Today’s Samoa is founded on Christianity, so it’s very common for us to give our children Bible names.
Because of our Samoan pronunciation, though, it’s not always clear to the western ear which Biblical characters our names refer to. And some of these names are so widely used in our culture that they’re just Samoan names to us – we sometimes forget where they originated from.
I’ve always been a fan of Bible names, but hearing them spoken with Samoan diction makes them all the more meaningful to me.
Like, my favourite Samoan Bible name for boys is Ionatana (Jonathan). Pronounced “yoh nah TAH nah” (emphasis on the TAH syllable, with a light ‘tee’ sound).
Can you hear that? Doesn’t it just sound like a sweet friend who is loyal to the end?
I’ve created a list here of some of Samoa’s most common Bible names. I found 15 for girls and 30 for boys.
If your favourite Bible name doesn’t appear here, it’s most likely because I’ve never heard the Samoan version of it (as with the name Abigail). If you know it, please share in a comment below.
Also, some Bible names that are popular in other cultures didn’t really catch on with Samoans.
Remember that every culture has a different way of saying these names. For example, Samoa’s name for John is Ioane but the Tongan version is Sione and the Maori say Hone, etc.
So if the Samoan version of a name below surprises you, you might just be used to hearing it in another dialect.
Also, please bear with my pronunciation keys (e.g. e SEH tah). I’m just trying to present it in a way that speakers of a bunch of other languages (mostly English) might understand.
Okay. Drumroll please for…
15 Samoan Bible Names for Girls
Eve – Eva [EH vah] Mary – Maria [mah REE ah] Sarah – Sara [SAH rah] Sarai – Sarai [sah RA ee] Ruth – Ruta [ROO tah] Esther – Eseta [e SEH tah] Angela – Anela [ah NEH lah] Claudia – Kalautia [kah la oo TEE ah] Deborah – Tepora [teh PO rah] Elisha – Elisa [eh LEE sah] Elizabeth – Elisapeta [eh lee sah PEH tah] Julia – Iulia [yoo LEE ah] Martha – Mareta [MAH tah] Rachel – Lasela [lah SEH lah] Rose – Losa [LOH sah] Miriam – Miriama [mee ree AH mah]
Oh, my lists are in no kind of order at all, as you can see.
[EDIT] Thanks to a Facebook comment, I’ve gone through and corrected some of the names above. I also remembered that the Samoan alphabet has an R in it as well, so we should keep the R in names that we borrow.
The Bible has a lot more references to men, so of course I found more men’s names.
30 Samoan Bible Names for Boys
Adam – Atamu [ah TAH moo] Abel – Apelu [ah PEH loo] Aaron – Arona [ah ROH nah] John – Ioane [yoh AH neh] Mark – Mareko [mah REH koh] Abraham – Apera’amu [ah peh rah ‘AH moo] Benjamin – Peniamina [peh nee ah MEE nah] Isaiah – Isaia [ee SAH yah] Hezekiah – Esekia [eh seh KEE ah] Ezekiel – Esekielu [eh seh kee EH loo] Michael – Mikaele [mee ka EH leh] Jacob – Iakopu [yah KOH poo] Jonah – Iona [YOH nah] Paul – Paulo [PA oo loh] Peter – Peteru [peh TEH roo], also Petero [peh TEH roh] Noah – Noa [NO ah] Samuel – Samuelu [sah moo EH loo] Zachary & Zechariah – Sakaraia [sah kah RY ah] David – Tavita [tah VEE tah] Jonathan – Ionatana [yo nah TAH nah] Thomas – Tomasi [toh MAH see] Timothy – Timoteo [tee moh TEH oh], also Timoti [tee MOH tee] Matthew – Mataio [mah TAH yo], also Mateo [mah TEH oh] Luke – Luka [LOO kah] Amos – Amosa [ah MOH sah] Andrew – Aneteru [ah neh teh ROO] Elias & Elijah – Elia [eh LEE ah] Boaz – Poasa [po AH sah] Daniel – Tanielu [tah nee EH loo] Enoch – Enoka [eh NOH kah]
Okay I just remembered several other names I like:
[EDIT]…and then our Anonymous poster on FB added a few less common Bible names:
Hebrew – Heperu [he peh ROO] – Hebrew
Levi – Levi [LE vee] – Levi
Alma – Alema [ah LEH mah]
Absalom – Apisaloma
Tamar – Tamara
Vashti – Vasati
Mordecai – Moretekai
Ohh and one other person added:
Joshua – Iosua [yo SOO ah]
And still another reader has added:
Lemuel – Lemuelu [le moo EH loo]
Keep ’em coming 🙂 What Samoan Bible names can you add to our list?
Please tell us in a comment below.