It's no secret that Scandinavian style is having a moment. From the sheepskin hide on your bedroom floor, to that dark rye bread you had for lunch, to minimalist clothing in your IKEA closet: Everything that's popular in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway seems to reach out shores.
What you may not have noticed is that Swedish baby names are roaringly popular at the moment, too. From Agnes to Axel to Elsa, names that are topping the charts in Sweden tend toward the traditional and slightly quirky — trends that have been on the upswing themselves in recent years. Many of them are traditionally Swedish; others are Anglo-Saxon monikers that Swedes have embraced.
Yes, it’s pronounced AK-sel; there are no tricky silent letters here, luckily.
We’re particularly fond of this name because of its sweet meaning: “Father of peace.”
And it seems we’re not the only ones who love it, either: Funnyman Will Ferrell’s son is called Axel Ferrell, while Athlete Tiger Woods’ son is named Charlie Axel Woods. (Sidenote: Charlie is also a hugely popular name in Sweden, so it seems the golfer had a theme in mind with this baby name.)
Number 13 on Sweden’s popular baby name list is used widely across Scandanavia. Interestingly, it’s also occasionally a girl’s name in Sweden and Denmark.
While the spelling with a K is traditional in Scandinavia, the English spelling of Oscar nevertheless remains on the top-20 list in Sweden. Actor Hugh Jackman and actress Gillian Anderson both chose to give their sons this name, which means “God’s spear” or “divine spear.”
This traditional, nature-inspired name is popular in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. It’s derived from the old Norse elements arn for "eagle" and viðr for "tree." The name, which currently sits at #18 on the Swedish list, is pronounced “Ah-RVahD.” (If you’re have high academic aspirations for your bub, you’ll be pleased to note that rhymes with Harvard.)
In Sweden, Leo isn’t just a shortening of Leonardo. It’s a stand-alone name used for both boys and girls, and its use in Sweden dates back to 1753. Its original Latin meaning is “lion” – so the name has both playful and majestic connotations.
This pretty name doubled in popularity in the year 2014-2015 due to the popularity of the animated film Frozen—but guess what? It’s a traditional Swedish name that is currently sitting at #1 on the popular Swedish names list. Actor Chris Hemsworth’s model wife is also named (Elsa Pataky,) in case you’re wondering why you’ve seen this name in a red carpet best-dressed pages.
A traditional English name, Olivia (meaning “symbol of peace”) has been appropriated by both Swedes and Americans alike: It’s currently #6 on the popular baby name list in Sweden and #2 in America, too.
Athlete Lance Armstrong, musician Eddie Vedder, and actors Al Pacino, James Van der Beek, Denzel Washington and Ben Stiller have all fallen in love with this name—each calling their daughter Olivia. With its pretty, classic connotations, we can see why.
This chic name, meaning “star,” was originally Latin but later became popular in England. It was eventually snapped up by the Swedes, and currently sits at #14 on the popular baby name list in the Scandanavian country.
It’s also hugely popular among celebrities, with actors Harvey Keitel and Matt Damon, Beatle Paul McCartney, and actresses Tori Spelling and Ellen Pompeo, Antonio Banderas all bestowing the name on their respective daughters.
This nostalgic name, which is also Greek, means “pure” or “holy.” In 2011, Actor couple Jennifer Connolly and Paul Bettany called their daughter Agnes. (And that’s a soft “e,” by the way: The pronunciation is “Ag-ness,” not “Ag-neez.”)
This floral name is a nod to pioneering Swedish botanist Anders Dahl. The name Dahlia was chosen by Canadian food celebrity Gail Simmons for her daughter—But even more compellingly, Dahlia is a floral choice that isn’t overdone, nor soft and wishy-washy.