Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Norwegian Name Statistics

Every year Statistics Norway releases a report on the most popular boys’ and girls’ names chosen by Norwegian parents in the previous year. Below is the summary of the report in English, but you can find the original (with graphs) here. You can also search to see how many people in Norway today have a given first or last name by searching here. Enjoy!

Linnea and Lucas/Lukas were the new leading first names in 2008. The trend with biblical boys’ names and girls’ names ending in “a” continues. In Oslo, the decidedly most popular boys’ name is Mohammad.

The most popular girls' name in Norway in 2008 was Linnea, which was in 12th place in 2007. The name Linnea originates from Sweden and refers to the "linnaea" flower, which is named after the Swedish botanist Carl von Linné. Linnea has been extremely popular in Sweden for a while, peaking in 5th place in 2002.

Otherwise, the list of most popular girls’ names has not changed very much. Emma is in 2n d place and the most popular name in 2007, Sara, is number three. Leah has jumped five places and is now in 9t h place.

The most popular boys’ name in 2008 was Lukas/Lucas. There are almost as many boys called Lukas as Lucas: 244 and 293 respectively. The name is taken from Lucanos, which is Latin and means “Light” or “Man from Lucania”. The origin is the author of the Gospel according to Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. Lucas was the most popular boys’ name in Sweden in both 2006 and 2008. Otherwise, the previous most popular name, Mathias, is in 2n d place and Markus remains at number three. Emil has grown in popularity and is now in 4t h place.

Kristian/Christian, which is now in 5t h place, has been in the top ten since 1974. Oliver has jumped 10 places to number 8, just before Tobias.

See the table for the whole country, the counties and selected municipalities.
Trends go in waves

The popularity of a name goes in waves. Many of the currently popular names were also popular more than 100 years ago and have returned after a long absence. This applies to many of the biblical names, amongst others. Whether religion actually played a part in the popularity of these names in the 1800s is not known. In any case, they disappeared during the 1900s, but have now made a strong comeback. Name trends are fairly international, and the biblical boys' names are also popular outside Norway.

In contrast to the recent leading names, Linnea and Lucas/Lukas are “new”, and prior to 1990 were hardly ever used. Noah, which is now in 14th place, is also totally new to Norway.

The majority of our most popular names are already established in Sweden. The name list in Sweden is the best indicator of what is happening in Norway. The trend with many girls’ names that end in “a” or “ah” probably stems from our neighbours to the east. Over half (51.5 per cent) of the girls that were born in 2008 were given a name ending in “a” or “ah”. Immediately after the war, the corresponding figure was 13 per cent by comparison, with Eva as the greatest contributor.


Kate Rogers said...

Great post! Look for more information about Norwegian names and naming trends in the March issue of Viking magazine!

MJ said...

Very interesting, indeed!