Freya

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Old Norse
Meaning “lady; mistress”
(FRAY-yah)

The name is derived from the proto-Germanic word, *frawjōn, which designates a woman of noble birth. The modern German word of Frau is a modern cognate. Many scholars argue whether Freya was originally the name of the goddess or a title used in reference to her; it has even been suggested that the goddess had an actual given that has been lost to history.

In Norse mythology, Freya was believed to be the most beautiful goddesses ever created. Scholars believe that Freya was essentially a fertility goddess who assisted in the growth of wildlife, agriculture and human reproduction; along with birth and life, she was also associated with death. In Norse legend, it was Freya who received half the slain warriors into her heavenly hall.

She is often times the subject of the poetic eddas along with her numerous epithets, which are as follows:

  • Vanadis (beautiful goddess)
  • Mardoll (sea bright)
  • Horn (flaxen)
  • Gefn (the giver)
  • Syr (sow) which illustrates Freya’s association with pigs and fertility.

Today the name has survived in modern Germanic lexicons; the English word Friday means “Freya’s day” likewise the same in German with Freitag; the Danish/Swedish/Norwegian Fredag and the Dutch Vrijdag.

There are a few plants named for the goddess, such as Freyja‘ Hair and Freyja’s Tears, and the chemical Vanadium is derived from her epithet, Vanadis.

Today, Freya, and its alternate forms are still very common throughout Scandinavia and she even appears in the British top 100. Her rankings are as follows:

  • # 8 (Freja, Denmark, 2010)
  • # 19 (England/Wales, 2010)
  • # 19 (Scotland, 2010)
  • # 41 (Freja, Sweden, 2010)
  • # 53 (Northern Ireland, 2010)
  • # 61 (Ireland, 2010)

Other forms include:

  • Frea (Anglo-Saxon/Lombard)
  • Fröe (Danish: obscure form)
  • Freya (English/Modern German/Dutch)
  • Froya (Faroese)
  • Freija (Finnish)
  • Frya/Frija (Frisian)
  • Freja (German/Scandinavian)
  • Fráujo (Gothic)
  • Frėja (Lithuanian)
  • Frieja (Low Saxon)
  • Frøya (Norwegian)
  • Freyja (Old Norse/Icelandic)
  • Frīa/Frija (Old High German)
  • Frowa (Old High German)
  • Fröa (Swedish: very obscure form)
  • Fröja (Swedish: very obscure form)
The designated name-day in Sweden is January 23rd.

Oliver, Olivier

Gender: Masculine
Origin: debated
Meaning: debated
Eng (AHL-ih-VER); Fre (oh-LEE-vyay)

This name has a very interesting past. Its origins and meaning are debated, despite its obvious similarity with the word “olive”, many sources believe that is is either derived from one or two Old Norse names, Alfihar or OleifrAlfihar meaning “elf army” or Oleifr meaning “ancestral relic,” while other sources argue that it is indeed related to the Latin word oliverus meaning “olive tree.”

The name first appears in the French epic poem, Le Chanson de Roland. Olivier is the one of the better retainers of Roland. The name was introduced into England by the Normans and was consequently anglicized as Oliver.

The name has been in and out of usage in the English-speaking world since the Middle Ages. There was a time in England when the name went out of favor due to the bloody exploits of Oliver Cromwell. It was revived in the 19th-century due to Dicken’s lovable orphaned character of Oliver Twist.

In recent years, the name has seemed to go through a revival in both the United States and the United Kingdom. In 1979, Oliver ranked in at # 396 for the most popular male names in the United States, in 2010, however, he cracked into the top 100, making it all the way up to # 88. No doubt thanks to the popularity of its seemingly feminine form of Olivia.

As of 2010, he was the most popular male name in England/Wales. His rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 3 (Australia, NSW, 2010)
  • # 3 (New Zealand, 2010)
  • # 6 (Norway, 2010)
  • # 7 (Sweden, 2010)
  • # 8 (Scotland, 2010)
  • # 9 (Denmark, 2010)
  • # 10 (Finland, 2011)
  • # 12 (Ólafur, Iceland, 2010)
  • # 16 (Northern Ireland, 2010)
  • # 23 (Canada, BC, 2010)
  • # 25 (Oliwier, Poland, 2009)
  • # 38 (Olivér, Hungary, 2010)
  • # 48 (Óliver, Iceland, 2010)
  • # 51 (Austria, 2010)
  • # 52 (Ireland, 2010)
  • # 55 (Olivier, Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 86 (Spain, 2010)
  • # 269 (Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 305 (Olivier, France, 2009)

The name is used throughout continental Europe. Its French form of Olivier is still fairly common in France and it is occassionally found in the Bayous of Louisiana among Cajun families, along with its lovely accented drawled out pronunciation of (oh-LIV-ee-AY).

In Poland it is rendered as Oliwer pronounced the same way as in English though the final R is rolled. In Iceland the popular male name of Olafur may be related. Pronounced (OH-lahf-ER), it has a feminine form of Olafia (OH-lah-FEE-ah).

Popular English nicknames are Ollie and the less common Noll.

Its designated name day is July 12.

Other forms include:

  • Olivier (Afrikaans/Dutch/French/Frisian)
  • Oliver Оливер (Croatian/Czech/Dutch/English/Estonian/Finnish/German/Hungarian/Macedonian/Portuguese/Russian/Serbian/Slovak/Spanish)
  • Fier (Dutch: originally a diminutive form, used as an independent given name)
  • Oluvier (Dutch)
  • Olivur (Faroese)
  • Ólivar (Faroese)
  • Olivér (Hungarian)
  • Ólafur (Icelandic)
  • Óliver (Icelandic)
  • Ólíver (Icelandic)
  • Oilibhéar (Irish)
  • Oliviero (Italian)
  • Olivarius/Oliverus (Latin)
  • Alfher (Old High German)
  • Áleifr (Old Norse)
  • Oliwer/Oliwier (Polish)
  • Oliwir/Olwer/Olwir (Polish: obscure)
  • Oliveiros (Portuguese)
  • Olaghair (Scottish)
  • Oilbhreis (Scottish)

Gertrude

James C. Christensen

Gender: Feminine
Origin: German
Meaning: “spear strength.”
Eng (GER-trood); Ger (ger-TROO-də)

She has adorable nickname options; Trudy, among others. She has a similar feel to other current vintage trend-setters such as Matilda and Eleanor, yet Gertrude, for the most part remains unloved. Like Hildegard and Brynhild, this is one of those names where I often ask myself: why not?

She is strong, vintagy and no-frills, as mentioned before, she has tons of adorable nickname options. Is she really anymore grandmotherly or old sounding than Emma, Eleanor, Matilda or even Abigail? We have gotten used to hearing these names but I remember a time when the above names were considered “too old” until it took one famous person to use them and voila, they are automatically endearing and trendy.

Ok, I’ll get off my high horse and get onto the what the name is really all about.

Portrait of Gurtruydt van Leyden.
by James C. Christensen via http://www.greenwichworkshop.com/saintsandangels/17.htm

Gertrude is composed of the Germanic roots, ger (spear) and þruþ (strength).

The name was borne by several illustrious medieval women, two of whom are saints. Gertrude of Nivelles (626-659) is revered as the patron saint of cats! I am not quite sure how she came to be known as a feline patron, but she was the daughter of Pepin I and was supposed to be married off at the age of ten, but steadfastly refused, insisting that she would only marry Christ. After the death of her father, her wealthy mother constructed Gertrude her very own convent, making her the abbess. She is also invoked against mice and rat infestations.

Another Gertrude is Gertrude the Great (1256-1302) a German nun, mystic and great theologian of her time.

The name has been borne by German and Dutch royalty alike.

Gertrude is pretty well-known in the English-speaking world, but actually never experienced much usage. It was introduced into England in the 15th-century by Dutch settlers, where it was ocassionally used. It appears in Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1600) as the name of the hero’s mother.  It was used sparingly in the United States at the beginning of the 20th-century, possibly being introduced by German immigrants. The highest it ever ranked was in 1898 coming in as the 573rd most popular female name.

In the United States, its most famous bearer is Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), famous writer and poet.

As of 2011, her Finnish form of Kerttu was the 20th most popular female name in Finland and Geertruida came in as the 491st most popular female name in the Netherlands, (2010). Meanwhile, its Dutch diminutive offshoot of Geertje is the 368th most popular female name in the Netherlands, (2010).

Other forms of the name include:

  • Gartred (Cornish)
  • Gertruda (Croatian/Czech/Lithuanian/Polish/Romansch/Slovene)
  • Geerdina (Dutch)
  • Geertje (Dutch)
  • Ge(e)rtruida (Dutch)
  • Geertrui (Dutch)
  • Gertrude (Dutch/English/French/German/Italian/Platdeutch)
  • Trudy (Dutch/English/German)
  • Truus (Dutch)
  • Kelli (Estonian)
  • Kertu (Estonian)
  • Kärt (Estonian)
  • Ge(i)rtrúð (Faroese)
  • Gortra (Faroese)
  • Jertru (Finnish)
  • Jerttu (Finnish)
  • Järtty (Finnish)
  • Kerttu (Finnish)
  • Kerttuli (Finnish)
  • Gesa (Frisian)
  • Gesche (Frisian/Platdeutsch)
  • Geesche (Frisian)
  • Gesina (Frisian)
  • Gerta (German)
  • Gertraud (German)
  • Gertrud (German/Scandinavian/Romansch)
  • Gertrúd (Hungarian)
  • Jerta (Hungarian)
  • Geirþrúður (Icelandic)
  • Jarþrúður (Icelandic)
  • Geltrude (Italian)
  • Gertrūda (Latvian)
  • Gjertrud (Norwegian)
  • Jartrud (Norwegian)
  • Geretrudis (Old High German)
  • Geirþrúðr (Old Norse)
  • Jarþrúðr (Old Norse)
  • Gertrudes (Portuguese)
  • Gearte (Sami)
  • Kearte (Sami)
  • Gertrúda (Slovak)
  • Trudla (Sorbian)
  • Gertrudis (Spanish)
  • Gardrud (Swedish)
  • Gertru(n) (Swedish)
  • Hjertrud (Swedish)

Common German and English short forms are Gertie and Trudi/Trudy.

Artwork

Sæbjørn

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Old Norse
Meaning: “sea-bear.”
(SYE-byern)

The name is composed of the Old Norse elements, saer (sea) and bjørn (bear).

As of 2010, Sæbjørn is the 8th most popular male name in the Faroe Islands.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Sæbjørn (Faroese/Norwegian/Old Norse)
  • Sæbjörn (Icelandic)
  • Sebjørn (Norwegian)
  • Sebjörn (Swedish)

Runar

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Old Norse
Meaning: “secret army.”
(ROO-nar)

The name is composed of the Old Norse elements, rún (secret; lore) and herr (army).

As of 2010, its Faroese and Icelandic form of Rúnar was the 8th most popular male name in the Faroe Islands.

Ryynari is the Finnish form.

Rógvi

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Old Norse
Meaning: “famous fighter.”
(ROGUE-vee)

The name is a Faroese form of an Old Norse male name, Hróðvér, which is composed of the elements, hrod, (fame) and ver (fighter).

As of 2010, Rógvi was the 8th most popular male name in the Faroe Islands.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Roir (Danish: archaic)
  • Hróðvér (Old Norse)
  • Hróir (Old Norse)

Regin

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Old Norse
Meaning: “advise; counsel.”
(REH-geen)

The name is derived from the Old Norse, regin (advise; counsel).

The name is borne in Norse Mythology by a dwarf, the foster father of Sigurd. Regin goads Sigurd into killing Fafnir (Regin’s brother). Sigurd kills Fafnir with his sword, Gram, he tastes the juices of Fafnir’s heart which gives him the capability to read minds, Sigurd is able to detect that Regin is planning to kill him, so Sigurd chops the dwarf’s head off with Gram.

As of 2010, Regin was the 8th most popular male name in the Faroe Islands.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Rein (Dutch/Estonian/Frisian/German)
  • Rien (Dutch)
  • Regin (Faroese/Old Norse/Scandinavian)
  • Reginn (Icelandic/Old Norse)
  • Rögn (Icelandic)

Øssur

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Old Norse
Meaning: “answer.”
(EUS-ser)

The name is derived from the Old Norse, andsvara, meaning, (answer).

As of 2010, Øssur was the 8th most popular male name in the Faroe Islands.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Øksur (Faroese)
  • Øssur (Faroese)
  • Assar (Finnish/Norwegian/Swedish)
  • Asser (Finnish/Scandinavian)
  • Asseri (Finnish)
  • Össur (Icelandic)
  • Özur (Icelandic)
  • An(d)svarr (Old Norse)
  • Ansurr (Old Norse)
  • Sasser (Swedish)

Odd

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Norwegian
Meaning: “spear point.”

No, this isn’t a belated April Fool’s joke, Odd is actually a common male name in Norway, though far more common among the older generation.

It is derived from the Old Norse male name, Oddr, meaning, “spear point.”

As of 2010, Odd was the 8th most popular male name in the Faroe Islands.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Odd (Faroese/Norwegian)
  • Oddur (Faroese/Icelandic)
  • Oddr (Old Norse)
The name is borne by several famous Norwegians, including, Odd Nerdrum (b.1944) a famous figurative painter. It also appears as the name of the protagonists in Dean Koontz Odd Thomas series.