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)

Sólja, Sóley

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Faroese/Icelandic
Meaning: “buttercup.”
(SOLE-yah); (SOO-lay).

Both names are derived from the Norse word sol meaning “sun.” In modern vernacular both names are used to refer to the buttercup flower in their own respective languages. Sólja is the Faroese form and Sóley the Icelandic. Though Sóley is used as a given name in the Faroe Islands as well.

As of 2010 Sólja was the 8th most popular female name in the Faroe Islands.

Eivind

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Old Norse
Meaning: “happy victor; gift victor.”
Nor (I-vind)

A few weeks ago I was browsing through some Norwegian birth announcements and noted several unusual names that appeared over and over again. Eivind was one of them. Apparently, Eivind is the Norwegian form of the proto Norse auja “happy, lucky or gift” and windur meaning “victor, winner.” In Norwegian and Scandinavian history, the name was borne by a 9th-century viking by the name of Eyvind Lambi, he figures in the famous Egil’s Saga. Another popular form in Norway is Øyvind and in Sweden it appears as Ejvind.

Currently, the name is the seventy fouth most popular male name in Norway, while its slashed counterpart (see above) comes in much higher at # 27. The name is not as popular in Sweden as it is in Norway.

Its designated name-day was exactly one week ago, August 26th.

Update: Eivind and Øyvind no longer appear in the Norwegian top 100, but as of 2010, its Faroese form of Eivindur was the 8th most popular male name in the Faroe Islands.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Eivin (Danish/Norwegian)
  • Ejvin/Eyvin (Danish)
  • Ejvind (Danish/Faroese/Swedish)
  • Even (Danish/Faroese/Swedish)
  • Oyvind (Danish)
  • Øivind/Øjvind (Danish/Norwegian)
  • Evind (Faroese/Scandinavian)
  • Eivindur (Faroese)
  • Oyvindur (Faroese)
  • Öjvind (Faroese/Swedish)
  • Eyvindur (Icelandic)
  • Eivinn (Norwegian)
  • Ovind (Norwegian)
  • Øivin(n) (Norwegian)
  • Øven (Norwegian)
  • Eyvindr (Old Norse)
  • Eiven (Sami)
  • Eivind/Eyvind (Scandinavian)
  • Evin (Scandinavian)
  • Önder (Swedish)
  • Önnert (Swedish)
  • Öyvind (Swedish)
Feminine forms include:
  • Evena (Norwegian)
  • Evina/Evine (Norwegian)
  • Evinda (Norwegian)
  • Øivine/Øyvine (Norwegian)

Björk, Bjørk

Gender: feminine
Origin: Icelandic/Faroese
Meaning: “birch, birch tree.”
(BYERK) Pronunciation can be heard here: http://www.forvo.com/word/björk/

Indie rock star, Björk Guðmundsdóttir (b.1965), made this one a household name, though it is now a recognized name outside of Iceland, it will probably always be associated with the singer to non-Icelanders.

Björk is the Icelandic word for birch tree, when spelled Bjørk, it has the same meaning in both Faroese and Norwegian. It is interesting to note that björk is the modern Swedish word for birch tree, though neither nouns are used as a given names in Swedish or Norwegian. However, it is a very common and ordinary female name in both Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

As of 2010, Bjørk was the 8th most popular female name in the Faroe Islands.

Snae Names

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Icelandic/Faroese
Meaning: “snow.”

There are several Icelandic feminine names that carry the snae- element which is derived from the Icelandic word for snow. These are the following:

Snæbjörg

The name is composed of the elements, snae meaning “snow” and björg meaning either “rock” or “help; aid.”

As of 2007, 11 women in Iceland bore this as a first name and 8 had it as a middle name.

The Faroese version is Snæbjørg.

Snæbjört

Composed of the elements snae meaning “snow” and björt meaning “bright; clear; shining.”

As of 2007, only five women bore this as a first name and five women had it as a middle name.

Snæborg

Composed of the elements snae meaning “snow” and borg meaning either “town; city” or “castle” or “shelter” or “rocky hill.”

As of 2007, only 3 women in Iceland had this as a first name and one had it as a middle name.

Snæbrá

Composed of the elements snae meaning “snow” and brá meaning “brow; eyebrow” or “eyelash.”

As of 2007, only one person bore this as a first name and one had it as a middle name.

Snædís

Composed of the elements snae meaning “snow” and dís meaning “goddess; fairy; nymph.”

As of 2007, 169 women bore this as a first name, while 34 had it as a middle name.

Snæfríður

The name is composed of the elements snae meaning “snow” and fríður meaning “pretty.”

The Faroese form is Snæfríð.

As of 2007, 63 women in Iceland bore this as first name and 9 had it as a middle name.

Snælaug

The name is composed of the elements snae meaning “snow” and laug meaning “hot spring; bath.”

Its Faroese form is Snæleyg.

As of 2007, nobody in Iceland had this as a first name or as a middle name.

Snærós

The name is composed of the elements snae meaning “snow” and rós meaning “rose.”

As of 2007, 5 women bore this as a first name and 2 had it as a middle name.

Snærún

The name is composed of the elements snae meaning “snow” and rún meaning “rune.”

As of 2007, 4 women had this as a first name and one had it as a middle name.

Jökulrós

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Icelandic
Meaning: “glacier rose; ice rose.”

The name is composed of the Icelandic elements jökul meaning “ice cap; glacier” and rós meaning “rose.” The name is not very common in Iceland, as of 2007, only one person bore this as first name and only six had it has a middle name.

Drífa

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Icelandic
Meaning: “heavy snow fall; snow drift.”

The name comes directly from the Icelandic word describing a heavy snow fall or snow drift.

As of 2007, there were approximately 155 women in Iceland who bore this as a first name, and 49 who had it as a middle name.