Viking Names

Two Viking Reenactors
Viking Reenactors

Introduction - Viking Names

Many of the ancient Norse people, also known as the Vikings, had very interesting names. This is true for men and women. The name given to a baby boy or girl usually held some type of important meaning or significance to the parents. On this page of Viking Source we will provide information and facts on how Vikings chose names and the meanings of these names. You will also find lists of common Viking male names, common Viking female names, and famous Viking names.

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How Vikings Selected Names

Viking names usually had two parts (elements). One part was almost always derived from a deceased relative. This was in a way viewed as a sort of reincarnation of the relative in the new born child. An example of this is Thorvald Eiriksson who was named after his grandfather Thorvald Asvaldsson. The child was not necessarily given the exact name of the relative but often a variation of it. The child was often given a name that begins with the same sound that the relatives name began with (called alliteration). For example you may see the following names in a Norse family tree Hallbiorn, Halldor, Hallfreor, Hallgeirr, and Hallgrimr. This method of selecting a variation of the relatives name was not always limited to the beginning of the name. For example a series of names such as Abiorn, Finnbiorn, Gunnbiorn, Hallbiorn, and Ketilbiorn.

In some cases the child was named in such a way to indicate who the father was (patronymics) and some cases the mother matronymics). It was very rare for boy's names to indicate who the mother was; it was much more common that they indicated who the father was. For example Skallagrim's son was named Skallagrimson (son of Skallagrim), and Hakons daughter was named Hakonardottir (daughter of Hakon).

The second part (element) of Vikings name was often the name of a Norse god, an animal, a desirable attribute, or just an everyday noun. Examples of animals used in names include Bjorn (bear), Ulf (wolf), Refr (fox), and Orm (snake). Many childrens names contained "Thor", who was the most popular of all the Viking gods. An example of desirable attribute in a name is Olaf Kyrre (the Quiet). Examples of names containing everyday nouns are Drifa (snowdrift), Auor (treasure), and Steinn (rock).

Famous Viking Names

Common Viking Women Names

Common Viking Men Names