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Heritage and Naming Ethiopian Children

Heritage is very important and traditionally a child grows up to know at least 7 generations of his / her ancestors.  For example a child named Abraham Alemayehu Zerihun carries 3 generations of names, his own (Abraham), his father's (Alemayehu) and his grandfather's (Zerihun).


Why are children named like this?

One reason is that many people have the same first name so the father's name identifies them like the English "Robert - son" = Robertson.

The grandfather's name adds to this and also shows heritage which is important in determining status - the more names you know the higher your status in the community.

 Another reason for naming children this way is that when Ethiopian men plan to marry, traditionally they send a delegation of 6 elders to the girl's family to negotiate the marriage.  This negotiation includes determining if the bride and groom are related.  Both families must provide the male lines of both sets of parents back 7 generations.  Therefore, it is the names that are handed down through the generations that are the evidence of their family line.

Changing your child's name

The following article is on changing your child's name -  published by the Sydney Morning Herald on 23 Oct 2003 (website) and was written by Adele Horin, it discusses how a a Supreme Court judge has warned prospective parents of adoptive children that they no longer have the unfettered right to change their children's first names. Read more..

Meanings of Ethiopian Names

The lists of meanings of boys and girls names were compiled by an AACASA member who is a waiting-mum.

Email the Compiler of this list if you have any queries, requests or additions for the meanings of boys and girls names.






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