Iceland’s Naming Committee Approves Hendrix, Rejects Universe

baby swimming

Iceland’s Naming Committee has approved 25 new names and rejected five name requests, RÚV reports. Hendrix is among the approved first names and Universe among those rejected. The Naming Committee rejected five names on the basis that they do not conform to Icelandic grammatical structure or because they could potentially cause the bearer harm.

The committee rejected the names Universe, Byte, Íja, and Bjarkarr, asserting that these names do not conform to Icelandic spelling norms and also have no previous history in the language. It rejected the name Aftur (e. Again) on the basis that it could cause the person bearing the name harm (presumably in the form of bullying).

The Icelandic Naming Committee maintains an official register of approved Icelandic names and governs the introduction of new names into the register. Its value is widely debated in Iceland. Naming laws have been relaxed somewhat in recent years, both in the case of foreign names and in assigning approved names to a specific gender. The Icelandic Parliament has debated bills on dissolving the committee entirely, but such a bill has yet to be made law.

Read More: The Most Popular Baby Names in Iceland

The new first and middle names approved by the committee in this round of decisions include Luka, Náttrún, Terra, Eymir, Fríðhólm, Þruma, Laki, and Mánarós.

Birnir Most Popular Baby Name in Iceland

baby swimming

Birnir was the most popular name given to newborns in Iceland in 2023. Emilía was the most popular name given to girls. The data on the most popular baby names of 2023 was published by Registers Iceland today.

Thirty newborns were given the name Birnir last year in Iceland, more individuals than any other name. Emil and Elmar were the next most popular boys’ names, followed by Jón and Óliver. Emilía was the most popular girl’s name given to newborns last year and sixth most popular name overall. Sara, Sóley, Embla, and Aþena (Athena) were the next most popular girls’ names given to babies last year.

Nameless newborns

Naming culture in Iceland differs from that of many other countries. Newborns are not typically named at birth, but at their baptism or a non-religious naming ceremony around two months later. It is quite common for Icelandic children to be named after their grandparents, although, as the data from Registers Iceland shows, naming trends do change over time.

All names given in Iceland must be pre-approved by the country’s Naming Committee. The committee maintains a register of approved Icelandic given names and governs the introduction of new names into Icelandic culture. Its existence has been a topic of debate in recent years, with former Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir proposing its abolishment.

Anna and Jón most common

But what are the most common names in Iceland overall? The two most popular names in the country are Anna (6,272 individuals) and Jón (5,599 individuals). They are followed by Guðrún (4,923), Sigurður (4,445), and Guðmundur (4,208), which round up the top five spots.

Name Changes In a Week or Less Once Law Goes Into Effect

Iceland trans intersex rights bill

Once the new Gender Autonomy Act goes into effect, individuals will have only a three to five day wait for their requested name changes to be processed, RÚV reports. Although the law has yet to be published, preparations are already underway at Registers Iceland in the hope that the name change process will be as smooth and fast as possible for all applicants.

Alþingi passed the Gender Autonomy Act last week. Per this new law, Icelandic names will no longer be gendered. This means that anyone will be able to take any name in the registry, irrespective of gender, and marks a major change in Icelandic naming conventions. Per the previous provisions of the country’s naming laws, “Girls shall be given female names and boys shall be given male names.” Moreover, individuals will have the right to change their official gender according to their lived experience and register as neither male nor female (denoted with an “x” on documents).

Registers Iceland is preparing itself so as to be ready to process name changes as soon as the law goes into effect says Margrét Hauksdóttir, the organisation’s general director. “…[W]e’ll be ready with electronic forms where people can apply for changes, both to their surnames and given names.”

Per the new law, individuals who register their gender as ‘X’ will be able to take gender neutral surnames in lieu of patro- and matronymics that designate the bearer as being someone’s son or daughter. The status quo is for children to be given a name that specifies them as being either male or female using the suffixes -son or -dóttir. But now, there is a gender-neutral option in the name ending -bur, which doesn’t carry any gendered connotation. (People registered as female will still be required to take the patro- or matronymic -dóttir and people registered as male will still have to use -son.)

Margrét says that Registers Iceland is anticipating a high number of name change applications to be submitted once the law takes effect, as there are a number of people who have been specifically waiting for the law to allow them to do so. Processing time for name changes should be within three to five business days, she says.

“Not much more than that,” she remarked. “If it is, in fact, a name that exists in the name registry and if it doesn’t require any special consideration, it will go through quickly.”

Aron and Hekla Most Popular Baby Names

Reykjavík baby

The most popular baby names given in Iceland last year were Aron and Hekla, RÚV reports. According to the National Registry’s data, 30 boys were given the name Aron in 2018, with the next most popular name being Kári, given to 22 boys. The third most popular boys’ name was Brynjar, followed by Alexander, Óliver, Daníel, Guðmundur, Emil, Jóhann, and Jökull.

Fifteen new-borns were named Hekla last year, making it the most popular girls’ name, with Embla a close second, given to 14 girls. Anna and Emilía were next in popularity, followed by Alexandra, Bríet, Júlía, Sara, Andrea, and Freyja.

The most popular given names in 2017 were Emilía and Alexander, showing a shift in preference between the years.

Naming Committee Approves Ínes and Rökkurdís

The Icelandic Naming Committee has approved two new names for girls, RÚV reports. Icelandic women may now legally bear the names Ínes and Rökkurdís (literally ‘Twilight Nymph’), both of which were deemed to correctly decline, conform to Icelandic spelling conventions, and meet the rest of the committee’s rules for acceptable names.

Around the same time that these two names were approved, the committee rejected the name Sigríður, typically a female name, as an acceptable name for a man to bear. Sigurður Hlynur Snæbjörnsson (who currently goes by Hlynur), a sheep farmer in North Iceland, had applied to the committee for permission to change his name to Sigríður, after his grandmother for whom he was named. The Naming Committee’s rejection of his request came as a surprise he said, given that there is a precedent of other names that have traditionally only been used for one gender being approved for use by both men and women, such as Auður, a traditionally female name which was approved as a male name in 2013, and Blær, which was also approved as a female name after a long and very public debate that same year.

Hlynur is still considering whether to appeal the decision in court.