• english
  • spanish

goldOne very common name in Ethiopia that depicts the high value that a child has for the parents is Wärk’ (or Wärq - ወርቅ) sometimes transliterated in Latin letters as WERK and others as WORK
golden flowerThe meaning is “gold” and represents value, excellence and rarity. The masculine form is Wärk’ (ወርቅ); the feminine version is Wärk’ itu (ወርቂቱ).
The concept of “gold” or “golden” is not only used in this form, but also very frequently in two-element names.
Every time you see a name ending in Wärk’ “, it usually means that whatever the name is referring to, is made of gold or is golden, adding an extra value to the name.
For example, as I mentioned last month, the name Abäba-Wärk’ (Abeba-Werk) means “flower of gold” or “golden flower”.
There are many examples of this kind, specially in women’s names:

Name Pronunciation Meaning Amharic
Aleme Werk (f) Alämä Wärk’ A world of gold, a golden world ዓለመ ወርቅ
Keleme Werk (f) K’älämä Wärk’ A paint of gold, a golden paint ቀለመ ወርቅ
Zenabe Werk (f) Zïnabä Wärk’ Rain of gold, golden rain ዝናበ ወርቅ
Tsehaye Werk (f) Ts’ähayä Wärk’ A sun of gold ፀሃየ ወርቅ

There is a tradition in Ethiopia that when a woman gets married her mother in law gives her what is called “name of bread” on her wedding night. The tradition comes from the past when the bride’s friends used to carry bread as a present when she moved to the new house. Traditionally names of bread are two-element names that include the word “Wärk’” or gold. For example Akalä Wärk’ (Akale Werk) አካለ ወርቅ, ‘a body of gold’ . These names can also be used as secular personal names.

There are also many names that are verbal sentences where the word gold plays an important part:

Name Pronunciation Meaning Amharic
Werk’alemahu (m) Wärk’alämmahu I cultivated gold ወርቅለማሁ
Tafese Werk (f) Taffäsä Wärk’ Gold was scooped up ታፈሰ ወርቅ
Werkneh (m) Wärk’näh You are gold ወርቅነህ
Werk Yantefu (f) Wärk’ Yant’ïfu May they spread gold! ወርቅ ያንጥፉ

Other names express some characteristics of gold:

Name Pronunciation Meaning Amharic
Teruwerk (m) T’ïruwärk’ Fine gold ጥሩወርቅ
Yesu Werk (f) Yässu Wärk’ His gold የሱ ወርቅ
Nesuhwerk (f) Nïs’uhwärk’ Clean, pure gold ንጹሕወርቅ
Shefenwerk (f) Šïffïnwärk’ Covered gold ሽፍንወርቅ

Bibliography: Amharic and Ethiopic Onomastics by Elias Yemane