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African Names

African baby names derive from a wide range of languages and cultures, from Ethiopian to Nigerian, Yoruba to Xhosa. African names often originate with days of the week or times of the year denoting when the baby was born. Another source for African name meaning is place in the family: first-born of twins, for instance, or youngest son. Nature also figures as a source for African baby names, with names relating to animals, weather, and landscape. Some African names derive from the Muslim religion while others relate to individual tribal mythology and beliefs.

If you’re looking for African names for your baby, here is our full list of possibilities. The top names below rank among the current US Top 1000 Baby Names and are ordered by popularity. Unique names rank below the Top 1000 and are listed alphabetically.

See Unique African Names

Top African Names

  • Amara

    Amara is the Italian word for bitter, from the same root as Mary and Miriam. It has separate roots in West Africa as a name that means “grace” in the Igbo language. These two meanings are the... Read More 

  • Zuri

    Zuri migrated, at least to American sensibilities, to the feminine side when an Ohio zoo used it for a female giraffe. For either gender, Zuri is an attractive name with the usual Z-initial zest.... Read More 

  • Makenna

    Part of the Mackenzie/Mackena/Mackenna family, this variation has a positive meaning.Read More 

  • Zaire

    An African place name—Zaire was a Central African state from 1971 to 1997—it comes from a Kongo term meaning "the river that swallows all rivers." A bold and wearable choice for a son.Read More 

  • Anika

    Anike is an attractive name with ties to several cultures, both African and Scandinavian. The African pronunciation emphasizes the second syllable while the Nordic one emphasizes the first. While... Read More 

  • Nala

    A Disney name—Nala was the friend who became the wife of Simba, hero of The Lion King. It debuted on the US Top 1000 in 2015.

    Keenen Ivory Wayans used it for his daughter.Read More 

  • Zola

    When the Eddie Murphys named their fourth daughter Zola, it affirmed the up-and-coming status of the name, which has African roots, but also literary links to Emile Zola. Read More 

  • Zora

    Zora is a meaningful literary heroine name honoring Zora Neale Hurston, an important black writer and leader of the Harlem Renaissance.

    Spelled Zorah, it is a biblical place name, and... Read More 

See Unique African Names