Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Loki
Loki is the name of one of the most prominent of all gods in Norse Mythology. The cunning trickster god, Loki belongs to the ancient Norse Æsir tribe of gods (along with Odin, Thor, Frigg, and other well-known Norse gods and goddesses). His place in Norse Mythology is an important one, whether he’s being depicted as merely playful or downright evil, Loki is always up to something mischievously self-serving. The ancient origin of his name remains uncertain, but there are a few etymological theories. Loki may be derived from the Old Norse “lopt” meaning “air, sky, upper room” (which makes sense given his position as one of the gods living in the uppermost of the Nine Worlds). Others suggest Loki comes from “luka”, an Old Norse word meaning “to embrace closely” (which is from the same origin we get our Modern English word “lock”). Lastly, some believe Loki is derived from the Proto Indo-European “leug” meaning “to break, torment” (which also seems to fit our rascally trickster god). For the pre-Christianized ancient Germanic people, Loki represented one of the realities of the human psyche – our proclivity for self-preservation, selfishness, disobedience, impertinence and, in general, naughty, rebellious behavior. Loki stands apart from the other gods, a solitary jester of sorts, whose actions taunt and mock the very existence of the morally upright gods and goddesses. We like to say that Loki is keepin’ it real. He provides all the fun in Norse Mythology – otherwise we’d be reading a boring set of narratives. For more information on some of the Old Norse tales in which Loki features prominently, please see literary references below. Indeed, all ancient civilizations had some form of a Loki (i.e., a “trickster god”) in their own mythologies (Hermes in Greek, Mercury in Roman, Eshu in African/Yoruba, the raven and/or the coyote in Native American Indian, etc). As a masculine given name, Loki is not commonly used. In fact, it’s probably more popular among Americans in the United States than Scandinavians in Nordic countries!