Origin: Old Norse
Nanna is an extremely ancient name, possibly tracing itself all the way back to Indo-European, yet scholars have not come to a conclusion as to what it means and from which root it originates.
In Norse Mythology, Nanna was the name of the wife of the beautiful god Baldr. When Baldr was killed, Nanna was so overcome with grief that she threw herself on Baldr’s funeral pyre and burned herself with him. She is mentioned in the Prose Edda, the Poetic Edda and even by Saxo Grammaticus. Her name also appears etched into a 6th-century comb, known as the Setre Comb, which has been the subject of scholarly debate for decades.
As to the names derivation, some scholars suggest that it may come from an ancient babble word for “mother” being related to the modern word for grandmother. Scholar John de Vries proposed that it is related to the Indo-European root word *-nanp meaning “the daring one; brave.” Another scholar, by the name of John Lindow has suggested that the name may be related to an Indo-European noun for woman, and scholar John McKinnell has backed this theory by suggesting that the terms for woman and mother were at one time interchangeable.
As of 2010, Nanna was the 28th most popular female name.
A Danish and Norwegians form is Nanne (NAHN-ne).
- Lindow, John Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs. Oxford University Press. (2001).
- McKinnell, John Meeting the Other in Norse Myth and Legend. D. S. Brewer. (2005).