Many Icelandic names have been in use since the Viking Age, and some of them go back even further.
The world of Icelandic girl names is filled with interesting and deep names, many from the culture of the Vikings, which tend to have direct connections to old Nordic pagan mythology, magic, and culture — with nature and animals playing a big part as well.
Guðrún is an old Icelandic name that has been one of the most popular girl names in Iceland for centuries.
The first part, “Guð”, means “god”, presumably the Christian God. The suffix, -rún, can mean either “a secret” or “a mystery”. The same word refers to the rúnagaldur or “rune-magic”, which in Icelandic and ancient Norse meant “secret magic”.
The name Guðrún can therefore be interpreted as “the secret of God” or allude to “the magical, mysterious power of God”.Sigríður
Sigríður is a popular name in modern-day Iceland that dates back to the Viking age and possibly even further back than that. This name has a very primal and central cultural meaning to it.
The prefix “Sigur-” can mean “victory” or “battle”, while “-fríður” means “beautiful”. The combination can be interpreted as “the beauty of battle or victory” or even “as beautiful as battle/victory itself”, which either way speaks to the cultural perspective of ancient Scandinavian societies.Helga
A timeless classic, Helga has a relatively straightforward meaning, as “the holy one” or “the sacred one”. This name pre-dates Christianity and has been popular in Iceland since the colonization of the island began in the 800s CE.Sigrún
Sigrún is a female name that incorporates two previously mentioned Icelandic words: Sig- (as in Sigur) and -rún.
This combination can be understood in a few different ways, such as “the secret of victory or battle” or “the mystery of victory or battle”.
Throughout the Viking age and up to the present day, this name has remained popular in Iceland.Ingibjörg
A centuries-old classic, the name Ingibjörg carries a deep mythological meaning.
The prefix “Ingi-” is a common component in Icelandic names, regardless of gender. It derives from an alternate name for the deity Freyr, also known as Ingvi-Freyr or Ingvi. While directly associated with the god of fertility, growth, and wealth, it also carries the meaning of “king” or “lord.”
The second part of the name, “-björg”, means “safety” or “protection”. Therefore, the name as a whole can mean “a king’s protection” or, when traced back to its mythological origins, “protected by Freyr”.
This is a mighty blessing, considering that Freyr was one of the most powerful and popular gods in the Nordic pantheon. It is therefore no surprise that the name has maintained its popularity from the Viking age to the present day.Elín
You might not have guessed it, but the name Elín is a derivation of the Graeco-Roman name Helena. The name is quite popular in Iceland and has an entirely Icelandic grammar structure, which disguises its origins. It carries the meaning of “the bright” or “the glowing”.Hildur
Hildur is an old name, really old. It goes back to Proto-Germanic times and is heavily featured in mythology and general language as well.
In essence, Hildur means “war”, which sheds light on why one of the prominent Valkyries in Nordic sagas bears this name. The Valkyries held the sacred duty of overseeing the battlefields of mortals and ushering the mightiest warriors to the halls of Odin in Valhalla.
Due to this role, they were worshiped and offered sacrifices. The Valkyries were perceived as the personification of war itself.
Now Hildur as one of the leading Valkyries was a powerful figure, so powerful in fact that the name for war on a large scale, with connotations of dread and extreme danger, is called “hildarleikur” in Icelandic, which literally translates to “Hildur’s game”.Lilja
Shifting from the realm of war to something entirely different, Lilja is a very pretty Icelandic girl's name that translates to “lily”. It can also be taken to mean “the living faith”, although, to most Icelandic people, the association with the flower is more obvious.Ragnheiður
Ragnheiður is a female name consisting of two parts: “ragn-” which means “the gods” or “higher power,” and “-heiður” which translates “bright,” in the sense of gleaming or shining.
The prefix “ragn-” is widely used in Icelandic names, regardless of gender, due to its powerful meaning. It appears for example in the term Ragnarök, which represents the ancient prophecy of apocalypse in Nordic mythology, literally translating to “the end of the gods.”
The name can be understood as referring to someone who is as “bright as the gods”.Ásta
Ásta is an Icelandic girl's name derived from the longer name Ástríður, which is also relatively common, but the shortened form is far more popular.
Ástríður translates to “she who the gods love”, and this meaning carries over to Ásta, with perhaps more emphasis on “love”, because the Icelandic word ást means “love”. Ásta can therefore be understood simply as “she who is loved”.Erla
Another simple name with a connection to nature, Erla means “bird”. It is not the most common word for bird however in the Icelandic language, which is fugl, and it carries a more beautiful, almost poetic sense. A very pretty bird species which migrates to Iceland in the summers is called Maríuerla (Latin for reference: Motacilla alba).Auður
Auður is a name as old as the colonization of Iceland itself, with one of the first settlers mentioned in ancient sources identified as Auður Djúpúðga. The epithet Djúpúðga translates to “deep thinking” or “contemplative”.
Auður was a daughter of a Norwegian ruler. Both her husband and son became sea-kings in Ireland and Scotland, after successful Viking conquests. But after they died in battle, Auður set out on her own with a party of followers, settled in Iceland, and was one of the country’s first practicing Christians.
The name itself carries a meaning of “fortunate woman”, and in present-day Iceland, the word auður means “wealth”.Steinunn
The name Steinunn dates back to the early phases of Iceland's settlement and therefore likely extends further back in Scandinavian history.
It is formed as a combination of two words, the prefix Stein- which means “stone” and the suffix -unn which can mean either “to love” or “ocean wave”.
Its meaning translates to “she who loves the stone” or “the wave-stone”, which either way carries a deep meaning in the ancient Nordic culture. Stone is seen as a totemic elemental force and ocean waves as divine blessings or punishment depending on context.Kolbrún
Again a combination of two words, Kol- which means “black” or “dark” as in kol for “coal” and -brún which means “brow”. The name Kolbrún is then somebody who is “dark of brow”. The name is a pretty one in Icelandic and has also been very popular through the ages.Bryndís
Immensely popular historically and in modern-day Iceland, Bryndís is a female name formed as a combination of two words.
Bryn- is a prefix that means “armored”, with the word brynja literally meaning “protection” or “armor”, and -dís which most simply could be translated to “fairy” but has far more nuance in Icelandic mythology.
A dís is a supernatural feminine being of some sort, or even a goddess, with words like fegurðardís meaning “divinely beautiful” or “as beautiful as a dís” (örlagadís being another one, “a dís of fate/destiny”).
Translating the name Bryndís directly proves challenging, as “armored fairy” fails to evoke the same imagery in English as it does in Icelandic. Picture, if you will, a divine female being who is immensely beautiful and tremendously powerful and fierce, and you start to get a feeling for the name’s inherent meaning.
During the Viking age, the peoples from the Nordic countries were famously fierce and intimidating and though their culture was male-dominated, it was far less so than most other societies of their time, with women often occupying positions of leadership and power, sometimes as warriors themselves — and with many powerful deities being female. It is no surprise then that Icelandic girl names carry that legacy.Ásgerður
Ásgerður is another Icelandic name that is formed by combining two words. The prefix Ás- refers to the primary clan of deities in the Norse pantheon, the Aesir (Æsir or Ás in Icelandic).
These Aesir gods — which include Odin, Thor, Frigg, Baldur, and others — reside in a realm named Ásgarðr (Asgard) in Nordic mythology.
If you are noticing a resemblance between the location name Ásgarður and the female name Ásgerður you are not mistaken! The suffix -garður translates to “fortification”, “wall” or “city” and its morphed form, -gerður, refers to the concept of “defense” or “protector”.
Ásgerður, therefore, is a name that means “the protector of the gods” or “defender of the gods”.Bjarnveig
The fierceness found in nature is represented in many Icelandic names and Bjarnveig is a good example of this.
The prefix Bjarn- means “bear”, while the suffix -veig translates to “strength”. The bearer of this mighty name would thus be known as “she who is as strong as a bear”.Herdís
Herdís is a name that incorporates the previously discussed suffix -dís, signifying “a magical or divine female being and/or goddess”.
The initial component, the prefix Her-, means “army”.
The fusion of these two parts leads to an interpretation of the name as “goddess of the army”. Alternatively, it could be understood to mean the “guardian spirit of the army”.Gunnfríður
Gunnfríður is another Icelandic female name that is connected to the theme of warfare.
The prefix Gunn-, derived from the Icelandic term gunnur meaning “battle” is paired with the suffix -fríður which means either “beautiful” or the “act of loving”.
The name Gunnfríður can therefore be interpreted as “the beauty of battle” (or possibly “beautiful in battle”) or “she who loves battle”.Þórey
The ever-popular god Thor appears in the construction of both Icelandic boy and girl names. In this case, the prefix Þór- is just literally the god’s name but the suffix -ey means something akin to “fortune” and/or “happiness”.
In the former sense the word very much resembles the Latin concept of fortuna as the ancient Romans thought of it, that is, not simply luck but rather a sort of divinely orchestrated success and fortune. Þórey then means “the fortune of Thor”.
Icelandic girl names, just like those for boys, often echo themes of strength and skill in battle, mirroring the ancient culture they come from. But some names diverge from this trend and instead offer enchanting connections to nature and mythology.Embla
In the Nordic creation myth, the gods and brothers Odin, Vili, and Vé created the first two humans out of trees. The first man, Askur, was crafted from the ash tree — and the first woman, Embla, from the elm tree.
As such the woman Embla was the primordial mother of mankind, akin to the biblical Eve. Embla is a name with a deep mythological story behind it and it is quite pretty.Eygló
Simply put, the name Eygló means “the Sun”. Diving into its distinct parts, Ey- in this case, means “eternal” and -gló as in “glowing”, the name then means “the eternal glow”, referring to the Sun.Drífa
Another elemental name, Drífa is one of the Icelandic language’s nearly infinite different words for snow. It is no surprise that snow and winter hold a special place in the Icelandic and pan-Nordic cultural imagination, though it is not always regarded with dread, as in the case of this beautiful name.Freyja
Freyja is a famous and beautiful Icelandic name that is directly connected to mythology. Freyja —the goddess of love, fertility, beauty, and magic in the Nordic pantheon— held a similar role to Aphrodite or Venus in the Graeco-Roman world.
Freyja was the daughter of Njörður, the sea god, and the twin sister of Freyr, another deity associated with fertility. She was also one of the more powerful gods and one of the most popular amongst the Nordic peoples, especially for matters of magic and the heart.
That legacy is still felt today, as the name Freyja remains popular in Iceland and is considered quite beautiful.Villimey
Villimey is an Icelandic female name composed of two parts. The prefix “villi-” is derived from the Icelandic word vilji which means “willpower”. That prefix can mean either “wild” or “willful”. The suffix “-mey” means “maiden” or “woman”.
The double meaning of the prefix can be understood as two sides of the same coin. In an ancient male-dominated society, a “willful” woman may have been seen as “wild.” However, the name is complimentary in that the society of Viking age Iceland and wider Scandinavia respected few traits more than strength and power, whether of mind or body.
Villimey or “a woman strong of will” was a mighty title as well as a beautiful one.Conclusion
When seeking inspiration or uncertain about name choices, Icelandic girl names offer a wealth of powerful, mystical, and elemental options. These names are imbued with totemic significance, showcasing both beauty and profound cultural depth.
We have also published a guide to Icelandic boy names.