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25 Popular Swedish Names and their meaning

25 Popular Swedish Names and their meaning

Want to find some nice Swedish Names for boys and girls? Here’s a list of the most popular names in Sweden as well as their meaning and origins.

Some of the most classic names in Sweden are Karl, Erik, Lars, Anders for males, and Maria, Elisabeth, Anna, Kristina, and Margareta for females. If you travel to Sweden, you’re very likely to meet a person with any of these mentioned Swedish names. 

Swedish Names for Boys/Men

These are the most common male names in Sweden. Jan and Hans have the same meaning because they both derive from Johannes. 

Erik“Eternal ruler” or “the honored”
Lars“Man from the place of laurel”, “victorious”
Karl/Carl“Free man” it’s a name of many kings
Anders“Strong and manly”
Johan“God has mercy” or “God’s gift”
Per“Rock” (Nordic short form of Petrus)
Nils“People’s Victory”
Jan“The Lord has been gracious”
Hans“The Lord has been gracious”

Most popular Swedish boy names in 2018

This is the latest statistics about the most popular boy names in Sweden in 2018. As you might notice, many of these are not one of the most common Swedish names for boys/men. 

  • William
  • Liam
  • Noah
  • Lucas
  • Oliver
  • Oscar
  • Elias
  • Hugo
  • Adam
  • Alexander
Swedish names for boys

Photo: katatonia82 /

Swedish Names for Girls/Women

These are the most common first names for women in Sweden.

Maria“Rebellious”, “A Desired/longed for child.”, also the mother of Jesus
Anna“The pardoned”
Elisabeth/Elisabet“God is perfection”
Eva“The mother of all living”
Kristina“The Christian”
Birgitta“The Exalted”
Karin“Pure”, “Chaste”
MarieA different version of Maria with the same meaning
Ingrid“Beautiful”, “Loved”

Most popular Swedish girl names 2018

This is the latest statistics about the most popular girl names in Sweden in 2018. As you might notice, many of these are not one of the most common Swedish names for girls/women. 

  • Alice
  • Maja
  • Lilly
  • Ella
  • Wilma
  • Ebba
  • Olivia
  • Astrid
  • Alma
  • Elsa
Popular names in Sweden

Photo: Solveig Been/Shutterstock

Gender-neutral names in Sweden

Kim, Robin, and Charlie are some of the most common unisex names in Sweden. Currently, there are about 170 legally approved gender-neutral names in Sweden. It’s not very common, but might be increasing in the future due to the introduction of gender-neutral pronoun – Hen, which could refer to any gender. 

Old Swedish Names

All of the following names can be traced back to old Norse names, and they are therefore labeled as old Swedish names. Even today, you’ll find some Swedes bearing these historical names. 

  • Solveig = Old Norse elements of sun and strength
  • Bo = from Old Norse ‘to live’
  • Siv = Old Norse ‘bride’
  • Ulf = Old Norse ‘wolf’
  • Sture = Old Norse ‘to be contrary’
  • Freja = Lady, also the goddess of love and beauty
  • Saga = Old Norse ‘seeing one’
  • Rune = Old Norse ‘secret lore’
Old Swedish names

Photo: delcarmat/Shutterstock

List of common Swedish surnames

If you’re not born and raised in Sweden, you might have heard Swedish surnames such as Forsberg, Skarsgård, Lundgren, Borg, and Bergman, which all belong to some of the most famous Swedes abroad. 

But the surnames below are much more common, and the meaning behind surnames ending with son dates back to history where the son and daughter would get their father’s first name as a surname, indicating that they are the son or daughter. 

The female version of son is “dotter”, meaning daughter, which would instead become Svensdotter, Eriksdotter, etc. This practice is still common in Iceland but was abandoned as practice in Sweden many decades ago.

These days, you typically inherit the husband’s name, which is very likely to hold a common surname from the list below. This practice is also becoming a bit outdated as more and more Swedes decide to not get married. There is also the practice of keeping the maiden name and have two surnames combined. 

Swedish surnames tradition

Photo: Tommy Alven /

More about names in Sweden

Swedish parents often seek to name their children something unique rather than choosing a typical Swedish name. This trend is quite new and became popular in the ’80s and ’90s.

Just like in other countries around the world, baby names in Sweden these days tend to be inspired by movies, TV-shows and other “cool” characters. However, there are also plenty of Swedes opting for one of the classic Swedish names, which means that some of the old names in Sweden will become popular from time to time again. 

What is the most common name in Sweden?

The most common names in Sweden are Maria and Erik. 

Why do Swedish names end in SON?

Son is the Swedish word for the same thing as in English, so the ending “Son” used to be an indication that the person was the son of a father with that name. For example, if the father was named Per, the son would get the last name “Persson”, meaning Per’s son.

This practice was abandoned quite a long time ago and was replaced by the tradition of inheriting the last name of the father. At the time of replacement, a lot of men were named as their father’s son, which led to the spread of surnames ending with Son. 

Hereditary surnames became mandatory in 1901. 

Do Swedes have middle names?

In Sweden, it’s very common to have as many as 2 middle names in addition to the given name. This can be quite confusing for foreigners, especially since the first name listed in the passport doesn’t have to be a person’s first name in Sweden. 

Middle names are often other names that the parents liked, or the name of a relative, such as the parent’s fathers or mothers. It’s also quite common to take the name of a grandmother or grandfather as a middle name for babies to honor them. 

Want more suggestions on Swedish names? Leave a comment below!

Anna L

Thursday 3rd of December 2020

It is also a very common thing in Sweden to have a surname derived from nature. Like my name, Lundquist, which is two nature based words Lund translates into “Grove” in English, and “quist” is an old way to write “kvist”, sounds the same though, and both means “a small branch or twig on a tree. Other common surenames that have their base in the fauna are: Björk=Birch Berg=mountain Ek=oak Ekberg=oak and mountain Ström=Current And so on. The variations of these names are countless. Sometime they are combined with other things as well like Bergman which is mountain combined with man, We also have some animal based names, like varg=wolf, Uggla=owl, Svan=swan and so on.