The University of Wisconsin Press

Reference / Scandinavian Studies / Genealogy


A Handbook of Scandinavian Names
Nancy L. Coleman and Olav Veka

•Winner, Reference Book of the Year, Midwest Book Awards
•Finalist, USA Best Books Award for Parenting/Family Reference

From Aade to Yngvar

Are you looking for...
• a Scandinavian name for your baby?
• the names of Norse gods and heroes?
• the history and meaning of Scandinavian first names?
• variations and alternate spellings for common Scandinavian names?
• naming traditions and customs in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark?

A Handbook of Scandinavian Names includes a dictionary of more than fifteen hundred given names from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, plus some from Iceland and Finland. Each entry provides a guide to pronunciation and the origin and meaning of the name. Many entries also include variations and usage in the Scandinavian countries and famous bearers of the name.

Adding engaging context to the dictionary section is an extensive comparative guide to naming practices. The authors discuss immigration to North America from Scandinavia and the ways given names and surnames were adapted in the New World. Also included in the book is a history of Scandinavian names, information on “Name Days,” and discussion of significant names from mythology and history, including naming traditions in royal families.

Nancy L. Coleman and Olav VekaNancy L. Coleman taught English, German, and Norwegian at a high school in Hamar, Norway, and is editor and translator of the English-Norwegian / Norwegian-English dictionary Password. Olav Veka is president of the Norwegian Name Association (Norsk namnelag) and author of many reference works and textbooks on Norwegian language, literature, and names. He contributed the entries on Norwegian and Danish surnames to the Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names.

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

A portrait of a baby wearing a horned viking hat

December 2010

LC: 2010011535 PD
304 pp.
6 x 9
28 b/w photos, 5 maps, 7 charts

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Paper $27.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-24834-5
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“Invitingly readable! Setting these names in context, this dictionary also provides a
concise, stimulating primer on Scandinavian mythology, history, and immigration, as well as highlighting subtle but highly significant differences among Scandinavian countries.”
—Kathleen Stokker, author of Norsk, Nordmenn og Norge


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Updated October 13, 2011

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