In Norway, about 17,000 men have Leif as their first (or only) name. In Sweden, 70,000 men have the name Leif, about 60% of them as a first name. As of 2008, about 18,000 Danish men have Leif as their first name. In Finland, as of 2012, 4,628 men have Leif as a first name.
Although common in the Nordic countries, the name Leif has declined in use since the 1950s. Because of this, the name has become associated with an older generation throughout the region.
The name is pronounced either /ˈliːf/ "leaf" or /ˈleɪf/ "layf" in English.
The Scandinavian languages differ in their pronunciation of the digraphs 〈ei〉 and 〈ej〉. In Denmark, much of Norway, and the southern and western regions of the Faroe Islands the name is pronounced more or less like English "life", while in Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Western Norway it is pronounced more like English "layf". The only exception to this pattern is in the northern and eastern regions of the Faroe Islands where it is pronounced something like English "loif". In no region is the name pronounced like the most common English pronunciation, "leaf", as that would be a homophone of the unrelated female name Liv/Lif.