Norway’s naming game

Photo: Marte

Photo: Marte

Nora and Lukas top the list for 2012’s most popular names in Norway

Statistics Norway

Nora had been the “top ten” for 12 years before it finally was chosen as the most popular girl’s name in Norway last year. Lucas / Lukas has dominated the past five years, and was the most popular boy’s name in 2012.

The name Nora appeared in Norway in the mid-1800s. The name is a shortened form of Eleonore, but the meaning is unknown. According to the census of 1900, there were 132 women named Nora in 1877, the year when “A Doll’s House” was released. It was mostly children who bore this name, and popularity rose up to 1900. Between 1950 and 1980 the name was however almost gone, before the popularity rose again in 2000 and ended up at its current height of fashion.

Lucas / Lukas is a typical biblical boy names. The name means “man from Lucania.” Luke has been a well-known name, but it has been used very little in Norway. Figures from the census shows that there were 51 people named Lucas in 1801, while there were 57 people named in 1865 and 64 in 1900. The occurrence of the name Lucas was so low in the 1800s that it is not visible in the figure. It was only in the 1970s that the name popularity began to rise, and in 2000 it rose rapidly.

The past two years have shown many changes among popular boys’ names. In 2012, 527 boys had the name Lucas or Lukas. This is over 100 more than those who were named Emil and Mathias, who landed in second and third places respectively last year. Oskar / Oscar climbed 12 places in two years and ended up in seventh place in 2012. In the biennium 2011-2012, Henrik grew in popularity, name went up 10 places and finished in 12th place. The name Liam, which is a variant of William, went up the 24 seats and ended in 14th place. Isaac climbed 13 spots to 16th place. The name Matheo appeared in 2002 and is now amongst the 40 most popular names in Norawy. In the past two years, Matheo climbed 43 spots and ended up at 31st place in 2012. Noah’s increase, however, stopped, except in Molde.

On the popular girl’s names, Emma is by far the most commonly used name in this millennium. In 2012, Emma landed just behind Nora, while Sofie took third place. Next positions? Some girl names are relatively small changes compared to 2011. Nevertheless, both Live and Lilly made great progress in the last year and finished respectively in 32nd and 38th place.

Norway’s Top 10 Boy Names in 2012

1. 52,717 Lucas / Lukas

2. 42,413 Emil

3. 40,713 Mathias / Matias

4. 40,513 Jonas

5. 38,512 Alexander / Aleksander

6. 37,312 William

7. 37,312 Oscar / Oscar

8. 36,811 Magnus

9. 36,711 Markus / Marcus

10. 35,511 Oliver

Norway’s Top 10 Girl Names in 2012

1. 43,814 Nora / Norah

2. 43,614 Emma

3. 42,714 Sofie / Sophie

4. 39,513 Linnea / Linea

5. 35,211 Sara / Sahra / Sarah

6. 34,711 Emilie

7. 34,611 Ingrid / Ingri

8. 33,811 Thea / Tea

9. 32,511 Leah / Lea

10. 32,210 Sofia / Sophia

The biblical boy names, except Lucas / Lukas, falling slowly in popularity after a peak in 2006. The name Matheo probably stems from Matheus, but is not considered a biblical name.

Local variations are hard to find, but some trends are visible across the country. Liam is a popular name in Østfold. Mohammad, with many different variations, is the most popular name in Oslo. In Sogn og Fjordane, the name Nikolai shares first place with several other names. Theodor is the third most popular name in Nord-Trøndelag, while Matheo is the most popular in Troms. Some girl names are even harder to find local variations, but Ella takes second place in Stavanger and Cornelia is 17th place in Telemark.

Much of the inspiration for the Norwegian name trends come from Sweden. In 2012, it was Alice and William were the most popular names in the neighboring country.

Sweden’s Top Five Girl and Boy Names in 2012

1. Alice William

2. Elsa Oscar

3. Julia Lucas

4. Ella Hugo

5. Maja Elias

In Norway, 49.4 percent of children have middle names, while 8.5 percent have a hyphenated last name. In this way, the child continues with both parents’ names. The use of hyphenated surname has risen after it was widely accepted in 2003, and is rising steadily. This is perhaps also the reason that only 21.5 percent of boys and 26.1 percent of girls get more than one first name. Overall, 566 girls got Sofie as second first name in 2012, and that was when most who combined this with Emma. Marie came in second place – 516 girls received this as a second first name name.

The most commonly used second first names for boys are Alexander with 424, Andre with 328 and Leander with 206.

In 2012, 17 percent of newborns had last names ending in “sen.” For the total population, this proportion has now fallen to 21.4 percent.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 8, 2013 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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