Most popular male Viking names (former and current)

Like in any other country, names go in and out of fashion. The same goes for Norway and many traditional names with Norse/Viking roots. That being said, many are still popular to this day.

In fact, 31 of the 50 most commonly given names for males in Norway today are of Viking origin. Although This is likely to change due to current name trends. Viking names are not going away anytime soon.

Many might have heard Viking names such as Thor, Odin, and Ragnar from the Thor/avengers movies and the Vikings TV- series. However, the most popular Viking names in Norway are not the ones you find in pop culture. These are the top 20 Viking names for males:

1. Bjørn

Bjørn is a germanic name of Norse origin which literally means “bear”. The name is most common in the Scandinavian countries, including the Faroe Islands. While still in use today, the name was most popular between 1940 to 1960. 

Several notable Scandinavian citizens have been/are named bjørn from Norse and medieval kings to a founding member of ABBA (Bjørn Ulvaeus) to a legendary tennis player in Bjørn Borg. 

2. Ole

Ole is one variant that stems from the old Norse name “Olafr”, which means ancestor, descendants. 

Like many other names of Norse origin, its popularity is falling. However, it is quite commonly used in binomial names. One example is former manchester united (soccer) player and now manager Ole-Gunnar Solskjær

3. Kjell

Kjell is an Old Norse name that stems from the word “ketill”, which means “kettle” and/or “helmet”. While it can be used throughout Scandinavia, it is most common in Norway and Sweden. 

The name is not as popular as it once was and remains more common among older males. One of them is former Norwegian prime minister Kjell Magne Bondevik.

4. Knut

This masculine name stems from the old Norse word “Knutr”, which means knot. While most common in Norway and Sweden, the name can also be found in Denmark and Germany. 

The name has been given to a variety of prominent Scandinavian figures throughout time, from danish Viking kings to Nobel literature prize winner Knut Hamsun. 

In the united states, football fans might know the name of the famous coach Knute Rockne. Kunte was in fact born Knut Rockne in Voss, Norway before he made his way to America with his parents at age 5.

5. Svein

Svein is the modern variant of the old Norse name “Sveinn”, which means “boy”, “lad” or “young man”. The name is most popular in Norway, but can also be found in Sweden. 

The name was most popular between 1940-1960. Another variant “Sven”, is more popular in Sweden as well as outside Scandinavia including Germany and Holland. 

Kristoff, one of the characters from the movie Frozen has a reindeer named Sven. Also, the greatest speed skater of all time, the dutch Sven Kramer, bears the name.

6. Arne

While you can occasionally come across Arne as a surname in England, it is a common masculine first name in Scandinavia. The name stems from the Norse word for eagle, “arni”. 

The use of the name is distributed quite evenly between Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, where it can also be used in binomial names. One example is the Norwegian, former Liverpool player, John Arne Riise.

7. Geir

Geir is a masculine name that is most commonly used in Norway and Finland. The name comes from the Norse word “Geirr”, which means spear. 

The name saw peak popularity in Norway between 1950 to 1970. That being said, some variants using Geir as the second element are still quite prominent, including Asgeir and Torgeir. 

8. Tor/Thor

This name is familiar to most who know anything about old Norse mythology. It is derived from the Norse god of thunder “Thor”. 

According to Norse mythology, thunder and lightning were the product of thors wrath and anger as he rode the skies in his goat-pulled chariot, wielding his mountain-crushing hammer, Mjolnir.

The name is most common in Norway but can be found throughout Scandinavia. While the name saw peak popularity during the 1950s. The name has had somewhat of a revival, in part due to the popularity of the Marvel superhero movies featuring Thor, a superhero based on the Norse god.

9. Terje

Terje is a common Norwegian name that is a variant of the name Torgeir, meaning “Thor’s spear”. This actually makes it a variant of Geir, featured earlier. 

The name is most common in Norway. Its popularity has decreased ever since the 1980s but still remains a prominent given name in Norway. Fans of snowboarding might recognize the name from legendary snowboarder Terje Håkonsen.

10. Erik/Eirik

Erik and Eirik are both variants of the old Norse name “Erikr” which translates to “sole ruler” or “Eternal ruler, ever-powerful”. Variants of the name are found in prominent numbers throughout Scandinavia and Finland. 

The name has also spread to other parts of Europe, including Germany, Holland, and England where it remains a common name throughout western Europe and the USA to this day. It is one of the few old Norse names that remain equally popular to this day. 

Several Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish kings have had the name through the years. Today, popular publish personalities bear the name, including musician Eric Clapton and former soccer legend Eric Cantona. 

11. Odd

This common Norwegian is rather strange for English speakers, but there is nothing odd about it in Norwegian. The name comes from the Norse word “Oddr” which means the sharp end of an arrow or the edge of a blade. 

12. Rune

Rune is a masculine name derived from the old Norse word “rùn”, which means secret. While most popular in Norway between 1960 to 1980, the name has gained some popularity in the Flemish region of Belgium where it was the tenth most popular name for baby boys in 2006.

13. Trond

Trond is a common Norwegian name derived from the Norse word “Trondr”, which means to grow and thrive. The name saw peak popularity between the 1950s to 1970 but is still among the 30 most common names in Norway. 

Public figures bearing the name include Norwegian actor Trond Espen Seim and legendary comedian and TV personality, the late Trond Kirkevaag.

14. Tore

Tore is of sorts a variant of Thor. The name comes from the old Norse name “Thorir” which is composed of “Thorr”, meaning thunder, and “arr”, which means warrior. Essentially the name means” Thunderwarrior” or “Thor’s warrior”.

Famous people bearing the name include Norwegian former Chelsea player Tore Andre Flo and the man who is said to have slain St. Olav in the battle of Stiklestad in 1030, Tore Hund. 

15. Stian

Stian originates from the Norse name “Stigandr” which means “Wanderer” or someone “Swift on his feet”, which is also the origin of the name “Stig”.

The most famous Norwegian bearing the name is Stian Thoresen, Vocalist and founding member of the black metal band Dimmu Borgir.

16. Olav/Olaf

One of the really traditional Norse names. Olav/Olaf comes from the Norse name “Olafr” which is actually of Proto-Norse origin, the language spoken by what we think is the Viking’s predecessors between the 2nd and 8th centuries. 

The name can be traced back to mean “ancestors descendant” and has been given to several Scandinavian kings throughout history, most prominently the late King Olav V of Norway and Olaf II who was King of Norway from 1015 to 1028 before he was slain in the battle of Stiklestad in 1030 when trying to regain his throne. 

Being a devout Christian, he was posthumously recognized as a saint by Pope Alexander III in 1164. He is buried in the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.  

17. Harald

Another name with deep historical roots. It is the Norse form of Harold being made up of the Norse words “har”, meaning army, and “aldr”, meaning leader or ruler.

The current king of Norway is named Harald V. Also, several Norse kings and even 2 former kings of England were named Harald/Harold. 

One of them was Harold Godwinson, considered to be the last Anglo-Saxon king of England who successfully fought Harald Hardrade, then king of Norway, in the battle of Stamford Bridge for the throne of England in 1066. 

The victory was short-lived though as he would fall in battle trying to defend his throne against the invading Normans led by William the conqueror only weeks later in the Battle of Hastings.  

18. Espen

Espen is actually a modern, mainly danish variant of the old Norse name “Asbjørn” which is derived from the words “as”, meaning god, and “bjørn”, meaning bear (god bear). Also, the English surname Osbourne is thought to have come from the name Asbjørn.

There are various public figures with the name, ranging from sports personalities to politicians, as well as one of Norway’s most famous TV comedians Espen Eckbo.

19. Øyvind/Øivind

This name comes from the old Norse name “Eyvindr”, derived from the words “ey”, meaning “island” and “vindr” thought to mean victory. Another Norwegian given name Eyvind is another variant.

The name and its variant are quite common today, and the Variant Eyvind is the name of Norway’s most famous celebrity chef, Eyvind Hellstrøm.

20. Gunnar

This name comes from the Norse name “Gunnarr” which means fighter/soldier or brave warrior. While most common in Norway it can be found throughout Scandinavia as well as Iceland, Germany, and Estonia. 

Current popular names

With current name trends, many of these names are likely to drop out from the top 50 with time. However, there are a few Viking names that are found among the top 50 names given to baby boys during the last 3 years. 

1. Haakon/Håkon

Haakon is another Viking name with deep historical roots in Norse mythology. It has been the name given to more Norse kings than any other Viking name. The name comes from the Norse words “ha” and “konr”, which together mean “high son/chosen descendant”

The name is ridiculously popular in Norwegian royalty and will continue to be so in the future as the crown prince of Norway and current heir to the throne is expected to succeed to the throne as Haakon VIII of Norway. 

2. Olav

As mentioned, another popular name in Norwegian royalty. It has had a resurgence in popularity since the ’90s and has made it into the top 50.

3. Iver

A variant of the name Ivar is derived from the old Norse name “yr” and “herr”, meaning archer. In 2019 it was the 42 most common name given to newborn baby boys in Norway.

4. Sigurd

An old Norse name that has had a resurgence in recent years. The name is derived from the Norse word for victory. The name just made the top 50 in 2019 coming in at 48. 

5. Sverre

Sverre is the modern version of the old Norse name “Sverrir” which means wild, swinging/spinning. It barely made the top 50 list in 2019, coming in at place 50, however, it is likely to remain a prominent name in Norway, partly due to Norway’s prince being named Sverre.

6. Erik/Eirik

As mentioned, Erik (Eric) is popular throughout many parts of western Europe and the united states and remains popular in Norway to this day.

7. Odin

Perhaps the second most widely known old orse name after Thor. The name comes from the Norse god Odin, which according to Norse mythology was the all-wise and powerful ruler of Åsgård/Asgard, home of the Norse gods.

He is the father of Thor, the god of thunder, and is described as being a one-eyed man with a long thick beard, surrounded by his ravens Huginn and Munnin. 

While not the most popular name, it lures around the bottom of the 50 most popular given names the last year. Perhaps it will climb even higher with the popularity of the Marvel movies where Odin is played by Anthony Hopkins.

Closing remarks

As this article points out, there are a huge variety of modern Norwegian names with Norse roots. While many are likely to become less popular as current name trends favor more English-friendly names, they won’t go away any time soon.

Also, there is some evidence that traditional names are making a comeback in Norway. In addition, an increasing interest in Scandinavian history and culture has made some of these name trends outside Norway.

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Erik is the creator and editor of Planet Norway. Born in Trondheim and currently living in Oslo, Erik knows the ins and outs of Norwegian History, society, and culture. His idea for starting planet Norway came about when helping his foreign fiance to settle in Norway.