CultureMy Life

About Yoruba Names and their Meanings

As some may know, I’m Nigerian, specifically Yoruba. We’re in the Southwest part of the country, but we’re global because our culture and our people are all over the world. We’re over 35 million strong and we are everything. Yes, I’m biased.

Anywho, yesterday, I started tweeting about how important names are to Yoruba people. To us, our names are of utmost importance and they really lay the groundwork for a child who’s entering the world. Names are power and can speak power into you.


Below is a Storify of my tweets. If for some reason you can’t read it, go to the About Yoruba Names Storify and view there.

The next time I talk to my GrandAunt, I’m gonna record my ORIKI. And possibly our whole conversation.

Feel free to share your name in the comments and lemme know what they mean. Also, WHERE ARE MY FELLOW OMO YORUBAS AT?!? πŸ˜€

If you liked this post, please TWEET it! Tweet

Previous post

Mama Joyce Gotta Be Checked: RHOA Season 6, Episode 5 Recap

Next post

Winding Down the Year, Going to the White House and on Vacation!


  1. December 2, 2013 at 7:30 am

    I love this post. I’m not Yoruba (not even close) but I am fascinated by/obsessed with names. It’s beautiful to think of your name as a blessing and a goal all at the same time.

    My name, Laura, apparently means “crowned with laurel”–in classical Greece, heroes and poets were crowned with laurel. I turned out to be an English professor–at the intersection of heroism and poetry? πŸ˜›

  2. Kofoworola
    December 2, 2013 at 7:44 am

    I love, love, love being omo yoruba. Most of our cultural practices and history originates from Oduduwa (a god) from wayyy back when, which is why they refer to Yoruba people as Omo Odua. Funny coinkidink, yesterday, my nigerian tailor was telling me how her daughter came out with the cord wrapped around her neck so they had to name her AINA, if she had been a boy, she would have been called OJO. If a child came out face down in Yoruba land, they call that child AJAYI, so back in the day, kids are named by the way they came into the world.
    Lets go to my beautiful name “KOFOWOROLA”, It’s 10 letters and 5 syllables. It means “Wealth, honor, beauty and prestige comes naturally to me”, I don’t have to pay for it. It took me a long time to be able to decipher that name. Anywhooo, it rocks being omo yoruba, “ILE KA RO O JIRE BI” meaning Yorubas are so warm that they seek out each other to say good morning.

    • December 2, 2013 at 9:06 am

      You just made my head swell, o! SAY ALL OF THAT!!! Omo Yoruba rere!

    • December 2, 2013 at 9:16 am

      Love it. If a family had 3 children all who entered the world with the cord around them, would they all have to have the same name? Or are there variants to the names or several names with similar meanings? Curious. Also, your name is very cool, is it a combo of words? And what determines if you name the child after the birth’s circumstances or after something else meaningful? Is it just personal choice or culturally dictated?

      • Kofoworola
        December 2, 2013 at 9:54 am

        As far as I know, If there are more than one kids with the cord wrapped around its neck, they “oriki” as Luvvie stated would be AINA while they would give them regular yoruba names, but that household would be known as the AINAS…..being that there’s more than one of them. For instance, if a wowan had two set of twins, its customary to name twins Taiwo and Kehinde, since you can’t have 2 taiwos and 2 kehindes, they might give the second set of twins names like “Hassan and Hussein” or matching names to set them apart, but names that shows they are twins nonetheless. Hope thats not confusing

      • Mariam
        December 2, 2013 at 10:35 am

        Yes, they bear different names wit similar meanings, Taiwo (Tayewo meaning: first to see the world) for the first child nd Kehinde for the other twin, kehinde is always the elder one according to the story of twins in yorubaland. Twins or triplets already bring their names from heaven. And their younger ones automatically bear Idowu, Alaba nd Idogbe. Yes naming a child after 7 days is cultural dictated. I know some ibo people who name their child after 3 months. As for me, my mother named me Morenikeji (which means I ve found a new partner) cos I’m her only daughter

        • December 2, 2013 at 6:17 pm

          Hiiiiiiiiiiiiii Keji!!! *waves frantically!* I’ve always always loved that name! It’s in the plans to give it to one of my kids whenever they arrive. LOL ._>

        • Mariam
          December 2, 2013 at 11:52 pm

          Hi Ola, on behalf of all Kejis in d world i say thank u πŸ˜€

        • Kejavu
          January 12, 2014 at 6:17 am

          yeah mine is Morounkeji (meaning I have found a partner) my father was an only child and it was just natural to give me that name. If i were male, he would have named me Oladimeji(meaning we are now two)
          Nice article

        • Kejavu
          January 12, 2014 at 6:19 am

          yeah mine is Morounkeji (meaning I have found a partner) my father is an only child and it was just natural to give me that name. If i were male, he would have named me Oladimeji(meaning we are now two)
          Nice article

  3. December 2, 2013 at 8:14 am

    I’m not Yoruba (as far as I know…waiting on those Ancestry results! LOL!), but I too am very fascinated with names. Back in the 70s, my sister & I were named after a combination of aunts’ names. My baby brother was named after my dad, whose name was passed down to him from a great uncle. My dad named my daughter whose name means “pure” in Arabic. My daughter named my son whose name “God is my salvation” which is super-prophetic considering my life-circumstances surrounding his conception & birth. I think we people of the African Diaspora hold naming our children as an important and sacred thing, no matter where we are. Thanks for this lesson in your culture, LuvBug!

  4. Londa
    December 2, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Wow; this is truly beautiful.

  5. Jerehaco
    December 2, 2013 at 8:17 am

    My friend and her husband named their baby Ore Ofe (one of the middle names). Neither of them are Yoruba. What does it mean and how do you (or most Yoruba people) feel about non-Yoruba people adopting the names?

    • Damilola
      December 2, 2013 at 9:50 am

      Ore Γ²fΓ© means ‘free gift’. It is something you didn’t have to pay or even ask for, freely given as a gift of love. I can’t speak on how Yoruba people feel about other cultures giving Yoruba names, but I believe that sometimes the cultural depth and meaning may get lost in translation. It happens even among Yorubas who are ‘Westernized’. Many aren’t taught about these traditions. I’m so happy Luvvie posted this.

      I’m an Oluwadamilola, by the way πŸ™‚

      • SisiAtl
        December 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm

        Damilola, Ore Ofe actually means Grace. Ebun would typically precede a name that implies gift, like Ebunoluwa and I agree with you that a lot gets lost in translation.

    • Olajumoke
      August 13, 2015 at 7:57 am

      Im Yoruba. “Ore Ofe” means “Grace.”

  6. Celina
    December 2, 2013 at 8:34 am

    Thanks for sharing this Luvvie. The importance of naming is another tradition that was stripped away from our ancestors during slavery. We cringe and laugh at these ‘creative’ names some black folk give their children. They don’t understand that their children will live up to these names, and as a result, will most likely have the same kind of impoverished life they were born into.

    • December 2, 2013 at 9:12 am

      That’s a mighty broad brush you’re painting with, but I do agree that I both cringe and laugh at some of these names today.

      • Celina
        December 2, 2013 at 11:21 am

        I agree, but how many times have you encountered a doctor, lawyer, engineer, [insert professional career] with a name like ‘Sharkeisha’?

        • KeishaKay
          April 27, 2014 at 5:02 pm

          I have to agree there….. I cringe at my own name (Markeisha), ESPECIALLY once the whole Sharkeisha bit starting floating around the interwebs. UGH. I am convinced that since my name stands out on my applications in my job hunts, I can never get hired no matter how hard I try (-___-). Granted I was named after my father (Mark)I refuse to name my child anything pertaining to the “-sha” business.

          Good thing my first name won’t show up on my tag when I become a doctor. Dr Knott sounds super professional!

  7. December 2, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Love this! I actually read some of these yesterday!
    Names are so powerful, hence why I flip out when people mispronounce mine! Even though my mama and godmama made up my name (Madelyn + Kathryn = Maryn), it still means something and deserves to be pronounced appropriately!

    A couple of months ago, I was at the foot doctor and this FAHN resident was looking at my foot. Anyway his last name started with Ade and I was going to ask him if he was Nigerian. But then I chickened out LOL

  8. December 2, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Oluwatosin – God is worthy to be worshipped

    • Kofoworola
      December 2, 2013 at 9:58 am

      I love your name…..God is worthy

    • Jess
      December 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm

      LOVE! I have an Oluwatosin and and Oluwakemi. God is both worthy to be worshiped and God has mercy.

      • Olu
        December 3, 2013 at 12:23 am

        I know this Jess, lol. Hey girl, HEY!! You know how much I love Oluwakemi πŸ˜‰

        • Jess
          December 4, 2013 at 11:04 am

          Hey, GIRL!!! Your Kemi is sitting right here! This child! WHEW! You have to come and get your namesake, girl! LOL!!

  9. rikyrah
    December 2, 2013 at 8:58 am

    this was a wonderful post, Luvvie. thank you.

  10. December 2, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Interesting stuff. I am not Yoruba but I’m big into name meanings. We chose our son’s name for it’s strong and spiritual (not religious) meaning and we did the same for the daughter I’m currently expecting. It’s important to be called something with a strong/important/beautiful meaning. Names these days are just goin off the deep end.

  11. BrooklynPhD2B
    December 2, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Omo Yoruba! I LOVE this post. As a kid, I used to get annoyed at the fact that my teachers would consistently butcher my name but I always loved the uniqueness of it. ALL fifty-leven parts of it. And I can’t wait until I see it in front of “, PhD!”

  12. December 2, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Luuvie. I love that Yoruba names are such a beautiful way of honoring your family and your potential.

  13. Toun
    December 2, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Adetoun phonetically pronounced ah-day-toe-wun means The expensive crown and yes i maintain regal disposition.

  14. Zee
    December 2, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Luvvie, I’m sure you meant the western part of Nigeria. Aint no Yorubas in the south Love.. Great write up! I love the yoruba culture.. πŸ™‚

    • December 2, 2013 at 9:43 am

      We’re Southwest, actually.

      • maljazur
        December 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm

        You sure you know where *you’re* from? LOL!

      • maljazur
        December 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm

        I just wanna know who named the Nigerians that be emailing me talm bout I have $35MM waiting in a Nigerian bank account. All I gotta do is send *my* bank account information to them so they can send it “right.”
        What they name mean? LOL!
        Truly J/K…nothing but love.

        • Rach
          December 2, 2013 at 5:49 pm

          What does that have to do with the conversation? SMH!

        • maljazur
          December 3, 2013 at 9:04 am

          Alright, Rach. I hear you. The comment was tasteless, and perhaps there is more sensitivity there than I understood. I know I get touchy about “my people’ too. I always took Luvvie’s blog to celebrate a little irreverence, but intended no disrespect! My apologies…

    • omoobanta
      December 3, 2013 at 4:53 am

      the geopolitical zone is called South West. The other one you may be referring to is what Nigerians call South – South. When people go correcting other people without the aid of google or ask a Nigerian who lives in Nigerian i.e Me.

  15. dmaclee
    December 2, 2013 at 9:42 am

    I know a twin named Taiwo. Never knew what it meant. I forgot the sister’s name. Olefemi and Adeyemi are two of ky favorites. BTW,none of the people I know with these names are Yoruba.

    • December 2, 2013 at 6:13 pm

      Taiwo is the name given to the first born of twins… it means “The First to Enter The World.” Go figure right? lol Kehinde is what’s given to the second born. I believe loosely translated it means, “Arrived at the end.” Taiwo and Kehinde is the name of every set of yoruba twins and mehn! It’s one set of name that I’m not fond of if i were to have twins…

      I think you meant Olufemi there and that means The Lord Loves Me
      Adeyemi means I’m worthy of the crown.

      Hope this helps!!!!! xoxoxo Ola Blessed

      • dmaclee
        December 4, 2013 at 10:40 am

        Olufemi, yes, thank you. I was typing from my phone. The other twin’s name began with a T as well.

    • emti
      December 9, 2013 at 11:37 am

      I know twins named Taiwo and Kehinde!

  16. December 2, 2013 at 10:00 am

    This is all so fascinating to me! I’ve always been very interested in names, meanings (I have name books which looks weird since I have no kids), and how people name their children-so imagine my disappointment when I asked my dad how they named me and got “Oh, I just heard it somewhere and liked it. *side eye*
    This process is so incredibly beautiful!

    Thank you for sharing!

  17. Lisa
    December 2, 2013 at 10:18 am

    I am an African American. when my children were born I took them to a Balawo priest to have thier names divined. For one baby, none of the names we chose “took”. The Ifa priest then asked about the circumstances of the birth. Once he came up with a name that represented the unusual birth, that name took!!

    • Lisa
      December 2, 2013 at 10:19 am

      I meant Babalawo or Ifa priest!!

  18. Kwan
    December 2, 2013 at 10:19 am

    I love hearing about African culture period, I’m going to eventually try and trace my ancestry possibly by DNA results to see where my ancestors could have came from.

    My paternal grandmother named my brother and I. I’m Kwanzaa no we don’t celebrate the holiday, lol I get that all the time, but it’s derived from Swahili meaning “first fruits of harvest” my brother’s name is Tor which I think is derived from either Swahili, Egypt or both meaning “King”. My sister’s name is just a sad story b/c the nurse spelled it wrong as well as her school records so she kind of has three names lmao. Imani (what my mom wanted) Imon (birth certificate) Amon (school records, degrees and what she just stuck with).

    I’m in a class right now centered around Visual cultures of The African Diaspora and I can confirm you are so correct when you say Ya’ll is everywhere. Every religion belief system we have learned about minus Rastafari is heavily influenced by Yoruba people. Santa Ria, Hatian Voodoo being two (which is very demonized by Europeans but has elements of Christianity).

  19. Olanrewaju
    December 2, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Another Omo Yoruba checking in!
    I absolutely love my name ‘Olanrewaju’ which means my wealth is increasing or advancing.
    I especially love it because although Yoruba names are unisex, Lanre is usually a male name. So being a girl named Lanre has always made me feel special πŸ™‚

  20. GigiSxm
    December 2, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Does it still count if I chose my own African name? I felt so inclined after my (first and God willing not my last) trip to thr mother land. I was hoping to have one bestowed upon me, but i was not that kind of trip. I chose Maimouna Noni.

    • GigiSxm
      December 2, 2013 at 11:39 am

      I’m of Afro Caribbean decent and would love to trace my heritage one day..

  21. SisiAtl
    December 2, 2013 at 11:57 am

    ‘OLUWAROTIMI’ (God stays with me) my wonderful name typically given to boys but I’m a girl. Just like Lanre, we special. Omo Odua and proud to be!

  22. Shakira
    December 2, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Yaaaasssss!!! You better STAND in the glory that is the Yoruba way and culture! I got chills when I saw the meaning of Taiwo and if the twin is named Kehinde. Yes I do know a Kehinde (Anjorin! She’s such a sweetie!) and her sister Taiwo. Other names I’m familiar with: Olubunmi, Olushola, Kola, Azuka, Osajofo (or it might be spelled Osagofo) and many others! Wow. It’s so beautiful that the parents take the naming of a child seriously because it is SO important to make sure you set them up for success and overall the good things in life.

  23. tammy
    December 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    This is beautiful and makes me so proud to be an African. All of the African cultures have a similar way of naming. The name is ALWAYS centered around the circumstances of birth, time of birth, struggles of family/parents etc. There is always a meaningful story behind the name.

  24. tammy
    December 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    P.S I have a Hebrew and Xhosa name. Hebrew= Health and Prosperity, Xhosa= Perpetual Growth.

  25. Jess
    December 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Love this post. And while I am not Yoruba, my children are, and their carefully selected names reflect their birth stories. So important! I have an Oyenike, Oluwatosin, Oluwakemi, and an Ifedayo. This last little love has certainly brought me JOY! AND their middle names are Faith, Joy, and Hope, so when I found out that this littlest one was a boy, his name HAD to be Ife. Little Ife Mi.

  26. KMN
    December 2, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    I can’t wait to watch this at home! I attempted to give my child a Yoruba name and based on my reserch Elewa (“beauty”) is what I gave her. And funny enough…a priestess (where i live that’s what we call them don’t cut me Luvvie…you’re close enough to me to do so lmao) but she gave me a reading and told me that I was going to have ibeji (twins)…about five years later I had a little girl who’s a true to LIFE Gemini…

    She was on it…

    This is beautiful. Love it. I am so glad that I took the time out to really research my baby’s name so that she’d have a name to be proud of.


  27. Adwoa
    December 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    West Africa represent! While living in Naija, I fell in love with names and how much they can tell you about a person, where they are from, what their family’s belief systems are etc (especially in Abuja, which in my circles at least was a great cross-section between Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa with a lot of other smaller groups represented as well).

    In Ghana, naming conventions are both simpler and more complicated. There are fourteen traditional names, one for a man and one for a woman born on each day of the week. (Which is why every time an American is all “Oh, your name is so unique!” I smile, but am thinking “Po li’l tink tink…”)

    For example, I’m Adwoa, but so is my mother. Thus, everyone has like thirty names and nicknames – for use by friends, in the family, at work/in professional situations, etc. Randomly while working in Nigeria, I came across a long-lost uncle who was working in the same office on a different project. (Small world!)

    The shared relative who caused us to make the connection is a public figure, and we had to go through several of her names and nicknames to be sure we were talking about the same person. Ha! Ghana is a mess, but I love my country…

    • June 22, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      Oh man! Ghanaian names are definitely simple but complicated. I had a bff in my early college days who I have been trying to find without any luck because of this. In the US her name is Vanessa but her given birth name is Akua Appiah-Kubi which might as well be Mary Smith. Smh

      I am African-American and my own name was kind of made up but is a variation of Kenya. People always think I’m from somewhere other than the US because of the name and my looks.

  28. Petranilla
    December 2, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Yes names are powerful. We are Ethiopian Orthodox and our priest named my sister and me on the day we were born.

  29. Grandness
    December 2, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    I named my oldest two names that translate to Princess and Prince. And my youngest after the first personae to recognize the Messiah. His name means “he heard” and I think he picks up more on the unspoken than anything.

  30. December 2, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    FINALLY!!! Someone who openly admits that they equally go by more than one name! I often get teased because I go by one english name and two yoruba names! I’m not too crazy about the english one but the two yoruba names: Olaide and Ayokunbi mean a lot to me. My grandfather is the only one that calls me Ayokunbi and and it means This Place is Full of Joy! I used to struggle with depression but holding on to the fact that this is MY NAME helped a lot! Olaide means my wealth comes rolling in and this one helps me to remember that total all around prosperity (mental, physical, emotional, and everything you can think of) is what is rightfully mine.

    Luvvie, funny thing is I think there’s about 2 degrees of separation between us. You and one of my cousins know each other… (I’m hailing from the Chi and heck all the nigerians know themselves there abi?) BUT I never never knew your traditional name! I think I’ve always known you as Luvvie A… Anywhoos, great post! Definitely one of my favorites

  31. MamaOluwa
    December 2, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    I am not African, but my children’s father is Yoruba. I just want to clarify the tradition of how children are named. Although my children are grown and their names fit their personalities perfectly, I was not given any choice in the naming process. I was told that the elder in the father’s family is given the task of naming the baby, based on family events. We had to wait to get word to my mother-in-law, who lived in the bush about 6 hours outside Lagos, to get names for the baby. Both my children went almost 2 weeks without a name. I’m just wondering if that is cultural tradition or just a family tradition.

    • December 2, 2013 at 11:46 pm

      To be honest, I’ll say it’s a combination of both. Culturally every member of the family can name the child including grandparents, aunties, uncles, older siblings and of course parents.

      The child’s name will depend on how “liberal” the family is. I know families where the paternal grandparents insist that it’s their right to give the grandchild his/her first name and I know families where the parents give the first name. A lot depends on the dynamics between the man, his wife and their parents.

      An example for my family, my parents chose all our names but most of the middle names were given by my grandfather

  32. Laura
    December 2, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    This actually provides an interesting and informative context to your disgust with people giving their children foolish made-up names! πŸ˜‰

  33. L. Fortune
    December 2, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    Luvvie, Thank you for this article. I wish more Black Americans understood the importance of historical context when naming a child. To be mindful of a child’s destiny when bestowing a name does not take away a parents creative expression. Rather it place the emphasis on providing a meaningful foundation upon which a child can navigate their lives.

  34. nichelle
    December 2, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    I’m curious, one of my good friends in high school’s name was Yemisi; it’s been a minute… i can’t remember if that was short for a longer name, or if that was the full name bc she went by Misi in school πŸ™‚
    I’m curious what it means. great post, Luvvie! i’m a name-nerd lol

    • Mariam
      December 3, 2013 at 12:17 am

      Oluwayemisi means God honours me

      • nichelle
        December 3, 2013 at 12:47 pm

        thank you! πŸ™‚

  35. December 3, 2013 at 12:01 am

    Oluwawemimo- God wash me clean. And my oriki name is Aseni- rare belongings I believe.

  36. bluedove
    December 3, 2013 at 2:10 am

    What does Osayande mean?

  37. December 3, 2013 at 2:51 am

    I have over 20 names. I know them all.
    my first is “Oluwadeaduramilade” which means God has answered my prayers or it can be “God answer my prayers”
    but mine is the first one.
    My favourites (of my own names) are “Bibiirekosefowora” which means Good upbringing can not be bought” and my “Nike names”.. Adenike, Morenike and Olanike.

    Because we’re from a royal family, my grandma (God rest her soul) called me Iyalode. I think that’s my oriki name.

  38. zanele
    December 3, 2013 at 6:21 am

    political situations also influence names, a lot of people born in the 80s in South Africa have names that instigating a rebellion, like Mkhonto-Spear, Mayihlome- to prepare for war and Zizosukuma izizwe- the nations shall rise.
    then those born in the year 1994, were either named Nonkululeko if its a girl or Nkululeko if its boy- both names mean freedom.

  39. Wendy
    December 3, 2013 at 7:39 am

    My son is named Maximus Aurelius. Maximus = the greatest, Aurelius = Golden; Maximus+Aurelius = The greatest gold.
    His name represents strength and honor. He is definitely living up to it.

  40. December 3, 2013 at 11:46 am

    I’m glad to have a non-Westernized name, BUT, it isn’t reflective of my African heritage, unfortunately. I’m African American, so I have no clue where my people came from. Which makes me super jelly, because I want to partake in it, but at this point, I’m probably mixed with so many different tribes and countries over generations that it’s hard to tell at this point.

    But this is so beautiful to learn! Thanks to all the Yoruba for sharing and elaborating. πŸ™‚

  41. December 4, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Omo Igbo here! This was such a lovely post. It’s amazing to see what things we have in common. I too have 5 names. None of us in my family has any less (I think my brother has about 7, he’s the only boy). We too have grandparents name you and they call you that name for life. It is true – names have got to MEAN something, you HAVE to know what they mean and they do influence your life.

    I can’t tell you how many times here in London when people have heard my name and said “Oh what a beautiful name!” (Me thinking: You mean beautiful sounding. You don’t know what it means) which is proven a split second later when they ask “Does it mean anything?” #Facepalm

    I have son now. We repeated the same practice with him – 5 names. His dad named him ‘Iroyinanyo’.

    I’m curious to hear what an ‘Oriki’ sounds like. I have heard the term but I am glad you will give us a sample soon.

  42. […] this week, I wrote about how Yoruba people take names so seriously because we think it can determine your life’s path. As we honor the memory of the late, GREAT […]

  43. Opeyemi
    December 8, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Omo Yoruba here too! My name is Opeyemi πŸ˜€ For a long time I didn’t like my name because it was unisex( I know, not cool) but I’ve come to love my name more as I’ve grown older and indeed the meaning is coming true in my life. Opeyemi- I am meant to be thankful/grateful πŸ™‚

    I also have Oluwaseun and Oluwadamilola and probably others which I don’t even know at this point in time loool.

  44. emti
    December 9, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Mansa – Third Born Girl (I am an only child named after a Ghanaian woman)
    Adwoa – Girl born on a Monday (I was!)
    Oya – Shango priestess of rain (I was born on a rainy Monday)

    Mansa and Adwoa (pronounced A-JU-A) are from Ghana
    Oya is from my dad’s family’s Shango religion

    Both my parents are from the Caribbean

  45. Yewi
    December 10, 2013 at 5:18 am

    The yoruba culture is actually a very interesting one and evidently our names are equally interesting and a lot of times, circumstantial.

    My first name given to me by my paternal grandfather is Yewande and my dad named me Yetunde. They both mean ‘My(Our) mother has come’. I was born some months after my paternal grandmother died hence I’m supposed to be her reincarnated lol. The male versions are Babatunde, Babajide, Babawande which all mean ‘Father has come’. So when you hear any of these names you know the grandfather/ mother died before the birth of the child. I was also named Iyabo which means the same thing too. My oriki is Aduke. I have loads of other names given to me by my aunties, uncles, and my mum’s family as well (my mum isn’t Yoruba).

  46. phatlips
    December 11, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    I’m African American, but my name, Stacey, is the dimunitive of the Greek name Anastassia; which means “resurrection”. It’s prove true for me, as I’m definitely on my third life! ;0)

  47. pup
    January 3, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    I was named after a child my parents were going to adopt but it fell through. I was a “replacement” baby. My mother had a baby, stillborn, and her roomate in the hospital left her baby and told the nurses my parents were going to adopt it. Because of paternity issues with that baby, their attorney suggested not to adopt the child. My mother remembered what the woman had named the child, and I was born 11 months later.

  48. HowlingBanshee
    January 5, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Reading this article was beautifully bittersweet. Especially since my children are young and I remember wanting so badly for their names to be meaningful and to assert their *African* American heritage…’but I would have felt like kind of a poseur(or worse) looking up “African names” to name my kids and…well… anyway

    I try to assuage that empty, disconnected-from-my-roots feeling by remembering that scene in “Women of Brewster Place” where Cicely Tyson’s character read the living daylights out of that young lady who took on an African name… told her about the awesomeness of the fairly recent African-American ancestor for whom she was named, and ended with “And you had to look in an African dictionary to find a name to make you proud!” Or something like that.

    Anyway, my little ones are named after awesome ancestors and elders of my family. And my son…when I was pregnant with him, I had this hard-to-describe feeling of my maternal grandfather’s spirit being strong in this one, so he has his name. And before my son arrived, I told nobody but my husband and my mother that I was naming the child after my grandfather. It felt like sacrilege to do otherwise.

    Anyway, in my mind, my son is Babatunde. I’ll work up the nerve to call him that one day and explain to him why.

  49. JanuaryBabe
    January 24, 2014 at 4:17 am

    Just “WOW!”…..yawl are so blessed to know your bloodline and family history….I feel so cheated!

    • June 22, 2016 at 10:15 am

      I feel the same… It makes me sad when I think about how much we lost.

  50. Remi
    January 29, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Absolutely amazing article Luvvie!!! My name is Remilekun, i don’t know the meaning of my name, but I would love it if someone could help me figure it out? My father named me, but left me when I was a child so I don’t know much about my paternal history. My mother can not answer the questions I have as far as my African heritage because she doesn’t know…. Reading all of the comments my eyes began to water because for the first time in my whole life I feel I’m getting closer to understanding just a little piece of what my life could have been just by knowing my name means something that I don’t know yet…. Luvvie thank you so much for this!! I’m so glad I found your website! God bless you!!!

    • January 29, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      “Remilekun” means “Comforted from tears” and it’s usually fully “Oluwaremilekun” which is “God comforts me from tears” so it’s a way of saying that child was God’s way of comforting you. Beautiful!

  51. Peaceful
    January 30, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    My husband is a first-generation Yoruba American. When I was pregnant with my oldest, my sister liked the name Zuri and I did too, so we chose that name for her. She was born smiling and her disposition was so sweet, he chose Osuntoyin for the middle name.

    After that, my husband insisted the rest of the kids had to have fully Yoruba names. So our only son’s name is Akinseye (valiant warrior is honorable, followed by Folasade (honor bestows a crown), and Olusola (Blessed by God). Our last child I wanted to name to reflect the fact that I don’t know where in Africa my ancestors were from. I always loved the name Nandi and I love what she represents as Shaka Zulu’s mother, so I chose that.

    She was born three days after my grandmother died (everyone loved her and we’re STILL trying to get over her death three years later) and everybody saw her as a source of joy so Ayodele (joy enters the home) is her middle name, and she was born in the car on the side of the road so her second middle name is Abiona (born while traveling).

    The hardest part for me was not telling people their names. I wanted to get on the phone and be like “Girl, my baby name so pretty! It’s…” but I couldn’t. I got used to it with each child though, lol. And now I truly know the importance of names!

    Sorry for rambling. I just love this topic!

  52. funso
    February 28, 2014 at 5:55 am

    Absolutely amazing article, My name is Funso, short for Oluwafunmisho…. i would love it if someone could help me figure it out…

    • Ijeoma
      July 2, 2015 at 12:06 pm

      Your name means “God gave me this to cherish” or “God gave me this in trust.” Just in case you haven’t gotten an answer yet. Lol.

  53. Wemi
    March 2, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    Wow..dis is so cool. Am so proud of my yoruba heritage. I luv the language and am never shy to speak it. The culture is rich and the people re wonderful. My name is OLUWAWEMIMO meanin God has washed me clean.

  54. Wemi
    March 2, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Oluwafunmisho means God has given me this one to protect. πŸ™‚

  55. April 21, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    When I was pregnant with my daughter I really wanted her to have a name with meaning, so I named her Ayoka (One who brings Joy) Morenike (God has given me someone to love). She does bring joy to everyone that knows her and God truly did give me someone to love.

  56. Scilla
    April 27, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Grace IS a free gift, given freely. :/

    Wonderful article Luvvie πŸ™‚ I’m not yoruba but my “traditional” name is Thubelihle and Nompumelelo meaning Good opportunity and success

  57. April 27, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Loved this post! Saw it RT’d on Twitter today.

    I am a British-born Nigerian and my name is Toluwanimi which means “I belong to the Lord” or “The Lord’s”. When I was younger I was only ever called Tolu and didn’t really like the long version. Tolu’s are a dime a dozen (which used to annoy me lol), but now I’m very chuffed at the fact my particular full variant of it -Toluwanimi- is quite rare. Most “Tolu’s” are Tolulope or Toluwase. I’ve only ever come across one other Toluwanimi.

    Like with many other people, people used to really struggle saying my name (most people didn’t even know it was longer than that for many years because I never spelled it out), but now instead of automatically shortening it, I make them say the full version at least a few times, before I let them use the short version if they’re really butchering it. My indignation comes from the fact that out of all Nigerians names it’s like one of the easiest to say! Literally how it is spelt (if we’re not getting hung up on the tones) *sigh*

  58. April 28, 2014 at 6:05 am

    My name isn’t Yoruba, but my sister’s is: Monifa Ife. “I have luck and love” …she is named for her God sisters. My name, however…is Kali and has several meanings in several languages.

    Egyptian: child closest to God (the meaning from which my mom chose my name)
    Sanskrit: energy; black
    Peruvian: evil genius
    Greek: beautiful; singing lark
    Hawaiian: deity; flower
    Indian: fire goddess

    It took me a while to appreciate my name, but I do. I love names and research them often. I believe in the beauty of naming your child something that is rooted in something you’d want them to become.

  59. shewa
    June 2, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Hello, I really love this blog its nice to know the beautiful meanings and cultural history of Yoruba names. My name is Oluwaseyitanfe. It means God has given us what we want since I’m the only girl and I’m a twin. God bless x

  60. […] I have a very rich culture, and I love everything it stands for. Our names tell a story and they speak about the path our parents want us to lead. […]

  61. […] they set the tone for our lives and they can predict what path we go down (see my post on “Yoruba Names“). In the case of the lady below, you must agree that her name set her up for failure from […]

  62. Oyinbo Atata
    August 4, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    I am not Yoruba but married to a Yoruba Man.I chose to give my children Yoruba names because like luvvie said the names tell a story. Both my children have 7 names but the first two really tell their story. My daughter is Oluwanumilekun (Numi)(God has cleaned my tears) Itunu (consulation)and my son is Oluwaferanmi (Feranmi) (God loves me) Aderopo (replacement) πŸ™‚

  63. October 19, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    […] About Yoruba Names and their Meanings | Awesomely Luvvie – I love this post. I’m not Yoruba (not even close) but I am fascinated by/obsessed with names. It’s beautiful to think of your name as a blessing and a goal all at the same time. […]

  64. October 19, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    Have you read the story of Baratunde Thurston’s name? He talks about how mad some Nigerians have gotten with him because his name isn’t “right”.

  65. wanny
    February 14, 2015 at 1:04 am

    so i stumbled across this article about the celebrity/sucide/E/ and i decided to check the blog out. I must confess that i am totally loving it.. Kudos to you mami!

  66. Folasade Tolulope Ayangbile-Osagbami
    February 27, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    I love this article and I love being a Yoruba woman! Chai, God is good oooo!!

  67. […] About Yoruba Names and their Meanings | Awesomely … – Yoruba people take names very seriously. Our names are stories and blessings. They’re dreams for your future. They predict your path. They celebrate you…. […]

  68. Vicky ameyaw
    April 14, 2015 at 1:20 am

    Just a question what’s does adedeji mean, it says the crown has become two, but which crowns are they referring to ? and does it mean he has two of them? Please help my husband wants to use this name.

    • April 14, 2015 at 1:40 am

      “Adedeji” does mean the crown becomes two. What it is referring to as “crown” are your kids. They are the crown (and joy). So it’s a great name for a 2nd born.

  69. Simisola Durosomo
    August 12, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    My name is Simisola. It means to rest in wealth! As a kid who was born and raised in the U.S. I remember always thinking why did my parents give me a name that is so hard to pronounce, it wasn’t till I got older and realized just how powerful and special my name was! So grateful for such a wonderful name!

  70. Adedotun Adeyeye
    August 13, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Yoruba Names are in categories. We have “Abiso”, meaning First Name. This may be a wish or expression of thanks to God or a goddess. However, the family background is always considered before naming a child, as such names tell people the type of family the child is from, for example, hunter family will have “Ode” as part of the name, like Odebiyi, Odewale etc. A family known for bravery has “Akin” attached to their names, like “Akinwumi”, “Akinleye”. A Royal family has “Ade”, like “Adenike”, “Adebayo”, “Adedotun” etc, The goddess being worshiped in a family also influences the names of their children, eg, Ogun Priest family would have Ogunseyi, “Ogundiran”, “Ogundele” Event taking place around the time of delivery too contribute to the name given to the child, like, a child delivered under heavy rain could be called “Abejide” or “Abejirin”. The one delivered while on a journey could be called “Abiona” or “Abisona”. The one delivered during Chrismas, New year could be called “Abiodun”, Bodunde, the one delivered during a festival could be called “Abioro” The one delivered at oversea could be called Tokunbo. “Okun” means Sea, while “Oke Okun” means Over Sea and Tokunbo means “from “Over Sea”.
    We have “Amutorunwa”, the appearance of the child shows the name, like a child delivered with the legs coming out first is called “Ige”, the first of twins is called Taiwo while the second one is Kehinde, A child delivered after twins is called “Idowu” while the one after him is “Alaba”.

  71. MsTish
    August 16, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    My Mom wanted a girl so bad, she was convinced she was having a boy. This was back in ’67 before folks had routine ultrasounds, so she was suprised and delighted to have a girl, but she didn’t have a name. She was reading a novel when she went into labor. The heroine was an investigative reporter named Letitia (pronounced, “Latisha”), which means “joyful”. My middle name means “light”.

  72. Meredith
    January 2, 2016 at 11:26 pm

    I’m late to the party, but I just loved this post Luvvie! And the comments are equally awesome!

  73. Lelo "Yewande"
    January 9, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Hi.. I have a friend in Nigeria his name is Onwubuifeoa (don’t know if I wrote it correctly because I only call him fefe)…Anyone who knows what it means..??

  74. Lelo "Yewande"
    January 9, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Loved the post Luvvie 😘

  75. Nqobile
    May 26, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    Years later I see this. I am Swazi (Southern Africa) and hate nicknames because of how important my name is.

    I was born to a thurd wife, and the second wife was rumoured to be using muti (witchcraft) to send my mother away by killing her first child. I lived and they named me Nqobile ( has conquered ). I have overcome so much in my short life and when I feel overwhelmed I remind myself that everytime my name is spoken, that person is praying for me to conquer.
    How can i do anything else?

  76. Morola
    June 21, 2016 at 11:30 pm

    My name is Morola which means “gift of beauty”, Abiodun “born on a festive day” (Nigeria’s Independence day) and Ojosipe ” Man who has gone to war and come home safely”.
    I enjoyed your article.

  77. Miaesha
    June 22, 2016 at 5:07 am

    I studied American Indian culture as I was growing up, and the belief is the same about naming children. My own son was not officially named until 5 days after he was born and only because the hospital wouldn’t release me without first completing his birth papers. (Lol) Prior to his birth, his father and I had many conversations about his name. I made it very clear that his name was to be strong and a reflection of the energetic & unrestrained person he has already proven to be. His name is Marc (God of War) Isaiah (Yahweh is salvation). And to say he is the epitome of beligerance, prophesy, sight, willfulness, determination, empathy, and love would be a very accurate description. He lives up to his name.

    My name (a variation of a name from the Quran) I was told means my happiness. Though I’ve learned it means living, life, livelihood, existence, way of life… And I have no middle name. My son sparked my interest in the meaning of my own name when at 3 years old he told me that I was his role model because I held the capacity for his life. (And in his truth, he spoke the meaning of my name)

  78. sharlimar
    June 22, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    i did not know the meaning of my name so i made up a meaning. i was in middle school. i decided my name meant “diamond in the rough.” while in grad school i learned my name means “paradise.” twenty years later and i am still struggling to be paradise. i am connected to diamond in the rough. there is no clear story on how i received my name or where it came from. i absolutely love my first name. under no circumstances are people allowed to shorten it, give me a nick name or even mispronounce. it is my name and my identity. i go by my first name in all situations. naming is serious business.

  79. Saudeka Shabazz Ile
    June 24, 2016 at 5:13 am

    I’m not Yoruba per se, but as a pan Africanist I identify with the whole of the diaspora. When my hubby and I got married we decided to chose a family name that we would both adopt as opposed to me changing my last name to his. We chose the yoruba word Ile as our family name. As far as I could tell, it’s not use as a personal name, but it was the meaning we were looking for (and I’m ok with non-traditional names and naming practices in general). I am a traveller and my daughter has the same spirit. We wanted our family name to symbolize that no matter where our paths take us in this world or beyond that we always have a home in each other. So, we’re the Ile family. And when we invite people to our house for gatherings, we call it the Ile ile lol.

  80. Ebun
    July 21, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Ebunoluwa- Gift from God
    Iwalewa- Your character outshines your beauty(loose translation)