Havfruen - The Mermaid

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Posted by Lawrence Frewin on 03 September , 2002 at 21:20:02:

I came across the pub below called "Havfruen" on Nyhaven (new Harbour), a fashionable dock area off the main town square in Copenhagen, Denmark recently:

The word HavFruen apparently means "The Mermaid" in Danish.

One of the most famous symbols of Copenhagen of course is "The Little Mermaid", the small statue sited in Copenhagen harbour about half a mile from NyHavn.

"The Little Mermaid" in Danish is "Den Lille HavFrue" (without the n).

The word "Mermaid" in Danish is a combination of two words - "Hav" meaning "Sea" and "Frue" meaning Woman - so "Sea Woman" is probably a fair translation of "Havfrue".

Adding an "n" to the end of "Frue" to make "Fruen" apparently changes it's meaning in Danish from simply "Woman" to a more specific "The Woman", so Havfruen is not "Mermaid", but specifically "The Mermaid".

Fruen is also generally accepted to mean a married woman in Danish, one person translated it as "M'am" (which begs the question of whether Danish mermaids are generally married).

It also seems that the word "Fruen" means the same in Danish, Swedish and Norwegian.

Interestingly however, the use of the word "Frue" or "Fruen" appears to be unknown as a surname in Scandinavia.

A search of the telephone book for Copenhagen area revealed one solitary "Fruensgaarde", but no Fruen's, Fruin's, Frewin's or Frewen's. No one I spoke to in Denmark had heard of the surname "Fruen", and it is apparently unknown in Norway too.

I don't know if any of this this has any relevance to the search for the root of the Fruen/Fruin/Frewin/Frewen surnames though!


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