Name Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every Saturday, one reader’s name questions will be discussed.
We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!
My husband and I have a daughter, Freya, and we hope to give her a little brother or sister soon.
We really love Freya’s name and if we were to have another girl, I can’t think of any other names I love as much. We don’t have many rules, but we tend to go for cool Scandinavian names and quirky classics. Names we considered for Freya include Theodora, Beatrix, and Margaret, nickname Maisie. We ruled out Matilda (husband doesn’t like it), Lucy (too popular), and Reverie (too out-there).
I’ve been thinking of Marit as it has family significance, but I’m not totally sold. I’d love to hear other ideas.
For boys, we like Augustus, Arlo, and Dashiell.
Our last name is similar to Olsen.
Read on for my response – and please leave your helpful suggestions in the comments.
Hi Ashleigh –
I’m still trying to think of a clever name for this syndrome: we-used-our-favorite-name-for-our-firstborn-and-now-nothing-else-comes-close.
If your next baby is a girl, there are some great Scandi heritage choices that would wear well in the US, with the same familiar, but seldom heard quality as Freya. I think Marit is definitely one of them, and a few more come to mind immediately. But here’s the question: do you think you’ll have more than two children? Because if there’s ever a third girl to name, you might feel a little locked in to heritage choices.
That’s not a bad thing, of course. But it’s something to consider.
So let’s start with a few Scandinavian-inspired choices:
Thora – You mentioned Theodora, a lovely, vintage possibility. Thora shares many of Theodora’s sounds, but makes it far more Norse. I think Thor is probably a tough name for a boy to wear – even before The Avengers and a hammer-wielding Chris Hemsworth. But somehow Thora escapes all of that superhero baggage. Maybe it’s because the name sounds like vintage favorites Nora and Cora. I think Freya and Thora pair beautifully together.
Marit – I think Marit would wear well in the US, though it might take some repetition and maybe even explaining. (A challenge with nearly any uncommon name.) It’s still used, especially in Norway, as a form of Margaret. The current crown princess of Norway is Mette-Marit. Marit has the same tailored feeling as plenty of current favorites – it’s a little bit like popular surname-names Madison and Harper, but far less expected.
Elska – The downside of Elska is simple and obvious: it would be misunderstood as the equally Scandi Elsa. Maybe a lot. The upside? It’s a quirky literary Norwegian word name with an edgy, unexpected sound. Elska ultimately comes from an Old Norse word meaning love, so it’s got a great meaning, too.
Siri – Yes, Siri is the talking assistant on every iPhone. But it’s a traditional Scandi name, derived from Sigrid – beautiful victory. I’ve known two women with the name Sigrid, and I think it’s quite lovely. But I wonder if Siri is the more obvious choice, a mix of the very modern and the traditional.
There are more options in this series by British Baby Names.
Now, let’s consider a few possibilities that lean more to the vintage side:
Thea – If you like the idea of Theodora, but aren’t sold, maybe Thea would appeal? With Theodore and Theo rising for boys, this feminine form has been catching on, too. Thea re-appeared in the US Top 1000 at #775 in 2014. Freya and Thea – I can’t decide if the similar endings make them sound just right or a little bit too close.
Margot – Since you’ve been talking about Margaret and Maisie and Marit, I wonder if you’ve seriously considered Margot? Freya and Margot sound just like sisters to me, and I think Margot has the right vintage vibe. Since it sounds like a form of Margaret is on your family tree, there’s also Greta, originally a short form of Margaret which is used in several languages. But it’s also slightly Scandi thanks to screen legend Greta Garbo.
Esme – Literary Esme started out Scottish by way of France, and masculine, too. But the name is solidly feminine in the last century or two. JD Salinger used the name for one of his characters, cementing the name’s vintage vibe. It’s recently entered the US Top 1000, but it’s been big in the UK for years. Freya and Esme sound quite stylish together – on sound alone, it’s my favorite combination.
Olive or Livia nickname Liv – One of the names that I wanted to suggest in the Scandi list was Liv. It’s an Old Norse name that happily matches up with a modern word meaning life. Except Liv seems short compared to most of the name on your list. But you could have your cake and eat it, too, with a given name that leads to Liv. You mentioned that your last name is like Olson, so Olive like-Olson might be too much. There’s also Livia, which seems like antique than Olive, but is an ancient Roman name with history aplenty.
Philippa, nicknamed Pippa – One last thought – since some of the names on your list are longer, I wonder if you’d consider Philippa? It’s quirky and vintage and vaguely British, especially thanks to Kate Middleton’s sister, Philippa, known as Pippa. Pippa is a great short form, and it also brings to mind one of the best known Swedish children’s books, the immortal Pippi Longstocking.
Readers, what would you suggest to Ashleigh and her husband? I’m sure I’m missing lots of possibilities. Do you think the Scandi names work better, or would you be inclined to choose something more vintage?
I think maybe Myra as it means beloved and Freya means beauty. The two also sound nice together Myra and Freya, also Myra has many pronunciations which you might like ( Mi-ra, May-ra etc.)
You might also like:
Amelie and Freya
Florence and Freya
Mia and Freya
Leah and Freya
Aletha? It was my grandmother’s name and it sounds nice with Freya. It means truth.
I love Margot (Im biased bc I have sweet 7 year old girl with that name, and I have no regrets!) … I really like Beatrix and calling her Birdie. A couple of names that I think are cute and international sounding that you may consider are …. Hildegarde and calling her Hildy (Hildy and Freya seem like they fit to me) another name I adore is Anouk (it is a form or pet name for Anne/Anna). I have always like Astrid … Poppy is another that come to mind but it may be too trendy for you? Don’t know if you would do a double F but Franca (Franka) is another fave. Congrats and good luck.
I have a Freya and her sister’s name is Amelie. If we had a boy we’d use the name Dashiell. We seem to have very similar taste in names! Some of my other favorite names are Beatrice/Beatrix, Wilhelmina, Louisa, Desi and Oscar.
Ashleigh here. Thanks for your thoughtful suggestions! The timing on this is perfect because I just found out I’m pregnant again. And we don’t want to know the baby’s sex so we have 9 months to contemplate names…
I’ve always gone back and forth about Margot, but it’s recently started to grow on me a lot (and you’re right to guess that there’s a Margaret in the family I’d like to honor). I could see that as a serious contender. I hadn’t thought much about Thora but it’s very appealing. Same with Thea. Philippa is darling, too, but I’m not sure I can see us using it. I know a lot of baby Olivias so Liv feels a bit over-used in my social circle.
From the reader suggestions, so far my favorites are Astrid, Linnea, Ingrid, and Annika. And the question about Bridie reminded me that I liked the nickname Birdie for Beatrix, so maybe I’m not ready to cast that one aside just yet.
Thanks again, everyone; this has been really fun to read!
PS How would *you* pronounce Marit? I recently learned my great-grandmother’s given name was Marit, but no one in the family knows how she pronounced it. In my head, it sounds like Merit (MARE-it).
I like the suggestions of Livia, Greta, Astrid, and Pippa for you.
What about Sigrid? If Astrid and Ingrid are rising, why shouldn’t she? I think Freya and Sigrid are cute together. The only association I know of with Sigrid is The Hobbit trilogy, and I am not sure if choosing the name could label you as a fan (even if you aren’t). However, it is just a suggestion.
Other suggestions I have are Britta and Dahlia. Both are pretty, age well, and pair sweetly with Freya.
Magdalena…nn possibilities of Magda or Lena/Leni
Do you like Bridie?
I know a Freya and Ralph (Ray-f) sibset which I think is nicely matched.
I second Linnea and Kaisa/Kajsa. What about Rose/Rosa, Frieda, Maren, Ingrid, Nathalia/Natalia,or Inga?
Gonna throw an unexpected one out there, but how about Helga?
Also, I’ve been reading Heidi to my girls, and I’m in love with the name all over again. I know, German rather than Scandi, but I still like it.
My favorite from your previously considered list is Beatrix. I am partial to the nickname Bix.
I also like the suggestions of Astrid and Ingrid. For Ingrid, I like the nickname of Indie, il but think it is generally a nickname proof name.
How about Merida?
I have a daughter named Freya, she is 17. She has two little brothers but if we’d had more girls, a few names from my short list were: Beatrix, Dagny, and Enid.
Love the name Freya!
My daughter is Afton and if we were lucky enough to have another daughter, my short list is
For a boy, I think we’d go with Malcolm Stirling (family names)
Love Marit and Thea! Maybe Arden would grab you?
Best of luck choosing!
Tove or Tova would be interesting. I thought I’d also mention Britta. One of my classmates has a daughter by that name. Brynn could also easily be seen as an American version of a name like Brynhild. There was a state legislator here called Brynhild who was Norwegian American. i have also seen Solveig spelled like Solvay to make the pronunciation easier here. Synnove is another version of Sunniva I have seen used here. Tyra is another spelling of Thyra. It rhymes with Kiera. Lena would be pretty if you are willing to deal with the Ole and Lena jokes.
As for boys, I have encountered American boys called Jens, Kjell, Christ or Kristian, Nels, Leif, Ole, Odin, Thor, etc.
Elin, Kia, Linnea, Lisbet, Tova?
I second Solveig – I know one and it’s surprisingly wearable once you explain the pronounciation. Besides, most people hear your child’s name first.
Love Liv so much, but with the popularity of Olivia, I’d avoid it. Does Elin sound okay with your surname? I like the combo of Freya and Elin, no matchy a-endings.
I wanted to also say – don’t worry until you know what you’re having! You might not need another girl name you love. But if you do and you find yourself struggling, you’re not alone! If love is important then give up as many restrictions as you can and just open yourself to all the ideas you can.
An “h” on the end of Solveig – Solveigh- seems like a good Americanization, more intuitive to pronounce but keeps the flavor of the original.
Marit is a beautiful name sweet match to Freya. Same with Annika. I love you choice of Arlo for a boy.
What about Astrid or Berit? I have an Astrid, and I love Freya.
Kaia or Kaisa are also possibilities.
I would add Ida to the list. It is very popular there at the moment. One of my Swedish great grandmother’s sisters was called Ida. Merete is a form of Margaret and pronounced Maretta. I’ve also known a Marit. Viveca or Vendela are both authentic, if unusual here. Thyra might be a better choice than Thora. It sounds a bit less obviously related to the god.
Liam and Oliver appear to be as popular in Scandinavia as they are here.
Pippa is apparently the equivalent of the f word in Sweden. i would not recommend that one.
The names that are big right now in Scandinavia sound like old time nicknames and names that were popular here in the 19th century: Anna, Leah, Alice, Molly, Nellie, Eva, Wilma, Ellen, Emma, Ella, Elsa, Ada, Amanda, Nora, Thea.
Some of the more uniquely Scandinavian names: Laerke, Danish for lark, or Ebba.
Icelandic names: Katrin, Margret, Hekla, Katla.
My Swedish and Norwegian American grandmother was Margaret. Her nickname as a child was Marna. I knew an exchange student called Merete. I have encountered American kids of Scandinavian descent named Sunniva, Solveig (a couple of them), Signe, Dagny, Jorunn, Liisa, Annika, Ingrid, Johanna, Greta and numerous girls called Kristin or Kirsten or Krista.
Juno Blue says
There is Eilish the Gaelic form of Alice pronounced Ay Lish. And Annis a form of Agnes. I think of Freya as a Scottish name due to Norse influence on Scotland. Other suggestions Romilly, Maeve, Tamsin, Isla and Willow. Maybe Eilldh and Niamh but they seem too difficult pronunciation wise.
Since you like ‘ Lucy’, I wonder if the similar sounds of ‘Celia’ might appeal to you?