Ethiopia is a rugged African country split by the Great Rift Valley. With archeological treasures going back to more than three million years, Ethiopia is a place of ancient culture.
Just like the region, even Ethiopian baby names are varied. These names are Islamic or Biblical in origin. Another noteworthy thing is that Ethiopians do not have family surnames. They use their father’s first name as their last names. And surnames are never used to address someone formally. Below is MomJunction’s collection of unique and traditional Ethiopian baby names.
Ethiopian Baby Names For Girls:
Liya is essentially a Hebrew name familiar with the Ethiopians. Some even consider it as the Russian variant of Lily or Lia. It’s the first name of Ethiopian supermodel and philanthropist Liya Kebede. English speakers can spell this name as Lia or Leah.
[ Read: Traditional African Baby Names ]
This melodic name is associated largely with a Verdi opera about an enslaved Ethiopian princess who gives her life to save her people. The other namesake is Aida Turturro, who played Tony Soprano’s sister “The Sopranos”. The meaning of Aida is ‘happy’.
Nyala is one of the most exotic sounding baby names. This Ethiopian name was given to a sultry character in a 1940s movie and has been popular ever since. The meaning of Nyala is ‘mountain goat’.
Zala is a simple, but sultry name, meaning ‘a person from southwest Ethiopia.’ Zala is the name of the character in the video game “Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom”, and it is quite easy to spell and pronounce as well.
Maaza is an Ethiopian term for the pleasant scent the yellow daisy flower, which is widespread in this country. Pronounced as ‘mah-zah’, this name came into the spotlight via the Ethiopian-American novelist Maaza Mengiste. The meaning of Mazaa is ‘aroma’.
Kia is a simple and sweet Ethiopian girl name that is now associated with a Korean car label. In the year 2013, 2100 girls were named Kia. And it’s way fresher that Thea, Nia, or Keira. The meaning of Kia is ‘season’s beginning’.
The name Marjani is associated with Arabic name Marjina and is perhaps its variation. Its namesake, Marjani Satrapi is an Iranian graphic novelist best known for her work ‘Persepolis.’ The meaning of Marjani is ‘coral’.
Dani, the feminine form of Daniel and the diminutive of Danita and Danielle. It started as a short form, but now stands strong on its own for its androgynous and friendly quality.
Eshe is the variant of Asha and is related to the Arabic name, Aisha. It’s on the rise in American states, along with names like Zoe, and Vivienne. It’s the middle name of Diani Greene, daughter of American rapper Talib Kweli. The meaning of Eshe is ‘life’.
[ Read: Biblical Baby Names ]
Kamali is an African spirit that protects babies from illness. It means ‘protector or spirit guide’. Its namesake is Norma Kamali, the famous designer. For boys, you can use Kamal, one of the 99 names of Allah.
Ife is a simple Ethiopian name that is practically unknown in Europe and the United States, and that’s why we think it will make a perfect choice. You can say it’s similar to Eva, Ava, or America. The meaning of Ife is ‘love’.
Zoya is an East African origin name, meaning ‘dawn’. It’s popular not just in Ethiopia, but also Arabic countries. The whites consider Zoya as a Russia and Greek version of the name Zoe, and it’s widely used in the U.K, and the U.S. One poll says that it’s the number one name in Whales.
Nuru is an evocative Ethiopian version of the Muslim name Noor. It means ‘born during the day’. The name is favored all over the world for its simplicity and its resemblance to the stylish, Western name Nora. Nuru Kane, the Senegalese singer, and songwriter, is the famous bearer of this name.
Aisha is the name of Muhammad’s most favorite wife, which makes it a lovely name. It’s popular all over the world, within the Muslim community, including Ethiopia. What makes Aisha cooler is the myriad of variations it has, like Aicha, Ayesha, and Ayishah. Aisha Tyler, the famous television personality is its most famous namesake.
Neela, the variation of the name Nila, is spread throughout Ethiopia via the Indian population living in its vicinity. It’s a Sanskrit origin name and means ‘sapphire blue’. You can also consider its spelling variation Neila or Neala.
Ethiopians frequently name their children after the day of the week and the order in which they were born. The meaning of Abena is ‘born on Tuesday’, which make it a great option for girls born on this day.
Here’s another day-inspired name for you. Afia comes from the African language and means ‘born on Friday’. This name sounds so modern that even Americans can safely use it for their daughters. And if you want something more uncommon, use Afua.
[ Read: African Baby Names List ]
Subira is an attractive Ethiopian name with a usual ‘S’ zest that is virtually unknown in the western world. Subira is both strong and soft and means ‘patience’.
Taci is a strong, singular, and exotic Ethiopian baby name. It would make an excellent choice for your daughter, but only if you spell it phonetically. The correct pronunciation of Taci is ‘Tah-shee’.
This Ethiopian name migrated to the female side when a zoo in Ohio used it for a female giraffe. This name has been on the rise ever since. and has gained 50 spots since it entered the top 500 list in 2013. Zuri Ross was the name of the character in a Disney show “Jessie”.
Amara is a stylish, sturdy, and attractive variation of the name Mary and means ‘grace or bitter’. It’s multicultural in the truest sense. It’s a Mongolian name meaning ‘peaceful’ and Sanskrit name, meaning ‘immortal’.
This mystical and exotic name has been steadily climbing the popularity charts. It’s the name of Greek mother of Hermes. Gate Maya Samuelsson, the Ethiopian-born model, is a famous bearer of this name.
This name belongs to the daughter of the queen of Shea, the ruler of Abyssinia. The meaning of Bathsheba is ‘daughter of the oath’. It was also the name of the central character in Hardy’s novel “Far from the Madding Crowd’.
With the rise in the names honoring ancestors and dead family members, even Edna has resurfaced in the baby name list. This name is semi-biblical. It’s the name of the loving mother in the Apocrypha.
This Arabic name came into popularity via the soap opera, “Days of our Lives”. It went on to become the 12th most popular name in the 1980s. Recently, it was heard in “Desperate Housewives’.
[ Read: Zulu Baby Names ]
Jamila is an Arabic origin name used widely in many African countries, including Ethiopia. Literary buffs would relate this name with Jamila Singer, a character in Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight Children’. It means ‘beautiful’.
Faizah is an extremely exotic Arabic/African name, meaning ‘victorious’. There was a time when this name was rarely heard outside the Arabic community, but is now a favorite of the Ethiopian parents.
The name Habiba is popular in all Muslim dominated African regions, including Somalia and Ethiopia, and stand for ‘beloved’. Or you can choose Hababah, the daughter of Ajlan and the narrator of Hadith.
Makda is the Ethiopian version of the Hebrew name Magda, meaning ‘high tower’. The name feels a bit dated in front of its sisters, Magda, and Magdalene, but will make a unique moniker for your daughter.
As Mary is sailing further out of style, her variations are becoming more and more popular. Mariam is the African and Arabic variant of the Biblical name Mary. Its alternate spelling variation is Maryam.
This name is inspired by the Ethiopian hip-hop artist Lola Monroe. She was also nominated for the best Female Hip-Hop Artist at the BET Awards.
Here’s another excellent option for people looking for a day-inspired name. Akosua is a Twi origin name, meaning ‘born’ on Sunday.
Baraka is the female variant of the name Barak. Its positive meaning and resonant rhythm have made it hugely popular with the African families.
[ Read: Eritrean Baby Names ]
Anika is an adorable name tied with several cultures of Africa. It means ‘sweetness of face’.
Behati is the African version of Beatrice. It got a boost in popularity via the Namibian supermodel Behati Prinsloo. Behati means ‘she who brings happiness’.
Diarra is a beautiful sounding Ethiopian name with a lovely meaning (gift).
Fana is a simple, unusual and delicate name, meaning ‘jungle’.
This African, Muslim name refers to the nurse of Prophet Muhammad. It means ‘gentle and humane’.
Kadida is the African variation of the Arabic name Khadija. This name was used by Peffy Lipton and Quincy Jones for their daughter.
Izara is a beautiful and rhythmic baby girl name, meaning ‘section of tree’.
Ethiopian Baby Names for Boys:
Abel belongs to Adam and Eve’s not so fortunate son. But it compensates itself with the positive connotations like ‘ready, willing, competent and capable’. It’s at #124. The two popular namesakes include movie directors Abel Ferrara and Abel Glance.
[ Read: Tanzanian Baby Names ]
Yonas or Yunus is the Arabic variation of Hebrew name Jonah. It belongs to the Old Testament prophet who was swallowed by a large fish, but came out of it unharmed even after three days. We think it’s a perfect name if you are looking for something less common than Joshua or Jacob.
This name, derived from one of the Ethiopian languages, feels a lot like the Arabic name, Ahmed. So we believe that it would make an attractive and original choice for people who are considering the name Ahmed. The meaning of Amadi is ‘tree man’.
This globally popular and timeless Hebrew name has been on the top 50 list for two decades now. It’s the softness of the double vowel in Aaron that gives it a certain gentleness. In the Old Testament, Aaron is the elder brother of Moses.
Ahmed is one of the five hundred variations of the name Muhammad and means ‘greatly praised’. You can also opt for its spelling variant, Ahmad.
If you are looking for a name that is entirely unheard of in America or Europe, go with Negasi. Negasi is not entirely obscure. In fact, it held the 225th spot last year. The meaning of Negasi is ‘he will wear a crown’.
Kofi is an Ethiopian name, meaning ‘born on Friday’. You can say it’s a male version of Afia. Its noteworthy bearer is Kofi Anna, the seventh general secretary of the United Nations. He is also the recipient of Nobel Peace Prize.
Abraham, the name of the founding father of the Jewish people, is popular with the Ethiopians. This name has been famous right from its conception. The meaning of Abraham is ‘father of the multitudes.’
Hakim, the variation of Arabic name Hakeem, would make a beautiful name for your son. It’s one of 99 Muhammad approved names of Allah. The meaning of Hakim is ‘judicious’. Its famous bearer is Hakim Abdul Olajuwon, the Nigerian-American basketball player.
[ Read: Xhosa Baby Names ]
Kaleb is the example of the C starting name given a new lease of time or made different by using K as the beginning alphabet. Around 3000 parents chose this name for their sons in Ethiopia, which speaks volumes about its popularity. Even Kevin Federline named his son Kaleb.
Alimayu is a distinctive Ethiopian baby name meaning ‘in honor of God’. Its popular bearer is Prince Alemayu of Ethiopia who ruled from 1861 to 1879. Famous actor Wesley Snipes chose this name for his son. You can shorten it to Ali for the nickname.
Salana is the Ethiopian version of the name Solana and means ‘sunshine’. This name sounds extremely bright, warm, and unique to say the least. This moniker saw some popularity in the United States as well. It reached as high as #459.
Panya is the diminutive of the Russian name, Pavel and means ‘small’. This multicultural name sounds extremely pleasing to the American and English-speaking ears. But in the Ethiopian language, this name translates to ‘rat’, which can be a turn-off for some parents.
Ajani, meaning ‘the victor’, is a novel twist on the name Johnny. This mid-century name has a retro charm to it. You can shorten it to Aja for the nickname if you want.
Amari is very popular in Ethiopia for it vowel ending and soft sound. This name is related to words and names in a wide range of languages, like African, Thai, Hebre, and Yoruba, with a myriad of positive meaning. It reached the #265th spot for baby boy names.
This Ethiopian name comes from the word Ibo, which means ‘blessing of God’. The most famous Chinua is probably Chinua Achebe, the author of “Things Fall Apart”, which is one of the bestselling books of the world.
Who doesn’t think their child is wonderful? Gyasi is a lovely name and means ‘wonderful baby’. This name has a rhythmic beat and originates in the Egyptian language.
[ Read: Islamic Baby Boy Names ]
Are you having twins or is it your first pregnancy? Then you can consider the name Zesiro, which means ‘firstborn of twins’. This name can be applied to a female baby as well.
This name, popularized by the 44th American president is an African name, meaning blessed. It’s derived from the Arabic name, meaning ‘Mubarak’. Some opine that it’s derived from Hebrew word ‘baruch’, which also means ‘who is blessed’.
Ebo is a powerful Ethiopian baby name, meaning ‘born on Tuesday’. You can also opt for its alternative Ibo, which is equally striking, but its meaning is different. Ibo means ‘my people’.
Haji is a traditional Arabic name appropriate for boys born during the time of Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim is expected to make at least once in his lifetime.
Kato is an Eastern African name, meaning ‘second of twin’. This name gained a lot of attention via the witness Kato Kaelin in the trial of O.J. Simpson. It’s also the name of a fictional character in “The Green Hornet”. You can even spell it as Cato to add more credibility to the name.
Selassie is an Ethiopian name, meaning ‘trinity’. It’s mostly used as a suffix, as in Selim Selassie. Or you can use it as a middle name. This name is enjoying mass popularity internationally as well.
Salim is an African name, meaning ‘peace’. This moniker is distinguished by its association with the renowned African diplomat, Salim Ahmed Salim. You can also spell this name as Salem.
Negus is a North Ethiopian royal name and means ‘he will be crowned’. It’s an older generation Ethiopian name, which was first used in the 17th century by the royal family of Ethiopia.
[ Read: Baby Names That Mean Miracle ]
Taye is an Ethiopian baby name, meaning ‘he has seen’. You can also use it as a short form of Taylor. This name gained popularity after the emergence of actor Taye Diggs.
The name is much more substantial than it sounds. It’s the name of the god of thunder and the ancestor of the Africans. And Shango is also the name of a character in DC comics.
Omari is the Ethiopian version of the name Omar. Just like Amari and Omar, even Omari has been in the top 1000 baby names for several years, primarily because of its namesake Omari Hardwick. Did you know that Omari is the middle name of famous American rapper Kanye?
The Ethiopians use the name Kojo for boys born on Monday. It’s also equivalent to the female name Adwoa. After taking a downturn in the last century, this moniker is one the upswing again.
This Old Testament has now started to replace the classic John, which was high on the list for several decades. In the Bible, Jonathan was the eldest son of King Saul.
Jemal is the African version of the Arabic name, meaning ‘handsome’. This name is used in the United States for its memorable character, Jamal from “Slumdog Millionaire’. Jemal Pierre Johnson, the English-American soccer player is its namesake.
Ephrem is the Ethiopian variation of the Hebrew baby name Ephraim. It is the name of the second son of Joseph and the founder of an Israel tribe. This Old Testament name is high on the neglected Biblical possibilities.
Emanuel is the spelling variation of the name Emmanuel, which is more popular in Ethiopia. This name revived in its full glory in the year 2014. The meaning of Emanuel is ‘god is with us’.
[ Read: Baby Names Meaning Gift From God ]
Djimon, pronounced as ‘Jee-mahn’ is a familiar Ethiopian name. Its namesake is Djimon Hounsou, the Oscar-nominated actor.
No one can even guess that Genet is an Ethiopian name. It sounds too much like a French name. Genet means ‘Eden’.
Here’s a winning African name that bridges cultures. This appealing name is well used in Ethiopia. You can shorten it to Zen for a cool nickname.
Daniel is a perennial favorite name that hovers in the top 20 baby name list. It sounds both modern and classic, familiar, but is no way clichéd.
We hope you liked our compilation of Ethiopian names. Have a favorite name of your own? Do add it in the comment section below!
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