A primer on Norwegian names

While I’ve never particularly been a Scandinavophile, I’ve been fascinated by the Scandinavian languages since I first discovered them early in my 15th year, when I just started getting into world languages and aspiring to hyperpolyglotism. They just look so cool written out, with all those neat letters and sounds.

Kit Green of my Atlantic City books has a Norwegian immigrant boyfriend at one point, Haakon Amundsen. Originally, Haakon was just an interesting name I found, but after I realized only a Norwegian would have that kind of name, I had to make him Norwegian instead of some native-born American mutt. Haakon’s family also appears from time to time, including his cousin Jørgen, who’s Kit and Haakon’s age.

Norwegian language:

The Scandinavian languages are by and large mutually intelligible, though of course not exactly the same. There are a number of words which have much different meanings from one language to the next, often embarrassingly so. There’s a saying, “Norwegian is Danish spoken in Swedish.”

Swedish is obviously the most popular and useful Scandinavian language to learn, but Norwegian is said to be the easiest. Not only does it have the simplest grammar, but it also enables one to read Danish and understand Swedish rather well. Icelandic is the most difficult, not only owing to the strange letters but also to a rather complicated grammar. Faroese is somewhat less complicated than Icelandic, but still not as easy as Swedish or Norwegian. The biggest difficulty with Danish is that the pronunciation doesn’t match the spelling, like French.

Norwegian uses the Roman alphabet, with only a few differences to the familiar English alphabet. Obviously, J is pronounced like Y, and then there are Ø (akin to a U), Å (long or double A), and Æ (four different pronunciations depending upon the word).

Norwegian surnames:

Like other Scandinavian surnames, Norwegian surnames are also by and large patronymical (e.g., Holgersen, Gulbrandsen, Haraldsson, Leonardsen, Vilhjalmsson). However, those aren’t the only Norwegian surnames. Others derive from profession, geographic origin, and personal characteristics.

Common Norwegian names and their nicknames:

Male:

Aage, Åge
Adam
Adrian
Aksel, Axel
Albert
Albin
Aleksander, Alexander (Sander)
Alf
Alfred
Amund
Anders
Andor
Ansgar
Anton
Arne
Aron
Arthur
Arvid
Asbjørn, Esben, Espen
Asger
Åsmund
August
Bård
Bernhard, Bernt
Bjarne
Bjarte
Bjørn
Brynjar
Carl, Karl
Casper, Kasper
Christen, Christian, Kristen, Kristian
Christoffer, Kristoffer
Dag
Dagfinn
Daniel (Dan)
David
Edvard
Egil
Eilert
Einar
Eindride (Endre)
Eirik
Elias
Emanuel
Emil
Erik
Erlend
Erling
Felix
Filip, Philip
Frans
Fredrik
Fridtjof
Frode
Gabriel
Geir
Georg
Godtfred
Gregers
Gudbrand
Gudmund
Gulbrand
Gunnar (Gunne)
Gustav
Haakon, Håkon
Haldor, Halldor
Halle
Hallvard, Halvard, Halvor
Halstein
Halvdan
Harald
Håvard
Henrik (Henning)
Herleif
Herman
Hjalmar
Holger
Hugo
Ingolf (Inge)
Ingvar, Yngvar (Inge)
Ivar
Jakob, Jacob
Jarl, Jarle
Joakim
Johannes, Johan (Hans, Jan)
Jonas
Jørgen (Jørg, Jørn)
Josef
Kai, Kaj
Kåre
Kjell, Kjetil
Knute
Konrad
Lars, Lasse, Laurits, Lauritz, Lorens (Laurence)
Leif, Leiv
Lennart (Leonard)
Loke
Ludvig (Louis)
Lukas
Magnus
Marcus, Markus
Martin
Mathias, Matthias, Matteus (Mats)
Maximilian (Max)
Mikael
Morten
Nikolaus, Nils (Klaus)
Njål
Njord
Odd, Oddmund
Olaf, Olav, Ole (Ola)
Oliver
Ørjan
Oskar
Osvald
Otto
Ove
Øystein
Øyvind
Pål
Peder, Per, Peer, Petter, Peter
Ragnar, Ragnvald
Ralf
Rasmus
Rikard (Richard)
Roald
Roar
Rolf
Ruben
Rudolf
Rune
Salomon
Samuel
Sebastian
Sigmund
Sigurd
Simen, Simon
Sindre
Sjurd
Snorre
Søren
Stefan
Stein
Stian
Stig
Svein
Sven
Sverre
Tallak, Tollak
Teodor, Theodor
Terje
Thomas, Tomas
Thorbjørn, Torbjørn, Thorstein, Torstein, Thorvald, Torvald
Tobias
Tor, Tore
Torgeir, Torger
Torgils
Torkel
Torleif
Tormod
Truls
Trygve
Ulf
Ulrik
Valdemar, Waldemar
Valter, Walter
Varg (Wolf)
Verner, Werner
Vidar
Viktor
Vilhelm
Vilmar
Yngvi

Female:

Agathe, Ågot
Agnetha (Agnes)
Aina
Alexandra
Alfhild
Alva
Andrea
Anna (Anita, Anniken)
Annbjørg
Antonia
Arnbjørg
Åse
Aslaug
Astrid (Asta)
Audhild
Beate
Benedikte
Bergliot, Bergljot
Birgit, Berit (Brita)
Bjørg
Bodil
Borghild
Brynhild
Camilla, Kamilla (Milla)
Carina, Karina
Cathrine, Kathrine, Katarina, Katrine (Kaja, Kaia, Karin, Karine, Kari)
Cecilie (Silje)
Dagmar
Dagny
Dagrun
Dorothea (Tea, Thea)
Ebba
Eira
Eleonora (Nora, Eli)
Elin (Eli)
Elisabet (Eli, Elise, Else, Lis, Lisa, Lisbet, Lise, Liss)
Ellinor (Nora)
Embla
Emilia, Emilie
Emma
Erika
Erle
Ester
Eva
Frida
Frøya
Gerd, Gerda
Gro
Gry (Dawn)
Gudrun
Gunhild, Gunnhild (Gunda)
Gunnvor, Gunvor (Gunda)
Hanna
Hedvig (Hedda)
Helena
Helga, Hella (Hege)
Henrike
Hilda
Hildegard
Hjørdis
Hulda
Ida
Inga
Ingebjørg, Ingeborg (Inge)
Ingegerd, Inger (Inge)
Ingrid, Inger (Inge)
Ingvild (Inge)
Irene
Jacobine
Johanna (Hanne, Hanna, Janne, Jannicke)
Jorunn, Jorun
Judit
Julia
Karla
Karolina, Karoline
Kirsten, Kjersti, Kjerstin, Kristina (Stina, Tine)
Kjellfrid
Klara
Laila
Laura
Lea
Lovise (Louisa)
Lucia
Magdalena (Lena, Magda, Malin)
Magnhild
Margrethe, Margareta, Margit, Margrete, Marit, Marita (Grete, Grethe, Meta, Rita)
Maria (Maiken, Maja, Mia)
Maren, Marina
Marte, Marta
Martine
Mathilde
Mikaela
Monika (Mona)
Nanna
Øydis
Paula, Pauline
Petronilla (Pernille)
Petra
Pia
Ragnhild (Ragna)
Rakel (Rachel)
Rebekka
Regina, Regine
Renate
Rosa
Runa
Ruth
Sara
Selma
Sigfrid
Signy, Signe
Sigrid (Siri)
Sigrun
Siv
Sofia (Vivi)
Solveig, Sølvi, Sylvi
Sunniva
Susanne (Susann)
Svanhild
Synnøve
Terese, Therese
Thora, Tora, Torø
Thyra, Tyra
Torbjørg
Torborg
Tordis
Torhild, Toril
Torny
Tove, Tuva
Turid
Ulrikke (Ulla)
Unn
Ursula
Vera
Veronika
Veslemøy (Little girl)
Vibeke (Vivi)
Victoria, Viktoria (Vivi)
Viola (Vivi)
Ylva (Wolf)

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One comment on “A primer on Norwegian names

  1. Arlee Bird says:

    A few more familiar ones here. Olaf is what I always think of first.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    Like

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