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Nigeria, or officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa. Inhabited by more than 250 ethnic groups, this multinational state has a wide variety of cultures speaking over 500 distinct languages. As Africa is made up of 54 countries, its naming systems are incredibly diverse. Tribal, colonial, cultural, and linguistic influences have a part to play in the evolution of surnames in society. Before the coming of the colonialists, from the 1860s, there were no surnames in most parts of Nigeria until their colonizers imposed them. Given names were, therefore, adopted in local languages as surnames. While African last names gained in popularity around the globe, they particularly spread all throughout the United States and Europe due to the slave trade forced upon African colonies.
In West African culture, words evoke power, and certain names generate significant energy. Just as names define an individual, last names form the base of the narrative. Nigerian family names usually trace the origin of the families, clan, or even the religious group they belong to, and they reflect the background as well. Thus, Nigerian last names have a rich history and tradition that come from indigenous, colonialist, and diasporic roots. Popular Nigerian last names are either based on the aspirations of a parent about their child’s future, related to God or have a religious connotation. Given below are the best Nigerian surnames that give one their identity, help claim ownership to a community or family, and maintain the Nigerian naming culture to date.
100 Unique Nigerian Surnames or Family Names With Meanings
This compilation of common Nigerian last names with relevant meanings will come to your aid when you’re looking for a suitable surname for your little one.
This surname of Igbo origin means ‘spirit’.
This surname of Arabic origin means ‘the one who follows God’ or ‘the servant of God’.
Abiola has a Yoruba origin, and it means ‘born in honour and wealth’.
This surname of Yoruba origin means ‘to be born wealthy’.
This is one of the popular last names of Yoruba origin; it means ‘noble’.
This Yoruba surname means ‘the crown meets joy’.
A variation of the Arabic personal name Abdullah, this last name means ‘the servant of God’.
This surname of Yoruba origin is apt for a long-awaited child. It means ‘crown opens the way’.
This surname means ‘laughter’.
This surname of Igbo origin represents ‘wealth’.
Bolaji is a Yoruba name meaning ‘Wake up with wealth’.
The name means ‘meet at war’ or ‘warlord’ in Yoruba.
This Nigerian surname means ‘The master of the house’ or ‘firstborn son’.
Derived from Latin Bellus, this surname of Spanish origin means ‘handsome’.
Derived from Yoruba origin, the name means ‘help build my house’.
Baba is an honorific term of Persian origin, and it means ‘father, grandfather, wise old man, sir’. It also means ‘the first born’.
This is an Anglo-Norman English surname with Norman roots. Bennet comes from Benedict that is derived from Latin Benedictus, meaning ‘blessed’.
Bassey means ‘God’ in the Efik language of Nigeria.
The name has a Greek origin, and it means ‘bearing Christ’.
This surname of Igbo Origin means ‘God’, ‘spiritual being’, and ‘great’.
The name “Dambe” derives from the word boxe, and appears in Bole language as Dembe. It is a form of martial art of the Hausa people from West Africa.
Used mainly by the African-Hausatribe, this surname means ‘son of Friday’.
This West African surname creates a mind that is ‘beloved’.
Derived from the Igbo tribe, this surname means ‘one who acts in good faith’.
Originating from the Calabar and Alwa Ibom regions of southeastern Nigeria, Etienam means ‘a doer of good’ or ‘benevolent’.
This surname of Yoruba origin means ‘to have a lot of wealth’.
This surname of Yoruba origin means ‘kite’.
This African surname means ‘peace’ in Ibibo.
This surname of Igbo origin is a title of respect. It means ‘King’.
This is one of the unique African surnames of Yoruba origin, and it means ‘Oracle is the crown’.
This surname of Yoruba origin means ‘under God’s protection’.
This name of Nigerian origin surname means ‘Introspective and philosophical’.
This surname of Hebrew origin means ‘Gift of God’.
This surname of Arabic origin means ‘handsome’ or ‘strong and manly’.
This surname of Igbo origin means ‘In one’s relation as a friend, family or acquaintance’.
Derived from Edoid language, Igwe means ‘Sky or heaven.’ It is a title of honour.
This surname of Benin origin means ‘seeking refuge in elder’s protection’.
This Igbo surname means ‘the one that I have is greater’.
This surname means ‘someone who is full of love’.
It means ‘Father of many’ in Hebrew.
This Christian surname of Igbo tribe means ‘God’s covenant is unwavering’.
Derived from Late Latin Jacobus, from Greek Iakovos, from Hebrew (Yaʿqob), Jacob means ‘seizing by the heel’, ‘supplanting’.
Derived from African Swahili, Jimoh is a form of Jumah, which means ‘born on Friday’ or ‘the congregation’.
Konkwo means ‘born on Nkwo’ in Igbo, as Nkwo is one of the days of the Igbo week.
This surname of Igbo origin means ‘God of Thunder’.
This surname of Yoruba origin means ‘a child who should be pampered or cherished’.
This surname of Arabic origin means ‘the origin of light’.
This surname belonging to the Igbo tribe means ‘let’s give’ or ‘to give honour or tribute’. It is also a Yoruba surname referring to ‘next in line in chieftaincy’.
Kpo is ‘Go’, Ra means ‘Of’, and Aro means ‘Front’, so this Nigerian surname means ‘The person at the front’.
Found in Atlantic-Niger Africa region, Kolawole means ‘wealth’.
This surname of Arabic origin means ‘first’.
Musa is a name of Arabic or Turkish origin based on the name Moses. It means ‘saved from the water’.
This surname has Arabic origins, and it means ‘praised’, ‘commendable’, ‘laudable’.
This surname of Igbo origin means ‘to be better’ or ‘to be higher’
This Arabic surname means ‘The chosen one’. It is one of the nicknames of Prophet Muhammad.
This name is derived from a personal name based on the Arabic name Matin, meaning ‘strong’ or ‘powerful’. It also comes from Al-Matin, meaning ‘the Almighty’ is an attribute of Allah.
Originating in the Hebrew name Immanu’el, Manuel means ‘God with us’ or ‘The son of Emanuel’.
Njoku Ji is the guardian deity of the yam for the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria.
This surname of Igbo origin means ‘my God is alive’ or ‘my father lives’.
This surname of Igbo origin means ‘this person is strong’ or ‘son of the hero’.
This surname of Igbo origin means ‘child of the king’.
This surname of Igbo origin means ‘child of the Igbo people’.
Originated from the Igbo ethnic group of eastern Nigeria, Nnachi means ‘God father’.
A variant of Nabili, Nwabila has an Arabic origin meaning ‘honourable’ or ‘noble’.
This surname of Igbo origin means ‘Greatness’ or ‘Child of the free-born man’.
Onyema is an Igbo surname meaning ‘Who can predict the mind of God?’
This surname of Igbo origin means ‘he came to fight’.
This surname means ‘first born’.
This surname of Yoruba origin symbolizes the belief ‘God has rewarded me for my sufferings’.
This surname of Igbo origin means ‘honour surrounds him’.
This surname of African origin refers to someone ‘Born in the night’.
This Yoruba surname means ‘Splendour’, ‘shine’, or ‘vigour’.
This surname refers to someone ‘Born on Eke’, which is one of the days of the Igbo week.
This surname in Yoruba means ‘the river goddess came home’.
Derived from Igbo tribe, Odoemene means ‘yellow reluctance’.
This surname of Yoruba origin means ‘Intelligent people love God’.
Derived from Greek Petros, meaning ‘stone’, ‘rock’, Peter refers to ‘the son of Peter’.
Derived from the Old English word preost, which means priest, Prest is part of the ancient legacy of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain.
This Hausa given name or surname means ‘meaningful’.
This name of Arabic origin is one of the names of God in Islam and Gods of Networking. It stems from the Arabic verb rafa, meaning ‘to lift or to raise’. Rafiu means ‘noble’.
This surname of Arabic, Persian and Urdu origin is one of the names of God in Islam, and it means ‘provider’ or ‘sustained’.
This surname is one of the names of Allah in Islam. A short for Abdu r-Raḥīm, it means ‘Servant of the Merciful’.
Sanusi was the name of the Lybian dynasty until the 1969 coup and means ‘the one who comes from the Senouss’.
This surname of Arabic origin means ‘prominent, exalted’.
Originating from Hebrew, Sulaimon means ‘man of peace’. It corresponds to the English name Solomon who was a Muslim prophet and King of Israel.
This surname of Hebrew origin means either ‘name of God’. Samuel was the last of the ruling judges in the Old Testament.
This Nigerian surname means ‘unmatched greatness’ or ‘Gift’.
Commonly found among the Tiv people of Nigeria, this surname means ‘father’s love’.
This surname of Yoruba origin means ‘the first twin to taste the world’. Taye and Taiye are the variants of this surname.
This Igbo surname means ‘God’s Eagle’, ‘Crown of God’ or ‘Glory of God’.
Uba of African origin means ‘Father’, ‘Lord’.
This surname of Arabic origin means ‘wise’, ‘most powerful’, and ‘intuitive’. This mythological surname belonged to Uthman, Prophet Muhammad’s companion.
This surname of Igbo origin meaning ‘heaven’.
This frequently used surname of Igbo origin refers to ‘the name of a deity.’
Common among the Igbo people, Uche means ‘intention’, ‘will’, ‘mind’, or ‘sense’. Uchechukwu is its variant, which means ‘God’s will’ or ‘God’s intention’.
Umaru originates from Urdu or the ancient Arabic word umr meaning ‘life’.
Umunna is a form of patrilineage maintained by the Igbo tribe. It means ‘children of the father’.
This surname of Igbo origin means ‘God’s thought’.
A variant of Jacob, Yakubu means ‘Supplanter’ and is of Swahili origin.
This Arabic, Aramaic, Turkish and Persian name, means ‘God increases’ in Hebrew.
Last names provide a bridge to the past, and those from Africa are no exception. They can tell you about your ancestors’ lives or if these names are in your family tree. The indigenous Nigerian last names and surnames are so reflective and unique that they are favourable as first names, too. Choose one from the given list to shine out in the crowd.