Icelandic Language Blog

Find your Icelandic name! Posted by on Aug 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

nafn001The title may sound like a meme generator but not a long time ago you really would have had to find one for yourself if you planned on moving to Iceland. This country still has a set of the strictest naming rules in the world, but did you know that until the year 1995 a foreign immigrant was legally required to change their name into an Icelandic one? By the way, there actually is a way of finding out what your Icelandic name would have been, more about that at the end of this blog post.

The rules have since relaxed a little bit which means you’re now allowed to keep your own name. However, should you have a child in Iceland (unless you have that child with another non-Icelander) the naming laws come into full force: your child must have an Icelandic first name, or one that fits a series of rules, first of which is that at least one name has to be in Icelandic and the baby must have a patronymic or a matronymic last name.

The second rule concerning names is that surnames are forbidden for children whose parents have become citizens of Iceland. Yes, you heard that right. Your name can be John Smith but your Iceland-born daughter will never be a Smith, she’ll be Jónsdóttir. The only people who make an exception to this rule are those Icelanders whose families took a surname during the short period of time at the beginning of the 1900’s when it was allowed (in case you’re wondering why Halldór Laxness could have a surname) or had acquired a surname some other way before the year 1991, they’re permitted to keep them. Another way an Icelander can receive a surname is by marriage to a foreigner, although this seems to only apply to women. You can check all these rules at Alþjóðasetur‘s web page (link).


Klásína, a woman’s name and its declension. The text states that “one woman in Snæfellsnessýsla bore the name Klásína according to the locals in 1845, and in 1910 three women bore it in Barðastrandasýsla. The name is made with the first half Kláus and the suffix -ína.” Below you can see that Claus has apparently been approved as a name at least once but most likely the Naming Committee would now recommend spelling it with a K instead.

Why all these rules then? The one reason that’s most often stated is that enforcing them helps to protect the Icelandic language. The only names you can slip past the rule are ones that can take on the Icelandic declension: “names may not conflict with the linguistic structure of Icelandic” (Ágústa Þorbergsdóttir, the Icelandic Naming Committee). The most critical of the cases is the genitive, which the name absolutely will have to have. The name must also be written only with letters of the Icelandic alphabet, which means that if your suggested name has f.ex. the letters C, Å or Ä it will most likely be rejected. Naturally the name will also have to be one that won’t cause its bearer embarrassment, which is why you cannot name your baby girl Satanía (yes, someone tried to).

If you really want to give your child a name that’s not on the list of approved names there’s only one thing you can do. You must send in an application and pay a fee of 3000kr, at which point the aforementioned Naming Committee will begin to consider your suggestion. Be warned though that in the year 2010 they rejected roughly 40% of the applications. Among the rejected ones are names such as Ralph, Berry, Tryggvason, Cara, Carolina, Cesil, Pedro and X. Aside of the X the rest are all acceptable names (even Tryggvason can be considered as such since in some countries you can give your child a patro- or matronymic name), but they all fail either the declension or the spelling rule. However, if you change the name ever so slightly it may suddenly be accepted – Adrian was banned but, the Naming Committee suggested, it would be totally fine if it were spelled Adrían instead.


Kathinka and Katinka: “three women, one in Hafnarfjörður and two in south Múlasýsla were named Kathinka in 1910. One woman each was named Katinka as first and second name according to the national list in 1st Jan 2008. One woman was then listed Katinka as her first name and the other had it as her second name. Both written forms are listed in the name list. The name is used in both Denmark and Norway. It’s Russian in origin, an (endearing) nickname of Yekaterina.”

The laws are strict to Icelanders as well. Even a traditional Icelandic name can be rejected if its meaning has changed during the years and it can be considered demeaning, such as Ljótur. In its old meaning it means “the light one” and can still be used as a part of a name, such as in Bergljót (= mountain light), but on its own the word’s meaning has changed to “ugly” so it would very likely get rejected as a name.

Another, more famous case of Naming Committee’s and the child’s parents’ wills clashing was the girl called Girl, born in 1997 (link). Curiously the ones to call her Stúlka (= girl) were not the parents, rather the magistrate! Her parents had wanted to call her Blær instead, a name which means “gentle breeze”, but this was rejected because the name’s declension is masculine and therefore usually given to boys only. The parents did not agree to change the name: after all, Laxness had written about a girl called Blær and several female Blær had actually existed before. The Naming Committee would not budge an inch either. Blær became officially known as Stúlka, Girl, a name she bore in all official papers for all her life until this year’s January when she finally won the legal battle over the right of using her name, the one she’d been called all her life.

Although the rules have relaxed somewhat there are people in the world that will never be officially called by their real name in Iceland. Charles, Prince of Wales, is fated to be called Karl Bretaprins (= Karl prince of Britain) all his life. His mother’s name is Elísabet 2. Bretadrottning (= Elísabet the second, queen of Britain) and his sons are Vilhjálmur and Hinrik. Vilhjálmur’s wife, who would have been allowed to keep her name Kate had she not married a prince, has now become Katrín.


Hekla: The name does not appear before 1910 as it was for the first time given during the years 1911-1920. Between 1921-1950 it was given to 11 girls. Since then its popularity has increased greatly. 1st Jan 2008 there were 256 women listed with this name as their first name and 49 with it as their second name. The name points to the volcano Hekla. The origin of the name is unclear. It has been connected to the noun ‘hekla’ a (armless) cloak with a hood but also with the verb að hekla (= to crochet), Faroese word hekil (= a notch in the blade of a knife) and Norwegian word hekel (I’m uncertain of how to translate this one, since ‘horn’ tends to mean a corner or an angle, but ‘sepi’ apparently means a lobe; if you’re Norwegian or have access to one, I would love to find out what it actually means!)

Let’s return to the title and imagine it’s actually year 1983 instead of 2013. You’ve met a wonderful Icelander you want to be married to and move to their home country, and now it’s time to legally change your first name. How would you go about choosing it?

It would preferably sound as much like your original name as possible, but here’s where your and Icelanders’ opinions might differ. If your name is Elina, for example, would the name Elín not sound the closest to your name since the pronunciation is near identical save for the last ‘a’? No, your Icelandic spouse would remark, Helena sounds more like Elina than Elín because it has the same amount of syllables. The language you speak will shape your hearing so thoroughly that you might as well let the Icelander pick the name for you.

Or perhaps I can assist with my copy of Nöfn Íslendinga (= the names of Icelanders). If you’d like to know what your first name would have been, leave me a comment and I’ll select the Icelandic name that most resembles yours with both the help of this book and the Icelanders around me. I’ll include a small explanation if, according to Nöfn Íslendinga, the name has a meaning in Icelandic, if a famous person has once carried the name or if it’s linked to some important occasion in history. I can also read all the names aloud so that you’ll get a better idea of how it would have sounded like to have people call you by it. 😀

So, what would have been your Icelandic name – and what it would have meant?

EDIT (28.8.2013): here are the names I’ve so far received!

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About the Author: hulda

Hi, I'm Hulda, originally Finnish but now living in the suburbs of Reykjavík. I'm here to help you in any way I can if you're considering learning Icelandic. Nice to meet you!


  1. Emily:

    So my name is Emily um I wanna know if my name has an Icelandic spelling and wat it is. I’m technecly from iceland, my great grandpa moved here from Iceland to join the church (idk why lol) but me full name is Emily Ellizabeth Thorderson. I guess Emily would be spelled with a y cont? Idk! Help!
    Also, what does it mean like does it mean strong working son of Thor or something like that? Plz reply!
    Bless Bless!

    • hulda:

      @Emily Sæl Emily! 😀 Your name can indeed be spelled in an Icelandic way: either as Emilý or Emilía. Far as I know the name has roots in Latin – the oldest form I could find is Aemilia. In Nordic languages spelling Ämilia is oldest, more typical are Emilia, Emelie and Emilie. Your second name also exists in forms Elísabet and Elísabeth.

      Having family roots in Iceland I’m going to guess that your great grandfather’s father’s name was Þórður, hence Þórðarson – Thorderson. Þórður is an old name and may have originally been put together of Þór (= Thor) and friður (= peace). The -son ending means “son of”.

      • Emily:

        @hulda Wait, just wondering, wat would my full name be all together? I’m kinda tired of research! PLEASE REPLY!!!
        btw, great blog!

        Emily Thorderson

        • hulda:

          @Emily It’d be either Emilý or Emilía, and since you would not be forced to change your surname you could continue being Thorderson. You could of course change it to a real Icelandic patronymic as well if you wanted to, in which case it would most likely be your father’s name + dóttir. 🙂

    • Michelle:

      @Emily Would a man from Iceland that lives in the USA have the last name of Smith? Do you think he is telling me the truth or pulling my leg?

  2. Leah:

    Hi Hulda!

    I know you’ve heard this said many times before, but what a great blog! I’ve been getting very interested in Icelandic culture recently… the government structure, the traditions (the Christmas book-exchange is such a good idea that I’m adopting it into my own Christmas traditions), the geography and especially it’s history and roots. It’s such a fascinating country and I’m already looking into arranging a visit 🙂

    This brings me to this post about Icelandic names. I was wondering if you’d help me figure out the closest approximation of my own name? It’s Leah George, daughter of Glen (dad) and Kim (mom). I believe it traces back to an Assyrian origin for “delicate ruler” but it also has more recent origins in Hebrew, the unfortunate “weary” or “wild cow/gazelle”. Unlike the Hebrew pronunciation sounding like “Lay-ah”, mine is pronounced with the more anglo “Lee-ah” (my roots are mostly Great Britain and Dutch)

    If it’s not too much trouble, would you mind figuring out what my name would be?

    With many thanks,

    • hulda:

      @Leah Hi Leah! I’m glad you like the blog, and btw I thoroughly agree about the book exchange tradition being a brilliant thing! I hope it would spread far and wide in the world. You’re very welcome to visit us, and I might recommend the summertime for best weather and road conditions. 😉

      Your name exists in the form of Lea, and has same Hebrew roots. However, if you were to go for an Icelandic name instead I could suggest Líf (= life) or Hlíf (= protection, shelter). There’s also Lín (= linen), which is technically a new-ish name but actually existed already during the Medieval times as a part of kennings, riddle-like terms that in this case translated as “woman” since women typically wore linen clothes.

      If we treat George as a second name instead of a surname I could suggest Georgína as the Icelandic spelling. But then we’d most likely better turn the name order upside-down to Georgína Lín/Líf because it sounds clumsy the other way around. It’s not pronounced anything like English Georgina though, so it’s a bit of a stretch…

      Then again there’s also Gerður. The original Gerður was a jötunn born Gerður Gymisdóttir, who joined the æsir after her marriage to Frey. Most likely means “wall of defense”, “defense”. Might make an interesting pun, because If you put together Lín Gerður/Lín-Gerður you’ve made yourself an authentic Medieval kenning! 😀

      The only male name with similar pronunciation to Glen I can think of is Glói (= shine), so you’d be Glóadóttir. Kim is even harder, but I found Gríma (= uncertain translation – could be night, cover, helmet, or even a female version of the male name Grímur) that could work – Grímudóttir.

      Hope these could help! 🙂

  3. Caitlin:

    My name is Caitlin and my father’s name is Mark?

    • hulda:

      @Caitlin Katla (= helmet – not to be confused with modern meaning “little pot”) came to mind first: it’s an old name and dates back to at least Medieval times if not further back in history. There’s also Katrín and Karen (= Icelandic forms of Katarina/Yekaterina) that could work. Your patronymic would likely be Markúsardóttir.

      Hope these could help!

  4. Emily:

    Halló again, hulda, me Emily Thorderson, so I have a friend who does not have an e-mail named Talya, and she is from Turkey. I want to surprise her by her knowing her name, her full name is Talya Duran, so yeah. Also, REALY QUICK what does Emily mean in Icelandic, and if it is not possible, what is the nearest boric language to it. Reply ASAP (unfortunately, I am a little strict and am to very patent. Takk og sæl,

    Emily Thorderson

    • hulda:

      @Emily I’m really sorry for being late with these replies, I hope I was in time!

      If she, like you, wished to have an Icelandic form of spelling for her name she could be Talía. The other name sounds like a surname, in which case she’d keep it as it is or, if she so wished, could change it to a patronymic. Emilý and Emilía are “borrowed” names so as such they have no meaning in Icelandic. If my little search is to be believed Emily stems from the name Aemilia, which can possibly mean “rival”.

  5. Bradon Russell:

    Hi Hulda,

    I’m curious as to what the most suitable Icelandic name for me is, and so here is a potentially difficult one for you: My first name is quite rare, and it’s pronounced something like ‘bray-dun’. My middle name is Russell (I’m sure you’ve heard that name), which is my dads name, so the Icelandic equivalent could be my patronymic.

    I’d appreciate any help you could give me here, as if I were to move to Iceland, which is a possibility, I’d like to try to fit in as much as I could.

    Thanks in advance, and I love your country!

    • hulda:

      @Bradon Russell Hi Bradon!

      Brynjar (brynja = coat of armour) could work: it’s a very old name but for most of Iceland’s history it’s been a rare one, until in the recent years it’s gained a lot of popularity. There’s also Bryntýr (Týr = god of war, Tyr) and Brynþór (Þór = god of thunder, Thor), and there’s also Brynsteinn (steinn = stone) that could work.

      Russell wasmore difficult to pair, but some that could maybe work are Rósi (= rose) or Hróar (= famous warrior). Their patronymic versions would be Rósason and Hróarsson. Interesting thing about your name suggestions is that both Brynjar and Rósi are male counterparts of equally if not more popular female names Brynja and Rósa.

  6. Lizzie:

    Hi Hilda,
    This blog is fantastic! So Interesting 🙂
    Just wondering what my name would translate to? my name first Is Elisabeth and my father’s name Is Peter. I have a middle name, Louise, which I saw translated in an earlier post as Lovísa.

    Lizzie 🙂

    • hulda:

      @Lizzie Hi Lizzie! Elisabeth could just be written in Icelandic form to Elísabet, but where’s the fun in that. An actual, non-foreign of origin Icelandic name you could consider could be f.ex. Elínrós (Elín = Helena, rós = rose). Engilbjart (engil = angel, bjartur = bright) is another possibility, or if you want to be radical and instead split the name in two you could be Erla Bára. Erla means a bird of the family motacillidae, the most loved one in Iceland being no doubt Maríuerla, wagtail (lit. transl. Mary’s erla). Bára means a wave.

      You can of course work with your second name as well and make a combination of it and the other suggestions. Just remember Icelandic names have typically two names max, and that the latter one should preferably be shorter than the first (there are some exceptions to this but in general it sounds more natural).

      Your patronymic would likely be Pétursdóttir. 🙂

  7. Lizzie:

    P.s Hulda* apologies for the typo, autocorrect!

    • hulda:

      @Lizzie Hahah no problem! 🙂

  8. Eryn:

    I am fascinated with this! Thank you for sharing. My first name is Eryn. My father is David and my mother is Denise… what would my Icelandic name be? I’m excited to learn! 🙂

    • hulda:

      @Eryn For the first name I could suggest Erla. The name is relatively new but became rapidly popular after Stefán frá Hvítadal published a poem by the name in 1918. The name is likely a shortened form of a bird name maríuerla, a wagtail.

      Another possibility could be Elín (Icelandic form of Helena) or Elley (ey = island, the beginning is not clearly known but could stem from the name Elín).

      Your patronymic would be Daviðsdóttir, and matronymic Dennýjardóttir, whichever you’d rather use.

      • Eryn:

        @hulda Thank you! How wonderful 🙂

  9. Monique:

    HI my name is Monique Genevie Sprouse can you rename me in Icelandic So I can use it in the name of my farm .I have Icelandic chickens and I need a name to go with it .Thank you

    • hulda:

      @Monique All the names that would match yours exactly are of foreign origin, so I hope you’ll excuse me for steering away from the original a bit!

      Móey could come into question, or Móheiður (móð = enthusiastic, battle-ready, ey = island, heiður = honour). For the latter part, Guðrún might work well (guð = God, rún = rune) since it’s often used as a second name.

      Or if you want, you can skip your two names the other way around and use f.ex. Guðrún Mey (mey = maiden).

      Icelanders don’t generally use surnames, but I hope the first names could help you out. 🙂

      • Monique:

        @hulda Thank you it does help me

  10. Angela:

    Hi there,

    Love this page. Wondering what my name would be as well. My name is Angela and my father’s name is Herbert. Thanks much.

    • hulda:

      @Angela Angela does exist in Iceland, but to look at more Icelandic names I could suggest Arndís, Arnfríður or Arnheiður (arn = eagle, dís = goddess, fríður = beautiful, heiður = honour). Or if you’d like to keep the angelic part of your name you could even go for Engilbjört (engil = angel, björt = bright). Your patronymic would be Herbertsdóttir.

  11. Julie:

    Hi, Hulda!

    I’ve just read through this thread–utterly fascinating! And you’re so enthusiastic and encouraging to all of us Icelandophiles.

    I found your blog when I was trying to find translations for the names Soley and Laufey, which I came across while reading some Icelandic detective novels (in English translation, of course).

    My name is Julie Ann. In Russian, Julie is pronounced Yulia. Is there an Icelandic equivalent?

    Thanks a bunch!

    • hulda:

      @Julie Hi! Thank you so much, I love to encourage Icelandophiles! 😀

      Just in case, Soley (sol = sun, ey = island) and Laufey (lauf = leaf). Both are really pretty names in my opinion, and Laufey’s also a mythological lady whose son Loki is quite well-known.

      The Icelandic form of your name would be Júlía. The pronunciation is similar to Yulie but the a-ending is pronounced as ah. There are also newer versions such as Júlírós (júlí = July and rós = rose) that are in use. For Ann as a second name, Anna or Anný could work, but in this case you could switch the names around to Anna Júlía.

      There’s also an unusual possibility for your names to add them together as the name Júlíana. It’s a much older version than Júlía: it first appears in the 14th century Heilagra meyja drápa (= The Lay of the Holy Maidens) about female martyrs. You can read it here with an English translation included:

  12. Sonja:

    thank you for the interesting post! I have a question: my dad’s name is Mauro, so my Icelandic surname would be Márusdóttir or Márusardóttir? According to this page the genitive of Márus is Márusar, so I don’t know which one is correct :/
    Thank you in advance for the reply!

    • hulda:

      @Sonja Márusardóttir is the correct one. 🙂

  13. Ivana:

    Hi, Hulda! 🙂

    At first, this blog is fantastic! I’m interested in Icelandic language and culture and curious, what would my name be. My name is Ivana, my father’s name is Tibor and mother’s name is Lydia. Thank you for your response! 🙂

    • hulda:

      @Ivana There’s Íva if you want to stay as close to your original name as possible, it’s the Icelandic variant of Ivana. You could also choose f.ex. Ísveig (ís = ice, veig = strength, power), Ingveldur (Ing = may come from an old god’s name Yngvi, -veldur comes from the word -hildur, battle) or even Indriði (meaning unclear but may mean “the one who rides alone”).

      Tibor was a difficult one to pair but I settled for Tryggvi and Lydia exists in the form of Lýdía, so you’d be either Tryggvadóttir or Lýdíudóttir. 🙂

      • Ivana:

        @hulda Thank you! My icelandic name sounds really cool! 🙂

  14. Jeremy:

    Hello Hulda!

    Very interesting post. I am currently taking a class in Old Norse/Icelandic, and for a majority of the students my professor has been able to refer to them with a sleek Icelandic name. Much to my dismay, she hasn’t come up with an Icelandic rendering of “Jeremy” yet. Any help? Thanks so much!

    P.S. My father’s name is Michael.

    • hulda:

      @Jeremy I’m not surprised – Jeremy is one of those names that has no obvious Icelandic version to it. The biggest problem is in the pronunciation since Icelandic does not have a sound that would work like J in Jeremy, so all my suggestions should be read with a Y-sound (y as in “you”) instead.

      Let’s see… there is actually Jeremías, but it’s really rare and more often used as a second name. Then there’s Játmundur, the Icelandic version of Eadmund and Jórmundur that might work too (jór = boar, mundur = protection). On the same style there’s Jörundur (meaning is unclear). If you don’t mind totally chopping your name in two you could even go with Indriði Már (indriði = meaning uncertain but could be “the one who’s riding alone”, már = seagull). Your patronymic is Mikaelsson.

      Hope this helped!

      • Jeremy:

        @hulda Thanks very much! Lots of choices there.

        -Indriði Már Mikaelsson

  15. Javiera:

    Hi Hulda!

    Thank you for the really interesting post! I love Iceland, have been there twice and I have always wondered which would be my icelandic name. My last name is not a big deal since my father is called hardy so I guess it would be Hardysdóttir (I don’t think it even exists, but I think it follows the rules, doesn’t it? Could you think in anything closer or more realistic that that?)

    But I’ve got a really issue which my spanish name, Javiera. I’ve heard some guys in Iceland are called Xavier, but as far as I know there isn’t a female version for that name. Do you think there is something close to my name? That, btw, means “the one who’s got a new house”, haha..

    I was also wondering what would my matronimic name would be, my mother is called Monica.

    Thank you, will really looking forward to reading your post!


    Will be waiting for your post! 😀 Thanks!

    • hulda:

      @Javiera Your patronymic could be f.ex. Hávarsdóttir, if you wanted to go with a fully Icelandic one. Your matronymic would be Móníkudóttir.

      As for Javiera, hmmm let’s see… I’m not entirely certain on the correct pronunciation so I’ll look up names with similar form, if that’s ok? 🙂 There’s f.ex. Járnfríður (járn = steel, fríður = beautiful) and Járngerður (gerður = origin of this part is somewhat unknown but one suggestion is “a wall of defense” which would hint at the meaning of your name).

      • Javiera:

        @hulda Hey Hulda!

        Thanks for your reply!
        Would “Hardysdóttir” still work? Or it is jut totally wrong?

        And about my name, I totally loved Járngerður! <3

        But well, Javiera sounds more like "Haviera" in english, so it would not keep the same sound… What do you think of "Hávör", "Hafdís" or "Hjálmey" but apparently they are not very common, hehe… Any suggestions?

        Best regards,

  16. Jason:

    My name is Jason, father’s name is Joseph. What would be an equivalent name just based on meaning alone.

    • hulda:

      @Jason If you want to go with the name meanings rather than change the names into fully Icelandic ones, you can actually keep the name Jason – it exists in Iceland. It’s a very rare name in Iceland however, only given to a handful of men. Likewise Joseph exists in the form Jósef, so your patronymic would be Jósefsson. 🙂

  17. Corie:

    Hey Hulda,

    I know there was already a male Cory, but what would a female Corie’s name be in Icelandic?

    • hulda:

      @Corie Corie could be f.ex. Koldís (kol = coal, dís = goddess) or Kolgríma (gríma = stern). All names that start with Kol- tend to point at dark hair. Karen (Icelandic version of Katarina) could also work.

  18. Quentin:

    Hi there!

    My name is Quentin, i’m from Belgium.
    I’m seriously planning to move in Iceland, for many reasons.
    And i was thinking “What about my name?”

    So my firstname is Quentin (come from Quentinus in latin, meaning the fift (child), my mother miscarried 4 child before i was born).

    Not so fan of it, i must admit 🙂

    And my last name is Ducat (Old scottish name).
    But as i red your post, i shall use the name of my father, which is Alain.

    So Alainsson or Alansson?

    Thanks a lot, and keep going well 🙂

    • hulda:

      @Quentin Quentin is another difficult one, but if we go by the first syllable sound I could suggest Kveldúlfur (kveld = evening, úlfur = wolf). The grandfather of one legendary Icelander (Egill Skalla-Grímsson) was called Kveldúlfur and though the name is rare, there’s currently at least four Kveldúlfurs in Iceland. Going by the amount of syllables, Kolbeinn could also work (kol = coal, beinn = leg). Your patronymic would be Alansson. 🙂

  19. Marissa:

    Hi Hulda! I’m going to visit Iceland in October and I am beyond excited. My first name is Marissa, and my father is Joseph so I’m wondering what my name would be. Marissa is often spelled with one “S.” Do women keep their patronymic “surnames” when they get married?


    • hulda:

      @Marissa There’s an almost exact match available and indeed spelled with only one S – Marísa. It’s of foreign origin, possibly a shortened form of Maria Luisa, but if you’d like a completely Icelandic version Mardís could work (mar = sea, dís = goddess). Your patronymic would be Jósefsdóttir.

      Icelandic women keep their patronymic when they marry. Besides that once the couple has children the children’s patronymics are naturally built out of their father’s name, which tends to cause confusion abroad when f.ex. booking hotel rooms… imagine a whole family with different last names! 😀

  20. Matteo:

    Hi Hulda, I’m 23 years old, Italian, and I’ve “discovered” Iceland thanks to Sigur Rós music. Since then, I’ve literally fallen in love with its nature, its way of living and its politics (they’re light years away from us). I’m seriously planning to work and live there as soon as I’ll finish my studies here in Italy.

    My name is Matteo, what would be my name in Icelandic? It comes from Hebrew and it means “God’s gift”. My father’s name is Giuseppe (Yosef in Hebrew), and it’s probably the most popular name in Italy.

    Thanks, have a nice day!

    • hulda:

      @Matteo There’s always Matthías, but that’s a loan name from the same root as Matteo. Other names that could work are f.ex. Margeir (mar = sea, geir = spear) or even Magni (= power). Magni is also known as one of Þór’s children so the name goes back a loooong time. Your patronymic would be Jósefsson.

  21. Charlotte:


    What is my name, “Charlotte” in Icelandic?

    Thank you!

    • hulda:

      @Charlotte Iceland actually allows both Charlotta and Charlotte as woman’s names so you wouldn’t have had to change it at all! But had you wanted to, possible names would be f.ex. Salvör (sal = soul, vör = protect) or Salrós (rós = rose).

  22. Ari Lindholm:

    Hi there! So… My full name is Mercedes Aristotle Haskellsson Svalbard/Lindholm. I know it is a lot! I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to know what my full Icelandic name is? Please? Ari

    • hulda:

      @Ari Lindholm I’m a little unsure whether we’re talking of woman or man’s names here, but I’ll guess for female names based on Mercedes (both Ari and Aristotle would be male names here, but I’ve always thought of Mercedes as a female name – but then again English is not my mother tongue and I’m not certain if I’ve understood them all right), I’m really sorry if I got it wrong! For Mercedes I could suggest Melrós (melur = area with lots of small rocks in it, rós = rose) or Marheiður (mar = sea, heiður = honour). For the second name, Arinbjörg (arin = eagle/fireplace, a little uncertain which word it comes from but eagle is likelier, björg = help, rescue) could work. Your surname would stay as they are unless you wanted to opt for a patro- or a matronymic name, which would be made out of your parent’s name. 🙂

  23. Marissa:

    My first name is Marissa and my middle name is Drenan (a Welsh surname). My parents’ names are Matthew and Dorothy, but they go by Matt and Dottie (though I’m sure their nicknames aren’t important here. I doubt I’d emigrate to Iceland, but everything about names interest me 😀 so it’d be cool to know.

    • hulda:

      @Marissa There’s one occasion of a woman having the name Marísa, but for a more traditional Icelandic name I could suggest Mardís (mar = sea, dís = goddess) or Marfríður (friður = beautiful).

      Your patronymic would likely be Matthíasardóttir, unless you’d rather go by matronymic which would be Dóróteudóttir. 🙂

  24. Dom:

    Hi! I’m looking for the Icelandic equivalent of several names: Lex (male), Atticus (male) Denise, and my own name, Dominique. Would you be able to help me?

    Thank you!

    • hulda:

      @Dom I could suggest Leifur (= an heir), Atli (= grim), Dísa (= goddess) and Dómhildur (dóm = decision/ruling, hildur = battle). How would these sound like? 🙂

  25. Cameryn:

    My name is Cameryn Rae Schafer, and my parents are Thomas and Barbara. Do you happen to have any ideas? I have recently become really interested in Iceland, and I doubt I will emigrate, but I think it would be really cool to know this.

    • hulda:

      @Cameryn One combination that comes to mind would be Kolbrún Rán (kol = coal, brún = eyebrow, rán = the wife of sea-god Ægir)! Your patronymic would be Tómasardóttir, but if you wanted to use matronymic instead that would be Barbárudóttir.

      Kolbrún was also a famous saga lady, although her real name was actually not Kolbrún but Þorbjörg. She received the nickname by her black hair and beautiful eyebrows. 🙂

  26. Dak:

    How do Icelandic people feel about someone moving there changing their name to something Icelandic? I’m planning to go to school there, and then hopefully after get a job and start a family there. Do they receive an outsider changing their name like that well?

    • hulda:

      @Dak It was the custom for a long time that people moving to Iceland had to take an Icelandic name, so it’s still considered quite acceptable. Besides people prefer having easier time with names, so usually the reception of a name change is only positive. Besides it’s not rare, even though it’s no longer a law many immigrants still decide to take an Icelandic name! 🙂

  27. Rhiannon Louisa:

    Hi! I’m really pleased to see this comment thread still seems to be open as I found this article very interesting and I’m very curious as to how my name might be translated, I certainly couldn’t manage it myself! I’m from Wales, and my first name is Rhiannon. In proper Welsh it is pronounced something like (HREE-ann-on) but generally it is said more like (ree-ANN-on- like the Fleetwood Mac song if you know it). My middle name is Louisa which I imagine would be Lovísa? My father’s name is David.

    Thank you again for your great article and I hope you might have some luck suggesting an Icelandic name for me!

    • hulda:

      @Rhiannon Louisa This is hands down the most popular comment thread of this blog and I’m happy to see how much fun people are having with it! It takes a while to look up the names so sometimes I take a while, but I do try my best to get people their Icelandic names. 😀 Let’s have a look at your names then: the pronunciation hint made this very entertaining to do, by the way!

      If we keep the Hr-sound in the beginning of the name I could suggest Hrafnhildur (hrafn = raven, hildur = battle) or Hraundís (hraun = lava, dís = goddess). There’s also Hreindís (hreinn = in this context it means reindeer).

      If we leave out the H at the beginning, there’s f.ex. Reynheiður (reynir = rowan tree, heiður = honor) and Reginbjörg (regin = ruling/godly power, björg = help/rescue). The G in Regin is pronounced as a Y, “Ray-in-björg”.

      Louisa’s closest match indeed is Lovísa. Your patronymic would be Davidsdóttir. 🙂

      • Rhiannon Louisa:

        @hulda Thank you so much, it’s very interesting to read and I think I have some fantastic choices there! I love Hrafnhildur Lovísa or Reynheiður Lovísa. I think the meanings are brilliant too!

  28. Caroline:

    HI, What my name be?


    • hulda:

      @Caroline Karólín and Karólína would be closest matches, but for something more Icelandic it could also be Karen (an Icelandic-typical version of Katarina). For more options I’d have to give up on ka-beginning – f.ex. Kolbrún (kol = coal, brún = brow) or Kolgríma (gríma = in this context it can mean a helmet, according to Nöfn Íslendinga).

      • Caroline:

        @hulda Interesting! THANK YOU!!!

  29. Antoine:

    Hi Hulda! Very nice article 🙂
    My name is Antoine, and I was wondering if in Icelandic, would be “Anton” or “Antoninus” better?
    The name of my father is Etienne, in French. It is linked with Stefán, but do you know if there’s something closer to it?
    Thank you 🙂

    • hulda:

      @Antoine Anton is an Icelandic name, but Antoninus is not (at least according to Nöfn Íslendinga). Antoníus is, however, a similar sounding male name. 🙂 For the patronymic, alas I can’t think of anything better than Stefán… all names that start with Et- that come to mind are female. So Anton/Antoníus Stefánsson!

  30. Mary:

    Hi! I am planning on moving to Iceland and changing my name and I was wondering if you could you help me with it? My name is Mary Mädchen with mädchen being my middle name. I’m not quite sure how I would translate my middle name as you said something about how names with “ä” are usually rejected in the original post. Thank you in advance!

    • hulda:

      @Mary It’s true Iceland rejects names that have letters that aren’t in Icelandic alphabet, and ä is one of those letters. If you want an Icelandic name combination you could go for María Mekkín/Mekkína (+ your surname unless you go for a patronymic).

  31. Dolores Vargas:

    Hæ Hulda! 🙂

    I have recently started learning Icelandic on my own, partly because I think it sounds really cool and partly because I hope to visit Iceland next year! And I’m sure many have told you already, but your blog is really awesome!

    I would love to figure out what my Icelandic name would be, and after countless searches on my own, I’m hoping you will be up for the challenge 🙂 In Spanish, as my parents intended it to be, my name is “Dolores”. However, in English, sometimes it is spelled as “Delores”. Not a super common name, so if they don’t work out, maybe “Lola” will work, since that is the nickname specified for those named “Dolores”. I hope you have some luck, and I can’t wait to hear back!

    þakka þér!

    • hulda:

      @Dolores Vargas Hello and welcome, sorry to take so long to get to your name!

      This was a challenging one to find, because there are no easy matches! You could take Lola and go for Logey (logi = flame, ey = island) for example, or if you’d rather go with Dolores you could maybe consider Dórey (dór = þór = Thor) or even Dórhildur (hildur = battle).

  32. Ralf:

    Hi Hulda,

    My name is Ralf Bader. What would be my first and last name if I adopt an Icelandic name? I mean what is the closest Icelandic sounding name to my full name?

    • hulda:

      @Ralf I could suggest Hrafn as a close pronunciation match! It means “raven”. Your last name would either be the current one or you could take a patronymic name instead of a surname. 🙂

      • Ralf:

        @hulda Thank you Hulda.
        Not sure I got the patronymic name part right. Does this mean my name would be Hrafn Badersson?

  33. Marc:

    Hi my name is marc woodroffe and I live in Iceland with my Iceland girlfriend. We are thinking about marriage and having a child. Was wondering if you could help me out with a few names. Firstly my own, my name is marc and my fathers is Michael. Also we like the name natasha for our unborn daughter, is there an icelandic equivalent. Thank you

    • hulda:

      @Marc Markús would probably be the closest match to Marc, and your patronymic would be Mikaelsson. Closest matches to Natasha that I could find would be Natalie and Natalía, and her patronymic would be Markúsardóttir.

  34. Rob:

    Hi Hulda

    Very interesting. We visited Iceland this year, just as winter was starting and really loved it.

    My name is Rob Lachlan Hay, which is of Scottish origin (my fathers family are from the Shetlands). My partners name is Susan Kay Beale. It would be great to hear what our Icelandic names would be.


    • hulda:

      @Rob There is always Róbert, but you could f.ex. go for Hróar (= famed warrior) as well. Lachlan was harder to match but f.ex. Laufar (= male version of Laufey, probably) or Lár (comes from the name Laurus) could maybe work. For Susan I could suggest Sunna (= sun) or Steinunn (stein = rock, unn = love), and for Kay perhaps Kaja or Karen. Your surnames would stay the same or you could take on partonymic names instead. 🙂

  35. Heba:

    Great website! I recently visited Iceland and someone told me that the name Heba is used there as well. I was pretty surprised to hear that since Heba is a relatively common name in Egypt! Do you know anything about the origin of the name in Iceland?


    • hulda:

      @Heba Heba is indeed a name here! The first note comes from the year 1910, a woman from Akureyri had the name. It grew in popularity and by year 2008 there were already 67 women called Heba. The name came to Iceland via Sweden in teh form of Hebe, but the book tracks it at least back to Greek word hëbos (= young).

  36. Sequoia Imogen O’Brien:

    Hi Hulda,

    This was a fascinating post to read – thank you! But I think my name might be a challenge… There are no ‘Q’s in the Icelandic alphabet, correct? And who knows what ‘Sequoia’ sounds like… I should probably include that I am female as my name could apply to anyone.

    Anyhow. Thank you for your blog. I love learning about the Icelandic language and culture but some of the linguistic jargon gets tiresome after a while, and I can always rely on you to have written something readable as well as interesting. It makes a world of difference.

    Sequoia x

    • hulda:

      @Sequoia Imogen O'Brien Hi, I’m happy to hear that! 🙂

      Indeed, no Q in Icelandic alphabet… but the first female name that came to mind is Salka. It’s originally a diminutive for Salvör (sal = soul, vör = defense, protection) but grew to be a much loved name after the main character of one of Laxness’ books, Salka Valka.

  37. Dani:

    Hi! I hope you are enjoying so far 2016!
    I was wondering what was the closest icelandic name to Daniela or Karla.

    By the way, thank you so much for your blog. It is indeed a big help.

    • hulda:

      @Dani Hi, glad to hear you’ve liked the blog!

      There’s Daníela and Daníelía, but you could also consider Dagný (dag = day, ný = new). Karla already is an Icelandic name.

  38. Chelsea:

    Hi Hulda, very interesting post. I was wondering what my name would be, preferably matronymic. I am the daughter of Diane. Also, I really like the name Asdis. What would the full name be with 1) closest resemblance to Chelsea, and 2) Asdis. Thanks so much!

    • hulda:

      @Chelsea For Chelsea I had to go for names beginning with an S, as Icelandic doesn’t have a C: Selmdís (selm = Selma, a girl’s name; dís = goddess) could maybe work. It’s a super rare name though, in 2008 there was exactly one Selmdís living in Iceland. Selma itself could also work. I’m not sure I understand the second question right, but Ásdís is an Icelandic name. 🙂

      Your matronymic would be Diönudóttir.

  39. Mariano:

    Hi there! I have just found this amazing site! Congrats-1 I’ll keep on reading but now my name is Mariano Tschopp.
    My name would be the male version of Maria

    • hulda:

      @Mariano There are names that are very close to yours such as Marinó and Maríus. If you wanted to go for a fully Icelandic one there’s also Marjón (mar = sea, jón = Jon) or even Margeir (geir = spear).

  40. Zsolt Sándor:

    Hi there, I’ve just came accross this site and post, and I find Icelandic rules both fascinating and weird.
    I have workdes as a volunteer at a Viking Age open air museum in Denmark, where it is customary to choose a Viking name, especially if the real name is too foreign and anachronistic, native Danes included.

    Maybe an Icelandic name would fit me.

    My name, Zsolt, is rooted in the Arabic-to-Persian-to-Turkic word Sultan. It is pronounced like “bolt”, with the “zs” sounding like “j” in French (eg. Jean).
    I was thinking about going with Baldur. That both sounds similar, and overlaps a bit in meaning.

    My family name is Sándor which is the Hungarian version of Alexander, with the “s” sounding like “sh” in English, and the “á” like “i” in “shine” without the yod sound. The “n”, ” d” and “o” are clear and the “r” rolls nicely.

    My father is János, which is the Hungarian version of John, with the “j” sounding as a clear yod, and the rest as mentioned earlier.

    Along with a modern day Icelandic name, do you have a suggestion for a pre-Christian Viking name (especially for the patronym)?
    Thanks in advance!

    • hulda:

      @Zsolt Sándor For the Viking name thing I’d say going with Baldur is fine! Another one I immediately thought of was Steinn (= rock), it’s also old enough for Viking re-enactment. It’s pronounced with a T-sound before the double N, “steitnn”.

      A modern patronymic could be Janusarson, but that won’t work for Viking era becuase it likely didn’t exist back then. Jarlsson on the other hand might work since the name Jarl (= earl) is written at least on one Swedish runestone from the Medieval era. Jóreiðarson is also old enough, from the Icelandic Settlement Era.

      For Iceland, Pre-Christian is a little bit unclear line, since both Christianity and the Original Norse religion lived side by side for over a hundred years. 🙂

  41. Zsolt Sándor:

    PS: an older version of Zsolt would be Solt which sounds like “Sholt” in English.

  42. Gregory Gidney:

    I had been doing some ancestry research on my name, and it seems to have come mainly from England. John Gidney (Gedney) was apparently a doctor who came over to America in the 1600s.
    I believe I traced the name back to around the 1200s.
    My father has the exact same name, I am the 2nd.

    …what do you think my name would be in Iceland? Greg Gregorysson?

    • hulda:

      @Gregory Gidney Geir Geirsson came to mind automatically! Geir means a spear and it’s an ancient name, dating back to the Settlement Era. Grani Granason could also work… Gregor is also a name in Iceland, so Gregor Gregorsson is another option.

  43. VouterW:

    Hi Hulda, first of all, thank you for your interesting article. It was very interesting to read how names are formed in Iceland.
    Secondly, I was wondering if you could help me with the “Icelandic version” of my name. My name is Wouter, my father’s name is Alain. If I am correct that means the surname would be Alansson? Many thanks in advance!

  44. ryan:


    What would be the Icelandic name for Rowan (female)? I’ve found that the Rowan tree translates to Reynir, but it seems to be a masculine name. Are there women named Reynir also? Or Reynheiður(does this mean the same thing or make sense to be shortened to Rowan)?

    I’m writing a novel, where the character came from Iceland when she was very young and ‘Americanized’ her name to Rowan to facilitate pronunciation during school years. What do you think the best Icelandic name would be for her? Any info would be very greatly appreciated!


  45. Eyvör Sørine:

    Hulda, my name is Eyvör Sørine (Half Icelander, half Norwegian), and I was wondering what my middle name would transfer as, considering it’s the female version of Søren.

    Þakka fyrir!

  46. Florence:

    Hello… what would my name be (Florence)?

  47. Alexandra:

    This is great! My name is Alexandra in English, what would it be in Icelandic, or the nearest equivalent?
    And how would it change in usage (how would it decline?) I am only starting to learn Icelandic and find the word endings very confusing at the moment!

  48. Vincent:

    I was wondering what the naming convention is for orphaned children where neither parent is known?

  49. Scott Orme:

    Hi there,
    My great grandparents immigrated to the US from Iceland (vestmannaeyjar). He changed his name to John Olson. My name is Scott Orme (<<I know Orm has plenty of history in Scandanavia). I am interested in what Iceland would do with the name Scott. My dad is Fred (also not too useful). Thanks!

  50. Eva:

    You can also create your real Icelandic name with this app:

    The results are based on the rules of the Icelandic National Committee.

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