Somali Names

Somalis do not have surnames in the Western sense. To identify a Somali, three names must be used: a given name followed by the father's given name and the grandfather's. (Women, therefore, do not change their names at marriage.) Unlike English which has mostly separate pools for given and family names Somalis have one pool for all three names. As a result, many names are similar.

Perhaps for this reason, nearly all men and some women are identified by a public name, naanays. There are two kinds of naanays: overt nicknames, similar to Western nicknames, and covert nicknames, which are used to talk about a person but rarely used to address that person. Examples of overt nicknames are Raage (he who delayed at birth),Madoowbe (very black), and, for someone who has lived abroad, Gaal(foreigner). Examples of covert nicknames are Laba sacle (the man with only two cows) and Wiil Waal (crazy boy). Famous people are sometimes referred to as "son or daughter of ". Thus the Sayyid (see page 6) is frequently called Ina Cabdille Xasan (son of Cabdille Xasan).

Traditionally, parents chose their children's names in consultation with religious leaders, astrologers, and older wise family members. In recent years, however, it is more common to simply name children after a relative or a family friend. Two exceptions to this tendency are first children, commonly named Faduma or Mohammed, and male twins, commonly named Hassan and Hussein.

The origin of Somali names is often Cushitic or Arabic, with the latter more common. Most names have meaning, and certain names are given to denote time of birth, physical characteristics, birth order, and so on. Some examples of names, their origins, approximate meanings, and possible reasons for being given are listed below. The first ten names are for girls (Awa to Ubah) and are of Cushitic origin. The next ten names are for boys (Awaale to Geeddi) and are also Cushitic. The next twenty names, ten for girls first (Faadumo to Fawzia) and then ten for boys (Mohammed to Adam), are of Arabic origin.


# Please note that most of the baby names and meanings listed on SomaliNames and Meanings have been added to the database by our users from all over the world. Therefore Somali Names can not guarantee the accuracy of the baby names and meanings listed on the site. We highly recommend that before you take any decision on naming your baby, you should first verify the baby boys names and baby girl names and their meanings found on the site.

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