A Walk through Norwegian Place Names – Part 2


Namsos is located in the mouth of the river Namsen which ends in the Namsen Fjord

The origin of a place name is complex – why is Norway called Norway, why was Oslo called Christiania, Kristiania and then Oslo again, which kings have a city named after them and what does Brønnøysund really mean? Norwegian cities are full of history.

Namsos – ‘mouth of the river Namsen’, the meaning of the river name is unknown

Narvik – The meaning of Nar- is uncertain, but may origin from the ship name knarr, god’s name Njord , male name Narve (Old Norwegian Narfi) or Old Norwegian nór ‘narrow strait’

Notodden – from not (dragnet) ‘fishing tool’ + odde ‘cape’

Nærøy – from Old Norwegian Njarðøy – probably from the god’s name Njord

Oslo – last joint is the Old Norwegian word lo meaning ‘meadow by water’. The first joint comes from the Old Norwegian word ás. The meaning of this word uncertain, but the most plausible linguistic explanation suggests a ‘(pagan) god’

Otta – originally name of the river, probably from Old Norwegian ótta ‘scare’ and ótti ‘fear’, the name might mean ‘the terrifying’

A walk through Norwegian place names PorsgrunnPorsgrunn – from the plant name Myrica gale and Old Norwegian grunnr, ‘ground’ meaning ‘flat ground, grass field’ (photo)

Risør – probably from Old Norwegian hrís meaning ‘shrubland’ and islands

Sarpsborg – from Old Norwegian Sarpr (name of a waterfall with unknown meaning) and Borg (the earlier name of the city)

Skudesneshavn – first joint derives from Old Norwegian skúta ‘steep cliff that breaks out’ and havn meaning harbor

Stavanger – from Old Norwegian stafr ‘wand’ and angr ‘bay, fjord’

Stokmarknes – probably means forest or land with timber

A walk through Norwegian place names SvolværSvolvær – probably from Old Norwegian Svǫlver, older Svalver, composed by Old Norwegian svalr meaning ‘cool’ and vær ‘fishing village’ (photo)

Trondheim – ‘home of the people from Trøndelag’

Tønsberg – from Old Norwegian Túnsberg, from tún meaning ‘enclosed area’, in this context it probably means ‘fortress, castle’ and berg meaning small mountain

Vadsø – derives from Vadsøya (Old Norwegian Vatsøy); the name Vassøya occurs several places along the coast, which originally means where to find drinking water

Vardø – from varde (cairn) and ø (island), in Old Norwegian times it was called Vargøy with vargr ‘wolf, bandit, outlaw’ as first joint

Åsgårdstrand – the first joint derives from the farm name Åsgard, composition of ås ‘hill’, gard ‘farm’ and strand ‘beach, shore’



Text by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews

Source: The Language Council of Norway

Photos from the top: Namsos Rotary, Regjeringen, Wikipedia

Categories: Language

3 replies

  1. Hey ThorNews–Thanks for liking a couple of my pages; I must say your sight is a smorgasbord of great stuff I can feast on for a long time. Though I have never been to Scandinavia and have no Scandinavian blood, it has fascinated me from high school (introduced to Scandinavia through metal). Anyway, not sure if you saw so when checking out my pages, but part of my blog is dedicated to a novel I wrote. One of the character’s is Viking and you can find his stories by clicking on “Darrath’s Page.” Looking forward to spending a lot of time here on your site.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: