Old Norse Surnames

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Old Norse

In Old Norse times, the people in the Nordic countries did not use surnames, only given names and primary patronyms. Some of them had a byname as well.

Primary Patronyms

The primary patronyms indicated what the name of a person's father was.

To create an Old Norse primary patronym, the suffix -son (= 'son') or -dóttir (= 'daughter') is added to the genitive form of the father's name.

Examples

Name Genitive Son's patronym Daughter's patronym
Helgi Helga Helgason Helgadóttir
Sturla Sturlu Sturluson Sturludóttir
Grímr Gríms Grímsson Grímsdóttir
Hrafnkell Hrafnkels Hrafnkelsson Hrafnkelsdóttir

Bynames

The byname was a kind of a nickname used by some people in Old Norse times. You can find a long list of Viking bynames here.

See also