Name Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every week, 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!
You all were so helpful when we were naming our twins, and now Ingrid and Greta are three and we are back for more help. This one is a singleton, but we are still not finding out boy or girl. Our older girls are Anna (stillborn, still counts), and Elsa. That was not on purpose, by the way, and shows that we should have asked for help then, too! Though Elsa loves her name.
We have long surnames for the middle and last, so we like to keep the first fairly short. We like a German/Scandinavian feel while still being very recognizable but relatively uncommon in English. I am a little reluctant to have another girl name that ends in ‘a’ as I don’t want to leave Ingrid out, but that might be silly. I also want a name that is straightforward to pronounce.
So the sibset is: Anna, Elsa, Ingrid, Greta, and …
Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Whitney –
Congratulations on baby five!
We’re looking for a name with German/Scandi roots, a straightforward pronunciation, and relatively uncommon in the US. I’d say that your older kids’ names nail that description perfectly.
But your current short lists? Maybe not quite as much.
For boys, I think they all basically work. But Caspar and Garrick seem like possible spelling headaches. I’m not sure if Walter feels especially German/Scandi. That leaves Conrad and Lars which seem like the best of the bunch. And I do mean best! I think Conrad would be great with your girls’ names, and I can imagine Lars working well, too.
Turning to the girls’ list, I’m not sure if Katrin, Sabine, Lotte, and Dagny cross culture with the ease of Elsa or Ingrid. Clara, of course, does … but has been a steady Top 100 choice. So maybe it goes too far in the other direction?
Let’s look at some fresh possibilities.
If Walter isn’t clearly Scandinavian or German enough, but Caspar might go too far the other way, what’s in the middle?
Axel – It’s a medieval Danish form of the Old Testament Absalom, and I love that a figure skating jump is named for Norway’s Axel Paulsen. Thanks to the sound, the singer Axl Rose, and associations with all things automotive, Axel has a little bit of an edge. But when heard with siblings Ingrid or Elsa? It’s instantly a Scandinavian favorite.
Carsten – Carsten comes from Christian; it’s a form of the name used in some parts of Germany. I can’t decide if it’s more complicated than Casper/Kaspar/Caspar.
Jonas – One hitch: I’m not clear if Jonas sounds similar in English and Swedish/Norwegian/Danish, etc. I assume it takes a Y sound, right? YOO nas. Still, in the US, it’s Jonas, as in brothers, and nicely wearable.
Kai – We tend to think of Kai as Hawaiian, but it can claim Scandi heritage, too, via a nickname for lots of longer names. It’s also spelled Cai, but in the US, I think the K is the better option.
Leif – It can be pronounced to sound like leaf, or to rhyme with Rafe. Either way, it’s a handsome rarity that brings Old Norse heritage to the New World.
Soren – A Danish spin on Severus, made familiar by the philosopher Kierkegaard, Soren fits right in with so many two-syllable, ends-with-n boy names, and yet it’s a little bit of a stand-out, too.
So many popular girls’ names in northern Europe are the same as the US – Alice, for example. At the other extreme are names like Wilma, that we all recognize – but probably few of us would consider for a daughter. These might be a little more wearable.
Britt – We’ve named boys Brett and Brent, but Britt comes from Bridget, and it remains unisex in the US – though it’s so rare that it’s almost a non-issue.
Lark – It’s spelled Laerke in Scandinavian countries, but I’m intrigued by the success of this avian name. It might feel too different compared to Greta, Ingrid, Elsa, and Anna, though.
Liv – Olivia is a chart-topper, and Liv might sometimes be short for that oh-so-popular name. But it stands on its own, too, tied to a Norse name meaning protection and coinciding with the more modern Scandi word liv, which means – appropriately – life.
Maren – Singer Maren Morris has helped take this name into the spotlight. But it’s been around for years. It’s considered a Danish form of Marina, but Scandinavian countries gave us Karen and Katrin and Elin. It’s possible Maren evolved from other Mar- names, too.
Siri – If only Apple’s virtual assistant had another name! Siri comes from Sigrid – beautiful victory. It could – should? – be gaining more attention right about now. And I think it could still work – after all, everyone recognizes the name instantly.
Thora – Cora and Nora both rank in the Top 100, and we’re wild about Thea. So why not Thora? It’s another ends-with-a name, true, but I think it might be perfect for your daughter.
Overall, I love Conrad best from your original list for a boy, better than any of my suggestions.
For a girl, I think Maren might be exactly right. It’s feminine, but not frilly. It keeps Ingrid company as a non-a ending name. (Is that important? Maybe … some kids will never notice it; others will see it immediately and find it terribly unfair. It’s impossible to say which side your kids will come down on, but if it’s on your radar, it’s worth addressing – if possible.) Plus it’s clearly borrowed from northern Europe, while still being accessible to English-speakers.
Okay, readers, over to you: what would you name a brother or sister for Anna, Elsa, Greta, and Ingrid?
Thank you to everyone who responded, and especially to Abby! We had another (!) baby girl, and per your suggestion decided to name her Maren! Elsa, Ingrid, and Greta are very excited to have another sister and my husband says at least our cat is male! (Actually we are both over the moon about our new daughter). Thanks again!
I like Axel and Britt best but I think Lars and Conrad both work too! Best of luck
I love Carsten, Stellan, Malin, Mette, and Tova. Did anyone suggest Suvi yet? It means summer.
Love Carsten and Stellan for boys, and Eliza and Liesl for girls!
Hi! Can confirm here that Walter is plenty Scandi/Germanic — “Walther,” pronounced the same way, is a very common German surname, and “Valter” is a common first name in Scandinavia. I think he’d fit right in.
I’m super interested in this question because I speak some German and some Norwegian, so I’ve met people with both kinds of names. Not sure about boys — Caspar is my all-time favorite boys’ name, so I think you should just go ahead with that! — although I love Torben, too, and would love to see more people use it. For girls, I think there are so many names that would work: Berit, Embla, Finja (Fin-yah), Marit, Kirsi, Liv (Leev), Amalie (Amal-yeh), Solveig (Sool-vye), Astri, Leonie. I don’t think you can go wrong, really!
Thanks, Libby. I may be too hung up on whether it would be broadly perceived as German/Scandi/Northern European in the US. My sense was no – but maybe that’s not especially important? And I did just hear parents calling for a 4 or 5 y.o. Walter, and it is really fun to hear it on a child …
Conrad is perfect. Maybe Oskar or Magnus.
For a girl, Heidi.
For a boy I vote Oskar!!! He’s named after all my German relatives named Oskar. We also have a million Conrads in the family tree and I love the name. You can’t go wrong with Conrad or Oskar. Wolfgang is also fun. Viggo is pretty darn cool.
For girls, I like Linnea. It is so lovely. I also love Mette. So lovely. Good luck!!!
For boys I love Conrad, Lars(fave), Alder, Anders, Otto, Soren
My brother’s name is Hans so I love it because it is familiar and has tending sounds however it is too frozen.
Naming a girl is more difficult than a boy because the other four names have a lovely but very specific style that would be best to continue. All of your girl names have two syllables, recognizable traditional sounding scandi/German names, are nickname free, have trending sounds that fit well in the U.S, and have phonetic straight forward spelling. I would call them sweet spot names.
Continuing this trend I like Agnes, Siri, Liesl, Frida, Maren, Heidi, Adele, Liv, and Maud(style fits)
I would add German crossover Alice.
Stellan would be my pick for a boy! Carsten is nice too. Lukas and Niklas feel more mainstream but with a Scandi twist.
For a girl I like Liv or Linnea!
For a boy I wanted to recommend Otto, Carl, Hugo, and also Alfred, Frederick and Johann, but I think Otto, Carl and Hugo fit your style well. And I think Walter has a lovely German sound, a bit English as well, but I see the German roots.
For a girl I second a vote for Astrid, also Ruth, Marta, Heidi, Edith, Erma, Rosanna (too close to Anna?), and Leisel. I do like Clara, too, from your list.
Ooo, Hedwig or Hildegard if you want to be really daring. Hedy and Hildy are darling nicknames.
Jean C. says
I’m on team Caspar all the way. A simple explanation of “with two A’s” will help explain how to spell it, and no matter what the name is or how common, it’s going to be misspelled occasionally, but I don’t think anyone would look at Caspar and mispronounce it, which I think is more important.
For a girl, I love the suggestion of Brigette (in all its various spellings). I also like Mathilda/Mathilde.
Boy – Hans, Axel, Kristoff, Klaus, Hugo
Girl – Bridgette, Maja, Heidi, Kirsten, Astrid, Nora
I have a 17-year-old Astrid so I love that one, however, I’m reluctant to pair it with your Ingrid. It feels a little too matchy to me. It’s a fantastic name though.
Boy – Gustav (Gus!), Stellan, Soren, Bengt
Girl – Freya, Frida, Berit, Linnea, Petra
I love Berit for a girl! Have only ever heard it once– Berit Berger, who often appears in CNN– and if I was having another little one, it would definitely be in the running. Wonderful suggestion!
I saw Pascal on your list last time – I love it! And Casper is my vote, definitely.
I know it’s totally nerdy but I noticed with the exception of Anna (but it’s neat that your first starts with A) the girls all skip a letter… EfGhI.. so why not a K to help narrow your abundance of choices? (You could even do Kasper!) or a C to bring all your kid names into the pattern AbCdEfGhI…
And of course Katrin and Clara (Klara!) on your list…
I don’t know why, but my first thoughts were Astrid and Opal.
The Mrs. says
Haven’t read any responses yet, so sorry for any repeats!
Do you like Nellie? She’s often spelled Nelle in Norway, but the pronunciation is the same.
Linnea is all sorts of Scandi and gorgeous.
For a wee viking, Burt is a surprising but authentic choice. Van is Dutch, but he might work, too. Man, I do like Walter! Oh, how about Karl?!
Many congratulations and best wishes. It is a beautiful and fitting practice that you’ve made a point for your living children to know of their oldest sister. You’re absolutely right: she does count
I’ll throw in Frida too!
I think there are some great suggestions here..
For the boys, I love Conrad, Soren and Oskar. I wonder if Sven fits here too? I love Cormac but perhaps that is too Irish? Erik is Scandinavian and seems to fill the same space as the name Anna in terms of familiarity in the US.
For the girls, I adore Liv and Maren. I was thinking about Maud as well. Meaning “battle-mighty” it is a strong name, only four letters, and the name of a former Queen of Norway… seems like it might fit. Or perhaps Maeve is more familiar albeit Irish? I also think the previous suggestion of Heidi is perfect. Fits right in to your sibset.
So far all your girls have two syllable names, but I don’t know if that is important to you?
You have some great options. Congratulations!
Kristine Kirk says
I second Solvei – although I greatly prefer it without the final g – a spelling in use in Scandinavia, too. I actually quite like Caspar/Kaspar for a boy, and Jasper would be great, too! Leif is handsome in the set as well. Marit, Brinja, Tova, Lisbet, Naja, Adele, Roselet…these would be my choices for a girl. My favorites in your set are Solvei, Adele, or Roselet.
Came here to comment my favorite choice for them is Marit. 🙂
Love that suggestion!
Lisa T. says
Hi, I live in Germany – your kids so far have very traditional names, 3 of which are back in trend for babies here. Caspar fits that description too! Here are some other old-fashioned names that are gaining traction here (but still probably unusual in the US):
Boys: Oskar, Felix, Karl
Girls: Marlene, Thea
I love Astrid! I also looked at the previous post about your twins… I’ll suggest Thea. Also, Lotte is lovely and goes so sweetly with her siblings’ names.
For boys, I love Oskar, Silas, and Soren.
Also – I’ll add that I have a good friend named Astri (a variation of Astrid or Astra). Unexpected and familiar. Also a little less matchy with Ingrid.
It’s a lovely name to speak aloud, too. Astri.
I love the suggestion of Heidi with this group.
How about Hugo?
What a beautiful sibset you have! 🙂 I love Scandinavian names and everything Nordic, and am learning Swedish, so I just love your children’s names.
From Abby’s suggestions, I feel Axel the most for your family if it’ll be a boy. My first thought was Magnus. Lars is really cool too. How about Rasmus? Maybe Emil? Elias?
Siri would be so endearing as another girl in your family, but ugh, Apple. Sigrid is fantastic too, but feels quite matchy with Ingrid, so I understand you’d like to avoid that. A bit less matchy and also brilliantly Scandinavian name that I love is Astrid. One of my first thoughts was Ebba, though as it starts with an E and ends with an A it’s maybe not the best idea with Elsa. Maybe Tuva? Also Mia feels very Scandinavian to me, but I guess it’s very popular in the US/English-speaking world. If not Mia, maybe Maja/Maia/Maya. What do you think of Elin? It starts with El- like Elsa, but doesn’t feel to matchy (in my opinion), and doesn’t end with an A, it’s also easy to pronounce and spell and I suppose would feel quite modern in the US in comparison to Helen, but is traditional and common in Sweden. If not Elin, maybe Malin. Other than that, Maren, Marit, Kerstin (the Swedish pronounciation would be a bit of a headache I assume but you could pronounce it as Kirsten perhaps), Kari, Karin, or Liv is what I especially feel would go well. Sorry for such an inadequacy in the number of suggestions for boys vs girls but I have definitely more ideas for girls. 😀
Wonderful sibset so far! Some suggestions/endorsements:
Freya (though another -a ending)
Maren (love this!)
Fritz (this would be great! – nn for Friedrich)
I have a Conrad, love the name so much.
Ursula or Odette to flow with your A, E, I names? Ulrike, Ophelia?
Ebba, Sigrid, Freya, Tove/Tova, Saga
Axel, Gustaf, Magnus, Sixten
What about Magnus, Leif, Hans, Christian or Frank for a boy.
For a girl I would think Freya, Marie,
Brigitte- I really love Brigitte with this sister set. Bridget would be great too but is more common than Brigitte..
If it’s a boy, Soren gets my vote.
Congrats on baby!!
Oh some gorgeous names here! I feel like Lars, Conrad or Soren would all be perfect for a boy.
For a girl, my favourites of all the ones mentioned by the post and comments are:
I knew a baby Elin when my daughter was tiny and it’s such a wearable but gorgeous name.
Thora and Lars and Axel are great options, as is Caspar (but I agree about the spelling issues in the USA). And Otto. And Liv, but I suspect it would be mispronounced, and might get lost among the Olivias.
I’d add Heidi for consideration – Germanic, easy to spell, doesn’t end in ‘a’, and it fits really well:
Anna, Elsa, Ingrid and Heidi.
Hilda would work well too, but it might be too Germanic for you? And it ends in ‘a’. So does Matilda, which is also a bit longer than your other options, but familiar and easy to spell: Anna, Elsa, Ingrid and Matilda.
For boys, maybe Bruno?
Anna, Elsa, Ingrid and Bruno.
Maybe Viggo? Anna, Elsa, Ingrid and Viggo.
Or Erik (though it might have the same spelling problems as Caspar)?
Is Hans too much? Anna, Elsa, Ingrid and Hans. Or Henrik?
Your girls are beautifully named, and I’m sure you’ll come up with something lovely. I hope you’ll write back in to let us know.
Such beautiful names! My suggestions are:
Nils, Arvid, Elias, Stellan, Leon, Vincent or Viktor
Linnea, Marit, Alva, Alma, Esther, Stina, Karin or Agnes
Also, I am Scandanavian and I have Mette on my family tree. My second cousin is named Mette (pulled from the family tree). She pronounces it Mett-uh and it is cute on her.
How about Sonia or Agata?
I love love love Caspar, Walter (Walt!), and Sabine! I also like the suggestions of Soren and Maren, Anders and Linnea. I’m also partial to Berit and Ronja.
I like Malin for a girl. It’s a Swedish variant of Magdalene.
My grandfather immigrated from Sweden and my other set from Germany-names from our family tree that might appeal:
Boys: Anders, Erik, Oskar, Hans (too Frozen maybe), Jacob, Heinrich, Felix, Johan
Girls: Annemarie, Truen, Olina, Dorit (nn Dot!)
I love scandi names! Abby’s suggestions are great, and I especially love Axel, Maren, and Liv.
Here are a few more:
Boys – Rolf, Henrik, Fredrik, Gunner
Girls – Lena, Marit, Linnea, Karla, Sonja, Agnes, Erika, Anya, Anika, Kirsten
Otto and Oskar for a boy.
Elsbeth is lovely for a girl.