Beautiful baby names inspired by Norse mythology
When deciding on a baby name, you can count on finding beautiful original names from various mythologies. Names from Greek mythology like Athena, or from Roman mythology like Diana, get a lot of attention, but Norse mythology is often overlooked as a source of beautiful baby names. While often associated with the Vikings, Norse mythology also influenced Scandinavian and Germanic cultures, and even provided inspiration for many beloved Marvel comics characters.
Many of the names from Norse mythology (like Sigurðr and Brynhildr) are difficult to pronounce for English-speakers, but there are still plenty of modern variations to choose from that will roll right off the tongue. It’s not just parents who have found inspiration from Norse mythology, either. Author J.R.R. Tolkien famously took the name Gandalf from Norse mythology for the name of a wizard in The Lord of the Rings. Whether you’re searching for the perfect name for a fantasy series, or looking for a unique name for your little one, you’re sure to find a winner among these beautiful names from Norse mythology.
This Finnish name isn’t obviously connected to its namesake god, Thor, and that’s part of its subtle charm. Tuukka is derived from the name Tuure which can ultimately be traced back to the ancient Scandinavian ÞÓRIR, meaning “Thor’s warrior.“ This name is the perfect way to pay homage to the god of thunder or to just low key signal your loyalty to the Marvel fandom.
As far as powerful deities go, Thor is one of the big ones. The son of Odin, the ruler of the Aesir tribe of gods, Thor wasn’t just the god of thunder, but also of strength, war, and storms. Hockey fans will also recognize the name as that of Boston Bruins team member Tuukka Rask. The Finnish-born pro athlete wages war on the ice, where it seems like he has some godlike powers — at least with a hockey stick. He handles it with the same precision that Thor was said to wield his famed magical hammer Mjollnir.
The name Kára (also spelled Kara) has long been beloved in the English-speaking world, and has become so widely used that it’s hard to believe it can be traced back to Norse mythology. Kára was not one of the major gods, but that doesn’t mean her role in legend was insignificant. Kára, a mortal, was one of the Valkyries — handmaidens of Odin who combed battlefields for slain warriors to enter Valhalla, the blissful afterlife which only worthy warriors could enter. Valkyries could cause warriors to die on the battlefield, but could also choose to protect those they held dear.
According to legend, Kára followed her lover, Helgi, into battle and protected him by singing so beautifully that his enemies stopped fighting. One day, Helgi accidentally stabbed Kára in battle and lived out the rest of his days feeling guilt over the accident. The story isn’t all tragic, though. Kára was later reincarnated as a woman named Sigrún, and married the reincarnation of Helgi. The name’s spelling variation, Cara, comes from the Italian word for “beloved,” giving this name an extra layer of meaning.
Freyja is one of the most well known of the Norse goddesses. Ruler of love, fertility, battle, and death, she was the sister of the god Freyr. While some of the warriors slain in battle went to Odin’s Valhalla, Freyja claimed the rest for her realm, Fólkvangr. Her name, which means “lady” in Old Norse, still exists as a popular given name in Iceland where it is one of the most common given names for girls.
Other spelling variations of the name Freyja are even more popular in other parts of the world. The variation Freja is beloved in Sweden and Denmark, while in Norway it is spelled Frøya. The most common spelling, however, is Freya, which is used in English speaking countries as well as the Netherlands. The name has been steadily on the rise in the United States since 2013, and at its current trajectory will soon bring this beautiful Norse baby name into the mainstream.
Perhaps best known as the name of iconic Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman, the name Ingrid comes from the Old Norse name Ingríðr meaning “Ing is beautiful.” Ing is thought to be a cognate of Yngvi, which was the alternate name of the god Freyr, son of the sea god Njörd. Although he was originally of the Vanir tribe of gods, the Aesir tribe counted Yngvi among their number. Yngvi was the god of peace, fertility, rain, and sunshine, and was also the sister of Freyja, the goddess of love.
In spite of the name’s masculine origins, the name Ingrid has long been a beloved name for girls in Europe, especially in Sweden where Yngvi was highly regarded. The name has also seen consistent use in the United States, although it has never been very popular. Perhaps all it needs to catch on is a little nudge from lovers of Norse mythology!
The name Hilda has been used a couple of ways throughout its history. Traditionally a nickname for names containing the German element “hild” meaning “battle,” it’s also a cognate of the Ancient Scandinavian term “hildr,” also meaning “battle.” In Norse mythology, Hildr is the name of a Valkyrie.
As a given name, Hilda is well-known in the United States as the name of Archie comics character Hilda Spellman, the aunt of teenage witch Sabrina Spellman. The mythological origin was a fitting source for the name of the fictional witch. The name hasn’t been used very much in the U.S. since the 1980s, but sees steady use in Finland and Sweden. It’s possible that the Netflix series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, a darker take on the original comics as well as the teen sitcom based on them, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, will help to usher in a much-needed revival of this lovely name.
Don’t be put-off by the fact that this name has the word “bald” in it. While the name looks like it would be given to someone with a receding hairline, it’s actually pronounced as “BAL-door.” Baldur is the Germanic and Icelandic spelling of Balder, which means “prince” in old Norse. In mythology, Balder was beloved by the gods. The son of Odin, the ruler of the Aesir gods, and his wife, Frigg, Balder was renowned for his beauty.
When he was young, he had prophetic dreams of his death, so his mother extracted promises from every thing in the world that they would do him no harm. As a result of Frigg’s quest, Balder was immune from harm from most objects, but was eventually slain by mistletoe thrown at him by the trickster god Loki. This unique name hasn’t seen too much worldwide popularity, but it is beloved in Iceland where it consistently ranks in the top 50 baby name for boys.
Naming your baby boy after the trickster god isn’t for everyone, but true fans of the Marvel character (or just of Tom Hiddleston, the actor who plays him) will have trouble resisting this twist on the name Loki. Loke is the modern Scandinavian version of the name and is one of the most popular names in Sweden, where it has been in the top 100 baby names for boys for more than a decade.
If you’re a Marvel fan, you’re already familiar with the fact that Loki is a mischievous trickster, but he’s even sneakier in mythology. Able to change both shape and sex, the shapeshifter used his powers both for harm and for good. The son of the giant Fárbauti, Loki was nevertheless considered one of the Aesir tribe of gods and was a companion of Odin and Thor. In addition to being a shapeshifter and a trickster, Loki was also a god of fire.
Similar in sound to the far more commonly used name Eden, Idun is a modern take on the name Iðunn, which is likely derived from the old Norse word “ið” meaning “again” and “unna” meaning “to love.” Iðunn was the Norse goddess of spring as well as immortality. The gods maintained their immortality by eating apples of youth, and it was Iðunn’s task to safeguard these apples. She was the wife of Bragi, the god of poetry.
The name Idun is used in Sweden, while in Iceland the spelling Iðunn is preferred, but these are not the only variations of this lovely name. Idonea was a popular name in medieval England, and it also means “suitable” in Latin. If this old-fashioned but charming incarnation of the name doesn’t suit your tastes, you could also consider Idony, another medieval take on the name that is pretty enough to deserve a modern revival.
While worship of the Norse gods was concentrated primarily in northern Europe, the mythological name Nilda migrated further south. Nilda is the Spanish and Portuguese shortening of the name Brunilda, which is also used in Italy. Both names are ultimately derived from Brünhild, which comes from the German “brun” meaning “armor” or “protection” and “hild” meaning “battle.”
The mythological Brunhild was a stunningly beautiful princess. A fierce and passionate woman, she vowed to only marry a man of upstanding virtue who could also surpass her physical strength. A man named Siegfried won her hand, but upon discovering that he had been acting on someone else’s behalf and that he intended to give her to another man in marriage, she was furious. Brunhild exacted vengeance, and this led to Siegfried’s death. According to some sources, she was also a powerful Valkyrie. It is thought that the mythological Brunhild was influenced by the legend of the historical Brunhild, a sixth century Frankish queen who is remembered as an influential figure in the Merovingian age.
If you’re having trouble picking just one name from Norse mythology, choosing the name of the source material could be a good alternative. Much of what we know about Norse mythology comes from two literary Icelandic works. The Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda both date back to the 13th century and are treasure troves of lore. The Poetic Edda (also known as the Elder Edda as it was written first) contains various epic tales of Norse heroes and gods. The Prose Edda (also known as the Younger Edda) is a textbook on poetry written by poet, chieftain, and historian Snorri Sturluson in the early 13th century.
As a given name, Edda isn’t too popular, although it has seen wide use in Iceland. The name is also used as the Italian version of the Norwegian and Swedish name Hedda which, in spite of its similarity, isn’t connected to the literary work but instead is derived from the name Hedvig.
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