Sesotho names
Basotho names / Mabitso a Basotho

We are collecting names for boys and girls in Sesotho - to be listed on this site with their meanings. See the names we have so far below. If you have any corrections or suggestions let me know at (remove spaces): o l i v i e r @ t e a c h i t z a . c o m

Take note that some names are written using the Lesotho orthography - sometimes they are used like that even in South Africa. Where possible South African Sesotho (SASe) and Lesotho Sesotho (LSe) versions are indicated as such.


Male

Amohelang Receive
Ata Multiply / Increase
Baholo Elders
Bokang Praise or rejoice
Bongoe (LSe) One
Diboko (SASe) Praises
Dikotsi (SASe) Accidents
Hlompho Respect
Kabelo Inheritance/Given
Kamohelo Acceptance / Welcome
Kananelo Approval / Appreciation
Karabo Answer
Katleho

Success

Kelebogile (LSe) I am grateful
Kelebohile (SASe) I am grateful
Keneiloe (LSe) I have been given
Kekeletso Addition
Kerefese Derived from English name Griffiths
Kgethang (SASe) Choose
Kgotso (SASe) Peace / Tranquility
Khabane Valuable / Precious / Warrior
Khethang (LSe) Choose
Khotso (LSe) Peace
Khotsofalang (LSe) Be satisfied
Kotsi Danger / accident
Kutloano (LSe) Mutual understanding
Kutloisiso (LSe) Understanding
Kutlwano (SASe) Mutual understanding
Kutlwisiso (SASe) Understanding
Leabua You speak (Plural or courteous)
Leauoa From “ho lauoa” (to be advised)
Lebo Short form of Lebohang (be thankful)
Lebohang Be thankful
Lebona The one who sees
Lefa Inheritance
Lefu Death / Misfortune
Lehlohonolo Luck
Lekgotla (SASe) Court of law
Lekhotla (LSe) Court of law
Lemoha Take cognisance
Lemohang Take cognisance
Lenka Taker
Leoatle Ocean
Lepolesa Police officer
Lereko Abundance / Merciful
Lesebo Gift from the ancestors
Lesedi (SASe) Light / illumination
Leseli (LSe) Light / illumination
Letlotlo Treasure
Letsoalo Fear / Apprehension
Letswalo Fear / Apprehension
Lewatle Ocean
Liboko (LSe) Praises
Likotsi (LSe) Accidents
Mafatle probably adapted from “mafatla” which means a bald head showing old age and wisdom
Makalo Perplexity / Surprise / Bewilderment
Makgotla (SASe) Courts of law
Makhotla (LSe) Courts of law
Malefane One who pays
Mamello Patience
Modise (SASe) Short form of Modisana
Moeketsi The Multiplier / Proliferator
Moeletsi Advisor
Mohapi Victor
Mohato Step
Mohau Pity / mercy
Mojalefa Heir
Mokgethi (SASe) Chooser / one who will choose
Mokhethi (LSe) Chooser / one who will choose
Mokhasi Crawler
Mokhethi (LSe) Chooser
Molahlehi The Lost One
Molapo Stream / River
Molise (LSe) A short form of Molisana
Moluleloa (LSe) We have long awaited your arrival
Mosela Tail
Moselantja Dog's tail
Moshanyana Boy
Mosiuoa The Abandoned One
Motlalepule The Rain Bringer
Motsamai Traveller
Motsumi The seeker
Mpho Gift
Neo Gift
Nkoe (LSe) Tiger
Nkoeneane (Nkoenyane) (LSe) Little Tiger
Nku Sheep
Nkwe (SASe) Tiger
Nkwenyane (SASe) Little Tiger
Nthofeela Thing
Ntja Dog
Ntsu Eagle
Oatile Household has been firmly built
Oagile Household has been firmly built
Oupanyana Small grandfather (from Afrikaans: oupa)
Paseka Easter
Phahamo Eminence
Pheello Perseverance/insistence
Phetoho Change
Phethisi Completion / Execution
Pheko Remedy / Cure
Phutheho Congregation or collection
Piti Derived from Afrikaans name Piet
Polo (from Polomashwashe) Alligator
Poloko Safety
Pule Rainy / In the rain
Reaboka We are full of praise
Realeboha We are thankful
Reaotlotla We praise His name (Glory to God)
Refiloe (LSe) We have been given
Refilwe (SASe) We have been given
Remaketse We’re surprised
Rethabile We are happy
Sechaba (LSe) Nation
Sehloho Cruelty
Sehlolo Disaster
Sello Wailing
Seretse Mud
Setene Derived from Afrikaans surname Steyn
Setjhaba (SASe) Nation
Tau Lion
Tebello Expectation ( Vigil or Wake = Tebelo )
Teboho Gratitude
Tefo Payment/reward
Thaba Mountain
Thabang Be happy
Thabiso Joy-bringer
Thabo Happiness
Thapelo Prayer / Plea
Thapeli Appeal
Thato Love
Thebe Shield
Thoriso Praise
Thuso Help
Thuto Lesson
Tiisetso Perseverance
Tlali Fulfilled
Tlhokomelo Care, being careful
Tlholo Victory
Tlotliso Honour
T'sehla Yellow Man ("Lion's Cub")
Tsebo Knowledge
Tsela Path
Tšeliso (LSe) Consolation
Tšepo (LSe) Hope
Tshediso (SASe) Consolation
Tshepo (SASe) Hope
Tsie Locust
Tsietsi Predicament / dilemma
Tšoeu (LSe) White one
Tsotang "Amazement" or "Astonishment"
Tsweu (SASe) White one
Tumelo Faith
Tumisang Give praise

Female

Amohelang Receive
Arabang Reply / Respond
Basetsana Ladies
Bohlokoa (LSe) Precious
Bohlokwa (SASe) Precious
Bokang Praise or rejoice
Bonolo Ease
Bontle Beauty
Botle Beauty
Buang Speak / Chat
Diboko (SASe) Praises
Dikeledi (SASe) Tears
Dikgang (SASe) Arguments
Dimakatso (SASe) Surprises / Amazements
Dimpho (SASe) Gifts / Presents
Dineo (SASe) Grants / Gifts / Talents
Dintle (SASe) Beauty
Dipalesa (SASe) Flowers
Disebo (SASe) Whispers
Dithole (SASe) Dusty Waste
Ditsheho (SASe) Laughter
Ditswanelo (SASe) Suitable things
Felleng Beyond the End / Exposed
Fumane Found / Discovered
Itumeleng Be joyous / Be grateful
Kamohelo Acceptance / Welcome
Kananelo Approval / Appreciation
Katleho Success
Keneoue (LSe) I’ve been given
Keneuwe (SASe) I've been given
Keromang One who was sent
Khauhelo Compassion / Pity
Khothatso encouragement
Kutloano (LSe) Mutual understanding
Kutloisiso (LSe) Understanding
Kutlwano (SASe) Mutual understanding
Kutlwisiso (LSe) Understanding
Lebo Short form of Lebohang (be thankful)
Lebohang Be thankful
Lerato Love
Letlotlo Treasure
Letsatsi Sun or Day
Liboko (LSe) Praises
Liepollo (LSe) Revelations / Exposures
Likengkeng (LSe) Tears
Likeleli (LSe) Teardrops
Likhang  (LSe) Arguments
Likhapa (LSe) Tears
Limakatso (LSe) Surprises / Amazements
Limpho (LSe) Gifts / Presents
Lineo (LSe) Grants / Gifts / Talents
Lintle (LSe) Beauty
Lipalesa (LSe) Flowers
Lisebo (LSe) Whispers
Lithole (LSe) Dusty Waste
Litšeho (LSe) Laughter
Litšehoana (LSe) Little laughter
Litsoanelo (LSe) Suitable things
‘Malefu (LSe) Mother of death or illness
‘Malesotho (LSe) Mother of Lesotho
‘Mampe (LSe) Mother of ugliness
‘Mathapelo (LSe) Mother of prayer (or person called Thapelo)
Makhokolotso Refuse
Maleshoane (LSe) Ladybird
Maletsatsi From Letsatsi (meaning 'day' or 'sun')
Mamello Patience / Perseverance
Mantso The dark one
Mariha Witner
Masoabi Shame
Mathe Saliva
Matlakala Waste Paper or Broken Sticks.
Matšeliso (LSe) Consolation
Matshediso (SASe) Consolation
Mmalefu (SASe) Mother of death or illness
Mmalesotho (SASe) Mother of Lesotho
Mmampe (SASe) Mother of ugliness
Mmaseretse (SASe) Mother of mud
Mmathapelo (SASe) Mother of prayer (or person called Thapelo)
Moipone Self-Admirer
Mookho Tear / Lacrimation
Mosa Grace
Mosela Tail / The Last One
Moselantja Dog’s tail
Mosimodi (SASe) Traditional fable name
Mosimoli  (LSe) Traditional fable name
Mosimotsana Traditional fable name
Motle Beautiful
Mpatsi ?
Mpho Gift / Present
Mponeng Behold me or Admire me
Naledi (SASe) Star
Naleli (LSe) Star
Neo Grant / Gift / Talent
Nkhetheleng Choose for me
Nthabi Short form of Nthabiseng (make me happy)
Nthabiseng Make me happy
Nthati One to love me
Ntsebo Adapted from the word for whispers
Ntsoaki (LSe) Girls amongst boys and is usually given to a girl who is the only daughter amongst her male siblings /
Word related to verbs "to stir" or "mix up"
Ntswaki (SASe) Girls amongst boys and is usually given to a girl who is the only daughter amongst her male siblings /
Word related to verbs "to stir" or "mix up"
Nyakallo Joy
Oarona Ours
Paballo Protection
Palesa Flower
Phutheho Congregation or collection
Pont'so Show / Exhibition / Revelation
Pula Rain
Pulane Rainy
Puleng In or during the Rain
Qenehelo Pity
Ramatjato From 'tjato' (agility)
Ramatla From 'matla' (strength)
Ramona From 'mona' (selfishness)
Ratsebo From 'tsebo' (knowledge)
Reabetsoe (LSe) We have been provided for
Reabetswe (SASe) We have been provided for
Reabiloe (LSe) We have been blessed
Reabilwe (SASe) We have been blessed
Refiloe (LSe) We have been given or awarded
Refilwe (SASe) We have been given or awarded
Relebohile We have thanked / We are grateful
Remaketse We are surprised

Rethabile

We are happy
Seeng Gone (astray)
Shoeshoe Flower from the tsikitlane plant Hypoxis argentea
Tebatso Distraction / Make forget
Tebello Expectation
Thato Love
Thuto Lesson
Tiisetso Perseverance
Tlotliso Honour
Tlhokomelo Care, being careful
Tokoloho Freedom / Independence
Topollo Emancipation / Release
Tšepiso Promise
Tshepiso Promise
Tumelo Faith

Biblical or related names

Amose Amos
Daniele Daniel
Esaia Isaiah
Estere Esther
Ezekiele Ezekiel
Filemone Philemon
Jakobo James
Jeremia Jeremiah
Jeso Jesus
Jobo Job
Joele Joel
Johanne John
Jonase Jonah
Josefa Joseph
Luka Luke
Majobo Mother of Job
Mareka Mark
Maria Mary
Mariha Maria
Mattheu Matthew
Mikea Micah
Moshe Moses
Paolosi Paul
Peterose Peter
Ruthe Ruth
Sakaria Zechariah
Samuele Samuel
Seeta Seth
Sofonia Zephaniah
Timotia Timothy

Traditional names from Basotho literature and history

Bereng Basotho chief
Dimo Man eater in Basotho legends
Lepoqo Moshoeshoe's real name
Letsie Basotho chief
Mantsopa One of the female leaders in the history of Basotho
Masilo Traditional name from legends
Masilonyane Diminutive form of "Masilo" (both used often with twins)
Masopha Basotho chief (Son of Moshoeshoe)

Matjhatjhametse

The swift one
Mohlomi One of the wisest leaders, name means the founder or the planter
Mokhachane Moshoeshoe's father
Molapo Basotho chief
Monaheng One of the ancestoral chiefs
Mosemodi Traditional boys name from legends
Mosemotsane Diminutive form of "Mosemodi" (both used often with twins)
Moshoeshoe Father of the Basotho nation (first king)
Mphafane Praiser
Nthatisi Historical female name
Qhonqholotsane Traditional name
Seeiso Basotho chief (Name maybe related to verb 'isa' - to take to/to lead to)
Sekgolokgotjhane Wanderer
Senate Mother of King Moshoeshoe II
Senkatana Boy-hero in many Basotho legends
Tselane Traditional fable name

Nick names or love names

Sesotho nickname or love name English translation / explanation
Leba la ka My pigeon
Moratuoa (LSe) Darling
Moratuwa (SASe) Darling
Mutloanyana (LSe) Little rabbit
Nana Baby (as in infant)
Ngoana Literally 'child' but also used by young mean referring to girls
Ratu Love of mine
Toebanya (LSe) Little mouse

There are many ways of naming newborns by the Basotho. Often Basotho children are named to other family members and ancestors. As the Basotho believe a bad name is a bad omen a lot of names refer to positive qualities such as Katleho (success); Letlotlo (treasure) or Teboho (gratitude). If a child is born after a child has died the newborn is often given a 'bad name' so as ensure the child stays alive and is not given too much love by giving a positive name, hence names such as Nku (sheep), Lefu (death) or Ntja (dog).

Sometimes names are various animals , e.g. Noko, Phuthi, Pulumo, Sebata or tribal totems such Tau, Koena, Mosia, Mofokeng. It can also be plants (Sefate, Sehoete, Shoeshoe, Palesa). Names are even sometimes given to commemorate or remember a certain event or circumstances.


For more on Basotho names, see:

GUMA, Mthobeli. 2001

Nordic Journal of African Studies 10(3): 265-279
The Cultural Meaning of Names among Basotho of Southern Africa: A Historical and Linguistic Analysis.
http://www.njas.helsinki.fi/pdf-files/vol10num3/guma.pdf

 


Thank you to the following contributors to this page:

Bokang Makhetha
Prof. Tseliso Maseela
Rethabile Masilo
Moroesi Mathibeli
Tebello Mosese
Thabo Seseane
Likengkeng Thokoa
Jo Fernandez
Refilwe Moretiemang Matebesi
Sello Kgomo
Maleshoane Selemela
Mafereka Mashoai
Khadebe Makenete




Page updated: 29/05/2009


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J. Olivier (2009)