In Iceland, First Names Are More Important Than Family Names!

Icelandic family names
You may already know that in Iceland there are no family names which are passed on from father to son.

We use patronymics – meaning, our surname is made of our father’s first
name plus “-son” (son) or “-dóttir” (daughter). As a consequence, parents have a different surname from their children – and so do siblings, if they are of a different gender. For this reason, in Iceland you don’t talk of the “Jónsson family”; for us, it makes no sense, as for instance Arnar Jónsson’s kids will be surnamed Arnarsson and Arnarsdóttir.
As family names change with each generation, in Iceland first names are much more important. Our school roll calls and phone lists are ordered by the first name, and first names are used as a norm, even in a formal occasion, or when meeting for the first time. Some find it a bit strange at first – but they soon get used to calling their professors, boss or the prime minister by the first name.