120 Nigerian Last Names Or Surnames, With Meanings

120 Nigerian Last Names Or Surnames, With Meanings

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Nigeria is a country on the western coast of Africa with approximately 21 crores of population. History has it that two ethnic groups, namely Yoruba from the kingdom of Ile-Ife and Igbo from native south-central and south-eastern Nigeria and other parts of Africa, comprised most African names and cultures (1). Hence, this list of 120 Nigerian last names reflects derivations and origins from these two clans.

Nigerian Last Names Or Surnames, With Meanings

1. Abara

A spiritual name, Abara is a Nigerian last name with Igbo roots. The word refers to a spirit.

2. Abdullahi

A follower of God or a server of the Almighty is known as Addullahi. This Nigerian surname finds its origin in the Arabic language.

3. Abiola

A surname of Yoruba origin, Abiola in Nigeria, refers to a person born in wealth and honor.

4. Abimbola

A surname of lesser popularity, Abimbola denotes someone who is born rich. This Nigerian family name finds its origin in Yoruba.

5. Abubakar

Abubakar is a popular Nigerian last name with roots in the Yoruba ethnic tribe. The name means “noble.”

6. Adébáyọ̀

With roots in the African tribe Yoruba, Adébáyọ̀ is a family name meaning royalty, king, or crown.

7. Adeoye

Originating from the African ethnic group Yoruba, Adeoye is a tribal surname meaning ‘crown.’

8. Adesina

This Nigerian surname is given to a child who has been ‘long-awaited for”. It is of Yoruba origin and refers to a crown that opens the way forward.

9. Adeyemi

This surname is popular amongst the families of the Yoruba tribe. This African term Adeyemi denotes someone worthy of becoming a king.

10. Agbani

Agbani is a surname with Yoruba roots and is synonymous with the phrase “Praise the Lord.”

11. Aguta

Originating amongst the Igbo ethnic people, Aguta is a surname that means ‘innumerable.’ According to a submission from Uganda, this word also means “laughter.”

12. Agwuegbo

A female-oriented surname, Agwuegbo denotes times when hardships have been overcome. The last name finds its origin amongst the Igbo tribe.

13. Akerele

“Small but strong” is the meaning of this Nigerian surname of Yoruba origin.

14. Akintola

A surname of Yoruba roots, Akintola signifies that becoming brave is as honorable as being wealthy.

15. Akinyemi

A powerful last name, Akinyemi, is a Nigerian surname of Yoruba origin. It refers to someone who is born to be a soldier or warrior.

16. Akpabio

With roots in the Ibibio ethnic African group, this surname denotes a prime or noble member, a leader maybe.

17. Aku

Aku is a Nigerian family name of Igbo origin. It represents good economic fortune or wealth.

18. Alana

Although Alana is more popular as a given female name, variations of this word are also found as surnames in Nigeria.

19. Alaneme

Originating amongst the Igbo people of Africa, Alaneme is an amalgamation of two words. Ala means land, while neme refers to doing something. This surname refers to an active piece of land.

20. Ali

A popular surname amongst the Islamic groups across the world, especially in Nigeria, Ali finds its roots in the Arabic language. The word refers to a champion, someone of height and elevation.

21. Alison

A surname of Greek origin, Alison means “light.” Its roots are also found in England and Scotland, where it is a patronymic name referring to “Allen’s son.”

22. Aliu

Aliu is a Nigerian last name with English roots. It is synonymous with someone who is “remarkable.”

23. Amaechi

This African surname refers to one who can predict tomorrow. Amaechi is a Nigerian surname of Igbo origin.

24. Anenih

A strong surname of Yoruba origin, Anenih denotes a God-bearing last name.

25. Asaju

Asaju denotes a leader or head of warriors. This is a powerful Nigerian surname.

26. Attah

Originating from the Igala tribe of Africa, this Nigerian last name means “Father of everyone.”

27. Awolowo

Awolowo is a Nigerian last name with its roots in the African Yoruba tribe. The name speaks of the dignity found in the oracle.

28. Azi

A single syllable surname Azi, pronounced with emphasis as Azih, this Nigerian surname means “infinite or unending.”

29. Baba

A word found in many languages across the world, especially Indian, Baba refers to a title given to an elder. It means “father.”

30. Babangida

An elongation of the word ‘baba,’ this Nigerian last name of Hausa origin denotes the master of a household.

31. Balogun

Balogun is an African surname with Yoruba roots. It is a title bestowed upon a family who are warlords.

32. Bolaji

Bolaji is a popular surname commonly found in Nigeria. This name was often heard amongst original African tribals.

33. Bankole

Bankola is a rare surname with traces in Nigeria, Africa. It rooted back to the Yoruba ethnic groups and was given to sons who helped in building houses.

34. Bassey

A word from the Efik language of Nigeria, Bassey is a surname that means “God” or “The Lord.”

35. Bello

Originating in the Latin word Bellus, Bello is a Nigerian surname that refers to beautiful or handsome.

36. Bosede

This is a matronymic surname of Yoruba origin. It refers to someone who is born on a Sunday.

37. Chidubem

Synonymous with a person who the Almighty always guides, Chidubem is a highly respectable Nigerian surname.

38. Chukwu

Chukwu is the last name with African Igbo roots. The name means “greatness,” “a spiritual being or God himself.”

39. Danjuma

Danjuma continues as a Nigerian family name and is a name of Yoruba origin. The name means “born on Friday.”

40. Esuola

Referring to having a lot of wealth, Esuola is a Nigerian surname originating from the Yoruba tribe.

41. Egbe

Egbe was originally used as a nickname but later adopted as a family name. The name comes from the Yoruba ethnicity and means “kite.”

42. Etienam

There is a history behind this surname, which means “benevolent” or a “doer of good deeds.” The name originates from the Alwa Ibom and Calabar regions of southeast Nigeria and is also popular in the Caribbean.

43. Emem

This unisex African surname is unique and means “calm” or “peace.”

44. Eze

A common Nigerian family name of Igbo origin is Eze. The word is a title given to a person of respect. Eze means “king.”

45. Falade

Falade is a unique surname. The meaning of this word translates into a full sentence. When the Lord is said to have mingled with royalty, it is called Falade. This African surname is of Yoruba origin.

46. Folorunsho

Denoting a person under God’s protection, Folorunsho is a Nigerian last name with a Yoruba origin.

47. Gbadamosi

This Nigerian surname is male-oriented and refers to “one who is independent.”

48. Guh

Guh is a Hebrew surname meaning “gift of God.” It has been found as a common family name in Nigeria.

49. Hassan

A patronymic surname, Hassan, has Arabic roots and signifies manly, strong, and handsome boys.

50. Ibeh

Ibeh is a Nigerian family name originating from Igbo ethnicity. It signifies a relationship of friendship, family, or even an acquaintance.

51. Ibrahim

Ibrahim is probably the most common Nigerian surname. It is the Arabic version of Avram in Hebrew and denotes the “Nation’s Father.” Ibrahim was an Islamic Prophet of God.

52. Igbinedion

When one seeks refuge in the protection of elders, it is termed as Igbinedion. This Nigerian surname is of Benin origin.

53. Igwe

Igwe is a surname of Igbo roots and is only found amongst the royalty. The term means “heaven.”

54. Ihejirika

Also a nickname, Ihejirika, is the last name of Igbo origin. This pompous name means “I have the greater one.”

55. Ikande

Ikande signifies a person with ample love. It is a surname found in Nigeria.

56. Kalu

A male-oriented surname, Kalu originates in the Igbo tribe of Africa and refers to the “Thunder God.”

57. Kazah

The meaning of this Arabic last name is synonymous with the source of light. It is a common surname found in Nigeria.

58. Kikelomo

Kikelomo is a female-oriented surname of Yoruba origin. It signifies a child who must be loved, cherished, and pampered.

59. Kporaro

Kporaro signifies progress. It is a rare Nigerian surname.

60. Lawal

This popular Nigerian family name refers to a “good-looking boy.” Abass Lawal is a famous Nigerian footballer.

61. Meremikwu

A surname of Igbo origin, Meremikwu is an optimistic name meaning “to become better” or “rise higher.”

62. Mohammed

Mohammed is one of the most common Islamic names and surnames across the world. It has Arabic roots and means “the one who is praised.”

63. Njoku

Originating from the tribe of Igbo ethnicity, Njoku is a common Nigerian last name referring to the deity of the guardian of the Yam.

64. Nnadi

A surname full of hope and spirituality, Nnadi of Igbo origin means “my father is living” or “my God lives.”

65. Nwadike

Nwadike is a Nigerian family name originating within the Igbo clan of Africa. It signifies a solid bloodline and refers to a strong person. It is also synonymous to a “hero’s son.”

66. Nwaeze

Originating in the ethnic clans of Africa, this Igbo name is a popular Nigerian surname meaning the “king’s child.”

67. Nwaigbo

Nwaigbo is a personal surname belonging to the Igbo tribe of Africa. It means “child of Igbo” and refers to a baby of the people of the clan.

68. Nwaike

A child born into a family with a strong lineage bears this surname. Nwaike is a family name of African-Igbo origin.

69. Obi

Obi means “heart” and is a popular surname amongst the Igbo people of Africa.

70. Obiaka

This Nigerian surname upholds family and is synonymous with the thought that every home is the greatest. Obiaka is a surname of Igbo origin.

71. Obiakaeze

This is a family name of Igbo origin. Though the Africans worshipped their King, this name means “the King is greater than home.”

72. Obiakpani

Obiakpani denotes peace and clarity. The surname of Igbo origin means the “end of suspense, the heart rests now.”

73. Obianagha

A name for a warrior, Obianagha, is a Nigerian family name referring to someone who came to fight. It finds its roots in the Igbo clan.

74. Odoemene

The roots of this surname are found in Nigeria itself though according to the Igbo language, Odoemene means “yellow reluctance.”

75. Ojo

A Nigerian name stemming from the Yoruba people, Ojo means “vigor, shine, or splendor.”

76. Okeke

According to the Igbo literature, Eke is a day of the week. Okeke refers to people born on Eke.

77. Okon

A name denoting darkness, this African surname refers to someone born at night.

78. Okoro

Okoro means “greatness.” This last name originates from the Igbo tribe and refers to a child born to a born-free man.

79. Okoturo

This Nigerian surname finds its origin in the Igbo ethnicity of Africa.

80. Okpara

This is one of the surnames of Ikpede origin, and it means “rich man” or “big man.” This surname means ‘firstborn.’

81. Okusanya

Okusanya is a Nigerian last name of Yoruba origin. The name is symbolic of the belief that one gets rewarded for their sufferings.

82. Oladoyinbo

A patronymic surname with Igbo roots, this name refers to a person surrounded by honor.

83. Olanrewaju

A hopeful surname derived from Yoruba culture, Olanrewaju speaks of one’s wealth moving forward and growing in the future.

84. Olowe

A surname of Yoruba origin, Olowe refers to a person capable of calling many people for help.

85. Oni

One who is born on a holy ground is called Oni, according to the Nigerian last names.

86. Onyema

A country of high religious beliefs, the Nigerian surname Onyema asks the question, “who can predict what is in God’s mind?” The name finds roots in the Igbo clan.

87. Onyilogwu

Onyilogwu is a common family name in Nigeria. This name was first found among the Igbo people. It is synonymous with someone unaffected by black magic.

88. Osondu

With roots in the ethnic group of Igbo in Africa, the last name Osondu signifies running for life.

89. Owayale

A name with Yoruba and Nigerian roots, Owayale denotes the coming home of the river goddess. It is a popular Yoruba surname.

90. Oyinlola

A Nigerian common last name of Yoruba origin, this female-oriented name meaning wealth is sweet. The highest concentration of this surname is found in the Ondo region of Nigeria.

91. Peter

The surname Peter has many derivations. It stems from the Greek word Petros, meaning rock or stone, or from the Latin word ‘Petra.’ Samuel Peter is a Nigerian heavyweight boxer born in 1980.

92. Popoola

A phrase in itself, the meaning of the last name Popoola says that people who love God are intelligent. The name stems from the Yoruba clan of Africa.

93. Prest

Derived from the English word ‘priest’ or priest as per Old English, Prest is a surname n from Britain’s Anglo-Saxon tribes.

94. Rabiu

Rabui is a surname used popularly in Nigeria. It originates from Hausa and denotes something meaningful.

95. Rafiu

According to the Islamic religion, Rafiu is the Networking God. This Arabic surname is derived from the Arabic term ‘rafa,’ which means to raise or lift up. The Nigerian surname also means ‘noble.’

96. Raheem

This Islamic-Arabic surname denotes one of Allah’s names. It is a short form of Abdu r-Raḥīm, which refers to the ‘servant of merciful.’

97. Razzaq

Razzaq finds its roots in Persian, Arabic, and Urdu languages. According to Islam, it is one of the many names of God. The word denotes a provider and also means sustained.

98. Sami

Sami means prominent. It is a surname of Arabic origin and is found popularly amongst Nigerians.

99. Samuel

A surname popular all across the world, Samuel is a name of Hebrew origin. It denotes the “name of God.” According to the Old Testament, Samuel was the last ruling judge.

100. Sanusi

This surname originates in Libya. It refers to a person from Senouss, which is a Libyan region. The Libyan dynasty was called Sanusi till the 2969 coup dismantled it.

101. Shehu

A family name of Arabic origin, Shehu, is synonymous with an authoritative figure or a sheikh.

102. Sulaimom

This is a Hebrew word denoting a “peaceful man.” Sulaimom is equivalent to the English name Solomon. Solomon was the King of Israel and also an Islamic Prophet.

103. Taiwo

According to African mythology, Taye and Taiye are considered the first pair of twins to be born in the world. Taiwo is a Yoruba surname referring to these twins.

104. Tersoo

Tersoo is a family name commonly found in Nigeria amongst the people of Tiv. The name denotes the love of a father.

105. Tyjani

Tyjani is the last name of Hausa origin. It is a unisex name denoting a gift or one of greatness that cannot be matched.

106. Uba

Uba is a surname of African origin. It is synonymous with “The Lord” or “Father.”

107. Uchce

Originating within the ethnic Igbo people of Africa, this surname refers to thoughts of God or The Father.

108. Uche

Similar to Uchce and common in the Igbo tribe, Uche means will, sense, or intention. A variant of this surname is Uchechukwu meaning ‘God’s will.’

109. Uchenna

Signifying the thoughts of God, this Nigerian surname belongs to Igbo origin.

110. Ukpabi

Ukpabi is a deity’s name. The Nigerian surname finds its roots in the Igbo clan of Africa.

111. Ugochukwu

A Nigerian surname of Igbo origin, Ugochukwu refers to “God’s glory.” It also refers to the “Eagle belonging to God.”

112. Umaru

Umaru is an ancient Arabic word and finds roots in the Urdu language. It is derived from the word ‘umr’ meaning age or life.

113. Umeh

Umeh means “strength.” This last name originated amongst the Igbo people of Africa.

114. Umunna

Umunna is a family name popularly heard of in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. It is a name of Igbo origin and signifies “The Father’s children.”

115. Unigwe

A surname of Igbo origin, Unigwe means “heaven.”

116. Uthman

A surname of Arabic origin, Uthman is a mythological name. It refers to a wise and powerful person. Uthman was a companion of Prophet Mohammad.

117. Uzoegbu

Originating from the tribe of Igbo, Uzoegbu is a Nigerian surname referring to the safety of one who reads.

118. Yakubu

The surname Yakubu is a variation of the name Jacob. It has Swahili roots and means “Supplanter.”

119. Yusuf

Yusuf is a common Islamic surname. It is popular in Nigeria and finds roots in Aramaic, Persian, Turkish, and Arabic cultures. In the Hebrew language, the name denotes ‘God increases.’

120. Zabu

Zabu is a Nigerian last name meaning “gold.”

Family names or surnames are a link to our past. They give us knowledge of our ancestors and where and how our family tree started. This list gives us an insight into some popular and not-so-common Nigerian surnames.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. A. R. Mustapha; Ethnic Structure, Inequality and Governance of the Public Sector in Nigeria;
    https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.527.2545&rep=rep1&type=pdf

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Shikha Thakur

Shikha is a writer-turned-associate editor at MomJunction. Her core interest lies in writing articles that guide couples through their courtship to marriage and parenthood. She also specializes in baby names. Being a postgraduate in Human Resources, she likes understanding people and their relationships. This reflects in her relationship articles, where she deals with both the rosy and the grey side... more