Swedish is a language that evolved from Old Norse, the language spoken in Scandinavia during the Viking Age. When we look at Swedish names, we notice that many of them come from Old Norse. There are also quite a few Swedish names that come from Latin.
Alex, being a short form of the name Alexander, has the same meaning as the longer version of the name – the meaning is derived from the ancient Greek name Aléxandros, meaning “protector”.
Anton, one of the most common boy names in Sweden, is derived from the Latin name Antonius. The name's popularity in Sweden is high both among older and younger generations.
Eskil is a Swedish male name that comes from the Old Norse names Áskell or Ásketill. The meaning of this Old Norse name is roughly “divine cauldron”, with Ás meaning “divine” or “God” and ketill meaning “cauldron” or “helmet”.
Originally, Jan was primarily used in hyphenated names such as Jan-Erik and Jan-Olof. It also serves as a shortened version of Johan. But recently in Sweden, it has become increasingly popular to use Jan as a standalone name.
The direct meaning of Karl is “man” – the word karl is still used in the Swedish language today with that meaning. A common nickname for boys bearing this name is Kalle.
Kristian is the Swedish version of the name Christian, although both spellings are very common in Sweden. The name is derived from the Latin word Christianus meaning “follower of Christ”.
Lars is a Swedish name that shares the same origin as the American name Lawrence. Both names can be traced back to the Latin name Laurentius, which itself is derived from the Latin word “laurus” meaning “Laurel tree”.
In Sweden, boys named Lars are often affectionately called Lasse, which is not only a common nickname but also an independent name in its own right.
Magnus is a common male name in Sweden that originates from the Latin adjective “magnus” which means “great”. That Latin word is also the root of the English adjectives “magnificent” and “magnanimous”.
Mattias is a biblical name that is very common in Sweden – other versions, like Mathias and Matias, are also found here.
Nils is a classic and widely used name in Sweden. It is derived as a shortened form of the Latin name Nicolaus, which in turn comes from the Greek name Nikolaos, meaning “victory of the people.”
Other names derived from Nicolaus that are common in Sweden include Niklas, Klas, and Clas. In Sweden, a nickname commonly given to those with the name Nils is Nisse.
Nils is also the name of the boy protagonist in the children's novel “The Wonderful Adventures of Nils” by Selma Lagerlöf, a Swedish author and the first female Nobel laureate in literature.
Olle is commonly used as a nickname for someone named Olof. But interestingly, in Sweden, Olle is a more popular name than the original name Olof.
Just like Olle, Pelle is also commonly used as a nickname for a few other names – like Per, Pär, and Peter – but it is also popular as a name on its own.
Per, also sometimes spelled Pär, is a shortened version of Petros, a common Greek name.
Rasmus is derived from the Latin name Erasmus which comes from an Ancient Greek word meaning “beloved”. This name also has high popularity in neighboring countries like Denmark and Norway.
Svante is a modern version of the name Svantepolk, which was a popular name in Sweden during the Medieval times.
Tobias is a somewhat more common variant of the more traditional Swedish name Torbjörn. A common nickname used for males named Tobias is Tobbe.
Albin is a popular Swedish boy’s name that can be traced back to the Latin name Albinus, which itself is derived from the Latin adjective “albus” meaning “white”.
Arvid is a Swedish name that comes from the Old Norse name Arnviðr. This boy’s name has a nature-related meaning, as it is formed from the Old Norse words “ǫrn” (which means “eagle”) and “viðr” (which means “forest”).
These Old Norse words, when put together evoke the imagery of an eagle soaring through the forested landscapes of Scandinavia.
The name Elias is the Swedish version of the biblical name Elijah, a Hebrew prophet in the New Testament.
Frans, which comes from the Latin name Franciscus, has only lately started gaining popularity in Sweden. The meaning of the name is from Latin and, as you might guess, it roughly translates to “the French one”.
Hampus started as a nickname for those with the name Johannes but is now a common name in Sweden on its own. It is more commonly found among younger generations in Sweden.
The name Hugo originates from Frankish Hugi, meaning mind or spirit. Hugo is an upcoming name popularity-wise in Sweden; the average age of people with the name Hugo is just under 15 at the time of writing.
Ludvig is the Swedish equivalent of names like Lous or Ludwig. In Sweden, the name Ludvig has been rising in popularity over the last 10 years or so, and is today more popular than the German, spelling Ludwig.
Mattis, a medieval contraction of Mathias, is a biblical name that is quite popular in Sweden. It is not just a boy's name, but can also be used for a girl – then considered a contraction of the female name Matilda.
Otto is a German name that is not just commonly found in Sweden, but also popular in neighboring countries Denmark and Finland.
Agne is a name that is derived from Old Norse Agni. The female version of the name, Agnes, is significantly more common in Sweden than the male version Agne.
Allan is a name that Swedish borrowed from English. This name was most popular in Sweden from the 1910s to the 1930s.
The name Björn means “bear”, and in modern Swedish, the word is still the same. There are some variants of the name such as Torbjörn and Thorbjörn.
Björn Ulvaeus, a Swedish musician and songwriter, is a notable example of someone named Björn. He gained worldwide fame as a member of the legendary pop group ABBA.
Gunnar is another common Swedish name that originates from Old Norse. The original name, Gunnarr (with an extra letter ‘r’ at the end), comes from the word “gunnr” which means “battle”.
Gunnarsson (combining Gunnar and Son) is a frequently encountered surname. It is among the top 50 surnames in Sweden.
The name Göran originates from Middle Low German Jurian. This particular spelling of the name, starting with a G, is common in Sweden but not often found elsewhere.
Hans is a variant of the biblical name Johannes. For those with the name Hans, Hasse is a very commonly used nickname in Sweden. Hansson (Hans + son) is also one of the most common surnames in Sweden.
Helge is based on the Old Norse Helgi, from heiligr, meaning “happy” or “lucky”). Helgi has later been reinterpreted to be a form of the adjective heilagr, translating to “holy”.
Håkan comes from Old Norse Hákon, and the meaning of the name is undecided with several interpretations. This is an old-school name that pretty much exists exclusively in Sweden.
Ingemar, also sometimes but less commonly spelled Ingmar, is derived from Old Norse Ingimarr – ingi from the god of Ing/Yngvi and marr from mærr, translating to “famous”.
A famous person with this name was Ingmar Bergman, the internationally acclaimed Swedish film director known for his iconic movie “The Seventh Seal”.
The Swedish name Ingvar is the equivalent of the English Ivor and originates from the Old Norse name Yngvarr.
A famous Swedish person with this name was Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, the multinational furniture retailer.
Kaj is a name that spread to Sweden from Denmark, likely originating from the Roman name Caius. This is the Scandinavian equivalent of the German name Kai.
Kjell is a name that originates from Old Norse Ketill, which is a word meaning “cauldron” or “helmet.” This name is sometimes part of a compound name – for example in Eskil, which also originates from Ketill, combined with another name. Kjell has been around in Sweden for a while, with the first recorded usage being in the mid-1500s.
The name Kurt is a contraction of Konrad and has been in use in Sweden since the 1600s. The name Kondrad stems from a combination of kōniz, meaning “bold” or “brave” plus rēdaz, translating to “counsel”.
Leif is a name that originates from Leifr and has been used in Norway since the Middle Ages – it started gaining popularity in Sweden around the late 1800s. The meaning of Leif is “inheritor”.
A famous historical figure named Leif is the Norse explorer, Leif Erikson, who is believed to have led the first recorded European expedition to North America, around the year 1000, preceding Christopher Columbus by nearly 500 years.
Ove is a Swedish male name that has been taken from Denmark and has been around in Sweden since the Middle Ages.
The name Ove has been featured in contemporary literature through the best-selling novel “A Man Called Ove” by Swedish author Fredrik Backman.
Ragnar is the modern Scandinavian spelling of the Old Norse name Ragnarr which is a combination of the words regin, meaning “the gods” and herr meaning “army”.
A famous person with this name is Ragnar Lodbrok, a legendary Viking who is prominently featured in Norse sagas and myths, and has become an icon in Scandinavian popular culture.
The name Rolf comes from Old Norse Hrólfr, consisting of the words hróðr, meaning “fame” and ulfr meaning “wolf”. The English version of the name is Rudolph. Rolf is not the only common Swedish name with the meaning “wolf” – Ulf is another example.
Rune is a name derived from the Old Norse word “rún”, which means “secret”. This name shares the same etymology as the Swedish word runa (“rune” in English) which refers to a letter of the runic alphabet.
This name is found in all Nordic countries, first in Denmark and introduced to Sweden during the late 1860s. Stig, being derived from Old Norse Stígr, comes from the verb stíga, which means “to step”.
Stig in modern Swedish is not only a name but has two meanings – one being the verb “to step” and the other a noun meaning “path”.
A famous person with this name is Stieg Larsson, the Swedish author known for his Millennium series, which includes the novel “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”.
The name Sture became famous in history through an important family living during medieval times. Sture was most commonly given as a name during the 1900s. The meaning of the name Sture is thought to be from the verb stura, “to sulk”, and describes someone stubborn.
The name Sven originates from the Old Norse word sveinn which translates to “boy”.
In popular culture, the name Sven has gained international recognition through the character of Sven the reindeer in Disney's animated film “Frozen.”
Sören, an old common Swedish name, originates from the Latin word Severinus with the meaning “serious” or “grave”.
This name is a simple one in meaning – it is a combination of the name Thor or Tor compounded with the Swedish word björn, meaning “bear”. Björn is also a name on its own in Sweden.
The name Tord, sometimes spelled as Thord, is a combination of the elements “Thor” and “fridr”. Thor is a prominent god in Norse mythology, and “friðr” is an Old Norse word that can mean either “peace” or “love”.
In addition to being used in Sweden, Tord is a name that is also used in Norway. For instance, it is the name of Tord Gustavsen, a renowned Norwegian jazz pianist.
Similar to Torbjörn and Tord, the name Torsten follows the pattern of combining “Tor” with another word. In this case, the second component of the name, “sten,” originates from the Old Norse word “stein,” which translates to “stone” and has the same meaning in modern Swedish.
The name Ulf is derived from Old Norse Ulv and translates to “wolf”. For other Swedish names inspired by wildlife, see also Björn, Torbjörn, and Rolf.
Åke is a quintessentially Swedish name primarily used within Sweden, although some variations are found in other Scandinavian countries, such as the Danish name Åge (or Aage).Conclusion
This concludes our guide to Swedish boy’s names. To learn more about Scandinavian names, see this guide to Icelandic male names.
Sweden shares its eastern border with Finland, but Finnish belongs to a different language family compared to Swedish. We have also published an article on Finnish boy’s names.