OBAMA - Last Name Meaning and Origin

Obama is an African surname believed to have originated with the Luo tribe of Kenya.
A Luo tribesman in Kenya, Africa. Getty / Niels Busch

Obama is an ancient Kenyan surname, found most frequently among the Luo, the third largest ethnic group in Kenya. The surname is believed to be patronymic in origin, meaning "descendant of Obama." The given name Obama, in turn, derived from the root word obam, meaning “to lean or bend.” 

Traditional African given names often reflect the circumstances at the time of the birth. Thus, the given name Obama may mean a child born "bent," such as with a crooked spine or limbs, or possibly refers to a breech birth.

Obama is also a Japanese word meaning "little beach."

Surname Origin: African

Surname Variations: OBAM, OBAMMA, OOBAMA, O'BAMA, AOBAMA, 

Where do People with the Surname OBAMA Live?

WorldNames publicprofiler indicates that individuals with the Obama last name are found in greatest numbers in the country of Japan, especially in the Okinawa and Kyushu regions. However, this site does not include data from Africa. Forebears.co.uk shows the highest distribution of the Obama surname to be in Cameroon, with the highest density in Equatorial Guinea, where it is the 10th most common surname. The name is next most common in Kenya, followed by Spain and France.

Famous People with the Surname OBAMA

Genealogy Resources for the Surname OBAMA

Ancestry of Barack Obama
Learn about the deep African and American roots of Barack Obama. His African roots stretch back for generations in Kenya, while his American roots connect to Jefferson Davis.

Obama Family Genealogy Forum
Search this popular genealogy forum for the Obama surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own Obama surname query.

FamilySearch - OBAMA Genealogy
Access over 35,000 million free historical records and lineage-linked family trees posted for the Obama surname and its variations on this free genealogy website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

RootsWeb Mailing List: Obama Surname
Join, search or browse this free mailing list devoted to the "discussion and sharing of information regarding the Obama surname and variations."

DistantCousin.com - OBAMA Genealogy & Family History
Explore free databases and genealogy links for the last name Obama.


Learn the meaning of all three names of President Barack Obama, and how they reflect his African Muslim heritage.

-- Looking for the meaning of a given name? Check out First Name Meanings

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References: Surname Meanings & Origins

Cottle, Basil. "Penguin Dictionary of Surnames." Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967.

Menk, Lars. "A Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames." Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu, 2005.

Beider, Alexander. "A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia." Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu, 2004.

Hanks, Patrick and Flavia Hodges. "A Dictionary of Surnames." New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Hanks, Patrick. "Dictionary of American Family Names." New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Hoffman, William F. "Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings." Chicago: Polish Genealogical Society, 1993.

Rymut, Kazimierz. "Nazwiska Polakow." Wroclaw: Zaklad Narodowy im. Ossolinskich - Wydawnictwo, 1991.

Smith, Elsdon C. "American Surnames." Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.


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Powell, Kimberly. "OBAMA - Last Name Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo, Jun. 5, 2017, thoughtco.com/obama-last-name-meaning-and-origin-3860852. Powell, Kimberly. (2017, June 5). OBAMA - Last Name Meaning and Origin. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/obama-last-name-meaning-and-origin-3860852 Powell, Kimberly. "OBAMA - Last Name Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/obama-last-name-meaning-and-origin-3860852 (accessed November 21, 2017).