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PronunciationSwedish pronunciation: [ɕɛlː]
Language(s)Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish
Name dayNorway (11 July)
DenmarkSweden (8 July)
Finland (8 June)
Word/nameOld Norse ketill
MeaningKettle, cauldron or helmet
Region of originNorwaySwedenFinland (Kjell)
Denmark (Kjeld)
Other names
Alternative spellingKjella (female)
Variant form(s)Kjeld, Keld, Kell, Kjell, Kield (Danish)
Related namesKeld, Ketil, Ketill, Kittel, Kittil, Kjeld, Kjetil, Kjetill
Popularitysee popular names

Kjell is a Scandinavian male given name. In Denmark, the cognate is Kjeld or Keld. The name comes from the Old Norse word kętill, which means "kettle" and probably also "helmet" or perhaps "cauldron". The Old Norse form of the name was Ketill, the Old Swedish form was Kjætil and the Old Danish form was Ketil.[1] An equally likely meaning is a source, a hope that the boy will get ample resources to draw upon later in life.

Kjell has a name day on July 11 in Norway and July 8 in Sweden, and in Denmark with the variant Kjeld.


In 2007, there were 59,011 men in Sweden with "Kjell" as their first name, making it the 42nd most common masculine name in Sweden.[2] In Swedish it is pronounced like "Chell". There were 30,809 men in Norway with "Kjell" as their first name. This makes it the 5th most common masculine name in Norway.[3] In Denmark, 8079 men were called "Kjeld" and 5491 "Keld".[4] In Finland, the number of men called Kjell in 2008 was 1405.[5]

The name began to be widely used in the 1600s when it took over from the older name form Kætil or Ketill, which were also precursors of the name Kjetil, and a loan from Latin catillus, which is the diminutive of catinus (= barrel, bowl). Kætil/Ketill was probably one of the most common male names in Old Norse times. In Landnámabók, it is the male name that occurs most often - even more frequently than the most widely used compositions with Tor-. There are 44 found runic inscriptions from the Viking era that contain the name Kætill, which is why it is the 13th most used male name in this material. Five of the inscriptions are found in Denmark and three in Norway, most others have unknown sites. The name was most often written with runes like ᚲᛖᛏᛁᛚ (ketil), ᚲᛁᛏᛁᛚ (kitil) or ᚲᚨᛏᛁᛚ (katil).[6]

In Denmark the name appears in many village (torp) names, so there are nearly 20 places named Kelstrup or Kjelstrup. However, the name does not appear in compositions with -lev, and it can only be explained that it was not used at the time when -lev names were formed. Consequently, we can date the period when Kætil/Ketill was used as a name, at the time between the end of the Migration Period and the beginning of the Viking Age. But the reason that the name gained such tremendous prevalence within a few centuries, we do not know.[7]

The name Kjell is known in Norway from the 1400s. In recent times, the name was widely used in the 1940s and 50s, but is now rarely used for newborn boys.

Historical development of the popularity of the name Kjell in Norway.[8][9]

In Sweden, the name was most popular in the 1940s.

Historical development of the popularity of the name Kjell in Sweden.[10][11][12]

Kjell is today a common name in Norway and Sweden, and Kjeld or Keld is common in Denmark.

The following table provides a detailed overview of the popularity of the male name Kjell and its variants in some of the countries where statistics are available.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]

Country Variant Among the country's population Among newborns
Number Percent Ranking Number Percent Ranking
Norway[8] Kjell 28,834 (2012) 1% 6 10 (2006) 0.03% 308
Sweden[10] Kjell 33,420 (2010) 0.7% 32
Norway[8] Kjetil 10,247 (2012) 0.4% 53 9 (2006) 0.03% 325
Denmark[22] Kjeld 7,275 (2013) 0.3% ca. 131
Denmark[22] Keld 5,197 (2013) 0.2% ca. 153
Norway[8] Ketil 2,578 (2012) 0.10% 194
Germany[23] Kjell (2012) 253
Finland[24] Kjell 1,451 0.05% ca. 272
Iceland[25] Ketill 50 (2012) 0.03% ca. 352
Denmark[22] Kell 403 (2013) 0.01% ca. 492
Netherlands[26] Kjeld 22 (2012) 0.02% 591
Faroe Islands[27] Kjell 6 (2006) 0.01% 670
Faroe Islands[27] Kjeld 6 (2006) 0.01% 670
Denmark[22] Kjell 197 (2013) 0.007% ca. 683
Netherlands[26] Kjell 18 (2012) 0.02% 695
Denmark[22] Ketil 129 (2013) 0.005% ca. 828

Name compositions[edit]

Kjell is found in many name compositions, both of the old date, written in one word, or in new ones, which are written in two words.

  • Female names: Kjellaug, Kjellrun, Kjellfrid, Audkjell, Kjella, Kjellbjørg
  • Male names: Torkel, Arnkjell, Askjell, Finnkjell, Grimkjell, Hallkjell, Kjellbjørn, Kjellfred, Torkjell
Newer: Kjell Inge, Kjell Magne, Kjell Einar osv.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "View Name: Kjell". behindthename.com. Retrieved 2007-12-19.
  2. ^ Statistics Sweden website
  3. ^ Statistics Norway website
  4. ^ Statistics Denmark website
  5. ^ Population Register Centre Archived 2010-10-28 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Nordiskt runnamnslexikon" [Nordic runic dictionary] (in Swedish). February 2002. Archived from the original on 2011-02-25. Retrieved 2018-11-24.
  7. ^ Kristian Hald: Personnavne i Danmark – oldtiden (s. 63), Dansk historisk fællesforenings håndbøger, København 1974
  8. ^ a b c d "Navnestatistikk" [Name statistics] (in Norwegian). Statistics for names in Norway. Statistisk sentralbyrå.
  9. ^ "Digitalarkivet" [Digital Archives] (in Norwegian). Census in Norway. Arkivverket. Archived from the original on 2007-10-27.
  10. ^ a b "Namnsökning. Hur många heter...?" [Name search. How many are called...?] (in Swedish). Statistics for names in Sweden. Statistiska centralbyrån.
  11. ^ "Namnstatistik Sverige" [Name statistics Sweden] (in Swedish). Statistics for names in Sweden. Allt för Föräldrar.
  12. ^ Karin Norrman, Sven Norrman (1888). "Förteckning öfver svenska dopnamn upprättad af Karin och Sven Norrman tillika med en sydsvensk namnlista af A. L. Senell ock några jämförande anteckningar" [A list of Swedish baptismal given names prepared by Karin and Sven Norrman along with a Southern Swedish list of names by A. L. Senell and some comparative notes.] (in Swedish). Kongl. boktryckeriet P. A. Norstedt & söner. Retrieved 2015-03-25.
  13. ^ "Member Directory". Unofficial statistics based on Linkedin members. Replace the country code first in the link with the desired country. Linkedin.
  14. ^ "Danskernes Navne" [Danish names] (in Danish). Unofficial statistics based on the number of residents in Denmark. Københavns universitet (Copenhagen University).
  15. ^ "Top 100 popular first names". Unofficial statistics. locatemyname.com.
  16. ^ "Meaning of names". Unofficial statistics. meaningofname.org.
  17. ^ "SPARQL Query". Unofficial statistics based on the number of occurrences of the name in biographies on the English Wikipedia. DBpedia.
  18. ^ "Top Most Popular Baby Names". Unofficial statistics. top-most-popular-baby-names.com.
  19. ^ "Students of the World - Statistics". Unofficial statistics. studentsoftheworld.info.
  20. ^ "Prénoms du monde" [First names of the world] (in French). Unofficial statistics. meilleursprenoms.com.
  21. ^ "Human name search engine and statistics". Unofficial statistics. nejms.com.
  22. ^ a b c d e "Navne" [Names] (in Danish). Statistics for names in Denmark. Danmarks Statistik.
  23. ^ "Vornamens-Hitlisten" [List of first names] (in German). Statistics for German first names. Knud Bielefeld.
  24. ^ "Namntjänst" [Name services] (in Swedish). Statistics for names in Finland. Befolkningsregistercentralen.
  25. ^ "Nöfn í þjóðskrá" [Names in the National Register] (in Icelandic). Statistics for names in Iceland. Hagstofa Íslands.
  26. ^ a b "Kindernamen top 20" [Top 20 children's names] (in Dutch). Statistics for names in the Netherlands. Sociale Verzekeringsbank.
  27. ^ a b "Íbúgvaviðurskifti og val" [Population and choice] (in Faroese). Statistics for names in the Faroe Islands. Hagstova Føroya.

External links[edit]