Where Do Family Names In Iceland Come From and Why Do Icelanders Have Unusual and Distinctive Last Names?

Icelanders are unusual in that they do not have family names, like Smith and Jones.

To come up with a distinctive name, boys add their first name to a second name that is a combination of their father’s first name with the letters “son” added on the end.

Girls combine their first names with their father’s first name with the letters “dottir” added on the end.

For example, if a man named Einar Johannson has a son named Petur, the son’s full name is Petur Einarsson.

If he has a daughter named Margret, her full name is Margret Einarsdottir.

They can get by with this scheme because there aren’t that many Icelanders.

Still, many people do have the same name, so to help prevent confusion phone books in Iceland also list each person’s occupation.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

Leave a Comment