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Origin of Jamaican Names
Jamaican culture is highly influenced by African and European backgrounds. Yet, when it comes to Jamaican names, the people of the country opt for names with their origins being from English and Spanish backgrounds. So, it is not uncommon to find people with names that are popular in these backgrounds. Names such as Nicolas and Dawn were much preferred over African names. The names also trace their roots to names of places, fiction, religion, colours, mythology, the elements of nature, and more.
However, throughout the generations, various other trends of choosing names began to show up among Jamaicans while naming their children. One such drift showed Jamaicans selecting names for their children from among names of popular American pop idols. Also, since Jamaicans traced their roots to several countries, it was not uncommon to find people who had surnames from these places.
Rules for Choosing Jamaican Names
Three basic rules are usually followed when it comes to selecting Jamaican names, irrespective of whether it is for boys or girls. These rules are as given below.
- It must be possible to pronounce the name properly without changing the way it is said originally. Jamaicans are very particular about the original name not getting destroyed and resulting in a new name altogether.
- Jamaicans like choosing unique names for their children. One way they do this is to opt for a name that is a combination of the names of both parents.
- Children are expected to be able to spell their names from a very young age. It is thus not surprising that Jamaicans choose names that the child can spell even when he or she is just three years old. So, Jamaican names are usually very simple and can be split into syllables if the name has more than five letters.
Some Male and Female Jamaican Names With Their Meanings
The list of names given here is not comprehensive. It is a list of some of the typical Jamaican names that you can consider if you are looking for a name for your boy or girl.
Ade (Boy) – Royal
Bembe (Boy) – Prophet
Chike (Boy) – Talented
Ekon (Boy) – Strong
Imo (Boy) – Knowledge
Jevaun (Boy) – Young warrior
Amoy (Girl) – Beautiful Goddess
Chandice (Girl) – Very talented and smart
Dada (Girl) -Curly haired child
Imani (Boy) – Faith
Kaleisha (Girl) –Strong-willed
Latoria (Girl) -Victorious one
During the period 1970 to 2000, there were quite a few Jamaican names that were popular over others. Some of them are:
Nicknames in Jamaica
It may be interesting to note that almost everyone in Jamaica has a nickname. This practice has been going on for generations now. In many cases, nicknames have stuck to people till their end. As a result, these people have always been known only by these names. Like the normal Jamaican names, some standard nicknames have been in use for a long time.
These are some such nicknames that Jamaicans have used in the past and continue to do so. While most nicknames are irrespective of gender, some of them are gender-based.
Biggs or Bigga – A fat person
Cutie – A pretty girl
Stamma – A person who stutters while talking
Killer – Someone who is great at whatever he or she does
Screw Face – Someone who is always frowning or frowns a lot
Ticker – A muscular man
Lippo – A person with thick lips
Chin – A person who has oriental features
Red – A person with light skin complexion
Bready – A bread vendor
Jamaican Naming Trends Today
Jamaican names usually have two parts associated with it – the actual name and a family name. One trend followed is to name the person based on the occasion or the day of his or her birth. Jamaicans also tend to follow the Akan language tradition of naming their children in the order of birth. This is because they firmly believe that a person’s personality depends on the order, situation or day of his or her birth.
In some cases, a person may have a middle name apart from the actual name and family name. This middle name is often personal and is usually the name of an ancestor or it can be a name that indicates that the child is a twin.
Like the practice in most other cultures, Jamaican names for girls are based on various characteristics that are related to beauty and positive traits. These traits form a part of the name given to the girl child. The widely chosen positive traits comprise royalty, liveliness, and happiness to mention just a few. It is common to see girls’ names also include those traits associated with a Goddess, a queen or a princess.
Jamaicans give serious consideration to various factors when selecting a name. This is because the name is intended to be the same throughout the lifetime of a person. When choosing a name for their child, it is ideal for parents to opt for one that is appropriate throughout the lifecycle of the person starting from infancy to old age. They usually come up with names that the person will not be teased about by others or feel bad about at any point in time in their lives.
You may opt for names that others will be able to spell and pronounce easily so that it does not get misinterpreted. Last but not least, Jamaicans have started using the World Wide Web for new names. There are various websites available that are exclusively dedicated to helping you find many traditional and trendy Jamaican names for both your boy or girl. When you consider all these factors, you may be able to arrive at a name that you like and also one that best suits your child.