2 New-To-Me Names – Wicahpi & Wakinyan

Wicahpi and Wakinyan are a couple of eye-catching names I spotted on some recent SSA baby name lists. They’re both Lakota words:

  • Wicahpi means “star.” It appeared on just one SSA list, as a girl name. Nearly all of the Wicahpis accounted for that year were born in South Dakota specifically.
  • Wakinyan means “thunder,” though it also has ties to mythology. Another definition is “the cause and source of thunder and lightning, once supposed by the Dakotas to be a great bird.” Wakinyan has appeared on several SSA lists, always as a boy name.

By themselves they aren’t quite traditional Lakota personal names, but they were certainly used as elements in traditional personal names, such as:

  • Big Thunder (Wakinyan T’anka)
  • Fire Thunder (P’eta Wakinyan)
  • Little Thunder
  • Star Face (Wic’ahpi Itet’un)
  • Thunder Face (Ite Wakinyan)
  • Thunder Horse (Wakinyan T’asunke)
  • Walks with Stars Woman
  • White Thunder (Wakinyan Ska)

Which one do you like better, Wicahpi or Wakinyan?


  • Buechel, Eugene, and Paul Manhart, eds. Lakota Dictionary: Lakota-English/English-Lakota. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002.
  • Ingham, Bruce. English-Lakota Dictionary. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press, 2001.

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