Some stronger Icelandic boy names

Some helpful feedback on here said that my top very Icelandic (i.e. not international) boys’ names were a bit nicknamey and juvenile sounding, which I actually agreed with, it was a good point (they were Gylfi and Orri btw). Trouble is that the stronger sounding ones tend to have more pronunciation problems for non-Icelandic-speakers and not travel as well. These are a few that are a bit more robust, I think :slight_smile: Can you say them, do you like them? I’ve mentioned a few before on these forums, so sorry about that, if you already said what you thought no need to repeat yourself!

(Icelandic [name_m]Harold[/name_m], could be [name_u]Harri[/name_u] to English people, I’m wary because the more common nn here is [name_f]Halli[/name_f] which I dislike, also I’m not certain the full name pronunciation would transfer well)
(A longstanding favourite, a rare gem in that it’s very Icelandic but I think v. easy to pronounce, nice nn Ingi)
(As in Leifur [name_f]Eir[/name_f]íksson. [name_m]Lay[/name_m]-vur, I think people are familiar with [name_m]Leif[/name_m], the more modern form used in Scandinavia? I’ve heard people say [name_u]Leaf[/name_u] though which bugs me, would people say Leafer?)
Þorgils / Thorgils
(Easy to say, but special character problems, most people are baffled by Þ, not quite sure whether it would be a problem to change it to Th for use in English. I love nns Þorri and Gilsi, also it’s a family name. But Þ… argh, probably not the kindest option.)

These ones wouldn’t fit with mn [name_m]Karl[/name_m] so couldn’t be a first boy, but maybe keep for second boy if we ever get that far.

(Basically cognate of [name_u]Bert[/name_u], means bright. J is like in fjord. I love this for its literary associations and meaning, but think it might be a bit of a mouthful. Too rhymey with [name_m]Karl[/name_m] I think)
(Another longstanding favourite of mine, and the name of a saga-hero (the most handsome man to be born in Iceland they say!). Maybe a bit tricky to pronounce, though. It is supposed to rhyme with tartan, and the j is like in fjord. I wouldn’t do the alliteration with [name_m]Karl[/name_m])
(First syllable like sigh, don’t think that’s obvious at all, is it? Easy to say, but confusing spelling. Is potentially possible with [name_m]Karl[/name_m] but Sævar [name_m]Karl[/name_m] is the name of a fashion designer and shop downtown, maybe not a problem… Would have to be Saevar for English people probably, more special character problems…)
(Really like this name, but is it too much of a mouthful? Lots of r. Sverrir [name_m]Karl[/name_m] is too much like spherical for me.)

Sometimes I kind of think Icelandic is the nightmare language for multicultural naming… Multicultural naming in general is a pain because it narrows down your options extremely much. I’m kind of nervous to mix in differing tastes as well, think it’s going to be a real challenge once we actually get pregnant.

Most are on forvo for pronunciation checks if you’re interested:íelsson/#isævar/#isáll_guðnason/#is

I love them! I didn’t really have trouble saying any of them

[name_f]My[/name_f] favorites:
Ingimar, nn Ingi <3

They are so handsome and strong!

I also didn’t have any pronunciation trouble, but this IS a names site, so I think almost everyone on these forums could pronounce them. I like all of them and think any one would be a good choice. Heraldur, Ingimar, and Leifur are the more international friendly though, imo. I especially love Leifur and unless he visits [name_u]America[/name_u], I’m sure it won’t be mispronounced as much as you think.

Yeah I stress it because I know my family, and they still won’t even pronounce Reykjavík right (it’s Rake-yah-veek, but it’s like impossible to stop them saying Rek-yuh-vik, I gave up on it). So for each name I pretend I’m not bilingual and try to think of the most English way it could come out, and for some select few I don’t mind it, just seems like an accent to me. But some kinda bother me.
You guys on here are for sure less likely to have problems! With Icelandic words my dad tries too hard and sounds bizarre, although a lot better than my mum who doesn’t try at all and just approximates. [name_f]My[/name_f] brother is fine, so it’s possibly an age thing. Extended family are going to be worse than my mum. I’m being a bit mean, I have no right to expect them to learn the language, but hopefully they’ll put some special effort in when it comes to an actual child’s name.

I love all the names! Here are the aspects/names I think could cause some problem in the us. I still like the names a lot, and I don’t think it will be too hard for people to learn how to pronounce them correctly.

Leifur - might be some problems, outside of like Minnesota, where it will be pronounced wrong. If people were corrected it might not be as bad. I like the name [name_m]Leif[/name_m] a lot, but I’m afraid it would constantly be butchered.
Þ - will cause some problems in america. I’m pretty sure people will think it’s a weird looking P, which is unfortunate.
J - the sound is also different, which might cause some confusion, but I don’t think it will be too bad since people have learned quickly how to use the J in Spanish.

Iceland is one of my favorite nations on earth, but unfortunately I think your fears are all spot-on. [name_m]Leif[/name_m] is nearly always pronounced ‘leaf.’ In school we even learnt as kids about [name_u]LEAF[/name_u] [name_m]Erikson[/name_m]. The runic characters are going to be nightmarish as you can expect.

Ingimar might even strike people as a bit feminine, since the only point of reference will be [name_f]Ingrid[/name_f].

I love Haraldur but do worry about that ending sound, durrrrr. As you know it’s often made as a ‘duh!’ type sound to indicate stupidity.

The name [name_m]Bjorn[/name_m] is reasonably familiar to English speakers, as is the word fjord. I think the J names might be just fine. In fact I do like Bjartur [name_m]Karl[/name_m]- I don’t think it repeats too many sounds.

The easiest intercultural names won’t sound distinctively Icelandic, unfortunately. [name_m]Jonas[/name_m], [name_m]Johannes[/name_m], Kristjan, [name_m]Oskar[/name_m], etc won’t have any pronunciation problems.

I do like the distinctively Icelandic Arnor-- no pronunciation problems there, and a nice etymology.

Wow, Arnór is a really tricky one I think! I’m going to avoid the rn sound because it’s totally alien to anglophones (there’s a sort of d/t sound in between the r and the n), and I think people would say the last syllable like or, but it should be as in dough plus an r. It’s a minefield! Also there’s already a little Arnar in the family and it’s too close. Icelandic [name_m]Karl[/name_m] in itself is super tricky for the same reason, despite easy appearances (it’s sort of like Kartl, it’s similar to the sound in Eyjafjallajökull that in my experience nobody who didn’t speak Icelandic could get). I try to steer well clear of rn and rl! [name_m]Karl[/name_m] gets a pass because it will only be a middle name and it’s a tradition, plus I don’t really care if people say that in the English way.

I’m not much for the J names in Icelandic (the ones that begin with J, I mean), I prefer the J sound to the Y and they don’t have it. Apart from Jóhann but I know bf doesn’t like that one. Kristján (which is also harder than it looks, á is ow) is out because of the obvious [name_m]Christ[/name_m] reference. Óskar is totally on my list of international options that I don’t mind people pronouncing differently (which they will, because it’s not the same as [name_m]Oskar[/name_m]) :slight_smile:

[name_f]Do[/name_f] you not think Ingimar might remind people of [name_m]Ingmar[/name_m] Bergman? It’s a good point about [name_f]Ingrid[/name_f] being better known, though. Thank you very much for your input, I agree totally that it’s basically impossible to have my cake and eat it. I have to pick ‘travels well’ or ‘distinctly Icelandic, séríslensk’ and there’s not much overlap :frowning:

[name_m]Just[/name_m] out of interest [name_m]Blade[/name_m], I found a good pronunciation of Arnar, is this really how you would have pronounced Arn in Arnór?
Arnór is on but it’s not as clear:ór/

All of the ‘international’ names are going to be [name_m]Christian[/name_m] in origin, hence their pan-European appeal. If you’re just trying to avoid overtly [name_m]Christian[/name_m] names, then you’ll be fine-- but if you want something with no historical ties to Christianity, you’ll be stuck.

I think all of us in multicultural / multinational relationships just have to accept that the two families might not pronounce the children’s names exactly the same, and that’s fine-- as long as they’re both capable of a reasonable approximation.

The American accent gives the same vowel to ‘or’ and ‘dough,’ so that’s easy for me. I can’t listen to audio files at work but I know the sounds you’re describing. You’re right, it’s probably too much to ask your English family to approximate it every time. Arnor is out anyway but it wouldn’t really be so bad to hear AR-nor instead of Arrrrdtnoor, right?

[name_f]Do[/name_f] you like the simpler [name_u]Ari[/name_u], “eagle?” Or, avoiding the perilous -rn, runic THs, and -dur:

[name_m]Einar[/name_m] (pan-Scandi)
[name_m]Gunnar[/name_m] (popular for a reason!)
Halldór (I like [name_m]Halldor[/name_m] Laxness)
Njáll (love this one-- cognate of the familiar [name_u]Niall[/name_u], still looks distinctively Icelandic)

And you still have the international Pedur, [name_m]Pall[/name_m], [name_m]Tomas[/name_m] and the like.

These are my top choices from your list. I think they would be the easiest to cross over cultures.

1 Sævar - this is my favourite. You would probably get “say” instead of “sigh” for the first syllable but once you correct people, I don’t think it would be a terrible problem. Some names are worth a bit of trouble.

2 Leifur - English speakers would have two problems with this name: (1) is it Layf or [name_u]Leaf[/name_u]? and (2) we don’t usually pronounce f’s as v’s.

3 Kjartan - most people are familiar the name [name_m]Bjorn[/name_m] (I had a crush on tennis player [name_m]Bjorn[/name_m] Borg when I was younger) so I don’t think the “Kj” would pose too many problems. As far as Kjartan [name_m]Karl[/name_m] is concerned…if you had TWO middle names you could break them up. Is one mn the standard in Iceland? Would two mn’s pose any problems in your country?

4 Ingimar - Because I am familiar with director [name_m]Ingmar[/name_m] Bergman and skiier [name_m]Ingemar[/name_m] Stenmark, it was the Icelandic spelling with the “i” that threw me off a bit. Luckily, I made a quick recovery! :slight_smile: This name would probably pose the least problems as far as pronunciation is concerned.

I like them, but I like your original idea of Orri the most. Is there a longer name that you could use with nn Orri?

I don’t mind at all about Judeo-[name_m]Christian[/name_m] origin, but names beginning with [name_m]Krist[/name_m] or Guð are out for us, it’s just too blatant a reference when we are both atheists. Not all of the international names are biblical, though (Róbert, Óskar, [name_m]Alexander[/name_m], [name_m]Karl[/name_m], [name_m]Erik[/name_m]…).

Arnór/ Arnar, ”rni are all great examples of where I feel the English pronunciation is mispronunciation more than just different accent. It would irritate me to hear Arn pronounced other than Artn, and my family would probably say something like [name_f]Ana[/name_f], which I don’t think is a reasonable approximation. I either want to find names where they can (basically) say it, or international names where they can say it in a different but still correct way.

Honestly I think I’ve considered every name on the mannanafnaskrá by now! Here are my feelings on the names you mentioned:

Yes, I do quite like [name_u]Ari[/name_u]. But I find it a bit short, and I remember a story about teasing a guy called [name_u]Ari[/name_u] by putting a noun in front of the name (it’s also a suffix meaning -er or -ist, e.g. hjól is bike and hjólari is cyclist). Plus it sounds like [name_m]Harry[/name_m] with certain British accents (some of us drop our hs). It’s a shaky maybe.

[name_m]Ragnar[/name_m], Magnús, Halldór and [name_m]Einar[/name_m] are just so middle-aged and dated, and tbh plain boring. They are classics, but they are dad names in my opinion. In [name_f]England[/name_f] I suppose the equivalents would be [name_m]Steve[/name_m], [name_m]Roger[/name_m], [name_m]Colin[/name_m], [name_m]Richard[/name_m], [name_m]Ian[/name_m] (might not be the same for the USA, though).

[name_m]Gunnar[/name_m] I think is very handsome in Icelandic, but I can’t stand how people say [name_m]Gunner[/name_m] in English and make it sound so aggressive and cartoonish. I know a guy called [name_m]Gunnar[/name_m] who has spent a lot of time abroad and it annoys him a lot. That’s the sort of thing I am actively trying to avoid.

I love Halldór Laxness! Favourite author of all time! I’m so excited to see you’re a fan (that’s totally where I love Bjartur from, I’m sure you guessed :)) [name_m]Don[/name_m]'t like his name though, and really dislike [name_f]Halli[/name_f] and Dóri (he was a Dóri I believe). I sometimes toy with his adopted middle name Kiljan, but I think I prefer his character names really, especially the women. Sóllilja, Snæfríður and Salvör are guilty pleasures of mine for girls.

Wait, I have not considered every name on the list! I have never heard Hallmar! Where did you find that one? There are 11 people in the country with that name. It would become [name_f]Halli[/name_f] though, and there’s the ll sound.

[name_u]Neil[/name_u] / [name_u]Niall[/name_u] are quite nice but not Njáll, I find it very harsh-sounding and with the ll sound it’s a real challenge (for this reason Páll is out as well). Great character, hate the name. It’s a shame because if I ‘translated’ my father’s name, Njáll would be the Icelandic equivalent. But I really can’t stand the sound.

Týr is… I would name a cat Týr, not a person. There are 10 people called Týr and all but one is very young. It’s also a trendy middle name, with a very short tradition for use on people. [name_m]Just[/name_m] completely not my style. Great pet name, though.

Valdimar I want to love, but it reminds me of Voldemort and I can’t handle [name_f]Valli[/name_f]. It’s like [name_u]Wally[/name_u] in Icelandic (Hvar er [name_f]Valli[/name_f] = Where’s [name_u]Wally[/name_u]/[name_m]Waldo[/name_m]).

Pétur I kind of like, it’s on the second tier of international names I would consider. I could maybe be persuaded on it if it turned out to be one that bf loved, and let the family say [name_m]Peter[/name_m].

Tómas I love but it’s taken.

Others that are on my radar, but I don’t love, are [name_m]Emil[/name_m], Brynjar, Atli, Hjalti, Baldur, Kári, [name_m]Sindri[/name_m], Hlynur, Snorri, Ingvar, Reynir, Elvar, Finnur, Yngvi, Höskuldur. They all seem to have some strike or another against them though. [name_f]My[/name_f] favourite international options are Matthías, [name_m]Le[/name_m]ó, Óskar and Róbert.

It’s so fun discussing Icelandic names, thanks for indulging me - especially since you seem to know something about it? [name_f]Do[/name_f] you have some connection to Iceland or have you visited here?

[name_m]Long[/name_m] post is long. Sorry for the essay.

@mischa - Two middle names would be odd, yes. It’s not all that old a custom (20th century) to have one middle name. Thanks so much for your input :slight_smile:

@waverly123 - Maybe Ormur… But that’s a terrible name, means worm. Orvar perhaps also, that exists but nobody is actually named that, so it’s super weird. Basically I think the answer is no. But thank you for your comment, I do love Orri, but it is a bit cutesy…

I do very much like [name_m]Leif[/name_m] (we were always taught ‘lay-f’ in primary school) and [name_m]Halldor[/name_m].

Thanks jackal. I’ve visited Iceland and even picked up a boyfriend there back in the day, but mainly I’ve been very interested in its language and culture. [name_m]Just[/name_m] reading and whatnot, and I love linguistics (hence my interest in names!)

Hallmar… I’m not sure where I picked it up. But I quite like it.

[name_u]Ari[/name_u] is so international and portable, but of course I had no idea it meant ‘ist’ as well as ‘eagle.’

I actually have always liked [name_m]Sindri[/name_m], but I wonder if it skews feminine as it sounds vaguely like [name_f]Cindy[/name_f].

I also like Elvar very much.


Fossmar (awesome!)
Gunndór (like [name_m]Gunnar[/name_m] minus [name_m]Gunner[/name_m])
Gýmir (great meaning)
Valdar (same [name_f]Valli[/name_f] problem?)
Vestar / Vestmar

I picked two syllable names with easily digestible elements, and hopefully avoided terrible pronunciation snafus.

That’s awesome! I moved here for the language myself, and I’m kind of a saga / mythology nerd. [name_u]Love[/name_u] linguistics as well, I’ve studied it a little although not as a major.

You have very obscure taste indeed!

[name_m]Just[/name_m] going on first names, nobody is called ”lmar, Eyfar, Fossmar, ”sbjörn (Snæbjörn is a familiar name, though), Randvér, Röndólf (Rúnólfur is familiar), Sölvar (although Sölvi is pretty popular, I like that one), Valdar, Vestar or Vestmar.

There’s 1 Gunndór and 2 Gýmirs, 2 Sívars, 3 Jörvars, 4 Ósvalds, 5 Meyvants, 13 Ölvers.

Although I like a few really unusual names (I have a weak spot for Sumarliði, Snjólfur, Hróar and Hróbjartur), when it comes to it I don’t want Icelanders going ‘haa?’, the English people are going to be hard enough! I’ll let bf decide on whether names are ‘weird’ or not, though, since he’s the native. I mentioned Snjólfur once and he definitely does not think that’s a name.

Reynir is beautiful and would probably be a favourite, if not for negative personal associations. Rúnar is fair, a bit dad name but not really a classic. Ómar and ”var are really nice :slight_smile:

I once put together a list of names which I thought were distinctively Icelandic but still reasonably portable for anglophones, as girls daydreaming in secret re: their boyfriends sometimes do. The names I listed were rarities but have been given in Iceland at some point, and they’re mostly composed of very familiar Old Norse / Icelandic name elements. Though I admit naming your kid ‘polar bear’ is pretty out there. :slight_smile:

I wish you luck in your search. It’s really tough, to honor the Icelandic language and culture while still preserving pronouncability and legibility (no non-[name_m]Roman[/name_m] characters) for your own family.

Edited for privacy.