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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This is an attributive, expressing what a child is or what a child hope to become. If a male it is always expressive of something heroic, brave, or strong; it is a term of endearment. It is intended to have stimulating effect on the individual. Yorubas are most often particular to distinguish between the Oruko(name) and Oriki (cognomen).

Male Cognomen names:

Ajagbe One who carries off after a fight

Ajani One who possesses after a struggle

Alabi A male that comes after several female births.

Female Cognomen names:

Amoke Whom to know is to pet

Ayoka One who causes joy all around

Abebi One born after a supplication

Akanke To meet whom is to pet

Asabi One of select birth

Alake One to be petted if she survives

The use of these pet names is so common that many children are better known by them than their real names (abiso), that some do not even know their christening names especially when their attributives name is common. Children are addressed by their Oriki by their elders, especially when they wish to express a feeling of endearment for the child. Worthy of note is the fact that, some certain Abiso (christening) carry their own cognomen with them e.g. Adeniji (the crown has a shadow), the attributive to this is Apata (rock). Hence, Adeniji Apata, Apata ni iji – Adeniji is a rock, a rock that casts out its shadow.

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