Cherokee names are sacred and pay homage to Native culture and heritage. If you’re part of the Cherokee tribe, especially, choosing a Cherokee name for your baby will allow them to embrace your culture and the heritage that they come from.
It’s especially important so that the Cherokee language doesn’t get lost as more and more generations are born.
When it comes to naming your children, you may be searching online for the perfect name for hours. Hours can even turn into weeks and months.
Even though it may feel like it, there is no rush; your baby’s name is so important and should fit them perfectly.
Wherever you live, you may also be interested in naming your child something that isn’t typical or traditional. Maybe you’ve been interested in searching other cultures for that perfect name.
Phonetic Pronunciation of Cherokee Letters
Baby Girl Names
Baby Boy Names
More Popular Names
Cherokee Dog Names
How Do Cherokee Pick Names?
What Does osiyo Mean?
What Heritage Percentage = Native American?
Popular English Words in Cherokee
Our last wish is to offend the Cherokee people with any mistakes or misrepresentations. We have done our best to provide the most accurate representation possible, but if any mistakes are spotted, please share them with us in the comments and we can make corrections.
Cherokee Name Pronunciation
Before we go through the top Cherokee girl names and the best Cherokee boy names, you must learn how to pronounce them correctly. If it’s not mentioned here, you can assume it’s said the same as the English pronunciation.
The first thing to note is that with Cherokee names, vowels are typically pronounced the same way every time:
- “a” is [ah] like the letter o in the word “job.”
- “e” is pronounced [eh] just like in the word “bed.”
- “i” is said [ee] as in “pizza.”
- “o” is pronounced as [oh] like in the word “rose.”
- “u” is said [ooh] just like in “human.”
- “v” is pronounced [uh] like in the word “umbrella.”
- “ai” is said as [eye] as the i in “ice.”
Another thing to keep in mind here is that the Cherokee language doesn’t have any of the following letters/sounds: b, f, p, r, v, x, z, sh, or th. Instead, these letters are replaced with others:
- “sh” is sometimes changed to “s”.
- “th” becomes “t”.
- “r” sometimes is turned into “l” or “qu”.
- A lot of other letters are replaced with “qu”.
Top 20 Charming Cherokee Girl Names
Now, here is a list of twenty Cherokee girl names and their meanings. Unlike other Native tribes, Cherokee names only have single word meanings, rather than multiple ones from other tribes—such as Crazy Horse, and so on.
All Cherokee syllables end in vowels, so with girl names, you would end more often on the letter A than you would a consonant.
|Ahyoka [ah-yoh-kah]||A name that means, “she brought happiness.”|
|Atsila [ah-jee-la]||It means “fire.”|
|Amadahy [ah-mah-dah-ee]||Which means “forest water.”|
|Gola [goh-lah]||Which means, “winter.” Typically, girls would often be named Gola if they are born during the winter season.|
|Hiawassee [hee-ah-wah-she]||Meaning “large meadow” and was taken from a word in Cerokee: ayuhwasi which means “savannah, meadow.”|
|Immokalee [imm-oh-kah-lee]||Which means “tumbling water” a highly attractive and popular Cherokee name.|
|Inola [eye-noh-lah]||It means “black fox.” It is also one of three Cherokee names that have the same meaning, including Inali and Enoli, both of which are male names.|
|Kamama [kah-mah-mah]||Meaning “butterfly.”|
|Meli [meh-lee]||A Cherokee version of Melissa or Mary, which has several meanings: “bee, drop of the sea, bitter, beloved.”|
|Nazshoni [nah-soh-nee]||But its meaning has been lost throughout the ages. Despite this, it’s still a popular Cherokee name for a girl.|
|Noya [noh-yah]||Means “beauty, sand.”|
|Salali [sa-lah-lee]||Means, “squirrel.”|
|Sasa [sah-sa]||Meaning “goose.”|
|Tayanita [tah-yah-nee-tah]||It means “young beaver.”|
|Tsula [joo-lah]||Which means “fox.”|
|Unega [oo-nay-gah]||Meaning “white.”|
|Usdi [oos-dee]||It means “baby.”|
|Walela [wah-lee-lah]||Means “hummingbird.”|
|Woya [woh-yah]||Meaning “dove.”|
|Yona [yoh-nah]||And means “bear or dove,” also taken from the Hebrew name Jonah.|
Top 20 Strong Cherokee Boy Names
Here is a list of twenty Cherokee boy names along with their meanings.
|Adahy [ah-dah-ee]||Means “woods.” But it’s also extremely close to the Cherokee word adahi’i which actually means “poison.”|
|Ahyuini [ah-yoo-ee-nee]||Means “swimmer.”|
|Atohi [ah-toh-hee]||It means “woods,” another version of the name adahy. Both are taken from the Cherokee word for woods which is adohi.|
|Atsadi [aht-sah-dee]||Meaning “fish.”|
|Austenaco [ah-ooh-she-nah-coh]||Which means “chief.”|
|Chaske [kwah-skeh]||Means “first born son.”|
|Cheasequah [jeh-ah-she-kwah]||Which means “red bird, cardinal.”|
|Gawonisgi [gah-woh-nees-gee]||Meaning “speaker.”|
|Kana′tĭ [kah-nah-tee]||Meaning “the lucky hunter.”|
|Kanagagota [kah-nah-gah-goh-tah]||Which means “standing turkey.”|
|Moytoy [moh-ee-toh-ee]||Means “rainmaker.”|
|Onacona [oh-nah-coh-nah]||Means “white owl.”|
|Rayetayah [rah-yeh-tah-yah]||Means “hanging maw.”|
|Tsiyi [jee-yee]||Meaning “canoe.”|
|Tskilekwa [jisk-leh-keh-wah]||Means “big witch,” which in Cherokee culture is a powerful medicine man.|
|Utsidihi [oo-see-dee-hee]||Meaning “mankiller” but it was only given to brave Cherokee warriors when they earned it, not at birth.|
|Wahkan [wah-kahn]||Which means “sacred.”|
|Waya [wah-yah]||Which means “wolf.”|
|Wesa [way-sah]||Means “cat.”|
|Yansa [yahn-sah]||Means “buffalo.”|
More Popular Cherokee Baby Girl Names
Here is a list of other, popular Cherokee girl names:
|Adsila [ahd-see-lah]||It means “blossom.”|
|Agasga [ah-gah-sah]||Means “rain.”|
|Aleshanee [ah-leh-sah-nee]||Means “she plays all the time.”|
|Amadahy [ah-mah-dah-ee]||Which means “forest water.”|
|Awinita [ah-wee-nee-tah]||Means “fawn.”|
|Ayita [ah-yee-tah]||It means “first to dance.”|
|Chepi [queh-pee]||Means “fairy.”|
|Galilahi [gah-lee-lah-hee]||Means “attractive.”|
|Hehewuti [heh-eh-woo-tee]||Which means “warrior mother spirit.”|
|Hialeah [hee-ah-leh-ah]||Which means “beautiful meadow.”|
|Isi [ee-see]||Which means “deer.”|
|Kachina [kah-quee-nah]||Which means “spirit.”|
|Leotie [leh-oh-tee-eh]||Means “flower of the prairie.”|
|Nokomis [noh-koh-mees]||Which means “grandmother or daughter of the moon.”|
|Odina [oh-dee-nah]||It means “mountain.”|
|Pavati [pah-vah-tee]||Means “clear water.”|
|Qaletaqa [quah-leh-tah-gah]||Which means “guardian of the people.”|
|Soyala [soh-yah-lah]||It means “time of the winter solstice.”|
|Tallulah [tah-loo-lah]||Means “leaping water.”|
|Yona [yoh-nah]||Means “bear.”|
More Popular Cherokee Baby Boy Names
Further to the list of boy names above, we have another 20 male Cherokee names.
|Danuwoa [da-noo-wah-ah]||Means “the warrior.”|
|Degataga [deh-gah-tah-gah]||Another variation that means “standing together.”|
|Degotoga [deh-goh-toh-gah]||It means “standing together.”|
|Ditiyahihi [dee-tee-yah-hee-hee]||Actually means “quarreler, wrangler.” Later on, the word was used as the Cherokee word for lawyer.|
|Diwali [dee-wah-lee]||You might be thinking of the indian festival of lights, but this one is pronounced slightly differently, and means “bowls.”|
|Dustu [doo-stoo]||It means “spring frog.”|
|Enoli [eh-noh-lee]||Meaning “black fox.”|
|Gawonii [gah-woh-nee-eye]||Means “he is speaking” which is taken from the Cherokee word for speaker, gawonisgi.|
|Inali [eye-nah-lee]||It means “black fox.”|
|Kanuna [kah-noon-ah]||Means “bullfrog.”|
|Kuwiskuwi [koo-wis-goo-wee]||It means “large white water bird.”|
|Magi [mah-gee]||The Cherokee version of michael, which means “who is like god.”|
|Mohe [moh-heh]||Which means “elk” which symbolizes strength, agility, and masculinity.|
|Nakamo [nah-kah-moh]||Meaning “to sing.”|
|Sequoyah [seh-kwoh-yah]||Means “sparrow.”|
|Tsiskwa [jis-kwa]||It means “bird.”|
|Uguku [ooh-goo-koo]||Means “hooting owl.”|
|Unaduti [oo-nah-doo-tee]||Means “bushy head.”|
|Usti [oo-see]||Means “little.”|
|Wohali [who-hah-lee]||It means “eagle.”|
Cherokee Surnames – A Brief History
The Cherokee tribe has more people in it than any other Native tribe in America. Because of this, a lot of their surnames are either English-sounding or stick with traditional Cherokee last names.
Unfortunately, when Natives were recorded in any census taken of them, they took on American last names, so there isn’t a lot of information on what actual Native surnames were.
There’s that, and before the 1900s, Natives did not use surnames; they only did so because they were requested to!
Cherokee Surnames – Common Adoptions
What we can give you is a list of typical surnames that Native families chose for themselves after the 1900s:
Cherokee Dog Names
Here is a list of Cherokee names for dogs, 10 each for female and male dogs.
Typically, Cherokee dogs’ names, whether female or male, are taken from traditional Cherokee names for babies, so these are ones we have already seen before.
In these lists are some popular choices for your dog.
Female Dog Names from Cherokee Culture
- Ahyoka – “she brought happiness.”
- Ama – “water.”
- Atsila – “fire.”
- Gola – “winter.”
- Inola – “black fox.”
- Kamama – “butterfly.”
- Salali – “squirrel.”
- Tayanita – “young Beaver.”
- Tsula – “fox.”
- Woya – “dove.”
Male Dog Names from Cherokee Culture
- Ahuli – “drum.”
- Kanuna – “bullfrog.”
- Onacona – “white owl.”
- Sequoyah – “sparrow.”
- Tsiyi – “canoe.”
- Unaduti – “wooly head.”
- Waya – “wolf”
- Wesa – “cat.”
- Wohali – “eagle.”
- Atsadi – “fish.”
We’ve got many more options if you enjoy the thought of a Native American name for your dog.
Cherokee Names FAQ
How do Cherokee pick names?
Let’s look at how the Cherokee people named their children.
In Cherokee culture, the number seven is highly important and sacred to them so, seven days after a baby was born, the family would hold a ceremony for it.
The tribe’s priest and wise women would come together, along with an elderly woman in the tribe that was well-respected and well-known in the tribe who would name the child on how he or she appeared, whether like an animal or object.
Typically, this would become a temporary name for the baby until the child became older. Once the child grew, he or she would be renamed with more names based on what he or she did in life and the experiences that she or he had.
The later-chosen name characterized the person’s personality – no Cherokee would ever misuse someone’s name because of how sacred names were considered.
Because of this, the Cherokee’s naming system was complicated, ranging from names given to them at birth, nicknames, and names to honor them when they did something worthwhile in their life or for the tribe.
This also includes special deed names, secret, and spirit names. However, a person’s secret and spirit names were only known to the person themselves and the tribe’s Medicine Man because they were so sacred.
In fact, a person’s name within the Cherokee tribe was so sacred that they believed misusing the name would cause the person to become injured or harmed; they treated the name with the utmost honor and respect.
It was a high honor to name the tribe’s new baby, which was why the responsibility was given to the elder women in the tribe since the Cherokee are a matriarchal society.
What Does osiyo Mean?
Rather an important one, Osiyo in Cherokee, means “hello.” It is said [oh-see-yo].
What Percentage Do You Have to Be to Be Considered Native American?
The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma requires 25% or 1/4 Cherokee blood.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina requires 6.25% or 1/16 Cherokee blood.
To be considered Native American by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, you must have at least one-fourth of Cherokee blood and/or be recognized by your tribe as Native American, but each tribe has its requirements to be recognized as Native American by them.
What Are the Cherokee Names for the Following Words?
- Brave: wohali means “eagle” which symbolizes bravery in the Cherokee culture.
- Deer: isi.
- God: Unetlanvhi – also means “The Great Spirit.”
- Horse: soquili which also means “sacred dog.”
- Princess: There is no such thing as a princess for Cherokee, but the equivalent would be the daughter of the chief. It would be ugvwiyu (Chief’s) uwetsiati (daughter) which is pronounced [oo-guh-wee-yoo, hee-yoo-wee-jee].
- The Cherokee People: Aniyvwiya which actually means, “principal people.”
- War: adanowa.
- Warrior: danuwoa.
- Wolf: waya.
Really interesting post!
what is wind in Cherokee
Acording to https://language.cherokee.org/word-list/, the Cherokee way to say wind is [ga-no-lv-v-s-gv].
I’d advise you to visit that site and type “wind” into the English search. You can then play the pronunciation there which simplifies it for you – the phonetic pronunciation follows the rules outlined here!
Hope this helped,
Hi, I am looking for the Cherokee words for wolf and fox. I found them , but do not know how to pronounce them. Can you help please?
Hi Nicole, the folks at Visit Cherokee Nation and
BridgesFam Books say it much better than I would! Follow those links for audible pronunciations. David
As a child I was given a name in Cherokee that means, She Who Sees. I don’t remember how it was said in Cherokee as I was raised in a foster home and lost a lot of my past.