Norse names and their meanings: the best Norse names

Do you want your newborn to be in touch with his or her inner Viking? Well, why not choose a Norse name for your child? Norse names are very popular for both sexes at the moment, as they have a reputation for being brave, bold and beautiful – great attributes for both boys and girls.

Norse names are becoming pretty popular!

So, if you’re thinking of a Norse name for your baby, check out our guide to Old Norse names for boys and girls. And if it’s your new pet that needs a name, we’ve picked some of the best Norse names for cats and dogs too!

Norse female names
Norse male names
Norse god names
Norse elf names
Norse pet names

Norse female names

Some of the most popular female Norse names have Viking origins and appealing derivations, such as “beauty”, “brave one” or “peace”. As many of them also sound very pretty and unusual, they are worth considering if you’re want something a little different to call your daughter.

Norse girl names

If you’re looking into Norse baby girl names and need some inspiration, start here: we’ve picked our five favourite Norse names for girls, and checked out what they mean.

Freyja 

One of the most popular Old Norse girls’ names in Scandinavia, Freyja (Freya and Freja are alternative spellings) is a pretty name that means “noblewoman” or “lady”.

But it is also the name of one of the most important goddesses in Norse mythology. A powerful and very clever figure, Freyja was associated with love, fertility and sex and had a reputation as a bit of a good-time girl.

She was also expert at Norse magic and wasn’t afraid to use it get what she needed. A fun and feisty role model for a baby girl! 

Agneta 

If you’d rather choose a Norse baby girls’ name with a more sedate origin, how about Agneta (pronounced ang-nyeta) or Agnetha?

Of Swedish origins but popular throughout Scandinavia, the name means “pure”, “sacred” or “holy”. And, of course, the world’s most famous Agnetha is Swedish singer Agnetha Fältskog – the blonde one from Abba.

Agnetha is a pretty Norse girls name
Agnetha from Abba, at the Stockholm Abba Museum / Graham C99 (CC)

Birgit 

This popular Norse name means “exalted”, “bright” and “glorious”. It’s thought to be the Scandinavian version of the Celtic name Bridget, which means “strong” and “powerful”. So, expect big things if you give your baby the Norse name Birgit!

Tove 

A Viking name, Tove (pronounced tuh-v) means “dove” or “beautiful”, and is thought to be a corruption of the female version of Thor. The best-known Toves are the Swedish singer Tove Lo and Finnish author Tove Jannson, creator of the Moomins – both strong, feminist women with a reputation for doing things their own way!

Saga 

In Norse mythology, Saga was the goddess of poetry and history. The name Saga is pronounced s-ahh-ga by Swedes  and s-eyyy-ga by Danes – so take your pick! – and it means “the one who sees” in Old Norse and “story” or “fairytale” in Swedish.

The best-known Saga of modern times is the brave, bright and thoughtful, but flawed, Swedish detective Saga Norén in the popular crime drama The Bridge.

Norse male names

Male Norse names are often short and punchy – many with just one syllable – and they tend to have connotations of bravery and strength, so are popular choices for a baby boy. 

Norse names for boys suggest bravery and strength
Male Norse names suggest bravery and strength / EyeShotYou (CC)

Norse boy names

Here are our top five favourite Norse boys’ names, with their origins and what they mean. And we’ve also checked out some of their famous namesakes to help you decide if a Norse name is right for your newborn boy.

Bjorn 

Probably the most popular Old Norse boys’ name, especially in Sweden, this name of Viking origin means “bear”. Pronounced bee-yorn, it boasts some great namesakes including the superstar Swedish tennis player Bjorn Borg and another member of Abba, Björn Ulvaeus (who was married to Agnetha!).

A popular Norse name for a boy, Bjorn means bear in Old Norse.
Bjorn Borg, one of the world’s most successful tennis players / Rob Croes (CC)

Loki

Of course, Loki is probably the most famous of the Norse names for boys that derive from mythology. Loki was the god of trickery and making mischief, who had the powers to change his shape and sex.

And as anyone who has seen Marvel’s superhero films will know, he certainly enjoyed causing trouble. So, if you think your newborn baby boy has a mischievous glint in his eye, then Loki might be a good name to choose!

Magnus

Magnus comes from the Old Norse name Magni, which means “might” and “strength” or “powerhouse”. In the popular Magnus Chase series of teen books, Magnus was a Norse demigod, while in Norse mythology Magni was the son of Thor. Either way, the name has some pretty powerful antecedents!

Sven 

Another popular Old Norse male name, Sven is a variation on the Old Norse word sveinn meaning “young man”,  “young warrior” or “boy”.

Probably the best-known Sven outside of Sweden was the football manager and coach Sven-Göran Eriksson, who managed top teams such as Benfica, Roma, Lazio, Manchester City and the England national team – with varying degrees of success!

Arne

From an Old Norse word meaning “eagle”, the name Arne has connotations of being fast and flying high. Pronounced ahr-neh, it’s a good name if you have high ambitions for your son. Probably the best-known Arne is the Danish designer and architect Arne Jacobsen.

Norse god names

Many old Norse names derive from Norse gods and goddesses, some of whom have great superpowers and talents. And these names have become even more popular in recent years, thanks to Marvel’s superhero films – Thor (the god of thunder), Odin (meaning “fury” or “anger”) and, of course, Loki are all good Norse god names.

Thor, one of best-known Norse names for boys.
Thor / Jorge Figueroa (CC)

Norse mythology names are also popular for girls, with female Norse goddess names such as Freyja, Idun (goddess of spring and youth) and Skadi (the goddess of winter and hunting) providing powerful role models for a girl.

Norse elves’ names

If you think naming your child after a Nordic elf is a bit too out there, think again. The boys’ name Alf is hugely popular and actually means “elf” in Old Norse, while Alva is the female version.

Or if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, what about Gandalf, which means “elf wand” (or magic elf) in Norse mythology, or Gunnalf, which means “battle elf” for a feisty girl? 

Norse pet names

And Norse names aren’t just a great choice for children. If you want to call your pet something a bit different, why not consider a Norse name for your dog, cat or horse?

Norse dog names

Again Norse mythology provides us with some great dogs’ names. The god Odin’s dogs were called Geri and Freki, both of which mean “ravenous” or “greedy” – pretty apt for most dogs, we think! – while Loki’s dog was called Thori, a variation on Thor, meaning “hammer”.

We also like the Old Norse name Ulf (meaning “wolf”) for a dog, and for something a little more mysterious, why not try Rune (for a boy dog) or Runa (for a girl), both of which mean “secret”?

Norse cat names

Cats are very popular in Norse mythology – indeed the goddess Freyja drove a chariot pulled by two cats who were given to her by Thor. If your cat is a bit shy, how about calling it Embla, which comes from the Norse word for “elm” and means “uncertain”? 

Freyja is a popular Old Norse name for girls
The goddess Freyja with her chariot pulled by cats / Thomas Roche (CC)

Or for a little, lively cat, Sindri means “small” and “sparkling” and was the name of a dwarf with magical powers in Norse mythology. And since cats can often be quite aloof, we think Gunnar is a very suitable Norse name for a cat – it means “he who can stand alone”.

Norse horse names

In Norse mythology, Svadilfari was the name of a very fast and clever horse who belonged to a giant, but if that’s too much of a mouthful how about Sleipnir, Odin’s magical eight-legged horse?

Or maybe you’d prefer Glad, a horse ridden by the Norse gods, that has the appealing connotation of being happy in English too. Or for a more traditional equine name, Balder means “prince” in Old Norse.

Norse clan names

Old Norse clan names can provide inspiration if you’re looking for a team name, either for the pub quiz or for gaming or for a team-building exercise at work.

Ynglings is a great name that derives from a dynasty of Norse kings – it means a member of the Swedish or Danish royal family and direct descendent of Ing, the god of fertility. It’s also easier to pronounce than it looks – you say it ing-ling.

How to pronounce Norse names

Norse names can be tricky to pronounce in an authentic manner, so if you need some help with how to say them, check out this video.

See also
Swedish girls names
Swedish boys names
Cool maps of Scandinavia

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