This Is How Norway Got Its Name

Norway sits in the Scandinavian region of Northern Europe, bordered by Sweden to the east and the aptly named Norwegian Sea to the west. It's a nation known around the world for its towering fjords, the Northern Lights, oil production, and Viking-influenced folklore featuring the likes of Norse gods and goddesses (via Hey Explorer).

It's fitting that for a country with as many wide-ranging claims to fame as Norway has, it can claim almost as many versions of its name.

Of course, in English, the name is Norway with the official name being the Kingdom of Norway. Native Norwegians have multiple names for their country, with Norse-Norwegians using Norge or Noreg, and Sami-Norwegians opting for Norga, Vuodna, or Nöörje. Meanwhile, in French, it's known as Norvège, in German it's Norwegen, and in Spanish, Noruega (via The Evergreen Post).

The most common explanation is that these names can all be interpreted as meaning something along the lines of the land of the north, the northern route, or the route leading north (via The Evergreen Post). However, this is not the only explanation for the country's name.

Other possible origins of the name Norway

Back in 1847, a student by the name of Niels Halvorsen Trønnes floated the idea that the origin of the name Norway may have come from the Old Norse word nór, which means narrow inlet or channel (via The Evergreen Post). It's a compelling argument, considering it makes the case that Norway's famed fjords — which are defined as narrow inlets of the sea between cliffs or steep slopes (via Merriam-Webster) — could be the country's namesake.

Others have asserted that the name has a mythological origin. A Norwegian-English dictionary written by the American linguist Einar Haugen translates the Norwegian word, nor, to the English word, mite, which is another word for an infant or small child.

Another linguist, ​​Michael Schulte, has taken this translation and connected it to King Nor, a figure in Norse mythology said to have founded Norway. He was supposedly small in stature, which is where the nor to mite connection can be made (via The Evergreen Post).

With so many differing accounts when it comes to where Norway's name came from, it's likely that we will never have a definitive answer for the true origin.