You will get a little closer to your ancestors, when you understand the meaning of place names in Sweden.
First a word of caution. We want to be careful with making conclusions. The origin of a name might be more complicated than it appears, which is why this post only include some of the clearest ones.
Bear in mind that over the centuries the pronounciation of a place name can change. Eventually it may be written as something other than the original wording. On occassion the name is changed by the authorities. Also remember that the grounds for the place name may have only lasted for a short while.
That being said, many place names in Sweden include contemporary words that reveal a part of their history. Here are some examples that you might recognize.
In general, many farm names begin with a first name. These are other common farm names.
- -gård – farm (literary courtyard)
- -gården – the farm
- Gästgivaregård – Inkeeper’s Farm
- Kronogården – The State Owned Farm
- Lillegård – Small Farm
- Larsagården – Lars’ Farm
- Mellangården/Mellomgården – The Farm in the Middle
- Östergård – East Farm
- Norrgård – Northern Farm
- Prästgård – Priest’s Farm
- Skattegård – Tax Farm (from farmers who owned their land, but did not belong to the nobles and thus were obliged to pay taxes.) 
- Skomakaregården – The Shoemaker’s Farm
- Skräddaregården – The Tailor’s Farm
- Stommen – often the name of the Priest’s Farm
- Storgård, Storegården – Large farm, The Large Farm
- Södergård/Sörgård – Southern Farm
- Västergård – Western Farm
Like farms, the name of crofts often include first names or even other place names, as they were typically not owned by the inhibitants. The names of crofts are more unique than farm names, so there are less typical examples.
- -arp – croft
- -torp – croft
- -torpet – the croft
- Gunnarstorp – Gunnar’s Croft
- Skräddaretorp –Tailor’s Croft
- Soldattorp – Soldier’s Croft
- under – situated on the land of
These words are good to know when looking at place names in Sweden, and they are fairly safe to identify. You will find them combined to make up place names.
- Å, Ån – River, The River
- Ås, Åsen – Ridge, The Ridge
- Back-, Backe, Backen – Slope-, Slope, The Slope
- Berg, Berget – Mountain, The Mountain
- Bro, Bron – Bridge, The Bridge
- By – Village
- Gärde, Gärdet – Field, The Field
- Fors, Forsen – Rapids, The Rapids
- Kleva – Rock Face or a cleft in a rock face 
- Lid, Lida, Liden – Slope, The Slope, The Slope
- Lund, Lunden – Grove, The Grove
- Näs, Näset – Isthmus, The Isthmus
- Ö, Ön – Island, The Island
- Sjö, Sjön – Lake, The Lake
- Skog, Skogen – Forest, The Forest
- Ström, Strömmen – Stream, The Stream
Put it together
With these words and names, you can understand many of the Swedish place names. The words can be combined to form numerous place names. Be cautious when making interpretations, but the words mentioned above are pretty easy to recognize.
These blog posts are similar:
- Geographical Terms in Sweden
- Laga Skifte – How Sweden Changed Through Land Reforms
- Last Names in Nineteenth Century Sweden
- Torp – The Swedish Croft
- Photo by Alex Kotomanov on Unsplash
- Bonde, Nordisk Familjebok, Stockholm: Gernandts boktryckeri-aktiebolag 1878, retrieved 2020-05-09
- Photo by Christian Widell on Unsplash
- Klev, SAOB, 1936, retrieved 2020-05-09
- Photo by Jana Sabeth on Unsplash