Choosing a Baby Name in Iceland

Alana Odegard is a pregnant Canadian woman living in Reykjavík with her Icelandic husband. In an article she wrote for Iceland Review Online, she describes the process of naming a baby in Iceland:

Generally a baby’s name is not revealed until its official naming ceremony (often accompanied by a baptism).

Legally, parents have up to six months to name their baby and it’s not uncommon for a child to be “nameless” for this period of time (of course the parents may know the name, but it’s kept a secret from everyone else).

So, what do you call a baby with no name?

Up until the naming ceremony babies are often referred to as drengur (boy), stúlka (girl), elskan (an affectionate term like “honey” or “sweetheart”), or Gunnarsson/Gunnarsdóttir (depending on if it is a girl or a boy, according to the Old Norse naming system).

Alana also mentions that baby names in Iceland must be chosen from an official list issued by the Mannanafnanefnd, or personal name committee. If Icelandic parents want to use a name that is not on the list, they must submit a petition to the committee, along with a small fee, and wait to hear if the name is accepted or rejected. (Exceptions to the naming law are made for foreign-born parents.)

Sources: And the Name Is…, Malm and Adils forbidden as Icelandic names, What’s in a Name, Name Law and Gender in Iceland

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about Icelandic baby naming laws, check out the giving a name page on the Intercultural Centre of Iceland website.

One thought on “Choosing a Baby Name in Iceland

  1. I half remember how last names are given to babies but can’t remember. Son or dottir are used but I cna’t remember if the father’s last name or first name or whatever comes before son or dottir.

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