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Understanding customs used in surnames and given names can help you identify your ancestors in records. Learn to recognize name variations and see clues in names.

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Given Names

The meaning of a given name is important when naming a child in the Samoan community:

personal traits: Malosi (strong), Umi (tall), Vave (fast), Faiaivale (foolish)
religious: Toefuata’igaoletalalelei (restoration of the Gospel)
events: Dodiana (this name was created to commemorate Dodi Fayed and Princess Diana's death)
objects: Tala (dollar)
animals: Maile (dog)
descriptive: Leilani (heavenly flower)
traditional: Pua’a’elo (this was the name of a Samoan high chief)[1]


  1. "Samoan culture", in Wikipedia,, accessed 8 March 2021.