18 Most known Names in Ethiopia, and Important Answers.

"Children near Gheralta, Ethiopia" by Rod Waddington is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Have you wondered about names in Ethiopia? Or are you planning to give your daughter or son an Ethiopian name? Names in Ethiopia are a bit different from the rest of Africa, and yet are very familiar to the rest of the world. Why are names in Ethiopia familiar especially to the Christian and Islam nations? The history of Ethiopia is associated with Christianity and it is obvious to name a child using one of the names of the characters of the bible. Names such as Moses (Musse in Amharic), Abraham, Jacob (Yakob in Amharic) are common.

Names in Ethiopia are not limited to the bible. Each ethnicity names their child in their own language. Therefore, it is sometimes hard to identify every name in the country. Rarely it is even hard to remember some names as these are limited to some regions of the country and are not common in city areas.

Ethiopia is a country in the horn of Africa, with ancient cultures. Ethiopian names are generally of Biblical and Islamic origin. Unlike many countries, Ethiopians don’t have family surnames. They use their father’s first name as their last name. Plus, surnames are not used to address someone.

The names in Ethiopia listed here are the common ones that are known in many of the places in Ethiopia. These are also famous for their easiness to remember, and often associated with a historic character.

1- Abebe

Abebe is probably one of the most known names in Ethiopia. The name Abebe is synonymous with blooming and is known among children as some play poems use the name. Children practice reading using the lines that say ‘Abebe eats Besso’ ( a local food). Abebe is rather a name for the older generation, and people from the city don’t get the name anymore.

The name Abebe means “Blossomed; grown” or the direct translation is “Shoot Forth”. Abebe is a male name of Ethiopian origin. Some notable people with the name include Abebe Bikila, Ethiopian marathon runner and two-time Olympic champion, and Abebe Aregai, Ethiopian Prime Minister from 1957 to 1960.

2- Aida

The name Aida is probably influenced by the past relationship with the Arabs. The name is given to an Arab girl. It also has an Italian origin meaning happy.

What nationality is the name Aida?

Ethiopian, Arab, and even Egyptian. An alternative would be Aita, and Aida is the softer version of the term. Ayda is a Turkish name as well. It means ‘from the moon’ The name also vastly used in Azerbaijan and Iran.

Is Aida a Greek name?

Aida is an Arabic and Greek name.

"Children near Gheralta, Ethiopia" by Rod Waddington is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
“Boy & Grandmother” by Rod Waddington is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


Are you familiar with Abel who was murdered by his own brother? Abel is a bible figure, the firstborn of the first people, Adam and Eve. Abel is not really an Ethiopian word but borrowed from the bible. The name is used frequently probably because it is positively used in the bible. Abel is the one God loved more than his brother Cain.

Abel means “Breath of Air”. Abel in the biblical world is the son of Adam and Eve. Abel is usually linked with his brother who killed him, as Cain and Abel. Positive conations associated with the name are “ready, willing, competent and capable”.

Is Abel a Ethiopian name?

Abel is an Ethiopian name, borrowed from the bible. Abel is the firstborn of Adam and Eve, the first humans on Earth, according to the bible.

4-Mazza, Mazaa, Meaza

These are alternatively used, and the term simply means a pleasant scent or aroma, especially of a flower or perfume. Meaza is one of the names in Ethiopia given to a woman. These days such names seem to lose their influence as they are deemed as old, and associated with grandmother’s time. Therefore, it is rarely used.

5- Daniel

Daniel is another biblical figure, whose deeds were courageous and had an influence on Babylonian politics. It is a Jewish name in the book and is only used once. However, Daniel is one of the known names in Ethiopia.

6- Jemila

If you are looking for an Islamic name, Jemila is the most known female name in Ethiopia. Jemila is an Arab origin, and its influence is not limited to Ethiopia. Jemila or Jamila is translated as pretty or beautiful, and it’s easy to pronounce and remember.

7- Abraham

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.’

The name Abraham may be viewed either as meaning “Father of Many” in Hebrew or else as a contraction of Abram and meaning “many, multitude”

8- Hanna

Hanna also spelled Hanna or Hana, is a Hebrew given name popular in Ethiopia. It is derived from the root meaning “Favor” or “Grace”.

9- Yared

Another famous Ethiopian name is Yared. The name is a Hebrew form of Jared, which is also used in Ethiopia. The name was borne by a legendary 6th-century Ethiopian musician credited with inventing the sacred music tradition of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Ethiopia’s system of musical notation.

10- Ahmed

Ahmed means “Greatly Praised or Commendable”, and one of the five hundred variations of the name Muham- mad. The origin of the name Ahmed is Arabic. The spelling variant is Ahmad.

11- Eden

The name Eden is derived from Hebrew. The Garden of Eden was the name of the paradise where Adam and Eva were created and lived before eating from the tree of knowledge.

12- Haile

The name Haile means “the power of ”. The name is used to refer rather than stand-alone. Haile is probably one of the most recognized names in Ethiopia. Some notable people with the name include Haile Selassie (1892-1975), Emperor of Ethiopia, and Haile Gebrselassie, Ethiopian distance runner.

names in Ethiopia child
names in Ethiopia child

13- Bethel

The name Bethel is of Hebrew origin meaning “House of God”, and is a girl’s name. Bethel is often mentioned in the bible as place names.

14- Tesfaye

Tesfaye was also written as Tesfay and Tesfai, is a male name of Ethiopian origin meaning “hope”. The name is famous in Ethiopia, as most people are named that or they know someone, Tesfaye.

15- Ephrem

The name Ephrem is a Hebrew name. In Hebrew, the meaning of the name Ephrem is “Doubly Fruitful”. People with this name have a deep inner desire to use their abilities in leadership, and to have personal independence.

16- Ahmed

Ahmed means “Greatly Praised or Commendable”, and one of the five hundred variations of the name Muhammad. The origin of the name Ahmed is Arabic. The spelling variant is Ahmad. Ahmed is the most used name in Ethiopia among the Islamic community.

17- Habiba

Habiba is a female name of Arabic origin meaning “Beloved”. The name is popular in all Muslim-dominated African countries, including Ethiopia.

 18- Kaleb

The meaning of the name Kaleb is “Whole Hearted” and is derived from the Hebrew words ‘Col’ (all or whole) and ‘Lev’ (heart). The most common variations are Caleb and Kalib.

How do Ethiopian names work?

Names in Ethiopia probably have a similar concept to names in other nations. However, naming in Ethiopia is different from in some countries. The known western use of first and last name and the family name is not widely used in Ethiopia. Rather Names in Ethiopia have two features, personal name and father’s name. Therefore, a person first mentions his or her name given. Then they add their father’s name. If necessary, for further distinction, you may add your grandfather’s name.

Haile Gebrselassie. Haile is the person’s name given by his parents. And Gebresilassie is the father’s name. Therefore, Ethiopians don’t call the athlete by his father’s name like the rest of the world do, but by his name that is Haile.

On passport, Ethiopians use three names, first name, middle name, and last name. It is still different from the west. The first name is the person’s name. Middle name is Father’s name. And the last name is Grandfather’s name.

Change of names in Ethiopia upon marriage is not widely known. Unlike the west where the woman changes her family name to her husband’s, names in Ethiopia stay the same.

What is the first name of Ethiopia?

First names in Ethiopia represent the person’s name. Therefore, when an Ethiopian says his first name, they are also asking to be called with that name.

What is the middle name for Ethiopians?

Middle name is your father’s name. If you have to fill an important form, then you need to consult your passport document.

A final note on Names in Ethiopia

Finding names in Ethiopia is not that hard. Thousands of choices are out there. However, it is important to know these 5 things before giving your child an Ethiopian name.

1- Is it hard to pronounce? If yes, don’t give that name to your child. For example, a notable athlete Haile Gebresillassie is usually called by his middle name. news anchors usually have a hard time pronouncing his name right. make sure it is also easy to write.

2- Make sure the name in English doesn’t mean anything controversial. Some names in Ethiopia may also have meaning when read as an English word. (we don’t provide examples here but you will know when you get them).

3-Make sure not to take your child’s freedom away. The name ‘Isreal’ is much known in Ethiopia. We heard people with such names have a hard time in the Arab world. The same is true for Arabic names.

Finally, most names in Ethiopia are easy to read, pleasant to use, and not hard to remember.

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