Why do male last names in Icelandic end with -son instead of -sonur?

Asked By

Eric Eduard Heinen


In Old Icelandic, when the word sonr formed the second part of a compound, i.e. Magnús-son, Sigurðs-son, the final -r (-ur) was dropped in nominative singular, and the same morphology is used in Modern Icelandic. E.g.:

  • Nom. Magnús Sigurðsson (son(u)r)
  • Acc. Magnús Sigurðsson (son)
  • Dat. Magnúsi Sigurðssyni (syni)
  • Gen.Magnúsar Sigurðssonar (sonar)

In the word dóttir on the other hand, no change of this sort occurred. In Old Icelandic the ending was -er (-ir) in nominative singular and -or (-ur) for all other cases. Again, the morphology remains unchanged in Modern Icelandic.

  • Nom. Guðrún Sigurðardóttir (dóttir)
  • Acc. Guðrúnu Sigurðardóttur (dóttur)
  • Dat. Guðrúnu Sigurðardóttur (dóttur)
  • Gen. Guðrúnar Sigurðardóttur (dóttur)

Further answers in English:

The original question was:
Why is it that male last names in Icelandic are in accusative -son instead of nominative -sonur, even when referred to in nominative, whereas female last names are referred to in nominative case -dóttir and not -dóttur?

Um þessa spurningu


Published 8.4.2011


Answers in English


Guðrún Kvaran. „Why do male last names in Icelandic end with -son instead of -sonur?“. The Icelandic Web of Science 8.4.2011. (Skoðað 26.5.2024).


Guðrún Kvaranprofessor


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