Icelandic Man Continues Fight for "Scary" Name Skip to content

Icelandic Man Continues Fight for “Scary” Name

By Steindor Gretar Jonsson

“This is my identity, this is my character,” said Rúnar Hroði Geirmundsson, whose middle name has been rejected by the Icelandic naming committee. “This is what I’ve been called for seventeen years.

The committee recently decreed that the name Hroði, which evokes the meaning “scary” or “awful” among other things, is not eligible to be used by Icelandic people. The controversial committee maintains the official register of Icelandic names and decides whether new names should be introduced to it.

Powerlifting name

Rúnar Hroði told Bylgjan radio that he had recently began powerlifting when the name got stuck to him. “When I first started competing, I wasn’t very strong,” he explained. “My friend, who has since passed, told me that my performance was “hroðaleg” [awful]. “You’re a real Hroði,” he said.”

He went on build a career in powerlifting, winning numerous domestic and international competitions. “It was I, Hroði, who finished that task like everything I set out to do,” he said.

Rúnar Hroði decided to submit the name to the naming committee in honour of his friend’s passing. He looked into the criteria for new names and came to the conclusion that Hroði met them. “I was sure it would be accepted,” he said. “But then I was told that it was too “hroðalegt”.”

He objects to the conclusion and has hired an attorney to look into the case. “What other place in the world are you not allowed to be named what you want to be called?” he asked.

Discussion in parliament

Rúnar Hroði’s case was discussed in Alþingi, Iceland’s Parliament, last Thursday. Gísli Rafn Ólafsson, member of parliament for the Pirate Party, argued that the name had met all criteria, except that it could be considered troubling for the person who has it. “And who’s to say what is troubling and what not?” he said. “Well the naming committee decides that because it can mean phlegm, garbage, waste, and such, it’s a bad name.”

He added that the committee had accepted the name Klaki in the same meeting, a word that means “ice”. “When you look in the dictionary, the word “hroði” is also defined as slushy ice on ocean or water. And what’s the difference between that and klaki?”

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