Sweden is a country that lies on the Baltic and is the third physically largest country in the EU, although only boasting a population of 9.5 million people.
In the 17th-century, Sweden was one of the most powerful empires in the Western world, encompassing nations such as Finland, Estonia and Latvia, thus influencing the culture of the surrounding regions and also borrowing from the surrounding cultures.
During the 18th-19th centuries, approximately 1.3 million Swedes immigrated to the United States, with this incredibly large influx of Swedish immigrants came certain contributions to American culture that are often taken for granted, influences such as the red barn which speckles the country side of the Midwest, the distinct accents of Minnesota and North Dakota, Swedish meatballs and….. baby names.
It was during the first peak of Swedish immigration that we see such names as Erik, Greta and Kristin appear in the U.S. top 1000. In fact, in areas of the United States where there are still substantial Scandinavian-American communities, it is still not unusual to see hard-core Norse names bestowed upon children.
Look at the top 100 most popular given names in Minnesota for example. Classic Swedish monikers such as Ella, Emma, Anna, Annika, Ellie, Eva, Josephine, Greta and Christian abound.
In fact, if one compares the top 100 names of the top 4 states with the highest percentage of Swedish Americans, one will notice a definite trend of Scandinavian names in these particular areas.
- Emma # 3
- Ella # 6
- Anna # 20
- Oliver # 42
- Eva # 52
- Ellie # 63
- Annika # 69
- Josephine # 72
- Christian # 77
- Greta # 92
- Emma # 7
- Ella # 41
- Eva # 97
- Christian # 24
- Oscar # 72
- Eric # 75
- Emma # 4
- Ella # 10
- Anna # 21
- Christian # 27
- Eric # 87
- Oliver # 89
- Emma # 4
- Anna # 23
- Christian # 48
- Eva # 52
- Oliver # 53
- Ellie # 82
- Clara # 99
- Emma # 4
- Ella # 10
- Anna # 17
- Christian # 37
- Oliver # 84
Though many online resources and name books will pretty much clump all Scandinavian names into one group, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic and even Frisian names are all rather slightly different. For instance, it is more likely that a Laerke is Danish, a Moa Swedish, Svanhildur Icelandic and Ingeborg Norwegian. All Northern Germanic languages are closely tied, but their naming trends are slightly different.
However, there are quite a few names that are interchangeably used among the Scandinavians, these include: Linnea (though originally Swedish it is now a popular female name in Norway), Ingrid, Hans and Erik, just to name a few.
Names that are specifically Swedish and rarely found in other Scandinavian countries are: Hampus, Ingela, Madicken, Tindra and Vendela.
Like Anglophone parents, many Swedes are turning to word names to bestow upon their children. Tindra and Linnea both appear in the Swedish top 100, and as of 2009, approximately 71 girls were given the name Månstråle (moonbeam). Björn (bear) has been used on males for centuries, while Varg (wolf) may be a bit newer.
Similar to American and British trends, many old Swedish classics appear in their top 10, names like Ella, Emma, Elsa, Alva, Wilma and Ebba.
The current trend in female names is overwhelmingly in favor of two-syllable antique Nordic names. The types of names that perhaps a Swedish-American parent from Minnesota might see in their family tree, Mormor Elsa and Morfar Oscar.
Not only are two-syllable antiques popular, but there seems to be a gravitational pull toward female names that end in the suffix of -ma and male names that end in the suffix of-mer or -win. Names like Alma, Irma, Wilma and Elmer, Vilmer, Melvin, Alvin etc.
Top 10 Female Names in Sweden (2009)
Top 10 Male Names in Sweden, (2009)
Cool Swedish Alternatives for Common English Names
Instead of Alexander==============Axel
Instead of Ava==============Alva
Instead of Brittany===========Britt/Britta
Instead of Brody==================Brodde
Instead of Carson============Karsten
Instead of Christopher/Christian========Christer/Krister
Instead of Ella==============Elsa
Instead of Emma============Ebba
Instead of Evan=============Evert
Instead of Grace============Greta
Instead of Hannah===========Hedda/Johanna
Instead of Henry=================Henrik
Instead of Jordan=================Joar
Instead of Lily=============Lillemor
Instead of Logan===============Loke
Instead of Matthew===========Mattias
Instead of Matilda==========Hilda
Instead of Nevaeh==========Nea
Instead of Sidney==========Signe
Like many Anglophone parents, Swedes have turned to words from their own vocabulary to bestow upon their children, either floral, names of months or pretty words, the list below might make an interesting reference point for someone looking for a nature-y name without being too obvious, or perhaps you are just one with Swedish heritage looking to bestow a cool Swedish name on your child.
Swedish Nature/Word Names
- Blomma (flower)
- Gull (gold)
- Himla (heaven; sky. Derived from himmel, very rare)
- Juni (June)
- Linnéa (twinflower)
- Lin (flax)
- Liv (life)
- Lo (lynx)
- Malva (mallow)
- Månstråle (moonbeam)
- Maj (May)
- Saga (story)
- Sanna (truth, possibly derived from sann)
- Svea (Sweden; an archaic word for the Kingdom of Sweden, originally used for patriotic reasons)
- Tindra (twinkle)
- Vilja (wish)
- Bror (brother)
- Björn (bear)
- Dag (day)
- Djur (animal)
- Folke (people)
- Sten (stone)
- Varg (wolf)
- Vide (willow, sallow)
Smushes & Doubles
Swedes have often used double names or smush names throughout the centuries. Below is a list of common Swedish smush and compound names that would be easy to carry in an English-speaking society. Note, some of these, such as Solbritt and Majbritt are considered rather dated in their home country, but it does not mean it won’t sound cool and fresh in the Suburbs of Minneapolis or St. Paul!
Perhaps you are a the ancestor of one of the many Swedes who immigrated throughout the world in the late 19th early 20th centuries, rather you live in Queensland, Minnesota or Ontario, these Swedish names would be perfectly compatible in any English-speaking areas
Names Compatible in English
Swedish Equivalents to common English Names
And finally, if you are one of those that does not give a hoot to popularity and originalit but are looking for a Swedish name that is easily compatible in English, then here is a list for you:
Common Swedish/English Names