Possible Sources for Book of Mormon Names

By Sandra Tanner


    The Book of Mormon contains over 300 proper names. Many LDS assume that this is evidence that Joseph Smith could not have made up the Book of Mormon. However, when we examine the list of names at the end of the Book of Mormon we notice that 141 of the names are taken from the Bible. For example, the Book of Mormon has Abraham, Ammon, Bethabara, Esrom, Ether, Gomorrah, Ishmael, Jared, Jonas, Judea, Lemuel, Madmenah, Nazareth, Pathros, Pekah, Rama, Shinar, Sinim and Zebulun. The Book of Mormon also uses the Greek words Alpha and Omega.

    Many names not found in the Bible seem to be made up by re-arranging various syllables or changing the ending of Bible names. For example, the Bible speaks of Abinadab, the Book of Mormon mentions Abinadi and Abinadom.. Smith's book also uses the Biblical Aminadab and a modified Aminodi. The Bible mentions Kish, the Book of Mormon has Akish and Kishcumen. The Bible has Gimzo, the Book of Mormon speaks of Gimgimno. Besides using the Biblical name Helam, Smith's book expands it to Helaman. The Book of Mormon uses the Biblical name of Antipas and builds on it to form these Book of Mormon names: Anti-Nephi-Lehi, Antiomno, Antion, Antionah, Antionum, Antiparah and Antipus. Some seem to be simply different spellings. Melech in the Bible becomes Melek in the Book of Mormon. In like manner, Nahum becomes Nahom.

    More names are created by adding such endings as "hah." The Book of Mormon has the names Nephi and Nephihah; Moroni and Moronihah; Ammon and Ammonihah; Mathoni and Mathonihah. Some names seem to be just extensions of the same Book of Mormon word. For example, Antion seems to be the base for Antionah, Antionum and Antiomno. Book of Mormon Shim is expanded to Shimnilon. Corianton is slightly changed to make the additional names of Coriantor, Coriantum and Coriantumr. Smith's book uses the Biblical word Gideon and shortens it to Gid, then expands it to Giddianhi, Giddonah, Gidgiddonah and Gidgiddoni. Riplah seems to be the base for Riplakish and Ripliancum.

    Here are a few Book of Mormon names and possible sources:

click to enlarge
[Map from 1895 showing Moroni as capital of Comoro.]

Cumorah and Moroni are probably from the Comoro Islands, where the capital is Moroni, off the coast of E. Africa. See any atlas. Another possiblity for Cumorah would be the Biblical name Gomorrah.

Lehi is from the Old Testament, Judges 15:9,14 and 19.

Nephi is from the King James Version of the Apocrypha, II Maccabees 1:36.

Enos is taken from Genesis 4:26.

Zenos was in use prior to the Book of Mormon as a person's name. Zenos Riggs is listed in the 1873 Hanover, New Jersey census. Zenos Gurley, Sr., was born in 1801 at Bridgewater, New York, and later joined Mormonism. There is also Zenas in the New Testament, Titus 3:13.

    The words "mormo" and "Mormon" are found in Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary, 1974, p. 1169:

mormo, n. a bugbear; false terror. [Obs.]
Mormon, n. [Gr. mormon, a bugbear.]

  1. the puffins, a genus of sea birds characterized by a short, thick beak.
  2. [m-] the mandrill

    The designation of "Mormon" for the puffin and mandrill seems to stem from their markings that give the appearance of having on a mask (white circles around the eyes).

See National Audubon Society, LARGE-BILLED PUFFIN, Mormon glacialis, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. iii. p. 599. —

See Zoological Society of London: a Simia mormon or tufted ape. Coloured etching.—

    Wesley Walters has more on the sources for Book of Mormon names in his book Use of the Old Testament in the Book of Mormon, Appendix C-I and C-II. There is also information on this topic in Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? by J. & S. Tanner, p. 94, and Mormonism, Magic and Masonry, by J. & S. Tanner.


Go to Online Resources

Home | FAQs | What's New | Topical Index | Testimony | Newsletters | Online Resources | Online Books | Booklist | Order/Contact | Email | Other Websites