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Pronunciation English /ˈlf/ or /ˈlf/[1]
Gender Male
Word/name Scandinavian
Meaning Heir, descendent
Other names
Related names Elof, Olaf

Leif is a male given name of Scandinavian origin. It is derived from the Old Norse name Leifr (nominative case), meaning "heir" or "descendant".

Use in the Nordic Countries[edit]

Spelling and Prevalence[edit]

Across the Nordic countries, the most commonly occurring spelling of the name is Leif, however, there are some well-established regional variants:

 Norway – Leiv[2]

 Denmark – Lejf[3]

 Iceland – Leifur [ˈleɪfʏr̥][4]

 Faroe Islands – Leivur [ˈlaɪfʊɹ][5]

In Norway, about 17,000 men have Leif as their first (or only) name.[6] In Sweden, 70,000 men have the name Leif, about 60% of them as a first name.[7] As of 2008, about 18,000 Danish men have Leif as their first name.[8] In Finland, as of 2012, 4,628 men have Leif as a first name.[9]

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.[2][9]


Because the Scandinavian languages differ in their pronunciation of the digraphs ei and ej, the name Leif may be either pronounced approximately like the English word "life", or as an approximate rhyme for "safe". In Denmark, much of Norway, and the southern and western regions of the Faroe Islands the name is pronounced more like "life", while in Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Western Norway it is an approximate rhyme with "safe". The only exception to this pattern is in the northern and eastern regions of the Faroe Islands where it is an approximate rhyme with the English word "coif". In no region is the name pronounced like the most commonly heard English pronunciation, "leaf", as that would be a homophone of the unrelated female name Liv/Lif.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b "Name Statistics". Statistics Norway. 
  3. ^ "How many have the name". Statistics Denmark. Retrieved 15 March 2012. 
  4. ^ "Names of males by age 1 January 2005". Statistics Iceland. November 2005. Retrieved 15 March 2012. 
  5. ^ "Population and Elections". Statistics Faroe Islands. August 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2012. 
  6. ^ Leif - norskenavn.no
  7. ^ http://www.scb.se/templates/standard____31245.asp
  8. ^ Hvor mange hedder... - Danmarks Statistik
  9. ^ a b "Population Register Centre Name Service". Population Information System of Finland.