User comments for Finn (2) (Meaning / History Only)

The Scandinavian name Finn has absolutely nothing to with Finland. "Finn" was historically the term used for a Sami person, the Sami being a minority population in the Scandinavian countries, as well as Finland and Russia, and the original inhabitants of much of Scandinavia. Note that the Finns (in the modern sense of the word) have never referred to themselves as Finns or their country as Finland.

My point, in short, is that the name Finn means Sami, and was probably used at first primarily as a nickname for Sami men living among Scandinavian populations (this is speculation, not proven fact). In any case, in contemporary Scandinavia, the name is used more or less exclusively by ethnic Scandinavians rather than Sami, who obviously see little reason to name themselves after their ethnicity, especially since the term "Finn" used about ethnic Sami has taken on negative associations during the 20th century. In this context it should also be pointed out that in the minds of contemporary Scandinavians the personal name is more or less completely disconnected from its original meaning and is not associated with the Sami.

As for the etymology of the word Finn itself, it is uncertain, but it seems to be an ancient ethnonym, as it is first mentioned by the Roman writer Tacitus in A.D. 98 and was used fairly consistently thereafter at least until the late medieval period. [noted -ed]
Herunaut  5/6/2011

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