the speech of birds and animals.
Nils is the Scandinavian form of Nicholas, and it's an extremely popular choice for parents in Sweden (probably because of the book). It sits as the 17th most popular name for boys. It's also a familiar choice in Switzerland.
Pronounced NILL's - not like Niles in Fraiser - a nickname you'll frequently hear is Nisse. A nisse is a small gnome that helps Santa with his duties.
As a seven year old kid, I had a crazy obsession with the 1958 film The Vikings directed by Richard Fleischer. My all-time favourite part of the movie was when legendary Viking leader Ragnar (yes, Lothbrok) played by Ernest Borgnine, is captured by King Ælla and thrown into a pit of hungry wolves. I was a strange child. Since then, I've always carried the name Raganr around with me.
Pronounced RAHNG-nahr -or Ray-ner - the name Ragnar has become a household name across the world due to the phenomenal success of the TV show Vikings, where Travis Fimmel portrays the Norse hero. The meaning of the name is 'strong counselor.'
I have been in touch with a few Ragnars in my lifetime, including Icelandic film director Ragnar Bragason. Another famed Ragnar is Ragnar "Raggi" Þórhallsson, an Icelandic musician. He's the lead vocalist and guitarist of the Icelandic indie folk band Of Monsters and Men.
I have heard the name Torkel used before, but I can't, for the love of me, remember where I was when I heard it. Anyway, it's a name that makes me think of a free spirited bohemian. A kid who is happier outside collecting feathers for his collection than sitting in front of the TV.
The name comes from a combination of things - as is the Scandinavian way - but boiled down it originated from the Old Norse name Þórketill which means 'Thor's cauldron.' It's also a popular choice in Norway where it's pronounced TOR-kel. In Sweden, the name day for Torkel lands on February 26th.
People with this name Torkel have the tendency to be passionate, compassionate and have magnetic personalities. They like to follow careers where they can serve humanity. They're romantic and are capable of easily falling in love. However they have trouble expressing their feelings.
A few weeks ago a friend announced on Facebook that she had given birth to a little boy and that she'd called him Magnus. She kept the pregnancy so quiet hardly anyone knew about it, including me.
When she came out with the name Magnus, I was ecstatic she'd chosen a Scandinavian name. Though I was left curious - why Magnus? Does she have roots in Scandinavia that I don't know of? I intend to send her a note and ask 'why Magnus?' I also intend to ask her 'do you pronounce it the Swedish way, MAHNG-nus, or the English way MAG-nus?'
Magnus is a quintessentially Swedish name and means 'great.' Though it is considered quite an old fashioned choice. It became popular in Scandinavia after the rule of the 11th-century Norwegian king Magnus I. Magnus was borne by six more kings of Norway as well as three kings of Sweden.
When my boyfriend and I started our relationship, one of the best things was getting to know his family...especially learning their names. One name I encountered was the name Linus. While it took me a while to get to grips with it (I kept on forgetting his name in the most awkward of situations, i.e. family dinners), now I love listening to it trip off the tongue.
Linus - pronounced LEE-nus - is an especially popular name in Sweden. And I can understand why; it's short, lovable and ages well. It was given to 161 boys in America in 2015 making it a much more popular choice in the states than many other Swedish names.
I've seen the name receiving bad press because of Linus from the Peanuts series. Remember, the boy who always carried around his blanket? Thankfully, many look past this and appreciate the name for what it is.
When I think of the name Axel, I think of a woodsman putting his all into chopping down a tree. I don't think of Axl Rose (he dropped the 'e' on purpose) because he does nothing but irritate me. Axel is a short, simple powerhouse of a name. You imagine it belonging to a baddass who also has a kind heart.
Pronounced AHK-sel, Axel means 'shoulder' in Swedish, and is thought to symbolize strength. It's also a popular choice in Denmark. In Germany, you'll often hear it used as a nickname for Alexander.
It's also a semi-popular choice in France. It's the sort of name you could imagine being common...but it's not. I've read interesting opinions on the name, including one person who said that, while it sounded pretty cool, they would refrain from using it because it's the part of a car. Axel is also a skateboard trick.
Would I call my son after a mischievous Norse God associated with magic and fire, who fathered a serpent, an eight legged horse, a giant wolf and Hel herself? Yes, yes I would. Personally, I think the name Loki is a gorgeous name a for a little boy.
Plus, the idea of Loki being 'evil' is far removed from what he actually is. Loki is not a malevolent being, rather he epitomizes the human mind and our choice to make good or bad decisions. If you're still unsure, I have plenty of friends who have used the name Loki for their kids, and they've turned out just great.
Pronounced LOO-kay (or LO-kee), the meaning of the name Loki is actually unknown. Though it is thought to have maybe derived from the Indo-European root 'leug' which means 'to break.' It's an interesting name with a long and fascinating history.
The name Arvid wakes up my OCD. I want to put a D before that a so freaking badly right now. Though admittedly I prefer Arvid to David. David is, in my opinion, one of those names that you just hear far, far too often.
Arvid is something of a refreshing change. And while it sounds a bit familiar, it's unlikely that, if you're in a country outside of Scandinavia, your son will find someone else in his class with the same name. It's also easy as pie to pronounce and spell.
Originating from the Old Norse name Arnviðr, Arvid is derived from the elements arn which means 'eagle' and viðr which means 'tree' and translates to 'forest of eagles.' A famous bearer is YouTube superstar Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg who we mentioned earlier on. While the name is most commonly heard in Scandinavia, it's also in use in Persia.
Ludvig is a name I've heard a lot here in Sweden, and I also have several friends on Facebook with the name, most of them born in the 1980's. I haven't yet decided on my feelings about this one. It has an almost aristocratic feeling to it, as if it's best given to someone born into money.
Pronounced LUDD-vigg, it's the equivalent to Lewis or Louis. Despite my 'on the fence' feelings, I can see it being a very cute name for little boy, and aging well too. And it is a very Nordic name with a history dating back to ancient times. It means 'famous warrior' which is pretty epic so far as name meanings are concerned. And it's actually the 14th most popular name for boys in Sweden and in Norway. The name day for Ludwig in Sweden is October 2nd.
Vidar is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of my favourite names on this list. I didn't really think much about it when I first heard it, but after a while, it started to stick and now it's really stuck for good! It works superbly for a newborn, and ages handsomely. It's a masculine name with a strong backbone.
Pronounced VEE-dahr, Vidar was most popular at the end of the 1960's. Nowadays you won't meet many people under the age of 20 called Vidar. Which can only mean one thing... it's due for a comeback!
Vidar is one of those names that works just as well now as it did a thousand years ago. I'm also a fan because of its strong link to Norse Mythology. Víðarr was the son of Odin and it was foretold that he would avenge his father's death at Ragnarok by slaying the wolf Fenrir.
While Björn is something of a common name here in Sweden, it's earned its place on the list. Aside from being a name, it's also the Swedish word for 'bear.' Björn is a name with standards. It sounds smart and there's an air of intelligence and dignity about it.
If you're wondering how you should pronounce it with the two dots over the o, here is the best description that I've found, 'it rhymes with the words "urn/burn" and "earn/yearn.' Though if you decide to gift your baby with this name and you don't live in Scandinavia, you'll need to be prepared to be patient because people will ask, and they will ask repeatedly, how you pronounce it.
Perhaps the Björn that the world knows best is Björn Ulvaeus from Abba. Then there's also Björn Borg the tennis player who was ranked #1 in the world.
Sources: Behind The Name, Name Berry, Hej Sweden, She Knows