Tiv Names & Their Meaning

Celebrate Your Name Week comes up every first week in March (1st- 7th) and to celebrate that, here is a compilation of some Tiv (people of Benue) names and their meanings.

Tivs are the dominant tribe of people living in Benue state, Nigeria. They are said to be peaceful and accommodating.

Source: Guardian.ng

Typically, most Tiv names are adjectives, expressing the emotions/feelings of the family at the time of birth. This could be influenced by the way the child was born, the position of the child in the family, how long it took the parents to have a child or other happenings in the lives of the parents’ or family at large.

Tiv Cultural Dancer
Source: wikipedia.com

Also, such names are usual long sentences in their actual expression but are shortened to provide a ‘Name’. Thus a Tiv name when heard, goes beyond the literal meaning and also gives you a cursory history of circumstances surrounding that child’s birth. This could also result in meanings varying depending on the longer sentence/expression from which the name has been coined from.

Akuma: He's worthy
Akume: Most High
Anadoo: He's given a good gift
Angbiandoo: A brother/sister is good
Aondona: God has given
Aondosoo: God loves
Aondowase: God has helped
Avadoo: It's good she came or It shall be well
Aver: He should keep
Dooember: Worth rejoicing about
Doom: Gives me pleasure or Pleases me
Doose: the child pleases us
Dooshima: Love or Beautiful
Doowuese: Praiseworthy
Dooyum: He's too good
Ember: Rejoice
Erdoo: He's done good
Fanan: He knows how to give
Fanen: Know ye...
Hembadoon: The best
Hembafan: He's all-knowing
Hembasoon: He loves best
Iember: Joy
Imoter: Voice of God
Iorhemen: Men go ahead
Iorpuu: Men condemn
Iorwuese: Men appreciate or praise
Iveren: Blessing
Kadoon: It's getting better
Kashimana: It is his will
Kator: He's king
Kwasedoo: A woman is good
Mbaember: They're rejoicing
Tiv children
Source: everyevery.ng
Mbalamen: They're speaking
Mbasughn: They're giving thanks
Member: I rejoice
Mimidoo: Truth is good
Mnena: God's gift or What God has given
Ngodoo: Mother is good
Ngoundu: Mother has left
Sechivir: We revere
Sedoo: We're in harmony
Tiv traditional wedding
Source: clipkulture.com
Seember: We rejoice/celebrate
Sesugh: We give thanks
Sewuese: We praise
Shima: Heart
Terdoo: God is good or Father is good
Terna: God gave
Ternamdoo: God has given me well
Tersoo: God or Father loves
Terver: God has kept
Tiza: His name goes far
Torkuma: The king is worthy
Torkwase: Queen
Source: Nairaland.com
Vadoo: She came well or It's good she came
Verdoo: He kept well
Wueseter: Praise the Lord
Yuwa: Gift

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Most Tiv names have a reference to God as Almighty: Aondo or as a Father: Ter. This could be judged as a traditional influence of reverence for the Sovereign or a more modern Christian influence. Both instances depict the Tiv man as deeply religious and prone to a recognition of one Supreme ruler of the universe.

Certain Tiv names are based on fads or trends (depending on how you want to look at it). Some parents actually name their children after prominent people or political figures in the society at that time. Eg.

Kpanpkan Kyondu: A prestigious cloth worn by women

Gowon: Nigeria’s military leader

Trees, animals, rivers, traditional symbols, ancestral spirits and of course, places are not left out. The giving of names after such may be purely whimsical, because they’re symbolic or because such objects hold a significance for the namer.

Anyam: Lion
Ten: A certain tree
Ikyegh: Chicken
Bua: Cow
Cow
Source: wikipedia.org
Anbua: Small cow

Some children are named after ancestors, grand parents, relatives or parents’ friends. It is particularly difficult to tell the meaning or to translate such names as they’re usually very old names, with meanings not particularly lost but maybe hidden or buried in time. This is also common with surnames or family names

Irrespective of the name, each Tiv Name tells a story, bears a history and carries with it a wealth of expression; a cry, a prayer, a plea, an announcement, a wish, a hope, a shout of joy, a lamentation, a prediction, a declaration, a pronouncement, a statement of belief or fact, a blessing and so much more…

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Tyodzua, Vadoo Rejoice is an architect who loves writing, doing graphics designs, playing Scrabble and hiking. Follow her on facebook @Vadoo Rejoice

Check out the meanings of names in other Nigerian tribes (Efik-Ibibio, Igbo, Hausa & Yoruba)

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3 thoughts on “Tiv Names & Their Meaning

    1. All thanks to Vadoo Rejoice, the superwoman who got this list ready in 2 hours!

      Eeerrm, about the Egun names… *scratches neck & slowly walks away*

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