Are you looking for an unusual name for your newborn baby, that’s a bit different and suggests strength and an easy-going attitude to life? Why not consider some Icelandic names for a girl?
Maybe it’s growing up in such a harsh climate that gives Icelandic women a reputation for being feisty and fit, strong and healthy and able to deal with life in a no-nonsense way.
Whatever the reason, there are some very pretty Icelandic names for girls that also suggest wisdom and health.
We’ve checked out some of the most popular Icelandic girls’ names and the history behind them, to give you some inspiration and unusual ideas for naming your newborn. So, read on to find out all about Icelandic girls’ names and their meanings.
Icelandic approved names
All newborns in Iceland have to be given names that are on the Icelandic Personal Names Register. This is the officially approved list of Icelandic baby names that parents can chose from.
If you want to choose a name that it not on the list you can apply to the Icelandic Naming Committee (yes, this really is a thing!), who will consider whether the name is compatible with Icelandic tradition and whether it may cause the child embarrassment.
Names must only use letters that are in the Icelandic alphabet, and the spelling must also be approved.
The committee is pretty strict in what it allows – recent Icelandic baby girls’ names that have been rejected include the seemingly uncontroversial Ailsa and Bianca – so we’re guessing that Chris Martin’s daughter Apple and the Beckhams’ Harper Seven would be a definite no-no in Iceland!
Icelandic surnames also have a certain quirkiness. There is no one family name that is handed down to the children – indeed, in families with one boy and one girl, all members of the family will have different surnames!
So this is how it works. A male child takes his father’s first name followed by the suffix son, while a female child takes her father’s first name followed by the suffix dóttir.
So, the son of Jón and Guðrún will have the surname Jónsson, while the daughter will have the surname Jónsdóttir. In some cases the mother’s first name can be handed down instead of the father’s.
And since women don’t take their husband’s surnames when they marry but retain their original surnames, it’s quite normal for each member of the family to have a different surname.
The top ten most popular Icelandic women’s names
If you’re interested in traditional Icelandic female names, there are some great choices, some of which have Viking origins, while others have their roots in Icelandic mythology. So here are the top ten most common Icelandic names for women in 2021.
And if you want to know how to pronounce these names in an authentic Icelandic way, check out this helpful video.
With its origins in Norse mythology, Guðrún is the most common Icelandic women’s name. It means literally “god’s secret lore” and was a popular name in the Icelandic sagas.
Guðrún Ósvífrsdóttir was the main protagonist in the medieval Icelandic Laxdœla saga, while Guðrún Gjúkadóttir, in the Völsunga Saga, killed her second husband Ali, and both her sons by him in revenge for him killing her brothers.
Ever popular, the name Anna derives from the Hebrew meaning “full of grace” or “favoured by god”. Probably Iceland’s best-known Anna is the composer Anna Þorvaldsdóttir.
An Old Norse name, Kristín means “bright and noble”, though it could also be a variation of the name Christina, which is from Latin origins and means a “follower of Christ”.
The female version of the male name Sigríðr, Sigríður is from Old Norse origins and means “beautiful victory”. So, it’s certainly an apt name for Iceland’s first eco-warrior Sigríður Tómasdóttir, who fought to stop wealthy industrialists from building a dam at Iceland’s best-known waterfall Gullfoss.
Of course, she won the battle and Gullfoss is now legally protected against development.
The name Margrét is an Icelandic derivation of the Latin/Greek name Margarita, which means “pearl”.
It’s a popular name throughout the whole of Scandinavia, perhaps due to Queen Margrete I of Denmark, who founded the Kalmar Union, which united Sweden, Denmark and Norway in the fourteenth century.
If you fancy an Icelandic Viking name, why not consider the Old Norse name Helga, which comes from the word heilagr meaning “holy”, “blessed”, “sacred” or “divine woman”. In popular TV series The Vikings, Helga is the wife of Floki.
In Norse mythology, Sigrún is the name of a Valkyrie who married the Norse hero Helgi, then died of grief after her brother killed him.
The name comes from the Old Norse words sigr (which means “victory”) and rún (“secret”), so it means a “secret victory”.
The Icelandic version of the Old Norse name Ingeborg, this name means “under the protection or with the help of Ing” (the god of fertility).
Well-known Ingibjörgs include the professional footballer Ingibjörg Sigurðardóttir and the politician and former mayor of Reykjavik, Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir.
Originally from the Hebrew/Ancient Greek, Jóhanna means “god is gracious”.
Iceland’s best-known Jóhanna is a fine source of inspiration for young girls – Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir was Iceland’s first female prime minister and the world’s first openly gay head of government.
The Icelandic version of Maria or Mary, this name has biblical roots, referring to Mary, the mother of Christ. Further back, it derives from the ancient Greek word mirjam, meaning “the sea”.
Most popular Icelandic baby girl names
In Iceland, tradition still plays a big part in the naming of children.
Perhaps because of the on-going influence of the Personal Names Register, of maybe due to family loyalty, some 35 percent of young Icelanders are named after their parents or grandparents.
This is beginning to change, however, since parents don’t always want to chose a traditional name for their newborn, but prefer something a bit more unusual or international.
So here is a list of the top ten most popular Icelandic baby girls’ names to give you some inspiration into what names Icelanders are choosing for their baby girls today.