Yoruba Names and Their Meanings: Full Explanation

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Yoruba names and their meanings
Yoruba Names and Their Meanings: Full Explanation

You have probably met a Yoruba person at some point and wondered what their name meant. Yoruba names and their meanings are usually quite interesting.

1. What is Yoruba?

Yoruba is a language spoken by Yoruba people. It could also refer to someone who is from the Yoruba tribe. Yoruba people are a tribe that occupy and dominate about 6 states in south west Nigeria. These states are Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, and Lagos State. There are also many Yoruba speakers in many other states in Nigeria, particularly in Kwara and Kogi State.

There are millions of Yoruba people in diaspora. Yoruba language is spoken by approximately thirty million (30,000,000) people or more. You might also be surprised to find that a variation of Yoruba is used for incantations in ‘Ifa’ religion in some countries. Brazil is one of such countries.

2. Popular prefixes used in Yoruba names and their meanings

2.1 First, lets look at prefixes that usually pertain to deities or religions.

  • Ifa – Ifa is the god of divinity in Yoruba. When this prefix is used in Yoruba names, the first letter (‘I’) is usually dropped. For instance, instead of Ifayemi, you would usually see Fayemi.
  • Ogun – In Yoruba land, Ogun Lakaye is the god of iron.
  • Oluwa – Oluwa simply means lord (lord of the ring, lord of the flies etc). However when ‘Oluwa’ is used in a Yoruba name, it usually refers to Jesus Christ. This prefix became common in Yoruba names after Christianity became a religion in Nigeria.
  • Olorun – means God.
  • Orisa – means deity. Not very popular in names nowadays like those mentioned above but it is worth mentioning.

2.2 Other popular prefixes in Yoruba names

  • Ade – Ade means crown in Yoruba language. People who have this prefix in their names usually from royal descent. However, it is important to know that there are several kings in Yoruba land. If you found that two Yoruba people have ‘Ade’ in their names, it does not necessarily mean that they are from the same royal descent.
  • Akin – a brave person.
  • Ayo – means joy.
  • Awo – one who is initiated.
  • Baba –  father.
  • Oba – king.
  • Ode – hunter.
  • Ola – wealth.
  • Ona – road.
  • Omo – child.
  • Owo – money.
  • Oye – this means chieftaincy. In Yoruba monarchy, chieftaincies (Oye) are conferred on some people. The chiefs are similar to parliament in modern systems of governance.

3. Pronounciation of Yoruba names

Are Yoruba names easy or difficult to pronounce?

There is a common misconception that Yoruba names are usually long and difficult to pronounce. This is why it is worth mentioning that people are not usually called with their ‘prefix+names’ in informal situations. Likewise, people usually drop the prefix when introducing themselves in less formal situations. In fact, most times, you would come across those prefixes only in written forms in formal situations.

For instance, Adeyemi would be popularly called Yemi by family members and friends. However as a form of affection in an informal situation, parents might call their children’s names with the prefix. Same goes for lovers or spouses sometimes.

There is another point worthy of note. The above mentioned prefixes are usually used without a dash/hyphen. Let’s suppose that a name is Yemi ( means ‘I am worthy of’) and its prefix is Ade. It would be written as ‘Adeyemi’ (I am worthy of crown) and not ‘Ade-Yemi’.

You would usually end up with around 4-8 letter words when the prefixes are dropped. So contrary to what you might have thought, Yoruba names are quite easy to pronounce.Are Yoruba names difficult to pronounce

Now that you know about prefixes in Yoruba names, let’s look at some Yoruba names and their meanings.

Yoruba names and their meanings

There are currently 63 names in this directory
Abiodun
Abiodun is a unisex Yoruba name which is usually given to children born in December.

It is a combination of two words:

Abi - we birthed.

Odun - festive season or year.

The literal translation would be to birth year/festive season.

Abolarinwa
Abolarinwa  is a male name which means one who walks with wealth. Its short form is usually Bola.

Ade
Ade means crown and it is a popular prefix in Yoruba names. Both female and male names often share this prefix.

Adetola
Adetola means crown is equal to wealth. This Yoruba name is usually unisex and its short form is usually Ade or Tola.

Adeyemi
Adeyemi means I am worthy of the crown. It is also a popular surname.

Afolabi
Afolabi is a male name which means one who is born with wealth. It is also a popular Yoruba surname. Its short form is usually Folabi or Fola.

Afolake
Afolake means one who is raised with wealth and it is a female name. Short form is usually Folake or Fola.

Ajibola
Ajibola means one who wakes up into wealth and it is a male name. Short form is Jibola or Bola.

Asoropa
Asoropa means one who is hard to kill. This name is usually a surname.

Atinuke
Atinuke is an affectionate female Yoruba name which means one who has been pampered before birth (while still an embryo). Short form is usually Tinu or Tinuke.

Atolani
Atolani is usually a male Yoruba name which means one who is worthy of wealth.  It is also a common surname. Short form is usually Tola or Tolani.

Ayobami
Ayobami  is a unisex Yoruba name which usually comes with two prefixes explained below:

Ayobamiji - I woke up with joy.

Ayobamide - Joy came with me.

Short form of the name is usually Ayo which simply means joy.

Bisola
Bisola is a female Yoruba name which means born into wealth.

Bunmi
Bunmi means 'gave me'.  It is usually a female name but sometimes used as a male name by some. The name usually comes with prefixes such as:

Ogunbunmi - Ogun gave me.

Oluwabunmi - the Lord gave me.

Fabunmi - Ifa gave me.

Orisabunmi - Orisa gave me.

Damilola
Damilola means 'blessed me with wealth' and it is usually a unisex Yoruba name. Popular example of the name with prefix is Oluwadamilola.

Dayo
It means that something has become joy. This is usually a male name but sometimes given to female children as well.
Examples of variations with prefixes are: Adedayo and Ogundayo.

Dele
Dele means "come home". It is a male given name and is often used with common prefixes such as:

Oladele - wealth has come home.

Akindele - the brave one has come home.
Submitted by: Samuel

Femi
This is usually a male name but sometimes used as a female name as well. Femi in Yoruba name context means 'loves me'. Popular examples with prefixes are Oluwafemi, Olorunfemi, and Obafemi.

Folorunsho
Folorunsho, sometimes spelled as Folorunso, is a male name which means given to God to keep. Its short form is usually Funsho.

Gbemi
This Yoruba name could have two meanings and could be a male or female name depending on the prefix or suffix. The meanings are explained below:

Meaning no. 1 - Gbemi could mean 'lift me'. Popular female example of the name in this context is Oluwagbemisola which means the Lord has lifted me into wealth.

Popular male example of Gbemi in this context is Oluwagbemileke, which means the Lord has given me victory. Another popular variant is Ogungbemileke which means Ogun has given me victory.

Meaning no. 2 - Gbemi could also mean 'favoured me'. Popular variants in this context are Ogungbemi and Ifagbemi. These are usually male names and are seldom used these days perhaps due to the prevalence of Christianity in Nigeria.
Submitted by: Samuel

Ireti
Ireti is usually a female name which means hope. It is commonly used with suffixes instead of prefixes. Examples include:

Iretiayo - hope of joy.

Iretiola - hope of wealth.

Iretioluwa - to hope in the Lord

Kemi
Kemi means take care of me or pamper me and it is popularly a female name. Popular variations with prefixes are:

Oluwakemi - the Lord takes care of me.

Folakemi - Pamper me with wealth.

Fadekemi - Comfort me with the crown.

Kolade
To bring wealth. It is a male name. Examples with prefixes: Omokolade, Ogunkolade etc.

Korede
Korede is a male Yoruba name which means brought wealth. It usually has prefixes such as:

Oluwakorede - the Lord has brought wealth.

Ogunkorede - Ogun has brought wealth.

Fakorede - Ifa has brought wealth.

Mojisola
Mojisola is a female Yoruba name which means to wake into wealth. Short form is usually Moji.

Morenike
Morenike is a female Yoruba name which means I have someone to care for/pamper. Short form is usually Nike.

Obafemi
Obafemi means the King loves me and it is usually a male name.

Ola
This name means wealth. It is sometimes used as a prefix as in Olawale, Olaoluwa, Olaade. But it is also commonly used at the end of prefixes such as Akinola, Adeola, Omolola, Babalola etc
Submitted by: Samuel

Oladimeji
Oladimeji is a male Yoruba name which means our wealth has been doubled. Short forms are Ola, Deji, and Dimeji.

Olaitan
Olaitan means unending wealth and it is usually a female name. Short form is Laitan.

Olayinka
Olayinka is a unisex Yoruba name which means I am surrounded with wealth. Short form is Yinka.

Oloruntobi
Oloruntobi means God is great. It is usually a male name. Another variant of this Yoruba name is Oloruntobiloba which means that God is a great king. Short form of this name is usually Tobi.

Olowolaiyemo
Olowolaiyemo sometimes spelled Olowolayemo means people only adore the rich. This name is usually a surname.

Oluwadamilare
Oluwadamilare is a male Yoruba name which means the Lord has vindicated me. Short form is Dare or Damilare.

Oluwadarasimi
Oluwadarasimi is a female Yoruba name which means the Lord is good to me. Short form is usually Dara or Simi.

Oluwafunmilayo
Oluwafunmilayo means the Lord has given me joy and it is a female name. Short forms could be Funlayo or Funmi but Funmi is the most common.

Oluwagbenga
Oluwagbenga is a male Yoruba name which means the Lord has exalted me.  Short for is Gbenga.

Oluwaseyi
Oluwaseyi is a unisex Yoruba name which means the Lord has done this. Short form is Seyi.

Oluwatoyin
Oluwatoyin means the Lord is worthy of praise. It is popularly a female name and rarely used as male name. Short form is Toyin.

Omotoke
Omotoke means a child is worthy of care and it is a female name. Short form is Toke.

Omotola
Omotola means a child is equal to wealth and it is usually a female name. Short form is usually Tola.

Oreofe
Oreofe is a unisex Yoruba name which means grace.

Oreoluwa
Oreoluwa is a female Yoruba name which means gift from God. Short form is usually Ore.

Oreoluwa could be a full name on its own or a shorter form of Oreoluwatanwa. See Oreoluwatanwa for meaning.

Oreoluwatanwa
Oreoluwatanwa is a female Yoruba name which means gift from the Lord that we have been waiting for. This name is usually given to a female child whose birth has been preceded by male siblings. Short form is usually Ore.

Owolabi
Owolabi means we have given birth to money.
Submitted by: Samuel

Remilekun
Remilekun means 'wiped away my tears' and it is usually a unisex name. Popular variant of the name with prefix is Oluwaremilekun, which means the Lord has wiped away my tears. The usual short form is Remi.

Segun
Segun means to conquer or defeat and it is usually a male name. Popular example with prefix is Oluwasegun. This means the Lord has conquered.

Shade
Shade literally means to wield a crown. It is a female name. Popular example with prefix is Folashade. This means to be crowned with wealth.

Temitope
Temitope is usually a unisex name. It means 'I am inclined to be greatful'. Short forms are usually Temi or Tope.

Timilehin
Timilehin is a male Yoruba name which means back me up. It usually has prefixes such as Ogun (Oguntimileyin), Oluwa (Oluwatimileyin). Short form is usually Timi.

Titilayo
Titilayo is a female Yoruba name which means perpetual joy. Short form is Titi or Layo but Titi is more common.

Titilola
Titilola is a female Yoruba name which means perpetual wealth. Short for is Titi or Lola.

Tolu
Tolu means 'the Lord's'. The name is unisex. This name usually takes a suffix. Example with suffix is Tolulope, meaning praise be to the Lord.

Tomi
Tomi means sufficient for me. It is a female name.
Popular variations of this name with prefixes are: Oluwatomi and Adetomi.

Tosin
This name means worthy of worship and it is usually a unisex Yoruba name. It is commonly used after prefixes that pertain to religion. Some examples are Oluwatosin and Oloruntosin.

Toyosi
Worthy of being happy about. This name is unisex. (Examples with prefixes: Omotoyosi, Adetoyosi, Oguntoyosi, etc.)

Tumininu
Tumininu means 'I am appeased' and it is usually a female name. Popular variants of this name with prefixes are:

Adetumininu which means I am appeased by the crown.

Oluwatumininu which means the Lord has comforted me.

Tunde
Tunde means 'back again'. It is usually a male name.
Examples of variations of this name with prefixes are: Akintunde and Babatunde. These names are usually given to Yoruba children who have close resemblance with a late grandfather or grandmother. Its female variation is Yetunde.

The female variation is rarely shortened to Tunde. It often remains as Yetunde. So the shortened form (Tunde) is popularly used for males.

Tunji
This name means "rewake" or "wake again". It can only be used after prefixes. Examples include: Adetunji, Omotunji, Babatunji, Akintunji etc

Wale
Wale means to come home. It is a male name.
Popular variations with prefixes are: Adewale, Akinwale, Odewale, etc.

Wole
Wole means entry into a house. It is a male name.
Examples of variations of this name with prefixes are: Oyewole and Ogunwole.

Wonu
Wonu means to enter. It's usually a female name. This name usually has both prefix and suffix. With prefix and suffix, its usually Omowonuola.

Yemisi
Yemisi means treated we well and it is a female name. The name usually comes with prefixes like:

Ogunyemisi - Ogun has treated me well.

Oluwayemisi - the Lord has treated me well.

Fayemisi - Ifa has treated me well.

Short form of the name is Yemi. For male variation of Yemi, see Adeyemi.


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