Ola Nordmann

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Caricatures of Ola Nordmann are quite common. This is a drawing from 1905 by caricaturist Olaf Krohn illustrating how Ola Nordmann had to carry the burden of two referendums (The Norwegian union dissolution referendum, 1905 and Norwegian monarchy plebiscite, 1905, both of which resulted in some of the most lopsided returns of a legitimate election) in one year, while an amused Europe is observing from a distance.

Ola Nordmann is a national personification of Norwegians, either for individuals or collectively. It is also used as a placeholder name. The female counterpart is Kari Nordmann, and collectively they are referred to as Ola og Kari Nordmann.[1]

Usage of the name Ola Nordmann

As a national personification

The media often uses "Ola Nordmann" to describe trends in the population.[2]

For example: A headline in a newspaper that reads Norwegians consume less milk could just as well read Ola Nordmann drinks less milk.

Caricatures of Ola Nordmann as a national personification of Norway usually depict him as a blond-haired man dressed in bunad-like traditional folk clothing and wearing a woollen red top cap - the traditional headwear of a Norwegian gnome or nisse. This headwear was also worn by the traditional Norwegian farmer, mostly in the old Norwegian farm culture. In the romantic national period, the farmer often came to represent the Norwegian people as a whole, hence the representation.

As a placeholder name

Ola Nordmann is also used as a default name in examples used to guide people in how to fill in forms etc.(Similar to John Doe or John Q. Public). In legal examples, Peder Ås is often used as a placeholder name instead.[3]


Ola is a common male first name in Norway (derived from Olav/Olaf), and Nordmann is a demonym for a Norwegian, i.e. "Ola Norwegian".

Kari Nordmann

The female equivalent or variant is personified as Kari Nordmann, "Kari and Ola Nordmann" is often used together to describe the archetypical Norwegian family or household.

In popular culture

The Norwegian group Plumbo sang "Ola Nordmann" during the 2012 Melodi Grand Prix in a bid to represent Norway in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. The song talks about the Ola Nordmann character. Although reaching the Final 4, the song failed to qualify as the winning song for Norway.

See also


  1. Definition of Ola Nordmann from Nynorskordboka - Det Norske Samlaget - ISBN 82-521-5180-9
  2. Forbruker.no May 2 2006 - Ola Nordmann has become a speculator - Article in Norwegian detailing how the number of private citizens trading stocks on Oslo Børs has skyrocketed in the last 12 months. - Referenced as an example of the media's use of Ola Nordmann as a national personification.
  3. Libell, Henrik Pryser (22 July 2009). "Jakten på Peder Ås". Juristkontakt (in Norwegian). Retrieved 24 October 2012. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>