IGBO SURNAMES AND MEANINGS

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 

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

To help support Okwu ID Donate to Okwu ID

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 side-line/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 a lot??
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 condolences) ?
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 expressed
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 side-line/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 doing things 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
     
Ihemelu Ihe + melu/mere Something happened
Ike   Strength
Ikeji I + ke + ji Yam harvest festival (To break/split yam)
Ikwuakolam   Let me not lack brothers/neighbours
Isiguzo    
Iwuoha    
Kalu (also Kamalu) The god of thunder
Kanu (also Kamanu) The god of thunder
Manufor    
Mbanefo   May the nation/community remember
Mborie Mba +  Orie ?
Metu   Touch
Mgbodile    
Mmeremikwu   To be higher/better
Monye Mu + onye Me and who
Ndukwe Ndu +  ekwe

Let life permit.

Ndunesokwu    
Nkwo   Nkwo market day (the last of the 4 days on the Igbo calendar)
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 Nwa +  beke Foreign Child
Nwachukwu Nwa + chukwu (Child) of the supreme God
Nwadibia Nwa + dibia (Child) of a native doctor
Nwadike Nwa + di + ike (Child) is of strong lineage / 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 lineage
Nwakali also Nwakala/Nwakani A child dedicated to Ali/Ala/Ani (earth goddess)
Nwakuba    
Nwamadioha Nwa + amadioha Child/ people
Nwamdi    
Nwaneri Nwa + na + eri A child shall eat
Nwaogu/Nwogu Nwa + ogu  (Child) of war
Nwaokocha   Man of the people
Nwaokoha   Man of the people
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 Nwa + osu A child devoted to a specific god 
Nwozuzu    
Obah    
Obasi   God (name for God varies per region)
Obi   Heart
Obiajunwa    
Obiajurumobi Obi + juru + m +obi I am consoled (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 kernel  (sometimes used to cleanse the body from enchanted food poisoning) 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
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   Strength (Could be regional?)
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: 04/03/2021
Please contact for updates and corrections. 

Also visit: myigboname.com for more . 

21 Comments

  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!

    1. 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)

    1. 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

    2. 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?

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

    1. 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)

    1. 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.

    1. 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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