TV’s Michael Scott mangled this one in an unforgettable fashion a few weeks ago.

Thanks to Allison for suggesting Astrid as Name of the Day.

If you follow NBC’s The Office, you probably know all about Michael Scott’s not-baby with his former boss, Jan Levinson. If you don’t, here’s a rough sketch: bumbling boss Michael informed his team a) they needed to throw his ex-girlfriend a baby shower; b) if the baby was a girl, she’d be called Astird.

That’s his typo, not mine, and they even put it on the customized M&Ms.

Not only did The Office drones get the spelling wrong, they also flubbed the meaning. Michael insisted Astird Astrid means Viking princess.

Not so much.

And yet Astrid is undeniably Scandinavian, and with a regal vibe, too.

Astrid evolved from the Old Norse Ástrídr – the first bit means god; the second, beauty, so you’ll usually see the meaning “divine beauty” attached. That’s almost as good as Viking princess. Variant spellings over the years include Æstriðr, Ástríðr, Estrid, Estrith and Astrith.

Royal Astrids include:

  • The tenth century Astrid of the Obotrites, Queen consort of Olof Skötkonung, King of Sweden;
  • Astrid Svendsdatter was a Danish princess from the same era. Her son went on to become King Sweyn II of Denmark. She later married Robert, Duke of Normandy – making her stepmom to William the Conqueror;
  • Astrid of Sweden, born in 1905, became Queen of Belgium when she married monarch Leopold III. She was wildly popular, and her tragic death in a car accident at a young age added to her mystique;
  • Princess Astrid of Belgium was Queen Astrid’s granddaughter. Born in 1962, she’s now the Archduchess of Austria-Este;
  • Princess Astrid of Norway, born in 1932, spent more than a decade serving as official hostess for her father, the King, after her mother’s passing. But this royal married a commoner, and is better known as Mrs. Ferner.

You’ll notice that there are a few centuries without Astrids. Just like the Victorians revived literary, historical and mythological monikers in the 19th century, Astrid experienced a resurgence in Scandinavia. She remains popular today, ranking in the Top 50 in Denmark and Sweden, and coming in at #63 in Norway as of 2007.

The name is also heard in Belgium, thanks to the royal link, and English. In the US, Astrid has very occasionally ranked in the US Top 1000. Her last appearance was in 2005.

Modern Astrids include:

  • Venezuelan telenovela actress Astrid Carolina Herrera Irrazábal;
  • Brazilian singer Astrud Gilberto. You might not recognize her name, but you know her voice – she’s the haunting voice in “The Girl from Ipanema”;
  • Astrid Kirchherr met Stuart Sutcliffe back when the Beatles were an undiscovered bar band playing Hamburg. Her photographs of them remain favorites;
  • Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren penned the Pippi Longstocking series. Pippi is the fiercely independent, improbably strong and surprisingly sensible daughter of a sea captain, best known for her red braids. (And she claims that Pippi is a nickname for Pippilotta.)

If you’re looking for a frills-free Scandinavian name that’s nicely underused, Astrid is certainly one to consider.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I equivilate The “Astrid effect” as you call it to the Harry – “harry butts” and See More butts” affect. Its rhyme or catchy. I once knew a family who had a little girl named Libby. Little miss Libby had some weight issue from being a diabetic, but at school she was teased as being “fatty wabby Libby the Libertard/Liberturd.” Kids will say anything to be cool, mean and one up other children for inferiority reason. Its sad. As a child, I was always Winter to the kids, but to the adults, I was the “Hippy Parent’s child or spawn, or that kid from THOSE Hippy Parents.” The oddity of the whole thing, was that my parents we NOT hippies…The adult would never acknowledge that Winter was a real name, and that its dates of use go as far back as the 16th century and the use of the surname dates back to the 9th century.

  2. I love the name Astrid now as an adult. My grandma’s sister was named Astrid, but she went by her unfortunate middle name, Marie. Ick. She was named after a Swedish princess or queen- my grandgrandparents immigrated from Sweden to Michigan. Her similarly named sister were Olive, Frances, and Honor. Another aunt was Arlene, which I don’t consider very Scandanavian royal sounding. My grandfather called her “Assi-turd” and I’m sure that why she went by simple, plain Marie. However, all of my aunts went by their middle names when they had perfectly good first names.