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A baby sleeping
The Yoruba people of western Nigeria give serious consideration and meaning to a child’s name. The child’s name reflects their deep religious nature and faith in God. The names characterize seasons, wealth or royalty.
According to traditional practice the child is named on the seventh day after birth. They believe that a name strongly represents the character of the individual or state of birth. Some names are passed down form generations or show the circumstance of the birth.
Naming a child in Yoruba land is serious business that involves the parents, relations and grandparents. The grandfather, grandmother, mother and father all present each a name during the brief ceremony.
Small Child in Native cap
List of Important First Names and their Meaning
The Yoruba’s believe the name given to a child is predetermined before birth. There are important first names that stand by themselves or are abbreviations of a full name.
- Arin meaning middle
- Aanu meaning mercy
- Abi, born
- Ade, crown
- Adun, sweet
- Adura, prayer
- Afo- , one who is
- Aji, born or wake to
- Akin, worrior
- Anjola, we are enjoying-
- Ayan, drum
- Ayo, joy
- Baba, father
- Duro, stand
- Bola, so wealth
- Ebu, the gift
- Ekun, tears
- Eni, the person
- Ere, the benefit
- Eto, to arrange
- Ewa, beauty
- Eyi, this is
Yoruba woman wearing headtie of her own
More First Names
- Fara, move closer
- Fade, the crown
- Fehin, rest
- Feyi, give this
- Fiyin, give praise
- Fola, receive wealth
- Fowo, use money
- Gbade, carry the crown
- Ibi-,give birth
- Idowu, name given to set of twins
- Iduro, stand steadfast
- Ife, love
- Ile, home
- Imole, light of
- Ireti, hope or anticipation
- Ituno, comfort
- Iwa, good character
- Iya, mother
- Kofo,he does not buy
- kole, build a house
- mobi, I gave birth to
- mope, I am complete
- obe, king or ruler
- odun, year
- okiki, fame
- ola, wealth
- olu, crown, God or head
- omo, child
- oni, person
- ope, thanks
- ori, head
- otito, truth
- oye, title
- simi, rest or restfulness
- temi, mine
- tiwa, our own
- wura, gold
- ye, mother or grandmother
The birth status of an individual in Yoruba culture can impact on the name. There are many royal houses, kings, queens, princesses and princes. The king is called the Oba and wife Olori. It is not unusual to see Oba with many wives.
Although there are chieftain houses and ascendancy to the throne depends on father to son or rotation between royal houses. A child born to a royal house or lineage is usually reflected in their name. Here is a list of both boys and girls born into royalty.
- Yoruba Culture-Yoruba Tradition Child Naming Ceremon...
Yoruba traditional child naming ceremony is an important occasion that is celebrated with friends and family. Names chosen during this ceremony has significant meaning to the child's development.
List of Royal Yoruba Names
The word ‘Ade’ which means the crown is common in royal names. However not every name that starts with the word Ade infers to crown. Some express the privileges of association to the crown, wealth, settlement of issues of homecoming.
1) Adewunmi: The names Adewunmi shows an interest in becoming the king. The word Ade meaning crown and Wunmi interest is literarily translated as ‘I love the Crown’.
2) Adeyinka: a child born into such linage could be name Adeyinka. Yinka meaning surrounded by royalty. Therefore Adeyinka means I am surrounded by the crown.
3) Aderele: children that are named Aderele infer that the crown is going home. This name could have originated from a prince of the royal house going back to his monarchy
4) Adebayo: this name is given during happy periods in the region. The translation is The Crown has met with joy.
5) Adebimpe: this name is unisex and is given to both male and female. However most royal parents name their daughter Bimpe. The meaning of Adebimpe is the crown is complete.
6) Adebola: Bola is given to both sexes and means wealth. In times of abundance such as good harvests the name Adebola means, the crown meets with wealth.
7) Adewale: the name means the crown has come home. The name is given when the royal houses turn at kingship is next. It also infers to a prince who has returned to his people.
8) Adegoke: this name is give during tumultuous period in a royal home. The name infers to exile and translated the crown has been exiled.
9) Adelowo: the name refers to the character of the crown or king. Interestingly two different names have the same meaning. Adelowo and Adeniyi translated means the crown has honor
10) Adetokunbo: adetokunbo is a slightly modern name. It refers to a prince that has lived in a foreign land. The name means the crown has arrived from over the sea.
The people are very religious with many Christians and Muslims. There are also a few traditionalists that still practice the old religion. This reflects in the names they choose for their children.
1) Oluwabamidele: this name is a prayer or plea for safe journey through the perils’ of the world. It means lord guide me home.
2) Oluwabamigbe: this name shows the dedication of the individual to his religious beliefs. The name translates to God is living with me
3) Oluwafeyikemi: this is another very interesting name. The name is usually given to girls. The mother of the child might have gone through trials and tribulations sometimes associated to death of a child or inability to conceive early. The meaning of the name is God has used this to pamper me. The name is similar in meaning to Oluwafifehansimi which means God made this my joy.
4) Oluwademiladeola: this name is thanking God for his financial blessing. The name means God has crowned me with wealth. The name Oluwadamilola is similar because it refers to the source of his wealth. The meaning God makes me wealthy. Same applies to Oluwafolajimi, God has blessed me with wealth.
5) Oluwanifemi simply means God loves me
6) Oluwatimileyin this means God is my Back bone
7) Oluwaseunbabarafunmi: this longish name can be divided into three words. Oluwa meaning God, Seun meaning good or thank you. The last bit babarafunmi means a marvelous or wondrous thing. Put together the name means God has done a miraculous or wondrous thing for me.
8) Oluwakayode means the Lord has brought joy
9) Oluwatofunmi meaning God is sufficient for me
10) Oluwatoyin meaning God is worthy to be praised.
Woman holding Twins
Yoruba Names that Depict Timing of Birth
There are some Yoruba names that focus on the mystery of birth or rebirth. This may occur after a time of grief of a loved one.
1) Babatunde: the name Babatunde means the Father is back
2) Babajide can be translated to mean the return f the father.
3) Babawale means the arrival of the father
4) Yewande meaning mother looked for me
5) Yejide meaning image of her mother
6) Yetunde meaning mother has returned
7) Taiwo or taye refers to the older of a twin
8) Kehinde the younger of a twin
9) Okanlanwo refers to the only male child
10) Idowu refers to a person born after a set of twins
11) Aremu meaning the first male child
Names that Expression of Joy
The word Ayo is prominent in many names. Ayo simply means joy.
1) Ayowunmi means I love joy
2) Adebayo means the crown has turned to joy.
3) Ayobintan is an expression of joy of a mother delivery a baby. It also shows the state of mind of the mother at that particular period in her life. The name means joy gave birth to this.
4) Ayobami meaning joy meets with me.
5) Ayooluwa: the name shows the religious nature of the parents. The name Ayooluwa means the joy of the lord. Another similar name is Ayooluwakiitan meaning the joy of the lord never ends.
6) Ayomiposi meaning my joy has increased.
7) Ayoola: this name expresses the financial situation of the couple. The name means the joy of wealth.
8) Anjolaifeluwa meaning I am enjoying the love of God.
Yoruba Names and State of Conception
They have names that have to do with the state of conception. The names may focus on the gender of the baby or state of the mother.
1) Atinuke: this name is predominantly given to females. It means Taken care of from conception
2) Ayomide meaning my joy has arrived
3) Abeni is another name given to females. The name means we asked for her, and here she is
4) Abifoluwa. The couple dedicates the child to God. The meaning of the name is born for God
5) Abioye means Born into royalty
6) Abisola: the name shows the financial situation of the parents at the time of the child’s conception. The name means, born into a wealthy family.
7) Adebimpe. This name shows the royal lineage of the infant. The name means the crown gave birth to me. The same applies to the name Adebisi which means we added to the crown
8) Abosede: this name has to do with the period the child is born. The translation is born on the first day of the week
9) Akanni meaning the first one
10) Eytomilayo meaning this is enough for me to rejoice.
11) Omowunmi is an expression of the desire to have a child. The meaning is I love children.
12) Omodunni meaning a child is sweet
13) Omobobola meaning a child came to meet wealth
A woman carrying her child during festivities
Yoruba Names of Children Born on Festive Occasions
The people are very innovative in ideas and names. They give names to different locally woven or plated hairstyles. Festive periods are one of those occasions that showcase their ingenuity. Here are some names given during those celebratory occasions
1) A biodun also expresses the period the child is born. The name means Born during a festive period
2) Abejide; the rains has significant importance to farmers and the local economy in old times. So this name was given to children during rainy season. The name means born during the rainy season.
3) Abodunrin. The meaning is someone who arrives with the holidays or festival
4) Aje meaning a child born on Monday
These are names of Traditional Instruments
The traditional instrument preferred as a name is the drum. The drum has an important place in traditional music and folklore. Drum names are common in musical families especially the child of a local drummer. Traditional drum names include the following
1) Ayan: the name Ayan has to do with traditional drums
2) Ayanyinka meaning the drum surrounds me
3) Ayantuge meaning the drum is worthy of the palace
4) Ayandele: the drummer has returned home
5) Ayanbanjo meaning the drum complements the crown well
6) Ayantola meaning the drum is worth the wealth
So next time you meet a Yoruba person you can ask the meaning of their name.