Secularising Norway increasingly uses biblical names


Northern Europe

Photo AFP, John Stillwell

Although Norway is increasingly secularising, biblical names are among the most popular names given to babies.

The Christian Norwegian daily Dagen spoke with Ivar Utne, an associate professor at the University of Bergen and one of Norway's foremost experts on personal names.

According to Utne, nowadays, a name has three functions: it separates people from each other, it is a central part of a person's identity, and it is an expression of culture. In biblical times, names also had a fourth function: a name told something about who someone was.

Since the 2000s, the use of biblical names in Norway has grown. Although the statistics point downwards for the church, we still live in a culture marked by the Bible, explains Utne. Besides, "the Bible is full of names with many vowels, which makes them sonorous, beautiful and easy to pronounce."

According to Utne, there may be several reasons why parents choose names from the Bible. It may be that they carry on an old biblical name tradition, that they are Christians, or that they are names that are widely used internationally.


Dagen further observes that biblical boy names are more popular than girl names. Utne thinks there is a simple explanation for that: "The Bible is full of men. If you are to choose a biblical boy's name, you have many more to choose from than if you were to choose a girl's name."

Top 10 names in 2021

The Bureau of Statistics in Norway, SBB, compiled a list of the most popular names in 2021.

Boy names:

  1. Noah
  2. Oskar/Oscar
  3. Oliver
  4. Lucas/Lukas
  5. Isaac/Isaac/Isaac
  6. Axel
  7. Emil
  8. Philip/Philip/Fillip/Phillip
  9. Jakob/Jacob
  10. William

Girl names:

  1. Nora/Norah
  2. Emma
  3. Sophie
  4. Olivia
  5. Ella
  6. Sofia/Sophia
  7. Maja/Maia/Maya
  8. Leah/Lea
  9. Frida
  10. Ingrid


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