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Saint Sunniva via

Sunniva (SOON-ee-vah) has a beautiful meaning, "sun gift," from its Anglo-Saxon form Sunngifu. It can be found recorded as the variant forms Suniva, Sunneva, Sunnifa, Sunnefa, Syneva, Synna, Synne (which became very popular), Synnev, Synneva, Synneve, Synnevi, Synniva, Synva, and more. The earliest recorded use was Sweden in 1353 but the name is attested to Saint Sunniva from the 10th century, who was an Irish princess. Unfortunately she died from a cave collapsing in Norway after fleeing an invading king who wanted to marry her. Miracles were reported on the little island she escaped to, Selja, with her followers. Her brother became Saint Alban. Their tales were written about in Latin and Icelandic.

This Scandinavian name has been used in Norway (most usage, rank #66 in 2015, also common there in Middle Ages), Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Finland, hitting the U.S. charts in 2005 with only 5 births. It disappeared until  2011 for no particular reason, and by 2016 was given to 9 girls.

In literature, Sunniva was a character in The Dark Light by Mette Newth. Sunneva Jaarlintytär (Finnish: Sunneva, Daughter of the Jarl) is a novel by Kaari Utrio. There are dozens of real-life namesakes currently for most of the variant spellings.

Sunniva comes with lots of appealing nicknames: Sunny/Sunni, Sun, Suvi, Niva, Eva/Iva, and Sunna.


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Norway's Top 10 Baby Names

Taken from Statistics Norway. I have no clue how/why there are multiple spellings, but I'm assuming they group spellings for each name and then rank them, unlike the U.S. that goes by individual spelling.

2015 Stats
1. Emma
2. Nora/Norah
3. Sara/Sahra/Sarah
4. Sophie/Sofie
5. Olivia
6. Sophia/Sofia
7. Emilie
8. Ella
9. Lea/Leah
10. Maja/Maia/Maya

1. William
2. Mathias/Matias
3. Oliver
4. Jakob/Jacob
5. Lukas/Lucas
6. Filip/Fillip, Philip/Phillip
7. Liam
8. Axel/Aksel
9. Emil
10. Oskar/Oscar


1. Emma
2. Nora/Norah
3. Sara/Sarah/Sahra
4. Sofie/Sophie
5. Linnea/Linea
6. Thea/Tea
7. Maya/Maia/Maja
8. Emilie
9. Ingrid/Ingri
10. Julie

1. Emil
2. Lucas/Lukas
3. Mathias/Matias
4. William
5. Magnus
6. Filip/Fillip/Philip/Phillip
7. Oliver
8. Markus/Marcus
9. Noa/Noah
10. Tobias


Here's one of my personal favorites, although I'm surprised I still like it after seeing Forrest Gump so often (thanks, Dad). In fact, the name peaked in popularity for the second time the year the movie was released, jumping to number #217 in 1994. Now he's on the move yet again, rising to 132 boys given the name in 2015 from a low dip to 47 in 2006. To be clear, Forest is the word spelling and Forrest the name spelling, and Forrest remains a much more popular choice with 387 boys given the name in 2015, ranking at #659. Forrest also had a dip in 2006 with only 147 births, disappearing from the charts between 2003 and 2013, and it also peaked in 1994 with 1,343 boys born, rising to #217. Historically both spelling options have been very popular.

Forest doesn't have an obvious nickname, but it's one of those names you enjoy saying without having to shorten it. Forest is Old French, meaning "woods." A famous namesake is St. John Forest of the 16th century…