IGBO SURNAMES AND MEANINGS

GỊNỊ BỤ AHA GỊ? 

Updated: 23/04/2023

“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, it is customary to perform a naming ceremony for a newborn on the eighth day after their birth. Typically, two names are given to the child, one from each side of the family, but only one name is retained for the child’s later life. However, within the diaspora and among those living outside of Igboland in Nigeria, the tradition and context of names can become lost aspects of a person’s heritage.

For many of us living abroad, our surnames can feel foreign and disconnected from our cultural roots, as the significance of these names has often not been explained or elaborated upon. In the modern globalised world, a person’s name can provide a unique glimpse into their history and origin. Surnames, in particular, serve as important indicators that trace 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. 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 or have a better translation please let us know using the text box above.

To be added:

  • Ihemenege
  • Ekwelum
  • Nwaoha – Child of the people
  • Ekete
  • Ogeri
  • Okwor
  • Chukwumerije
  • Mmadubugo
  • Asike
  • Diogu
  • Ochie
  • Nkameme
  • Nnadi
  • Abara
  • Ikenna
  • Ume / Umeh
  • Okeke – see below
  • Udeh
  • Onwudiwe
  • Akharame
  • Anabaraonye
  • Chinonso
  • Alaeze
NAMEBREAKDOWNMEANING
Abara/ AgbaraSpirit
AchebeAn abbreviation of AnichebeMay Ani (the earth goddess protect)
Acholonu
AdichieWe will live on and our descendants will carry on our legacy.
AdinduWe shall live
AgughalamDo not side-line/marginalise me
AgutaCountless/To have many
AgwuegboThe hardship is over
AkuWealth
AlanemeAla (land) + n’eme (is doing something)The land is active – may have other interpretations
AmaCompound
AmadiAma + diThe compound remains
AmaikeAma + ikeThe compound is strong
AnichebeMay Ani (the earth goddess protect)
AniefunaAni/Ala + efunaMy land is not lost
AnokwuruAno + KwuruFour talk
AnosikeAno + si + ikeFour is strong
AnuoruAnu + oruTo stay well?
AsiegbuA + si + egbu
AsikaAsi + kaAsi (lie) = to lie a lot ?
AsinobiA + si + na + obiFrom the heart
AtucheAtu + ucheTo think / to plan something in the mind
AtuegbuAtu + EgbuSpeculation will not kill me
AtusiemobiTake heart (my condolences) ?
AwachieHe has come to replace ?
AwujoA wu ujoTo be quiet ?
AzukaAzu + Ka“The back is above.” 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 expressed in the name.
AzunnaAzu + nnaMy fathers back
ChidozieChi + dozieMy spirit/God looks after
ChinkaChi + nkaGod’s craft (work) or a creative chi “spirit”
Chuke/ChikeChu(kwu) + ikeGod’s power
ChukwumerijeChukwu + mere + ijeGod makes (something) walk
ChukwunyeluChukwu + nyelu/nyereGod gives
DiriTo be (may be short for another name)
DozieTo repair – to look after – to make well
Dunga(maeze)Sit here/stay here and know the king
Duru(Di + Uru) *Di in this case means master Master of prosperity 
DuruakuMaster of prosperity 
Duruji
EbujoTo kill the wrong person ?
EdochieTo replace
EdolasimDo not side-line/marginalise me
EdozieEdozieTo repair – to look after – to make well – well ordered
EdoziemMy life has been ordered by God
Eguminyo
EhiomaEhi + omaGood cow
Ejikefrom: Ejiro-ike-erne-ife-enu“We do not use power in doing things of the world.”
EjikemeWe don’t do anything by force
EjioforEji + OfoThe Ofo is the an object historically used to settle disputes and to bestow judgement. Eji = To hold
EjoforEji + OfoThe Ofo is the an object historically used to settle disputes and to bestow judgement. Eji = To hold
EkezieEke +eziGood sharing
EmenikeE me na ike“Do not with force.”
Eregbu
EsiokwuEsi + okwu
EzejioforEze + ji + oforThe King holds the Ofor
EzemonyeI fear no one
EzenwaEze + nwaThe kings child
EzeogbaEze + ogba
Ibe(Abbr. of Ibeanaeweka) “People continue to be angry too much.” ?
Ibeh/IbeTowns people/villagers
IbekweIbe +  kweIbe (people) +  kwe (agree) = my people agree
IbemIbe mMy people
Idozuka
IgwezeIgweze  the ‘staff’ the king holds  but happy to be corrected!
IhemeIhe + meThings happen
IhemeluIhe + melu/mereSomething happened
IkeStrength
IkejiI + ke + jiYam harvest festival (To break/split yam)
IkwuakolamLet me not lack brothers/neighbours
Isiguzo
Iwuoha
Kalu(also Kamalu)The god of thunder
Kanu(also Kamanu)The god of thunder
Manufor
MbanefoMay the nation/community remember
MborieMba +  Orie
MetuTouch
Mgbodile
MmeremikwuTo be higher/better
MonyeMu + onyeMe and who
NdukweNdu +  ekweLet life permit
Ndunesokwu
NkwoNkwo market day (the last of the 4 days on the Igbo calendar)
NnadiNna + diIt means “my God is alive” or “my father lives
NnadozieNna + dozieFather looks after ?
NnamdiNna m diIt means “my God is alive” or “my father lives
Nnebe
Nnodim
NwabaraNwa +  abara(Child) of the spirit
NwabekeNwa +  bekeForeign Child
NwachukwuNwa + chukwu(Child) of the supreme God
NwadibiaNwa + dibia(Child) of a native doctor
NwadikeNwa + di + ike(Child) is of strong lineage / this person is strong/ Child warrior/hero
Nwaeze/NwezeNwa + ezeChild of the king
NwaigboNwa +Igbo(Child) of the Igbo people
Nwaigwe/NwigweNwa + Igwe(Child) of the king
NwaikeNwa + ike(Child) of strong lineage
Nwakalialso Nwakala/NwakaniA child dedicated to Ali/Ala/Ani (earth goddess)
Nwakuba
NwamadiohaNwa + amadiohaChild/ people
Nwamdi
NwaneriNwa + na + eriA child shall eat
Nwaogu/NwoguNwa + ogu(Child) of war
NwaokochaMan of the people
NwaokohaMan of the people
Nwaokolo/NwaokoroNwa + okoroChild of a young man
NwaokparaNwa + okparaMan/Child of the first son
Nwodoh
NwoguNwa + oguThe child of the ogu ?
NwokeabiaNwoke + a’biaThe man has come
Nwokeoha
NwokoyeNwa + Okoro + OyeSon born on the Oye market day.  Similar to Ok(afor)  Child son born on the Oye market day
NwosuNwa + osuA child devoted to a specific god
Nwozuzu
Obah
ObasiGod (name for God varies per region)
ObiHeart
Obiajunwa
ObiajurumobiObi + juru + m +obiI am consoled (with the arrival of this child)
ObiakaNo home is greater than another
ObiakaezeA home is not greater than the king (or the person that owns it)
ObiakaraijeA stranger who has come to stay permanently in a new place (An immigrant)
ObiakoShort for ObiakolamMay I not lack a family/home
ObiakolamMay I not lack a family/home
ObiakpaniObi (chief/leader) + Akpani – shieldChief warrior ?
ObialomMy heart is now rested – no more in suspense
Obialor
ObianaghaObi + aghaHe came to fight
Obilasoobi la so(Happy) obi (heart) (courage) ?
ObimmaObi + mma
ObinnaObi + nna“father’s heart”
Obiochije
ObiomaObi + oma
ObiyoCalm down – to calm the heart ?
OdigweO + di + igwe
OdinloOdi + nloIt’s soft/easy
Odoemena
OfoegbuOfo + egbuThe Ofo is the an object historically used to settle disputes and to bestow judgement. The Ofo staff can not kill
OforThe Ofo is the an object historically used to settle disputes and to bestow judgement.
OgbonnaFather’s confidant
OgbonnayaHis father’s confidant
OgeriOgu + eriWar wont kill me?
OguSimilar to the ofo, ( Ogu-na-Ofo) an object historically used to settle disputes and to bestow judgement.
OhaOha (type of vegetable leaf) / society?
OhuruoguOha + ruo + oguWhen people gather to go to war
OjukwuPalm kernel  (sometimes used to cleanse the body from enchanted food poisoning) could denote a strong person.
Okafor/Okoroafor/OkoraforOkoro + aforChild son born on the afo market day.
Okeke/OkorekeOkoro +  ekeChild son born on the eke market day.
OkonkwoBorn on Nkwo market day
OkonkwoOkoro + Nkwo“Young man of nkwo-day.” f. Nkwo is the name of one of the four
OkonmaOkoro + nma“Good man”
Okonokwodays of the week. The name indicates that the boy was born on that day.
Okorothe child of the freeborn man/ young man
Okorocha/OkochaOko + nchaFair complexioned male child
Okoronkwo/OkonkwoOkoro +  nkwoChild son born on the nkwo market day.
Okoye/Okorie/OkolieOkoro + oye/orie/olieChild son born on the Oye market day.
Okwelume
OkwuosaOkwu + Olisa (osa)Okwu – word + Osa (Olisa) God [Anambra]
OmeziO + mezieTo do well
OnochieA person who acts as a substitute for someone else
OnwumereOnwu + mereCurse of death (situational – where excessive death is seen)
OnyeachuOnye + achoThe person they are looking for (denotes something wanted/special that was found)
OnyejiOnye + ejiThe person who holds
Onyekwere / OnyekweOnye + ekweMay I (someone) permit/approve
OnyemaWho knows – usually who can predict the mind of God
OnyemachiOnye + mmaA good person
OnyemeOnye + emeA person who does well
OnyenemeOnye + (na) + emeA person who does well
OnyenewereOnye –  nwereThe person has
OnyeweluOnye + weluThe person has
OnyewkwereOnye + kwereThe person who agrees
Oparah/OkparaFirst son
Orendu
OrjiIroko (a tree)Metaphor for a greatness
OsakweOsa(Olisa)+ kweIf God permits [Anambra] – Osa – throat – if your greed(long throat) can agree.
OsonduOso + NduTo run for life (race for life)
Ovuworie
OzoemenaOzo – emena We should avoid the recurrence or reoccurrence of another (event or situation).
Uche(Chukwu/Nna)Thought of God or Father
UchelueMay good will/thoughts reach me
UchennaUche + nnaFathers/Gods thought
Uderede
UdochukwuPeace of God
UduikeUdu (clay pot to fill water) + Ike (strength)It means fullness of power
UgochukwuUgo + ChukwuGod’s honour
UgwuRespect, Reverence or Dignity
UgwuanaRespect, Reverence or Dignity from the earth goddess
UgwunauwaUgwu +
UgwushieUgwu + shieTo (overcome) rise above
Ujam
UkachukwuUka + chukwuChurch of God / Word of God [Anambra]
Ukah/UkaChurch/Talk[Anambra]
UkegbuUka + egbuUka – church (place of worship) egbu – wont kill /Uka – variation of okwu = talk/discussion ?
UkpabiName of a deity (Ibini Ukpabi – of Arochukwu)
UmehAn Ozo titled person of the Ume category. A distinguished person or a person of importance.
UmunakweUmu + nna + kwe(re)My people/my siblings agree
UmunnaUmu nnaChildren of the father (Siblings)/Family
UnigweUno (Ulo) + IgboHeaven (House of the sky) [Northern Igbo]
Uzoegbu/UxoebgulamUzo + egbu + (m)The road till not kill me
WabarantaNwa + abara + ntaChild of the spirit

Updated: 29/05/2023
Please contact for updates and corrections.

Also visit: myigboname.com for more


22 responses to “IGBO SURNAMES AND MEANINGS”

  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!

    • Hi Hanan,

      It’s difficult to say with these, the following answers are guesses. Bear in mind they could also be names of gods or of specific things which have regional meanings.

      1) Otusi (Otu + si) could be a short version of something if we break it down
      Otu = one
      si= could mean “come from” or “said”

      “One said/spoke”
      “One comes from”
      It’s hard to know exactly what it means.

      2) Ajaero = aja depending on how it’s pronounced could mean “Sacrifice or Sand” see here Aja

      /Àjà/1

      Gender: m

      Sacrifice.

      /Ájā/2

      Gender: m

      Sand. https://www.myigboname.com/entries/aja

      Ero in Igbo is mushroom.

      “E ruo” also means to arrive

      So it could have a few meanings if we combine these, but there could also be missing context.

      3) Ohonsi
      I’m unsure.

  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)

    • Asiegbu should translate as hatred does not kill. ikpo-asi= hatred. Remember , Igbos of old hate lies and it will be inappropriate for them to give their children names that will edify lying, thanks. Chichi

    • Justin, my surname is also ‘Anukam’! I have been trying to find the meaning of my surname but had no luck, what is the meaning of our surname?

      • Not too sure about Anukam but if you break it down to A nu ka m, it might me mean something like ‘to understand me better than… however I can’t say this with much confidence.

  4. i didnt see my name there. Nwanganga- child of pride. i would however like to know the meaning of Kanu

    • At the moment I can’t make sense of Onwusaka, but Ọnwụ means death, saka sa? + aka (hand) or it could be saa (to wash) + ka (greater than).

      Ekenedilichukwu/Ekenedirichukwu = Gratitude to God
      Ekene (greeting/thanks/gratittue) + Chukwu (God)

    • It could be a shorter version of a longer name. But Azu = back/behind, onye = person/who. It could be in reference to someone in the past e.g. who is behind [me].

      It could also be azu (behind/past) o (it) nye (gives) which might mean something like: the past gives.

    • Leo Kedu, Adarinmma is probably:
      -The First daughter is good/beautiful
      Ada = first daughter
      ri/di = is (ri = Imo dialect maybe other places too)
      mma = good/nice etc

      Amako (maybe it might be another way of saying Amaka which means “very beautiful”.
      But otherwise we’re not sure.

      Onwuka is probably a shorter version of Okwukaeme (Ọnwụ-ka-eme) meaning something like “Death does the most”
      Onwu = death
      ka = suffix for “more than/much”
      eme = to do

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