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Ethiopia is a medium-sized country in Eastern Africa. It is surrounded by six other nations: Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia. Just across the horn of Africa sits the Middle Eastern countries of Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
In Ethiopian culture, baby names are given at birth, followed by the father’s first and last names and possibly the grandfather’s first and last names. Naming conventions are different from many western cultures, and middle names do not exist in Ethiopia, and there are no official last names or surnames. However, individuals usually use their father’s first name for official documents such as passports. As a result, many Ethiopian surnames are also first names.
Christianity and Islam heavily influence Ethiopian culture, and many names used are often Muslim names, Hebrew names, or from the Christian Old Testament. The most spoken languages of Ethiopia are Amharic and Oromo. However, over 80 different ethnic groups and many other languages are spoken throughout the country and in neighboring countries, including Somali, Tigrinya, and Sidamo.
Some Ethiopian names are regional family names, while others are found throughout the country and regions of Africa and the Middle East.
If you are interested in Ethiopian names, browse our list of the most popular names in Ethiopia, many of which are used as both first and surnames!
Common Ethiopian Surnames and Meanings
- Abebe - African. Blooming flower.
- Abiy - This short Ethiopian name means father’s joy or the main one or high one.
- Addisu - African. New.
- Adgo - Exact origin unknown, but this name used in Ethiopia means helpful or full of knowledge.
- Afework - This Ethiopian name means speaker of pleasant things or golden mouth.
- Alemu - Amharic. His world.
- Alemayehu - Amharic. I have seen the world.
- Almaz - Amharic. Diamond. It is a variation of the Persian girl’s name Almas.
- Ashenafi - Amharic. Winner.
- Bekele - Amharic. He has become or growing.
- Berhanu - Amharic. Light from him.
- Desalegn - Amharic. I’m feeling happy.
- Desta - Amharic. Joy
- Fikru - Amharic. Love
- Fitsum - This common Ethiopian last name means absolute.
- Genet - Amharic. This French-sounding name means Eden and is often used for Ethiopian girls.
- Getachew - African. Master.
- Girma - African origin. Majesty.
- Haile - This name means my power. It is a prevalent Ethiopian name.
- Hailu - The exact origin or meaning is unknown, but it is believed to mean one who is fast, talented, or beautiful.
- Igziabher - Amharic/Geez. Lord of a nation tribe.
- Kebede - This Ethiopian name means getting heavy.
- Mekonnen - Amharic/Tigrinya. Angel.
- Melaku - Amharic. Angel.
- Mesfin - Amharic. Throne. A title for princes in the imperial family.
- Mulu - Primarily a given name for a girl, it means the whole world.
- Nega - This short and sweet Ethiopian name means lover or someone optimistic.
- Tadesse - Amharic. Revived.
- Tasifa - Amharic. Hope.
- Tekle - This last name is African in origin and means plant.
- Tesfaye - Amharic. My hope.
- Teshome - Amharic. One who is promoted.
Hebrew-Inspired Ethiopian Surnames
- Abdi - Hebrew. My servant.
- Abraham - Hebrew. Father of nations.
- Adamu- The Ethiopian form of Adam.
- Addis - Hebrew. Son of Adam.
- Alazar - A biblical name that means God is my help.
- Dawit - The Ethiopian form of David.
- Solomon - Hebrew. Peace.
- Yacob - Stems from the Hebrew name Jacob.
- Yared - Hebrew. A form of Jared.
Arabic-Inspired Ethiopian Surnames
- Abera - Arabic. Rose or sandalwood fragrance.
- Ahmed - Arabic. Highly praised. One who thinks of God.
- Ali - Arabic. High, elevated, or champion.
- Abay - Turkish. Talented.
- Amani - Arabic. Wishes or desires. Aspirations.
- Jemal - Arabic. Handsome.
- Mariam - Arabic/Persian. A version of Mary.
- Mohammed - Arabic. Praiseworthy. One of the most common boy names in Muslim countries.
- Nassir - Arabic. Helper.
Popular Ethiopian Names from Other Languages and Cultures
- Ayenew - East African origins. Unique, innovation, independence.
- Berhane - Tigrinya. My light. Often used as a girl’s name.
- Derbi - Believed to come from the Turkish city Derbe.
- Gebrselassie - Geez. Servant of the trinity.
- Hagos - Tigrinya. Joy or happiness.
- Hailemariam - This name is believed to stem from the phrase “hail Mary” in English and means Mary’s power. Hailemariam Desalegn was prime minister of Ethiopia from 2012-2018.
- Iskander - The Ethiopian variation of the Greek name Alexander. Defender of mankind.
- Kemal - Turkish. Fullness or maturity.
- Selassie - Geez. This name refers to the trinity. Haile Selassie was the emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. He served as regent for Empress Zewditu from 1916-1930.
- Tedros - Greek/Egyptian. The Ethiopian version of Theodore. It means the gift of God.