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Zoonyms in the onomasticon – names of cattle, dogs and cats from a Scandinavian perspective

Katharina Leibring

Pages 37 - 75

On the basis of two case studies from Scandinavia (esp. Sweden) the changing roles and positions of animal names in the onomasticon are treated. The first study deals with farm names, namely cattle names in the traditional agricultural-based society, and the second discusses names of companion animals (dogs and cats) in a contemporary setting. Some of the most striking features are the decline of cattle names based on the name-bearer’s appearance, and the increased use of anthroponyms as names for all types of animals, not least for dogs and cats. Of particular interest is the huge overlap between names given to female animals and names given to baby girls. The existence of a contemporary two-way communication of names between companion animals and humans is illustrated through examples that show that outmoded first names are used as names of animals, before they are reintroduced as first names for babies. There is also a tendency to test unfamiliar names on animals before they are used as baby names.


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