Choosing an Egyptian Name

Wiccans frequently, though not always, choose a craft or 'magickal name' as part of their initiation into the path. This practice has in turn found use among Egyptian Pagans and Kemetics; some groups, for example, combine a divination of patron (or matron) deities with assigning an Egyptian name as part of their primary initiation. Their rationale, echoed by some Wiccans, is that a new name signifies a new identity, a new 'birth'.

Perhaps more profound, however, are names that people give themselves to signify a change in their lives, a new emphasis or to hilight a different aspect of themselves. A famous example of someone choosing a new name to signify their conversion would be Malcom Little; he was given the much more familiar name of Malcom X when he joined the Nation of Islam, but years later he converted again to mainstream Islam and renamed himself El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

And of course, the rise of the Internet Age has made it possible for one person to have a variety of different names or 'handles', in addition to their birth name or even their magickal name! Whatever your purpose, be it serious import or just a handy 'Net alias, below you will find some basic Egyptian grammar tips and vocabulary to help you come up with your own Egyptian (Kemetic) moniker. Whether you share it with others or keep it secret for your own spiritual practice, it will be special because you built it for yourself.


Rules of the Road: Egyptian Grammar
Didn't you hate sitting though grammar class, conjugating verbs and diagramming sentences ad nauseum? Well, those skills come in handy when working with other languages. Brush up on your sentence parts if needs be, because these basic rules of Egyptian grammar will help you construct a more coherent name:

1. Verb suffixes indicate gender, person and tense. Much of what English indicates with pronouns such as 'he' or 'she', and clarifying words such as 'has' or 'will', Egyptian accomplishes with suffixes added to the root verb. Person and tense can get a bit complicated. If you'd like to learn more about those, How To Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs by Mark Collier and Bill Manley is an ideal starting point. For our purposes, we will concentrate on gender in the third person, which is most commonly found in names. The suffix -ef is masculine, indicating a male subject; -es is feminine, indicating a female subject.

Example: Djed-ef The root verb is djed, meaning "say" or "speak"; -ef is the suffix, equating to English "he". Hence, "he says". You might recognize this combination in the name Hordjedef, one of the sons of King Khufu, which essentially means, "Horus speaks". The feminine equivalent would be djed-es, "she says", although names using this combination for a goddess seem to be more rare.

2. Verb first, then subject, then object. As seen with #1, Egyptian syntax uses a different order than the subject-verb-object we follow in English. Generally speaking (there are exceptions!), Egyptian gives the verb first, then the subject of the verb, followed by its object.

Example 1: Mer-es-Aset [hyphens are added so you can see the component words] Mer, "loves", is the verb; -es is the feminine suffix, indicating "she"; Aset is the object. Hence, "She loves Isis [Aset]".

Example 2: Djed-Khonsu-ef-ankh This is a slightly harder one, but the same rules apply; djed is the main verb, "says". Khonsu is the subject; this time, -ef is in the place of the object. Ankh, of course, means "live". Put together, this name forms a short sentence, "Khonsu says he [will] live." Such names became fairly common in the Late Period, when parents would frequently seek oracles from deities about the welfare of their newborn children.

3. Use prepositions and particles cautiously. Egyptian particles seem at first glance to correspond directly with English prepositions, such as "of" or "in", but appearances are deceiving! Em is often translated as "in", and it can correlate to either "in" or "of"; but it carries the additional meaning of placement or state of being. En, on the other hand, corresponds to "of" in the possessive sense. Pa can also equate to "of", but it also seems to swap with Pu, which roughly equates to "is" or "this". Sound confusing? You do have one advantage: because their syntax is different, Egyptian does not use prepositions or particles nearly as often as English does. You will see examples of names below that give good indications of where particles are used and where the meaning doesn't require them.

First Word Bank: Major Egyptian Deity Names
Where the modern name differs from the original Egyptian, the Egyptian version is given in italics.

Anubis Anpu
Hathor Hat-Hor or Hut-Heru
Horus Hor(u) or Heru
Isis Aset or Iset

Osiris Osir, Ausir
Selket Serqet
Seth Sutekh or Suti
Thoth Djehuty
Wepwawet Wep [or Up]-waut

Second Word Bank: Egyptian Terms and Combinations
The words are given in Masculine / Feminine form. An ellipsis (...) indicates where the name of a deity would be placed.

Bak / Baket ...
Sa / Sat ...
Meri / Merit ...
Mer-ef / Mer-es ...
Pa ...
Djed ... efankh / esankh
... emsa-ef / -es
... emwia
... mose
... hotep
... nakht
... emhab
... nofer / nofrit
... woser / wosret
... nodjem / nodjmit
... emhat
... uben
[or weben]
... a'ah
... shepses / shepsut
Qai ...
Shedi ...
Inedju (en) ...
Neb / Nebet ...

Ni-ankh ...
= Servant of ...
= Son / daughter of ...
= Beloved of ...
= Loving ...
= One of ...
= ... says he /she will live
= He / She is in ...'s protection
= ... in His (Her) Sacred Barque
= Born of ...
= ... is content
= ... is strong
= ... is in feast
= ... is good
= ... is powerful
= ... is sweet
= ... is foremost
= ... rises
= ... is great (or greatest)
= ... is noble
= ... is exalted
= Whom ... rears
= Whom ... saves
= ... is Lord / Lady
= ... possesses life (or Living in ...)

Third Word Bank: Non-Theophoric Names
Not all Egyptian names are theophoric, meaning they incorporate the name or title of a deity:

Senebi / Senebit
Meri / Merit
Neb- / Nebetqed
= Health, wellness
= Strength (generally a masculine name)
= Beauty, goodness (feminine)
= One of love (or loving one)
= Man (or woman) of character
= Good year
= Good offering (or Beautiful peace?)


These names are non-theophoric, but also quite famous, so use your own discretion:

Yuya, Aya, Tjuyu, Maya, Kiya, Sennedjem

We'll skip the obvious Nefertiti, Nefertari and Imhotep.


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