Viking Bynames found in the Landnámabók

by Aryanhwy merch Catmael (Sara L. Uckelman)

© 1999 Sara L. Friedemann; all rights reserved
© renewed 2004, 2006, 2010, 2011 Sara L. Uckelman
last updated 13Jun2011

The following is a list of bynames (nicknames) taken from The Old Norse Name, by Geirr Bassi Haraldsson (a.k.a. G. Fleck). Dr. Fleck collected his data from three main sources, the Landnámabók, the Íslendingasögur, and Snorri's Heimskringla. Some of these sagas are more trustworthy than others as historical sources; the bynames below have all been extracted from the Landnámabók.

I have used Dr. Fleck's spellings, which are the normalized Old Norse spellings. The numbers are also taken from Dr. Fleck's work, but the names are re-sorted here in order of popularity.

Old Norse uses two letters that are not found in the standard Roman alphabet. þ is the letter "thorn," pronounced like the \th\ in thorn. ð is the letter edh pronounced like the \th\ in this.

A few notes before we proceed to the list: there are essentially two types of bynames. One follows the given name as a second word, the second is prefixed to the given name to form a compound word. For example, kráka 'crow' would follow the given name, e.g. Þorsteinn kráka 'Þorsteinn the crow,' while Kráku- 'crow' is a prefix, e.g. Kráku-Þorsteinn 'Crow-Þorsteinn.' Bynames that are prefixed to the given name are identified in the lists in two ways. They are capitalized, and they end in a dash, meaning that they are hypenated with the given name. Bynames that follow the given name do not have the dash and are not capitalized, as was usual in Norse naming.

While most of the bynames are used by both men and women, there are a few that take different forms depending on the gender. A good way to tell the difference is that the feminine forms will use the definite article in rather than inn, and will end in a instead of i, generally.

The first list is the entire list of bynames, in alphabetical order. The second list is an extraction of those bynames that are specifically characteristic of women.

Bynames

Byname Meaning number of occurrences
inn gamli old 32
goði priest, local leader 17
inn hvíti white 15
inn sterki strong, powerful 15
inn auðgi rich 12
inn rauði red 10
inn spaki wise 8
inn svarti black 8
inn digri stout, fat 7
inn rammi strong 7
Víga- Battle- 7
inn fróði learned, wise 6
hersir chieftain, local leader 6
smiðr smith, metal-smith 6
inn goði priest, local leader 5
inn helgi holy 5
Skáld- Skald-, Poet- 5
austmaðr east-man, man from continental Scandinavia 4
inn halti halt, lame 4
inn hávi tall, impressive 4
Hólmgǫngu holm-gang, duel 4
inn mikli great, large 4
inn mjóvi slim 4
inn ríki mighty, rich 4
inn skjálgi squinting 4
vikingr viking 4
in auða rich 3
Dala- Dale-, from the Dales 3
inn fagri handsome 3
hálmi straw 3
hjalti (sword) hilt-knob 3
kappi champion 3
kráka crow 3
lambi lamb 3
mjǫksiglandi much-sailing, far-travelling 3
Tungu- Tongue- 3
þurs giant, troll 3
inn austrœni easterner 2
beigaldi weak, sickly 2
bíldr ax, ax-blade 2
blákinn swarthy-cheek 2
blundr sleep, slumber 2
blǫðruskalli bladder-baldpate 2
brún brown 2
brækir brack (water) 2
inn danski Dane, from Denmark 2
dúfunef dove-nose, dove-beak 2
gjallandi shrieking 2
inn grái gray 2
gyðja priestess 2
Hafr- Billygoat- 2
inn hamrammi strongly-built 2
háleyski man from Helgoland 2
heljarskinn swarthy-skin 2
hestr horse 2
holbarki braggart 2
holmðr cleft-palate 2
hrogn roe, spawn 2
Hvamm- Grassy Slope- 2
inn hvassi sharp, keen 2
hœngr male salmon 2
hǫggvinkinna cut-cheek 2
hǫggvinkinni cut-cheek 2
inn hǫrzki man from Hǫrðaland 2
inn illi evil, bad 2
illugi bad-thought, evil-mind 2
inn írski Irish 2
kjálki jawbone 2
knappr knob, button 2
kornamúli grain-snout 2
Kráku- Crow- 2
krókr hook, wily, crooked 2
inn lági low, insignificant 2
læknir leech, doctor 2
máni moon 2
meinfretr stink-fart, harm-fart 2
inn óargi virtuous 2
inn prúði stately, proud 2
inn rakki straight, upright 2
rauðfeldr red-cloak 2
rauðr red 2
Sleitu- Trick-, Fraud- 2
Sléttu- Smooth- 2
in spaka wise 2
spákona prophetess 2
spǫrr sparrow 2
suða south 2
suðeyingr South-Islander 2
torfi turf, sod, peat 2
trandill split-stick 2
tǫskubak pouch-back, purse-back 2
inn ungi young 2
Valla- Field- 2
vápni weapons 2
inn ǫrvi speedy 2
allsherjargði high-priest 1
askasmiðr shipwright 1
auga eye 1
aurriði salmon-trout 1
austmannaskelfir terror of the east-men 1
ábóti abbot 1
inn ánauðgi oppressed 1
árbót year-blessing, harvest 1
Bagal- Crozier- 1
in bareyska woman from the Hebrides 1
Barna- child, children 1
barnakarl friend to children 1
bast bast, cord 1
beiskaldi gripe, nag, bitch 1
bekkjarbót pride of the benches, bride 1
bekkr bench, brook 1
belgr pelt, skin, hide-bag 1
berbeinn bare-leg 1
berserkjabani berserks-bane 1
berserkr berserk 1
beytill banger, horse-penis 1
Bifru- Beaver- 1
birtingr trout 1
bitra bitterness 1
bjarki bear-cub 1
Bjarneyja- Bear Island- 1
bjarnylr bear-warmth, able to remain warm in winter 1
bjálki beam, rafter 1
bláfauskr swarthy old man 1
bláskegg black-beard 1
blátǫnn black-tooth 1
blesi blaze, white star on a horse's forehead 1
inn blindi blind 1
blindingatrjóa peg-pole 1
blígr staring, gazing 1
Blót- Heathen Sacrifice- 1
Blund- Doze-, Slumber-, Blink- 1
blǫnduhorn mixing-horn 1
bogsveigir bow-swayer, archer 1
Brand- Burn-, Arson- 1
breiðr broad, fat 1
breiðskeggr broad-bearded 1
Brennu- Burned-, Arson-Victim- 1
brimill large seal 1
Brodd- Spike-, Bull-Goad- 1
Brunda- Heart-, Rut-, Mating- 1
buna hang-stocking, one with his stocking hanging down his leg 1
bundinfóti one with bound feet 1
bunhauss gash-skull 1
burlufótr clumsy-foot, -gait 1
búandi farmer 1
byrðusmjǫr chest-butter 1
bægifótr gimp, limp-leg 1
bǫllr ball, glans penis 1
dettiáss thud-beam 1
Digr- Stout-, Fat- 1
inn digra stout, fat 1
in djúpúðga deep, subtle, wise 1
inn dofni drowsy, dopey 1
inn draumspaki dream-reader 1
drápastúfr poetaster, bad poet 1
drífa snowfall, snow-drift 1
Drumb- Stump-, Dry Log- 1
dýr animal, deer 1
inn egðski a man from Agðir 1
eikikrókr oaken-crook 1
eldr fire 1
inn eldri elder, older 1
inn enski Englishman 1
eyverska woman from the Orkney Islands 1
inn eyverski man from the Orkney Islands 1
farmaðr sea-farer 1
farserkr travel-shirt 1
feilan wolf-cub 1
fiskreki fish-driver whale 1
inn fíflski foolish, moronic 1
Fjarska- Distant-, Afar- 1
in flamska woman from Flanders 1
flatnefr flat-nose 1
Flugu- Murderer- 1
flǫskubak flask-back 1
flǫskuskegg flask-beard 1
freysgoði priest of Freyr 1
fullspakr fully wise, very wise 1
fylsenni foal-forehead 1
gagarr barker, dog 1
galti boar 1
in gamla old 1
gandr witchcraft, sorcery 1
geirr spear 1
geit nanny-goat 1
gellir yeller, screamer 1
gerpir brave, daring man 1
gígja fiddle, eleoquent lawyer 1
inn glaði glad, happy 1
gleðill fun, good cheer 1
Glíru- wink-, Blink- 1
glóra gleam, sparkle 1
glǫmmuðr blusterer 1
gneisti spark 1
Gnúpa- Stoop-, Droop- 1
gnúpa crouch, stoop 1
inn grá gray 1
gráfeldarmúli graycloak-snout 1
gráfeldr gray fur coat/cloak 1
grettir scowler 1
gríss shoat, piglet 1
gufa smoke, steam 1
Gull- Gold- 1
gullberi gold-bearer 1
gullskeggr gold-beard 1
gylðir howler, wolf 1
Gǫngu- Walk- 1
Hafnar- Haven-, Harbor- 1
hafnarlykill haven-key 1
hafrsþjó buck's thigh 1
haklangr long-chin/cheek 1
hani rooster 1
harðfari fast-traveller 1
haugabrjótr cairn-breaker, grave-robber 1
inn haukdœlski man from the Hawk-Dale 1
hauknefr hawk-nose, hawk-beak 1
hausakljúfr skull-cleaver 1
haustmyrkr autumn (early) dusk 1
Há- High- 1
inn háðsami scoffing 1
hákr hake, fish 1
hálftrǫll half-troll 1
háls neck, throat 1
inn hárfagri fair-hair 1
hegri heron 1
heiðmenningr mercenary 1
Hella- Flat-stone, Slate- 1
helluflagi surprise-attack 1
inn heppni lucky, happy 1
herkja one who exerts himself utterly 1
Hesta- Horse- 1
hestageldir horse-gelder 1
hesthǫfði horse-head 1
hilditǫnn battle-tooth/tusk 1
híma loiterer, dreamer 1
hímaldr laggard 1
Hítdælakappi Hítdale-warrior 1
hialtlendingr Shetlander 1
hiálmr helmet 1
Hiálmun- Helmet- 1
hiǫrtr hart, stag 1
hlammandi shouting 1
Hlíðmannagodi priest of the men from Hlíð 1
hlymreksfari limerick-traveller 1
Hlǫðu- Storehouse-, Barn- 1
hnappraz button-arse 1
Hof- Temple-, (King's) Court- 1
hokinn crooked, bent 1
hokinrazi crooked-arse 1
Holta- Wood-, Forest- 1
holtaskalli wood-skull 1
horn horn 1
hornabrjótr horn-breaker 1
Hólm holm, small island 1
hólmasól holm-sun 1
Hrafna- Raven- 1
hringja buckle 1
hringr ring 1
hryggr afflicted, sad, grieved 1
inn hugprúði stout-hearted 1
Hunda- Hound-, Dog- 1
húslangr longhall-builder 1
hvalmagi whale-might 1
hvalró whale-calmness 1
hvikatimbr timber-quaker 1
hvítaský white cloud 1
hvítbeinn white leg 1
hyrna ax-blade horn 1
hýnef downy-nose, one with a tuft of hair on the end of the nose 1
hærukollr hoary-head 1
Hǫfða- Head- 1
hǫfði head 1
hǫggvandi hewer, headsman 1
Hǫrða- Hǫrðalander 1
igrár grayish 1
illbreiðr broad-sole, flat-foot 1
illingr evil man 1
jafnkollr even-mind, level-head 1
jarlakappi champion of earls 1
jarlsskáld earl's skald 1
járnsíða iron-side 1
Jótun- Giant- 1
Kaða- Hen- 1
kaldmunnr cold-mouth 1
kamban lame, crippled 1
kampi whiskers, beard 1
kanoki (church) canon 1
karlhǫfði carved figurehead 1
karlsefni man's-equal, he-man 1
katla little kettle 1
inn katneski man from Caithness 1
keiliselgr cone-peak, mountain 1
keilismúli cone-peak, mountain 1
kengr crook, horseshoe-formed crook of metal, bend, bight 1
kerlinganef hag's-nose 1
kimbi bundle, package 1
kjǫlfari keel-traveller 1
klaka twitter, chirp 1
klakkhǫfði saddlepommel-head 1
klaufi cleft-foot, clumsy boor 1
kleggi horse-fly 1
kleykir person in trouble or in disgrace 1
knarrarbringa merchantship-bosom, big tits 1
kneif nippers, tongs 1
kné knee 1
knýtir knitter, person who knits 1
kolbrún coal-brow, black eye-brows 1
Kolbrúnarskáld skald with black eyebrows 1
korni grain 1
korpr corby, crow 1
krafla crawl, paw, scratch 1
kraki bean-pole, scrawny runt 1
krákunef crow-nose, crow-beak 1
in kristna Christian 1
inn kristni Christian 1
kroppa hump, hunchback 1
Krǫmu- Pinch-, Press- 1
kuggi cog, a kind of ship 1
kúla ball, knob, hunchback 1
kváran shoe, boot 1
Kveld- Evening- 1
inn kyrri quiet, gentle 1
kǫgurr fringed cloak, fringe 1
kǫrtr short, short penis 1
kǫttr cat 1
lafskegg wag-beard, dangle-beard 1
inn landverski man from the country 1
langhǫfði long-head 1
laxakarl salmon-man 1
leðrháls leather-neck 1
leggr leg 1
leifr abandoned, left out 1
lína line 1
in ljósa nurse, midwife 1
loðbrók shaggy-pants 1
loðinhǫði shaggy-head 1
loðinkinni shaggy-cheeked 1
loki loop on a thread 1
Lón- Inlet- 1
lútandi bowing-down, grovelling 1
Lǫg- Law-, Legislator- 1
lǫgmaðr law-man, lawyer 1
lǫngubak ling-back, fish-back 1
Magr- Thin-, Skinny- 1
inn magri thin, skinny 1
mannvitsbrekka hill of man's wit, paragon of wisdom 1
Mág- Kinsman-, Relative- 1
Mána- Moon- 1
Mela- Wild-Oats- [place name] 1
Miðfjarðar- Mið-Fjord- 1
miðlungr middling, average 1
in mikla great, large 1
mjóbeinn slim-leg, girlish 1
mjódœlingr Mjódale man 1
in mjóva slim 1
Molda- Mould-, Earth- 1
mosháls moss-neck 1
mostrarskegg bearded man from Mostr in Norway 1
muðr mouth 1
Músa- Mouse- 1
Mýra- Mire-, Moor-, Myrr- 1
Nafar- Gimlet-, Drill- 1
inn norrœni Norwegian 1
ofláti dandy, gaudy person 1
orðlokarr word-plane, one who shapes his words carefully 1
ormstunga serpent-tongue 1
in óborna unborn, illigitimate 1
inn óði mad, frantic, raging 1
ógæfa unlucky 1
óþveginn unwashed 1
pái peacock, splendid man 1
ranglátr unjust, vicious 1
Rauða- Iron-Ore- 1
rauðkinn red-cheek 1
raumr huge, clownish person 1
refr fox 1
refskegg fox-beard 1
reyðarsíða trout-bank, whale-coast 1
reyðr red whale, trout 1
Reyni- Try-, Attempt- 1
rotinn broken 1
rugga cradle for a baby 1
rymgylta runaway-sow 1
saurr mud, dirt, excrement 1
sekr outlaw, exile 1
Sel- Shed- 1
Sela- Seal- 1
sjóna seeress 1
sjóni seer 1
skagi low cape/headland 1
Skalla- Bald-pate- 1
skalli bald-pate 1
skapti shaft-maker 1
skarfr cormorant 1
skattkaupandi tax-collector 1
skál bowl, cup, balance-scale 1
skálaglamm tinkle-scales, concerned with hard cash 1
skáldaspillir skald-dispoiler, plagiarist 1
skálpr blabber, gossip 1
Skegg- Beard- 1
skeggi islander, rough-neck 1
skegglauss beardless 1
skeiðarkinn weftbeater-chin 1
skeðarnef weftbeater-nose 1
skeifr skew, crooked 1
skeljamoli seashell-shard 1
skerjablesi skerry-blaze 1
skinfaxi sheen-mane, shiny mane 1
Skinna- Skin-, fur-Trader 1
Skjaldar- Shield- 1
skotakollr Scot-hill 1
skógarnef forest-nose 1
skrauti splendid, fancy 1
inn (snar)skygna swift-eyed 1
skytja marksman, shooter 1
skǫkull cart-pole 1
slagakollr brisket, cut of meat 1
sleggja sledge-hammer 1
slítandi tearing, slitting 1
sløngvandbaugi ring-slinger 1
slœkidrengr slender as a youth 1
smiðjudrumbr smithy-drum, anvil 1
smjǫr butter 1
smjǫrkengr butter-hook 1
snara snare 1
snarfari swift-traveller 1
snepill snip, flap, earlobe 1
sneypir snipper, gelder 1
inn snjalli swift 1
snúinbrók twisted-tartan 1
snæþrima snow-clash 1
Spak- Wise-, Gentle- 1
stafr staff, stave 1
stikublígr yardstick-gaze 1
stjarna star 1
stoti one who walks with a stiff or short trippling walk 1
inn stórhǫggvi great-slasher 1
inn strangi strong 1
strúgr pride 1
stǫng staff 1
inn suðreyski South-Islander 1
sundafyllir sound-filler, able to fill a bay with fish by magic 1
surtr black 1
súgandi sucking, suckling 1
súrr sour 1
svarfaðr riot, rumble 1
svartiþurs black-giant, black-troll 1
sviði agony, burning pain 1
Sviðu- Singe-, Sheep-Head-Singe- 1
Svína- Swine-, Pig- 1
sælendingr Sealander, Dane 1
sælingr fortunate 1
tálkni gasp 1
Tin- Tin- 1
tinteinn tin-spit 1
titlingr sparrow 1
tjaldstœðingr camp-grounder, man from the tent-place 1
Torf- Turf-, Sod-, Peat- 1
inn trausti trustworthy 1
trefill ragged rag, shred 1
tréfótr tree-leg, peg-leg 1
trumbubein trumpet-leg 1
inn tryggvi true, honest 1
tvennumbrúni double-brows 1
upplendingr Upplander (Sweden) 1
vaggagði squat-wiggle 1
vandræðiskáld difficult skald 1
váganef weigh-balance-nose 1
vámúli woe-snout, bad-mouth 1
veðr ram, male sheep 1
viligísl lust-hostage, slave to sexual desire 1
vífill weevil, beetle 1
Víkinga- Viking- 1
víss wise, knowing, learned 1
væna promising, hopeful, fair 1
inn væni promising, fair 1
vǫðvi muscle 1
Vǫlu- Prophetess- 1
vǫlubrjótr witch-breaker, exorcist 1
Vǫrsa- man from Vǫrs (Norway) 1
inn yngri younger 1
þegjandi silent 1
þistill thistle 1
þjófi thudder, whistler 1
þorskabítr codfish-biter 1
þorskafjarðargoði Codfish-Fjord-priest 1
þrymr loud noise, alarm 1
þunnkárr curly-head 1
þunnskeggr thin-beard 1
þursasprengir giant-destroyer 1
þvari spear, dart 1
þyna belly, abdomen 1
þynning skinny, scrawny 1
þongull branch of seaweed 1
ørrabein scar-leg 1
ørrabeinsstjúpr scar-leg's step-son 1
Øxna- Oxen- 1
øxnabroddr ox-goad, ox-spike 1
øxnamegin ox-might, ox-strength 1
œðikollr mad-head, wild man 1
ǫlfúss desirous of beer 1
ǫndurr snow-shoe 1
ǫngull angle, fish-hook 1
ǫrðigskeggi bristle-beard 1
ǫrn eagle 1

Specifically Feminine Bynames

Byname meaning number of occurrences
gyðja priestess 2
spákona prophetess 2
in bareyska woman from the Hebrides 1
bekkjarbót bride 1
eyverska woman from the Orkney Islands 1
in flamska woman from Flanders 1
knarrarbringa merchant-ship bosom, big tits 1
sjóna seeress 1
Vǫlu- Prophetess- 1