Norwegian Names – Naming Patterns in Norway

To keep things simple this is the basic structure of naming traditions in Norway. The Norwegian name consists of three parts:

  • Given name
  • Patronym (The use of a component of a personal name which is the fathers name ending in son or daughter)
  • Last name (Farm name)

Let us now explore each of these three parts.

Given name

Children in Norway were traditionally named after their grandparents. The tradition exists still today, but is much less practiced.

  • Oldest son named after father’s father
  • Oldest daughter named after father’s mother
  • Second oldest son named after mother’s father
  • Second oldest daughter named after mother’s mother

Patronyms and the law of 1923

In 1923, the Family Name Act set the following standards:

  • women should take their husband’s surname and
  • the new surname should have one spelling.

Patronyms were generally used before this law. A patronym is the use of a component of a personal name which is the father’s name ending in son or daughter. To give an example, if your father was named Hans, then your name was Hanssen or Hansdatter. Because of differences in language and dialect, there were variations on this: sen or son, datter, dotter or dottir. Remember when you search, use wildcards, such as Hans*.

Last name (Farm name)

A simplification of the naming practice before 1923 had your name consisting of three parts:

  • given name
  • patronym
  • address

An example would be my great-grandfather Henrik was born on the farm Uv, his father’s first name was Ole:

  1. Living at home with his parents, he was Henrik Olsen Uv.
  2. He moved to the farm Hoel to work, and was known as Henrik Olsen Hoel.
  3. He married and settled on the farm in Storli, and was known as Henrik Olsen Storli.

It might be confusing with the change of names, but it gives you more information, we can find where they lived at different times in their lives.

If you would like to learn more you will find it on FamilySearch  or Lokalhistoriewiki.


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