Baby Name of the Day: Viggo


Fotografía de Viggo Mortensen en la presentaci...

Viggo Mortensen, 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He’s a Norse name worn by a Hollywood leading man.

Thanks for Fran for the suggestion – and to everyone for voting!  Our Baby Name of the Day is Viggo.

If you think that Viggo is one of those singular appellations along the lines of Oprah or Cher, you’re forgiven.  He’s never featured in the US Top 1000, and in 2010, a mere 41 boys received the name.

Then again, 41 surprised me – and suggests that there’s more to it than one actor.  Indeed, Taylor Hanson of the musical family, named his youngest Viggo Moriah in 2008.  (Older siblings are Jordan Ezra – known by his middle name, Penelope Anne, and River Samuel – Taylor and wife Natalie seem to have become bolder as they’ve added to their brood.)

Turns out that Viggo Mortensen is actually a junior.  His unusual given name is on his birth certificate – he’s a junior.  Viggo has been acting steadily since the 1990s, but his big break was The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Since then he’s racked up an Oscar nomination and plenty of other successful films.

Viggo Sr. was Danish by birth, and met his American wife in Norway.  Those Scandinavian roots get credit for the father-and-son duo’s name.  The Old Norse Vigge is a common element.  It’s filtered into more familiar choices – think of Louis‘ Germanic forerunner, Ludwig or Ludvig, or Harry Potter’s snowy owl, Hedwig.

Vig or Wig translates to battle, so those are some pretty fierce appellations.  There are a few other possible origins – like a pet form of Victor or maybe another Old Norse or Icelandic name.  And there’s a hint of nature name about him, too – in Swedish, vigg means thunderbolt.

He’s reasonably popular in Sweden today, ranking in their Top 50, right between Noah and Max.

Scandinavian notables who have worn the name include:

  • Prince Viggo, born in Denmark in the late 1800s.  In the 1920s, he married an American and renounced his royal title.
  • Norwegian mathematician Viggo Brun made several contributions to number theory in the early twentieth century.
  • Viggo Hansteen was a Norwegian government official who stood defied Nazi ruled during their World War II occupation of Norway, and paid with his life.

So he’s an impeccable Scandinavian heritage choice, but what else makes him a possibility today?  The popular ends-in-o sound, shared with stylish names from Leo to Arlo, makes him feel quite current.  It also appears that Viggo wasn’t used in this form until sometime in the nineteenth century, and was most popular in the late 1800s, making him prime for revival right about now.

Viggo also has a rough edge, between his warlike meaning and his first syllable.  He’s a brother for Gunnar, Axel, and Lars – or even Cannon.

If the littlest Hanson can rock Viggo, why not your kiddo?

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15 Comments

It isn’t, actually. The vowel-sound in NOrwegian pronunciation at the beginning is very short, like the pronunciation of “twig”. In fact, it is the British who tend to elongate the initial vowel-sound and say “veeg”.

I love Viggo! DH is a huge LOTR fan and using Viggo would be like naming a son after Aragorn 🙂 I think his stylish ‘o’ ending makes it a name that anyone could use, regardless of heritage. All the same, I’d love to see a sibset of Viggo and Ingrid!

I like Viggo, though I tend to stay away from names with such a specific connection to pop culture — most people would just think Mortensen, not aware of its history and background.

Actually I do know a young (under 5) Viggo. He definitely pulls it off.

This is a great find. Of course I knew about the name because of the actor, but never considered the name’s potential. Like Raquel says, it’s relatively known but hardly ever used.

!!!!!! I adore this name! It’s totally on the short list for future sons– one of the few names my husband and I can agree on. And I love that it’s relatively known, but rarely used.

I love the actor but the name does nothing exciting for me. I do like that it has roots though and wasn’t made up!

I’m not usually a fan of ends-in-o names, but I rather like Viggo; and it’s not because of the actor. To be honest, when I first watched the LOTR movies I was disappointed in Mortensen’s acting. Then I watched the commentaries and realised that it was really the actor’s voice that I wasn’t fond of, his actual acting was fine (Note: Listening to commentaries to fall asleep greatly helped me through my final year of university when my stressed out brain tried to turn me into an insomniac.) I think it’s something about that first syllable, vig, that I like. I wish more names featured a “vig” in them somewhere. I much prefer it to “wig”.

A couple of years ago my mum came to me and asked me what I knew about the name Viggo (incidentally, not much). Apparently one of her coworkers had just had a grandchild by the name.