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IGBO SURNAMES AND MEANINGS

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GINI BU AHA GI? 

“When a person is given a name, his gods accept.” – Igbo proverb

Traditions like the naming ceremony demonstrate the importance of names within Igbo society. In Igbo, the ceremony is referred to as “Igu Afa”.

In contemporary Igbo culture, the custom is usually performed on the eighth day after the child is born. Two names are usually given to the child by each side of the family. However, only one name is retained for later life.

Within the diaspora and those in Nigeria who live outside of Igboland. The tradition and context of names can become a lost part of a person’s heritage.

Many of us living abroad bear surnames that feel alien to us, relics from a culture that has often not been explained or elaborated to us.

In the modern globalised world names can be a unique glimpse into a person’s history and origin. With surnames, in particular, being important indicators that map the collective journey of a family or clan.

At Okwu ID we are drafting a register archiving Igbo surnames and their meanings. 

If you know of/have an Igbo surname, or if you have ever wondered what the meaning and context of your surname is. Message us on okwuidteam@gmail.com or okwuid@outlook.com 

We will do our best to try to find out what it means.

See the current list below:

Some names have not yet been defined/speculative (?) If you know the meaning let us know.

NAME (AHA)

BREAKDOWN

MEANING

Abara Spirit
Achebe
Acholonu
Adichie
Agughalam Do not sideline/marginalise me
Aguta Countless/To have many
Agwuegbo The hardship is over
Aku Wealth
Alaneme Ala (land)+ neme (is doing something) The land is active – may have other interpretations
Ama Compound
Amadi Ama + di The compound remains
Amaike Ama + ike The compound is strong
Aniefuna Ani/Ala + efuna My land is not lost
Anokwuru Ano + Kwuru Four talk
Anosike Ano + si + ike Four is strong
Anuoru Anu + oru To stay well?
Asiegbu A + si + egbu
Asika Asi + ka Asi (lie) = to lie alot??
Asinobi A + si + na + obi From the heart
Atuche Atu + uche To think / to plan something in the mind
Atuegbu Atu + Egbu Speculation will not kill me
Atusiemobi Take heart (my condolances) ?
Awachie ? He has come to replace ?
Awujo A wu ujo To be quiet ?
Azuka Azu + Ka “The back is above.” m. Azu ordinarily means “the back” but it
likewise refers to “the backer.” The family was poor, but since it had
wealthy relatives, it was assured of social status. This fact is expresscd
in the name.

Azunna Azu + nna My fathers back
Chidozie Chi + dozie My spirit/God looks after
Chuke/Chike Chu(kwu) + ike God’s power
Chukwumerije Chukwu + mere + ije God makes (something) walk
Chukwunyelu Chukwu + nyelu/nyere God gives
Diri
Dozie To repair – to look after – to make well
Dunga(maeze) Sit here/stay here and know the king
Duru
Duruaku
Duruji
Ebujo To kill the wrong person ??
Edochie To replace
Edolasim Do not sideline/marginalise me
Edozie Edozie To repair – to look after – to make well – well ordered
Edoziem My life has been ordered by God
Eguminyo
Ehioma Ehi + oma Good cow
Ejike from: Ejiro-ike-erne-ife-enu “We do not use-power-in doingthings-of the world.”
Ejikeme We don’t do anything by force
Ejiofor Eji + Ofo The Ofo is the an object historically used to settle disputes and to bestow judgement. Eji = To hold
Ejofor Eji + Ofo The Ofo is the an object historically used to settle disputes and to bestow judgement. Eji = To hold
Ekezie Eke +ezi Good sharing
Emenike E me na ike “Do not with force.”
Eregbu ?
Esiokwu Esi + okwu
Ezejiofor Eze + ji + ofor The King holds the Ofor
Ezemonye I fear no one
Ezenwa Eze + nwa The kings child
Ezeogba Eze + ogba
Ibe (Abbr. of Ibeanaeweka)  “People continue to be angry too much.” ??
Ibeh/Ibe Towns people/villagers
Ibekwe Ibe +  kwe Ibe (people) +  kwe (agree) = my people agree
Ibem Ibe m My people
Idozuka
Igweze Igweze  the ‘staff’ the king holds  but happy to be corrected!
Iheme Ihe + me Things happen
Iheme
Ihemelu Ihe + melu/mere Something happened
Ike Strength
Ikeji I + ke + ji Yam harvest festival (To break/split yam)
Ikwuakolam Let me not lack borthers/neighbours
Isiguzo
Iwuoha
Kalu
Kanu
Manufor
Mbanefo
Mborie Mgbe  Orie
Metu Touch
Mgbodile
Mmeremikwu To be higer/better
Monye Mu + onye Me and who
Ndukwe
Ndunesokwu
Nkwo
Nnadi Nna + di It means “my God is alive” or “my father lives
Nnadozie Nna + dozie father looks after ?
Nnamdi Nna m di It means “my God is alive” or “my father lives
Nnebe
Nnodim
Nwabara Nwa +  abara (Child) of the spirit
Nwabeke
Nwachukwu Nwa + chukwu (Child) of the supreme God
Nwadibia Nwa + dibia (Child) of a native doctor
Nwadike Nwa + di + ike (Child) is of strong liniage / this person is strong/ Child warrior/hero
Nwaeze/Nweze Nwa + eze Child of the king
Nwaigbo Nwa +Igbo (Child) of the Igbo people
Nwaigwe/Nwigwe Nwa + Igwe Child of the king
Nwaike Nwa + ike (Child) of strong liniage
Nwakali
Nwakuba
Nwamadioha Nwa + amadioha Child/ people
Nwamdi
Nwaneri Nwa + na + eri A child shall eat
Nwaogu
Nwaokocha Man of the people
Nwaokoha
Nwaokolo/Nwaokoro Nwa + okoro Child of a young man
Nwaokpara Nwa + okpara Man/Child of the first son
Nwodoh
Nwogu Nwa + ogu The child of the ogu ?
Nwokeabia Nwoke + a’bia The man has come
Nwokeoha
Nwokoye Nwa + Okoro + Oye Son born on the Oye market day.  Similar to Ok(afor)  Child son born on the Oye market day
Nwosu
Nwozuzu
Obah
Obasi God (name for God varies per region)
Obi Heart
Obiajunwa
Obiajurumobi Obi + juru + m +obi I am concoled (with the arrival of this child)
Obiaka No home is greater than another
Obiakaeze A home is not greater than the king (or the person that owns it)
Obiakaraije A stranger who has come to stay permanently in a new place (An immigrant)
Obiako Short for Obiakolam May I not lack a family/home
Obiakolam May I not lack a family/home
Obiakpani Obi (chief/leader) + Akpani – shield Chief warrior ?
Obialom My heart is now rested – no more in suspense
Obialor
Obialor
Obianagha Obi + agha He came to fight
Obilaso obi la so (happy)obi (heart) (courage) ?
Obimma Obi + mma
Obinna Obi + nna “father’s heart”
Obioma Obi + oma
Obiyo Calm down – to calm the heart ?
Odigwe O + di + igwe
Odinlo Odi + nlo It’s soft/easy
Odoemena
Ofoegbu Ofo + egbu The Ofo is the an object historically used to settle disputes and to bestow judgement. The Ofo staff can not kill
Ofor The Ofo is the an object historically used to settle disputes and to bestow judgement.
Ogbonna
Ogbonnaya
Ogeri Ogu + eri War wont kill me?
Ogu Similar to the ofo, ( Ogu-na-Ofo) an object historically used to settle disputes and to bestow judgement.
Oha Oha (type of vegetable leaf) / society?
Ohuruogu Oha + ruo + ogu When people gather to go to war
Ojukwu Palm kernal  ( sometimes used to clense the body from enchanted food poisioning) could denote a strong person.
Okafor/Okoroafor/Okorafor Okoro + afor Child son born on the afo market day.
Okeke/Okoreke Okoro +  eke Child son born on the eke market day.
Okonkwo Born on Nkwo market day
Okonkwo
/Okonokwo
Okoro + Nkwo “Young man of nkwo-day.” f. Nkwo is the name of one of the four
days of the week. The name indicates that the boy was born on that day.
Okonma Okoro + nma “good man”
Okoro the child of the freeborn man/ young man
Okorocha/Okocha
Okoronkwo/Okonkwo Okoro +  nkwo Child son born on the nkwo market day.
Okoye/Okorie/Okolie Okoro + oye/orie/olie Child son born on the Oye market day.
Okwelume
Okwuosa Okwu + Olisa (osa) Okwu – word + Osa (Olisa) God [Anambra]
Omezi O + mezie To do well
Onwumere Onwu + mere Curse of death (situational – where excessive death is seen)
Onyeachu Onye + acho The person they are looking for (denotes something wanted/special that was found)
Onyeji Onye + eji The person who holds
Onyekwere Onye+
Onyema Who knows – usually who can predict the mind of God
Onyemachi Onye + mma A good person
Onyeme Onye + eme A person who does well
Onyeneme Onye + (na) + eme A person who does well
Onyenewere Onye –  nwere The person has
Onyewelu Onye + welu The person has
Onyewkwere Onye + kwere The person who agrees
Oparah/Okpara First son
Orendu
Orji
Osakwe Osa(Olisa)+ kwe If God permits [Anambra] – Osa – throat – if your greed(long throat) can agree.
Osondu Oso + Ndu To run for life (race for life)
Ovuworie
Ozoemena
Uche(Chukwu/Nna) Thought of God or Father
Uchelue
Uchenna Uche + nna Fathers/Gods thought
Uderede
Udochukwu Peace of God
Uduike Udu (clay pot to fill water) + Ike (strength) It means fullness of power
Ugochukwu God’s Eagle
Ugwuana
Ugwunauwa Ugwu +
Ugwushie Ugwu + shie To (overcome) rise above enimity
Ukachukwu Uka + chukwu Church of God / Word of God [Anambra]
Ukah/Uka Church/Talk[Anambra]
Ukegbu Uka + egbu ? Uka – church (place of worship) egbu – wont kill /Uka – variation of okwu = talk/discussion
Ukpabi Name of a deity (Ibini Ukpabi – of Arochukwu)
Umeh
Umunakwe Umu + nna + kwe(re) My people/my siblings agree
Umunna Umu nna Children of the father (Siblings)/Family
Unigwe Uno(Ulo) + Igbo Heaven (House of the sky) [Anambra?]
Uzoegbu/Uxoebgulam Uzo + egbu + (m) The road till not kill me
Wabaranta Nwa + abara + nta Child of the spirit

Updated: 08/05/2018
Please contact for updates and corrections.

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8 replies »

  1. I love this! Great idea! I was just browsing through the list and found that Onyemachi was broken down into Onye+mma, and translated to “a good person”, when in fact the name breaks down to “Onye+ma+Chi” as in “Who knows God or Who knows the will of God. Thank you once again for this post and doing it for the culture!

  2. Hi, would like to know the meaning of Ogbuzulu. What’s the relationship between the Zulu people and Ndigbo? they seem to have the same traditions, way of life. They protect their culture, traditions and language with everything they’ve got, highly driven too.

  3. Asiegbu Asi+egbu Lies/allegations do not kill

    Atuegbu Atu+egbu Machinations do not kill.

    Diri Stay/live

    Ehioma Ehi+oma Good day(mostly Mbaise/Imo/Abia dialect)

    Ekezie Eke+zie Created well.

    Ezemonye Eze+m+onye Who should I be wary of?

    Ezeogba Eze+ogba King of the clan/group.

    Igweze Igwe+eze King of the masses/people.

    Isiguzo Isi+guzo The head stand(means staying alive/surviving)

    Kanu/ Ka(ma)nu People’s will. Another name for the Igbo God of
    Kalu Ka(ma)lu lightning and thunder(mostly in Abia and Rivers
    states)

    Manufor/ Manu+for Somebody is left/alive.
    Madufor Madu+for

    Mborie/ Mbe+orie(oye) On Orie/Oye day(Orie/Oye is the fourth of
    Mgborie Mgbe+orie(oye) the four Igbo market days)

    Ndukwe Ndu+kwe If life ‘agrees’/permits.

    Ndunesokwu Ndu+na+ese+okwu Life is controversial/quarrelsome.

    Nkwo The second Igbo market day(usually given
    to a child born on Nkwo day)

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