40+ Finnish Last Names That’ll Make You Want To Visit Helsinki

by Laura Grainger
Originally Published: 
Finnish Last Names
Tiina & Geir/Getty

Surnames are great ways for us to connect with our ancestors. Like Swedish and Norwegian last names, Finnish last names are part of the Scandinavian name family. All three of these countries have a mix of patronymic names and names that refer to a geographical location where a family lived.

Besides its unique surnames, Finland is also known as the happiest country in the world. It has one of the best education systems and the cleanest air quality. Even Santa Claus lives there in the Santa Claus Village. It’s home to reindeer and you can see the Northern Lights. And if that doesn’t make you want to book a ticket, it’s also the birthplace of saunas and there are wife-carrying competitions. Not only is it one of the safest places to live, but people there are super honest too. According to a recent poll, 11 out of 12 wallets were returned to owners after they dropped them.

In 1921, Finnish law made surnames mandatory, and between 1930 to 1985, women had to take their husband’s last names. Most Finnish last names come from Christian or Swede origin. Swedish and Finnish names usually require the same pronunciation. Some Finnish last names end in the word “nen.” Those names are pretty common because many are patriarchal and mean “son of.” These names are also used to describe where a family lives or where they’re from. For example, Hämäläinen means a person or family from Tavastia, a historical province in Finland. You can tell someone is truly from Finland by how they refer to their country. Most natives call their homeland “Suomi” which is a nickname.

And if you know a bunch of Korhonens, that’s typical too. It is the most popular surname among Finnish people. There are 22,000 people who have this name and a few runner ups for the most frequent last names include Mäkinen, Nieminen, Mäkelä, and Hämäläinen respectively. The Finnish and Japanese languages are also actually very similar to one another. They both have vowel harmony, place suffixes or prefixes onto roots, and their grammar isn’t based on gender.

We’ve compiled a list of popular Finnish last names and their meanings. Since so many refer to a location, lots of these names are related to nature. Take a look and see if your surname is below!

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  1. Korhonen

Meaning: Uncertain but likely comes from the word ‘korho’, meaning a person of poor hearing.

  1. Virtanen

Meaning: Small stream.

  1. Ruoho

Meaning: Grass.

  1. Lehtonen

Meaning: Small grove or forrest.

  1. Halla

Meaning: Frost.

  1. Kanerva

Meaning: Heather.

  1. Mäkinen

Meaning: Small hill.

  1. Nieminen

Meaning: Small peninsula.

  1. Järvinen

Meaning: Small lake.

  1. Heikkinen

Meaning: Home ruler.

  1. Koskinen

Meaning: Small rapids.


  1. Seppälä

Meaning: Blacksmith.

  1. Hämäläinen

Meaning: A person from Tavastia, a historical province in Finland.

  1. Kivi

Meaning: Stone.

  1. Laaksonen

Meaning: Valley.

  1. Jokinen

Meaning: River.

  1. Ranta

Meaning: Shore.

  1. Nurmi

Meaning: Field or pasture.

  1. Peura

Meaning: Deer.

  1. Aalto

Meaning: Wave.

  1. Vanhanen

Meaning: Old.

  1. Aho

Meaning: Forest clearing or glade.

  1. Ahonen

Meaning: Glade

  1. Anttila

Meaning: Someone who works or lives on the Antilla farm.

  1. Aro

Meaning: Wet meadow, infertile ground or hard.

  1. Autio

Meaning: Abandoned.

  1. Elo

Meaning: Harvest, grain, or life.

  1. Haapala

Meaning: Derives from “Haapa” which means “Aspen.”

  1. Haataja

Meaning: To toil.

  1. Hakala

Meaning: Paddock or pasture.

  1. Halko

Meaning: Split log or piece of wood.

  1. Halla

Meaning: Frost or fallow field.

  1. Laakso

Meaning: Valley.

  1. Lahti

Meaning: Bay or a cove.

  1. Laine

Meaning: Wave.

  1. Lampi

Meaning: Pond.

  1. Lampo

Meaning: Most splendid.

  1. Lassila

Meaning: Lasse’s place.

  1. Lehtinen

Meaning: Leaf

  1. Lehto

Meaning: Grove.

  1. Leino

Meaning: Sad or weak.

  1. Lepisto

Meaning: Alder tree.

  1. Linna

Meaning: Castle.

  1. Luoma

Meaning: Mole or reddish mark on the face.

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