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!
Meaning: Uncertain but likely comes from the word ‘korho’, meaning a person of poor hearing.
Meaning: Small stream.
Meaning: Small grove or forrest.
Meaning: Small hill.
Meaning: Small peninsula.
Meaning: Small lake.
Meaning: Home ruler.
Meaning: Small rapids.
Meaning: A person from Tavastia, a historical province in Finland.
Meaning: Field or pasture.
Meaning: Forest clearing or glade.
Meaning: Someone who works or lives on the Antilla farm.
Meaning: Wet meadow, infertile ground or hard.
Meaning: Harvest, grain, or life.
Meaning: Derives from “Haapa” which means “Aspen.”
Meaning: To toil.
Meaning: Paddock or pasture.
Meaning: Split log or piece of wood.
Meaning: Frost or fallow field.
Meaning: Bay or a cove.
Meaning: Most splendid.
Meaning: Lasse’s place.
Meaning: Sad or weak.
Meaning: Alder tree.
Meaning: Mole or reddish mark on the face.
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