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What do the words “Barack” and “Obama” literally mean?

We recently asked readers to suggest a name for us to research and write about. The name that received the most requests happens to belong to Barack Obama.

The 44th President of the United States is named after his father, who was a Kenyan economist. Barack is an African name meaning “blessed.” It is a form of both the Hebrew name Baruch and the Arabic name Mubarak, which also mean “blessed” and relate to the Arabic barakah. Another common spelling of the name is Barak.

There is no connection between Barack and “barrack,” which has both a different spelling and pronunciation. A barrack is a building or group of buildings that lodge soldiers. It comes from the French barraque and the Spanish barraca, which means “cabin or hut.”

Obama is an ancient Kenyan surname. The name is found frequently among the Luo, the third largest ethnic group in Kenya. It is believed that the name derived from the root word obam, which means “to lean or bend.”

Obama’s middle name Hussein is the first name of his paternal grandfather. The name, which is of Arabic origin, means “good” or “handsome one.”

Now, what do some of the most common last names in the United States, like Smith, mean? Find out here.

Here’s another chance to suggest names which you would like us to write about. Once again, the name with the most requests will be a blog topic in the near future.

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