1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Swedish
  4. >
  5. Does anyone know how Sweden g…


Does anyone know how Sweden got its name?

Take a look at:

Around 2,000 years ago, the Svear people gave Sweden its name. In their language, svear meant “us” and rike meant “kingdom.” So, Sverige, the modern Swedish name of the country, means “Our Kingdom.

(Resource: https://www.factretriever.com/sweden-facts)

Is this actually a true fact, or did Sweden's (the country) names derive from something else? Based on the information I found, the name "Sweden" primarily means "our kingdom", a stated previously.

Does anyone else have a different thought/view on this? Thanks!

[minor edit]

July 14, 2017



I think that the author of this article is in error- it's not 'our kingdom'. It's 'Kingdom of the Swedes'. It derives from Old Swedish Swea rike, meaning just that.

The Old Norse for our is várr. The Old Swedish is vār.

Here's an entry from a Swedish etymological dictionary confirming it.

Edit: looking into it a little more, apparently svea derives from a PIE root meaning 'one's own'. I suppose that could correlate with 'our', but PIE is a little further back than 2,000 years. :)


Thanks for your response! I wasn't sure if the article I found was reliable, which is why I created this discussion thread in the first place. Either way, it's interesting to see how different countries got their title/name.


You're right, it does come from "kingdom of the Swedes". However, there are two further things worth noting:

  1. The "Swedes" here refer not to the modern concept of Swedes, but to the ancient tribe which is called svear in Swedish.
  2. Whether the svear in turn got their name from their own word for "ourselves" is very much unknown, with knowledgable linguists on both sides of the argument.

So even though it's ultimately from a PIE root, there is quite impressive evidence for the possibility that it did come from that. :)


Wikipedia article. The only such article on Wikipedia in another language is in Russian (if you're using the PC version of the site, look over to the left and click on Русский). If you compare the English subsection "Sverige" w/ the Russian intro, they both basically say the same thing. But I haven't read all of either article, so I can't say that w/ any great confidence. It would be nice to get a Swedish opinion on the subj.--that's what I was hoping for on Wikipedia.


Great, thanks, I'll be sure to take a look!


You are welcome. If you find more that is interesting, please post it. lt's an interesting question, for sure.


My first guess was that maybe its name is related to the word "north" (same as Norway) because "Sverige" sounds a bit similar to russian word "север" ("sever") which means "north" and because I've already found many unexpected similarities in Russian and Swedish. For example in Swedish "ant" is "myra", in Russian it is "муравей" ("muravey"); in Swedish "doctor" is "läkare" and in Old Russian it is "лекарь" ("lekar"); etc. UPD: Wow! Now I know the real origin of its name, Old Norse word "svía", which meant "one's own [tribesmen]", and it strongly recalls me of Russian word "свои" ("svoi"), which means totally the same in Russian, and we also use "свои" often when talking about our nation. That's really cool, I love such deep similarities =)


Thanks for your response; the similarities between different languages is really neat!


All these words come from the same Proto-Indo-European roots!

Swedish myra - Russian муравей - PIE morwi.

Swedish läkare - Old Russian лекарь - PIE leg-.

The really fun thing about PIE leg- is that it's a prefix meaning 'to leak'. Healers used to bleed people in order to cure various diseases, so a healer is 'someone who makes you leak'. :)


Sverige fr. Svea-rige/rike = kingdom of sveas (svear), a Swedish tribe. "Svea has a Proto-Indo-Europeanreflexive pronominal root, *s(w)e, as the Latin suus. The word must have meant "one's own (tribesmen)". In modern Scandinavian, the same root appears in words such as svåger (brother-in-law)..." from


which has a lot of interesting information

Learn Swedish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.