A Simple Guide to Creating Old Norse Names

by Aryanhwy merch Catmael (Sara L. Uckelman)

© renwed 2014 Sara L. Uckelman
© 1998, 1999 Sara L. Friedemann; all rights reserved

This guide will show you how to construct a typical Norse name from the Viking Age. I have listed common elements and structures of names, but not an exhaustive list of all possibilities. The information in this guide is taken from "The Old Norse Name" by Geirr Bassi Haraldsson (G. Fleck). A list of masculine and feminine names taken from this source can be found at

Viking Names Found in the Landnámabók

In this guide, I have used the standard Old Norse forms of the names.

Name Structures

There are two ways of forming Norse names; the most common is using a given name with the addition of a patronymic byname, or a byname based on relationship.

To create a patronym, the suffix -son 'son' or -dóttir 'daughter' is added to the genitive form of the father's name. The guide below, taken from G. Fleck's book, shows how this can be done.

-i > -a: Snorri > Snorrason ~ Snorradóttir
-a > -u: Sturla > Sturluson ~ Sturludóttir
-nn > -ns: Sveinn > Sveinsson ~ Sveinsdóttir
-ll > -ls: Ketill > Ketilsson ~ Ketilsdóttir
-rr > -rs: Geirr > Geirsson ~ Geirsdóttir
-r > -s Grímr > Grímsson ~ Grímsdóttir
-ir > -is: Grettir > Grettisson ~ Grettisdóttir

Names that end in -dan, -endr, -freðr, -frøðr, -gautr, -mundr, -røðr, -undr, -un(n), -urðr, -varðr, -viðr, -vindr, -þórðr, and -þróndr form a genitive with -ar:

    > -ar: Auðunn > Auðunarson ~ Auðunardóttir

Names ending in -biǫrn or -ǫrn form a genitive with -biarnar and -arnar, respectively.

For example, Þorkell the son of Þórðr would be known as Þorkell Þórðarson, while Yngvildr the daughter of Einarr would be Yngvildr Einarsdóttir.

The other way to form a name was the use of a nickname. In Norse culture, these were not always very complimentary; in the list of nicknames linked below, there are things such as:

inn lági - low, insignificant
klaufi - cleft-foot, clumsy boor
kleykir - person in trouble or in disgrace

Some nicknames were somewhat obscure in their meaning, such as:

karlhófði - carved figurehead
loki - loop on a thread
mannvitsbrekka - hill of man's wit, paragon of wisdom

Still others are extremely precise:

kolbrúnarskáld - skald with black eyebrows
mostrarskegg - bearded man from Mostr in Norway
sundafyllir - sound-filler, able to fill a bay with fish by magic

A list of nicknames found in the Landnámabók arranged by popularity can be found here.


Fleck, G. (Geirr Bassi Haraldson), The Old Norse Name, Studia Marklandica (series) (Olney, Maryland: Yggsalr Press, 1977).