According to Merriam Webster dictionary, Totem is something (such as animal and plant) that is the symbol of a family, clan and tribe. However, in the Yoruba race totem could also be an object or natural phenomenon such as rain, thunder which is a symbol peculiar to towns.&nbsp; The term <strong>ORILE</strong> (re mi do) according to the Yorubas also means origin or foundation; it is of huge importance in the tracing of a pedigree. Therefore the <strong>ORILE</strong> is not a name, it denotes the family origin. 
    Although, its real meaning is shrouded in obscurity, some believes its connotes descendant from the object- myth, while others say the object are or characterise the&nbsp; ancient gods of the family, giver of the child, earthly blessings, or that the family is connected to it. 
    The number of totems is large, as its represents every believable objects, from Opo *do mi* (pillar/post), Ojo *do do* (rain), Ogun *do mi* (god of war) Agbo *do do* (ram) etc 

As it is often the practice of a married woman to take the name of her husband, she is not allowed to take his totem, children takes the totem of their father except in rare case where they take that of their mother, this happen mostly when the child is being brought up by the mother’s family, or when the mother’s family totem is stronger or nobler than that of the father.

The following are some distinguished totems:- 

Erin – Elephant: the totem of the original line of the kings

Ogun – god of war: the totem of the original line of Basoruns

Opo – Pillar: the totem of the noble Oyo family

Okin do mi – love bird: totem of the Olofa and the Oloro

Ojo – (rain) Ologbin

Agbo – (ram) Ajagusi – father of Erinle

Eri Oloyan

Agbe or Ade Olukoyi

Iji Onigbeti

Edu Onigbayi

Iko Onigusun

Ogo Ijesa

The orile just like the oriki distinguish an individual, the orile however also helps in tracing the family line. The oriki is always used with orile, it helps express or understand admiration/endearment, as orile when used alone might sound meaningless.

Examples of how oruko(name), oriki(attributive name)  and orile(totem) are use in conjunction:-


Oruko Oriki Orile

Fagbemi akawo Ogo

Adegbite Isola Okin

Adegbola Ayinla Opo


Oruko Oriki Orile

Morenike Akanke Ade

Folakemi Asabi Iko

Adebisi Abebi Iji

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All children need not be “born with a name” but all must be named. Names are not given at random because of their euphony or merely because a distinguished member of the family or of the community was so named, but a set of purpose from circumstance connected with the child itself, or with reference to the family fortunes at the time etc. Hence the saying –
Ile la wo kia to so mo loruko (the state of the house must first be considered before naming a child)

The names then are always significant of something either with references to the child itself or to the family. A child may have two or more christening names given it one by each parent or grandparents if living or by any elderly member of the family. 

These names are mainly categorized thus:

Names having reference to the child,

Names having reference to the family,

Names compounded of Ade, Olu, etc.,

Names compounded of names of deity worshipped,

Names compounded of Akin,

Compounds of Oje,

Compounds of Ode,

Compounds of Oso/Efun

Names having reference to the child itself:

Ayodele Joy enters the house

Morenike I have someone to pet

Moseb”olatan Joy hitherto despaired of

Ibiyemi Good birth becomes/befits me

Ibiyinka Surrounded by children

Names having reference to the family:

Ogundalenu Our home has been devastated by war

Otegbeye Warfare deprived us of our honour

Kurumi Death has improvised me

Ogunmola The   river Ogun took away our honour

Iyapo Many trails

Names compounded of Ade, Olu, Ola and Oye. These names originally belonged to one of high or princely birth, but are now used indiscriminately:

Adebiyi The crown has begotten this

Adegbite The crown demands a throne

Olaleye Honour comes fittingly/ honour is full of dignity

Oyeyemi Title becomes me/ title befits me

Oyewole Title enters the house i.e. where the parent has a title

Ade does not always signify a crown, it may be taken from the de to arrive, it may then mean – coming e.g.:

Adebisi or My coming cause an increase

Adesina My coming opens the way

Adepoju The coming has become too much

Names compounded of names of deity worshipped:

Sangobunmi Sango (the god of thunder and lightning) gave me this

Ogundipe Ogun (the god of war) consoles me with this

Omiyale The god of visits the house

Oba –bunmi The king (i.e. god of small of pox) gave me this

Fafumke Ifa gave me this to pet

Osuntoki Osun is worthy of praise or honour

Compounds  of Akin:

Akin which also means strength is compounded with names mostly for males:

Akinyele A strong one befits the house

Akinwale A strong one comes home

Akinrole The strong holds the house

Compounds of Oje:
These names are peculiar to the children of Elewi of Ado. Names peculiar to the royal family of Oyo.

Male: Afonja, Tela, Ajuan
Female: Ogboja, Siye, Akere

Compounds of Ode: name peculiar to children of Ogun or Erinle worshippers

Odewale Ode comes to the house i.e. visits the family

Odemuyiwa Ode has brought me this

Compounds of Oso/Efun: shows that the family is a worshipper of Orisa Oko i.e. god of the fields.

Osodipe Oso has granted me a consolation

Osodeke Oso has become a shield/shelter

Efunsetan Efun has done it (by granting the child)

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