In Norse mythology Freyr is a god associated with virility, sacral kingship, peace, prosperity, good weather and good harvest. He is described as the son of Njörðr and the twin brother of Freyja. He owns the magic boar, Gullinbursti (Golden-bristled), which was created by the dwarfs Brokkr and Eitri, and the ship Skíðblaðnir, which could be folded and carried in a pouch and which always had favourable winds. He was associated with the Horse cult (horses were a symbol of fertility in Norse mythology). At Ragnarök Freyr will be killed by the fire jötunn Surtr.
Traditionally his name has been seen to mean “lord” from Proto-Nordid *fraujaʀ from Proto-Germanic *frawjaz “lord”. However, an alternative etymology from the Proto-Scandinavian adjective *fraiwia- (“fruitful, generative”) has been suggested. This was first proposed by George van Langenhove who commented “celui qui possède la force vitale, animatrice.” (Langenhove, G. v. (1939), “Le nom de la nouvelle mariée en indo-européenne in Linguistische studien. Essais de linguistique indo-européenne 2 Gent). This idea was further pursued by Elmevik in 2003 (Elmevik, L. (2003) “Freyr, Freyja och Freyfaxi” in Studia Anthroponymica Scandinavica 21, pp 5-13).
More recently Sundqvist has commented “Elmevik’s argument is thus in a decisively way based on the idea that Freyr is a fertility god. This common and well-established idea … has however recently been contradicted by several scholars in the history of religions who has emphasized that Freyr should be seen as king-god or a sovereignty in the Norse pantheon in addition to his role as a god of fertility. … For them the etymology ‘Lord’ is thus compatible with Freyr’s function as a ruler deity and counterpart of the human king.” (Sundqvist, O. (2013) “On Freyr – the ‘Lord’ or ‘the fertile one’? Some comments on the discussion of etymology from the historian of religions’ point of view. Onoma 48, p.13).
This would seem to accord with Snorri Sturluson’s comments in Gylfaginning:
Njörðr í Nóatúnum gat síðan tvau börn, hét sonr Freyr en dóttir Freyja. Þau váru fögr álitum ok máttug. Freyr er hinn ágætasti af ásum. Hann ræðr fyrir regni ok skini sólar, ok þar með ávexti jarðar, ok á hann er gott at heita til árs ok friðar. Hann ræðr ok fésælu manna.
In hoc templo, quod totum ex auro paratum est, statuas atrium deorum veneratur populus, ita ut potentissimus eorum Thor in medio solium habeat triclinio; hinc et inde locum possident Wodan et Friccdo. Quorum significationes eiusmodi sunt: ‘Thor’, inquiunt, ‘praesidet in aere, qui tonitrus et fulmina, ventos ymbresque, serena et fruges gubernat. Alter Wodan, id est furor, bella gerit, hominique ministrat virtutem contra inimicos. Tertius est Fricco, pacem voluptatem que largiens mortalibus’. Cuius etiam simulacrum fingunt cum ingenti priapo.
Gesta Hammaburgensis 26
In this temple, entirely decked out in gold, the people worship the statues of three gods in such wise that the mightiest of them, Thor, occupies a throne in the middle of the chamber; Woden and Frikko have places on either side. The significance of these gods is as follows: Thor, they say, presides over the air, which governs the thunder and lightning, the winds and rains, fair weather and crops. The other, Woden—that is, the Furious—carries on war and imparts to man strength against his enemies. The third is Frikko, who bestows peace and pleasure on mortals. His likeness, too, they fashion with an immense phallus.