100+ Top Ethiopian Last Names With Meanings

Georgia Stone
Feb 16, 2024 By Georgia Stone
Originally Published on Nov 04, 2020
Portrait of a woman from the Hamar tribe with her baby in south Ethiopia.
Age: 0-18
Read time: 7.2 Min

Surnames carry a lot of importance.

They tend to represent the family name and are passed down from one generation to another. This isn’t the case for Ethiopian surnames though.

Ethiopian naming conventions are quite unique. A child in Ethiopia is usually given a personal name birth which is followed by the personal name of the father. Unlike other cultures where members of a family use a common surname, in Ethiopia, members of the same family will have different surnames.

As well as boys, Ethiopian girls' names are also followed by the personal names of their fathers as a last name. Typically, someone has just two names with the father’s first name serving as the child’s last name and not the family name. Therefore, there is no middle name as such in Ethiopia.      

Married women in Ethiopia aren’t required to change their names either, as the second name is not a family last name. Last names used in Ethiopia, whether for a male or female, are typically of Islamic, Ethiopian, or Biblical origin.

Another point to note is that last names, whether within the family or outside, are never used to formally address someone. Check out our list of Ethiopian last names for a detailed list of 100 Ethiopian last names and their meanings.

You may also want to take a look at our list of Ethiopian names for first name inspiration or our list of African last names where you’ll find a mixture of short and long African names, all with meaningful descriptions.

Popular Ethiopian Last Names

Here’s a list of some of the most popular Ethiopian last names to inspire you.

1. Aaron, meaning ‘high mountain.’ This is Moses’ elder brother’s name as per the Old Testament.

2. Abebe, meaning ‘a flourishing flower’ or ‘one who has grown.’

3. Abel, meaning ‘breath of air’ or ‘capable.’ This is the name of Adam and Eve’s son.

4. Abera, this name carries the meaning of ‘he shines.’

5. Abraham, an extremely popular name referring to the Jews’ founding father. The name means ‘father of multitudes.’  

6. Addisu, this name means ‘the new one.’

7. Adunga, meaning ‘our world.’

8. Amadi, meaning ‘tree man,’ a variation of Ahmed.  

9. Amari, meaning ‘strength.’

10. Anbesa, meaning ‘lion.’

11. Astatke, last name of Mulatu Astatke, father of Ethio-jazz.

12. Ayele, the common name among Ethiopians means ‘powerful.’

13. Barack, this name means ‘blessed.’ Popularized by Barack Obama.  

14. Bekele, this popular name has a frequency of 1:153 and means ‘one who is growing.’

15. Chinua, the name means ‘God’s blessings.’ Chinua Achebe is the author of 'Things Fall Apart.'  

16. Fasil, meaning ‘distinguishing.’

17. Fikru, use this to mean ‘God’s love.’

18. Getachew, this has a frequency of 1:109 and means ‘master.’

19. Kagnew, meaning ‘bringing order out of chaos.’

20. Kaleb, a popular name in Ethiopia, meaning ‘faithful’ or ‘brave.’  

21. Kato, meaning ‘the second twin’, this has gained popularity due to Kato Kaelin, the witness in the O.J. Simpson trial as well as the character in 'The Green Hornet'.

22. Menelik, this is the name of Ethiopia’s first emperor, Menelik who is believed to have inaugurated the Solomonic dynasty.

23. Mohammed, this is the name of Islam’s messenger, Prophet Mohammed. Its frequency is 1:90 in Ethiopia.

24. Neberu, this is a powerful and popular name that means ‘the tiger.’

25. Nesanet, this is a very popular Ethiopian last name for a male or female which means ‘freedom.’  

26. Omari, the name means ‘God is exalted.’ This is the middle name of rapper Kanye West.

27. Salana, this is a popular name that means ‘sunshine.’

28. Tamru, an extremely popular name, this means ‘the miraculous one.’

29. Tesfaye, this name carries the meaning ‘my hope.’ This is one of the most popular names with a frequency of 1:84 in Ethiopia.

30. Worku, meaning ‘gold,’ this is the surname of Asnaketch Worku.  

31. Yelekal, this popular name carries the meaning ‘he excels.’

Common Ethiopian Last Names

Flag of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia - adopted after the defeat of Ethiopia's Marxist Derg regime (in power from 1974 to 1991).

For a list of more common Ethiopian surnames, take a look at the Ethiopian names below.

32. Abay, this name of Turkish origin means ‘talented.’

33. Abrihet, meaning ‘light.’

34. Ali, meaning ‘elevated,’ the first name of the cousin of the prophet of Islam, this is also a common surname in Ehtiopia.

35. Alimayu, meaning ‘in God’s honor.’ Prince Alemayu of Ethiopia ruled between 1861 and 1879.

36. Ambelu, this name means ‘commander.’

37. Asfaw, meaning ‘to increase,’ Menen Asfaw was Empress Consort of the Ethiopian Empire.

38. Assefa, this name means ‘enlarge.’

39. Berhanu, this name means ‘light from him.’  

40. Daniat, this name means ‘judge.’

41. Dibaba, last name of the athlete, Tirunesh Dibaba.

42. Djimon, the name means ‘powerful blood’ and it is shared by the Oscar nominated actor, Djimon Hounsou.

43. Ebo, the name means ‘born on Tuesday.’

44. Efram, this is a common name of Hebrew origin meaning ‘very fruitful.’

45. Eleazar, this name means ‘God’s assistant.’

46. Eyasu, this is the Amharic version of Joshua, the ruler of Ethiopia.

47. Frew, meaning ‘seed.’

48. Gabra, meaning ‘a gift or offering.’

49. Hailu, meaning ‘the power of God,’ a name popularized by Hailu Shawul and Hailu Tekle Haymanot.

50. Haji, a name that usually represents those born during the time of Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims usually take at least once in life.

51. Hakim, the name means ‘judicious.’ This is the name of the African basketball player, Hakim Abdul Olajuwon.

52. Idili, meaning ‘opportunity.’

53. Iniku, meaning ‘better said than done.’

54. Iskander, meaning ‘mankind’s defender.’

55. Jemal, the name means ‘handsome.’ Its namesake is Jemal Pierre Johnson, the soccer player.

56. Kahinu, meaning ‘clergyman.’

57. Kifle, meaning ‘my part.’

58. Kofi, meaning ‘born on Friday,’ this is the name of Nobel Peace Prize recipient and seventh UN general secretary, Kofi Anna.

59. Leul, meaning ‘prince.’

60. Marout, meaning ‘wind.’

61. Mekonnen, meaning ‘honorable.’

62. Mideksa, meaning ‘independent,’ the surname of the Chairperson of Ethiopia’s National Election Board, Birtukan Mideksa.

63. Moges, this name means ‘one with a dignified aspect.’

64. Nahome, this Ethiopian last name means ‘compassionate.’

65. Nebiyou, this means ‘our tears of joy.’

66. Nolawi, meaning ‘God is our shepherd.’

67. Salim, the name means ‘peace’ and is associated with Salim Ahmed Salim, the African diplomat.

68. Semere, this is a common name that means ‘he became successful.’  

69. Shale, meaning ‘leniency.’

70. Solomon, the name means ‘one who is peaceful.’ This is the name of the Israelite King who built the first Temple of Jerusalem.

71. Teshome, meaning ‘to become governor.’

72. Yimer, this means ‘let him be good.’

73. Zenawi, the surname of Meles Zenawi, the former President of Ethiopia.  

Unique Ethiopian Last Names

Newborn baby with curly hair sleeping.

Are you looking for a last name that’s not as common in Ethiopia? Check out this list of unique Ethiopian last names for men and women.  

74. Afework, a unique name meaning ‘someone who always says pleasant things.’

75. Atoberhan, this unique name means ‘sunny.’  

76. Ayele, this name means ‘one who became strong and powerful.’

77. Biritu, meaning ‘brave.’

78. Chaltu, meaning ‘best of the best.’

79. Dereje, this name means ‘to organize or develop.’

80. Desalegn, meaning ‘I am well pleased.’

81. Ejigu, meaning ‘one who is grandiose.’

82. Esato, the name means ‘fire.’

83. Fessehaye, meaning ‘eternal happiness.’

84. Fewesi, this name has the meaning ‘to heal.’

85. Freyhiwot, means ‘life-giving seed.’  

86. Gebrselassie, the last name of Haile Gebrselassie, a former Ethiopian athlete.

87. Genet, meaning ‘heaven.’

88. Habte, the name means ‘wealth.’

89. Ibsituu, this name means ‘light.’

90. Lebna, meaning ‘spirit.’

91. Mebrete, meaning ‘my light.’

92. Negasi, this name means ‘he will wear a crown.’ This is a name used by Ethiopia’s royal family in the seventeenth century.  

93. Palus, meaning ‘humble.’

94. Selassie, meaning ‘trinity,’ name of the Ethiopian Emperor between 1930 and 1974, Haile Selassie.

95. Tebeb, this unique Ethiopian last name means ‘wisdom.’

96. Temesgen, meaning ‘give God thanks.’

97. Tsige, this name means ‘a precious gift.’

98. Yeakob, meaning ‘follower.’

99. Yonas, the Arabic variant of Jonah, belonging to an Old Testament prophet.

100. Zenabu, this name means ‘the rain.’  

Kidadl has lots of great names articles to inspire you. If you liked our suggestions for Ethiopian last names, then why not take a look at something different like Moroccan last names or Muslim last names.

Main image credit: Nick Fox / Shutterstock.com

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Written by Georgia Stone

Bachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

Georgia Stone picture

Georgia StoneBachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

Georgia is an experienced Content Manager with a degree in French and Film Studies from King's College London and Bachelors degree from Université Paris-Sorbonne. Her passion for exploring the world and experiencing different cultures was sparked during her childhood in Switzerland and her year abroad in Paris. In her spare time, Georgia enjoys using London's excellent travel connections to explore further afield.

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