The difference between “Igbo” and “Ibo”

I was reading up an article on titled: Nigerian child in diaspora and at the bottom of the article was a link to this youtube video.

I submit, the kids are really cute looking, with light brownish/whitish hairs etc….being taught how to say “Igbo Kwenu” all the way from Finland. Perhaps, these kiddies grow up to be Nigerian politicians, who knows….

It was after reading the article and viewing the video that the question popped in my mind: whats the difference between igbo and ibo?

A friend I caught up with online told me both are the same, while another said ‘igbos’ are the original people and ‘ibos’ are the decendants from the igbos. The third said ‘igbo’ is the people, ‘ibo’ is the language.

I did some research on google, but the infos I got was all about igbo history etc., anyway, to all the ‘Igbo’ and ‘Ibo’ people out there, please help me sort this out:
What is the difference between Igbo and Ibo.

65 thoughts on “The difference between “Igbo” and “Ibo”

  1. As far as I know, most Igbo people don’t like the use of the word ‘Ibo’. The way the sound between the ‘I’ and the ‘o’ is pronounced is NOT like the ‘b’ sound in the conventional English phonetic dictionary, and using the word ‘Ibo’ can lead to the impression that is IS pronounced like this.

    But of course, that’s jut my opinion… you have another 139,999,999 million or so people to ask. :)

  2. thanks Atala Wala Wala for dropping by. Ive been more familiar with the word ‘Ibo’ but the ‘Igbo’ part is kinda confusing. Yes, the pronounciation too…..I wanted actually to know how to address who and who as ‘Ibo’ and another as ‘Igbo’.

    I thought the number was 150mil not 140mil.


  3. …Ok, till I get this checked out by my mom, i’ll go with what I have always thougth…

    I am Delta-Ibo and I have noticed my parent refer to the non-delta Ibo’s as ‘Ndi Igbo’ (Igbo ppl) but we never referred to ourselves as Igbo…but Ibo’s

    …still confused to be honest with will do some more diggin :) and get back to you.This is a very good question and really should be answered correctly. (guess you have 138mil to go)

  4. thanks refinedone. I assume ‘Ndi’ means ‘no’ or ‘not’, at least I can add that to my ‘igbo’ or ‘ibo’ vocabs – whichever. And thats another dimension “Ndi-Igbo”, as you said referring to non-delta ibos. I have a friend from Enugun and he says he’s Ibo, or maybe he’s Enugun-Ibo. anyway, pls do your research and let us know.

    I did some more reseach tho:
    Igbo People (collated by Uzoma Onyemaechi, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)

    A History of the Igbo Language, compiled by Frances W. Pritchett

    The Igbo People – Origins and History

    Religion and the Igbo People

    Igbo Government and Social Structure

  5. NDI means people so Ndi Igbo means Igbo people….From what I know the people are Ibo and we speak Igbo…get it? I may be wrong but thats what I have always known.I however use bothe words interchangeably. Delta Ibo people and sometimes Ebonyi Ibo are the only ones that I hear qualify themselves..Other ibo people say they are Ibo, until you ask them where in Ibo land there are from and then you hear…Enugu, Anambra, Imo ,Abia etc.

  6. what can you say about ikwerre, Ndoki ,etche,atani…. all this are components of ibo nation.ijaw should stay away from igboland Now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. “IBO”, is the way foreigners spelled “IGBO”, because they did not pronounce the “G”. It’s that simple, there is not deeper relevance.

    IGBO is the proper way of spelling the ethnic group. I am shocked that 7 people missed this, despite some of them supposedly being Igbo themselves.

  8. The people from the South-East are called Igbo, and most true Igbos actually find it offensive to be reffered to as ‘Ibo’.Ibo is a corruption of the name by the oyibo man. The ethnic group is Igbo, the language is Igbo.

  9. igbo guy and blue re very correct. delta-igbos are very much igbo only that they got confused with being on the other side of the niger and the influence of the tribes closer to them on that side and especially during the biafran war when they were sked to renounce by nigeria to renounce the other igbos so they can be absolved onto the federal side but especially because their co-operation was required for easier access to the onitsha port.

  10. igbo guy and blue are very correct. delta-igbos are very much igbo only that they got confused with being on the other side of the niger and the influence of the tribes closer to them on that side and especially during the biafran war when they were sked to renounce by nigeria to renounce the other igbos so they can be absolved onto the federal side but especially because their co-operation was required for easier access to the onitsha port.

  11. I just want to clarify the issue ‘What is the difference between Igbo and Ibo.’

    These two are the same. The writing/pronounciation depends on none igbos. The main word is written Igbo not ibo though they are the same.

    Lome Togo.

  12. @primavera d’angelo- I beg your pardon!! what do you mean by confused???
    how does that have anything to do with the initial question?
    Please make your point without getting insultive.

  13. There are 35 igbo alphabets and ‘b’ and ‘gb’ have places in there. From it’s pronunciation by my elders and parents, I would say that the correct spelling is ‘igbo’. The word ‘ibo’ is the first documented spelling of the word (by the way it’s not a different spelling for language or people). The colonialists spelt it how they thought they heard it.
    Most igbos I know do not like the spelling but it’s already on history books and all so there’s really nothing anyone can do. Whether it’s ibo or igbo, when called all answer.

  14. I just started studying the Igbo culture. My son is marrying an Igbo woman who knows NOTHING about her cultural heritage. She says she thinks she was borne in the state of Benue. Does anyone know how I can talk with her mom during the wedding ceremony (which will be all day) to find out what side of the Biafran war her family was on? Is this subject taboo? Am I so lame to think that some Igbo’s we NOT on the Biafran side? It’s my tendancy to think that all if not nearly all Igbo’s were on the Biafran side.

    That being said, I have learned that the Igbo culture and history is fascinating and probably would never have learned of it if my son hadn’t chosen this amazingly beautiful Igbo/Ibo woman as his future wife.



  15. based on what everyones sayin and what i’ve read igbos would be the name ibos call themselves now in modern days they are actually the same.


  17. I guess Igbos are finally taking themselves seriously. Am the right man to talk to. Perhaps the meaning of the word should have been the frame of your question. The word Igbo has no immediate meaning in current Igbo language but the word is rooted in Hebrew language as El gibbor. But Ig in older version of Hebrew is equal to I in many respect. El gibbor simply means “mighty God” in Hebrew. In fact the word Gibeon or the placce Mount Gilboa are variations of the same word, for instance ‘might one’, ‘great mountain’.

    There is a man called Judah Abranavel pronounced in Hebrew as Judah Ababana, son of Isaac Abranavel (Hebrew for Abraham meaning father of many). The man Judah Abranavel wrote one of my most important books “unversal theory of love” where he argued a polemic of love, that the main theme of Christianity and Judaism was not just sacrifice but sacrifice based on love. This was in the backdrop of the murdering of Jews in Spain. His role in helping his fellow Jews relocate to other parts of the world earned him the title “leo the Ibo” simply put the “mighty lion”.

    The meat of the matter is the relationship between Igbo and Ibo, but you must understand that there is a double bb in Hebrews Ibbor, but is pronounced as a hard b like Igbo. Secondly there is a people in Spain called Ivo, who are equally known as Ibo, given the inchangeable letter V with B, like Negev and Negeb. As you probably know these Ivos are among the Igbos. The mistake is retained over the years and the name Igbo meaning ‘mighty’ or ‘Heroes’ is written as Ibbor.

  18. Late on this… but it comes from the British messing up and trying to spell Igbo.. only to fall short and end up spelling it Ibo. Given the language the correct spelling is Igbo. Igbo is the term for the language and also the people. You generally will not hear an Igbo person call themselves and Ibo person, because when you are correctly speaking the word “gb” is it’s own sound that would be lost when saying Ibo… not exactly sure what you would be calling yourself using this version as the “b” sound is not the same as “gb”. Ibo is just a bastardization of it.

    Imo State representer :)

  19. OMG, I am totally late to this. But here goes

    Igbo refers to the People, the Culture, and the Language.

    Ibo means door.

    However, the ‘gb’ sound does not exist in English so when the British first encountered the Igbo they approximated the ‘gb’ sound to the English ‘b’ sound coming up with Ibo which actually means something completely different in Igbo.

  20. @Iroabuchi: Get a life. This shit has been gone over a thousand times. Igbo people are not fucking Hebrew.

    I don’t know about you but I am happy to be Igbo.

    If you want to be a Jew then move to Israel. Some of us (in other words you) are so self-effacing it’s disgusting.

    The Igbo are Igbo. We originated in Africa. We are not Israelites, jews, Hebrew nor do we want to be. If you want to be then I beg you leave the tribe.

    I’m sorry if I sound pissed but ever so often I come across these deluded people on the Internet and in real life that wish that we were Hebrew so that they can feel better about themselves.

    If being Igbo is not good enough for you then move to Israel and see how they treat you there.

    Shaking my damn head.

  21. na wa igbos were all da same delta rivers imo etc so those denying da difference r pathetic afterall im so proud to be igbo cos even through tribulations in nigeria we keep rising ….we will always rISE NOTHING FIT HOL US BACK….

  22. the issue is simple. We are Ndi-Igbo. Our language is Igbo-language. Our land is Ala-Igbo. The british wrote what they could write or pronoun. Hence the word Ibo.

  23. I regret every inconveniences, but i think it is a shame that most people who claimed to be IGBO people are actually lost on the true story and representation of the IGBO culture and meaning. The Deltans, out of living a false life, decided to change what is otherwise the true story. There is nothing like Ibo, in fact ibo means door. The Igbos, who has Igbo blood running in them knows the true meaning and calling of the name IGBO. The Abia, Ebonyi, Imo, Anambra & Enugu will never say they are Ibo… they must always tell you there are IGBOs. So my dear pennpaper, the difference between Igbo & Ibo is (1), the whites could not pronous d ‘gb’ together, so they made it lighter 4 theirselves. (2) Deltans while denying Igbos during d civil war said they were Ibos, so as to be spared – cowardice you will say…, so IGBO is IGBO nd ibo is deltas, rivers, who also decided to add letter ‘r’ to other igbo words in order to form their own language. – umuokoro (rumuokoro), umuomasi (rumuomasi), etc. Cheers

  24. refinedone :@primavera d’angelo- I beg your pardon!! what do you mean by confused???how does that have anything to do with the initial question?Please make your point without getting insultive.

    i am from delta as well i consider my self to be igbo, same languge

  25. I am an Igbo and the correct spelling is Igbo. I double-checked with the parental units and Ibo is indeed how outsiders spell it and Igbo is the proper way.

  26. I’m Igbo by proxy. I learned that Igbo was the people and Ibo was the language. I’m glad suggabelly cleared it up for me.

  27. Im a ibo girl so i love the word ” Ibo” Igbo sounds weird though and Ibos are Jews. They migrated from israel years ago. My ancestors praticed the jewish custom but with a nigerian twist to it. Uhm i know some of you will disagree but im from the U.s.a. and my mother tells me Ibos originated from Igbos!!! But to me its the Same Shit!!!!!! igbos dress like ibos…Nothing really different .

  28. Ibo is a language Too But Igbo can probably be the dressing custom *LOL* ( i have no fucking idea where that shit came from!!!??!!!)

  29. @IboGirl

    Seriously, as in SERIOUSLY!!!
    You know, for a moment I was going to waste valuable time, which I will never get back, to rebuff your stupidity. Thankfully common sense slapped me across the face, reminding me of the brain cells I would lose trying to argue with an idiot! Please tell me you’re a sockpuppet!

    Anyway, to add to the pile; it’s IGBO for both language and people. Whether you believe you belong to the superordinate, subordinate, subpar, submarine part of the tribe…it’s spelt IGBO.

  30. @Baebi,
    now you’ve thrown in another light on the whole issue: “Whether you believe you belong to the superordinate, subordinate, subpar, submarine part of the tribe…it’s spelt IGBO.

    can you please enumerate which Ibo/Igbo states are superordinate, which ones are subordinate, which are subpar and which ones are in the submarine.

  31. I am A REAL Nigerian IGBO girl and I think its time someone corrects all this nonsense ……. IGBO is IGBO for the language and the people are called NDI-IGBOS…The word IBO came from the white man because they cannot pronounce IGBO the correct way. We are not IBO but IGBOS’. There are a lot of mispronouncation and spelling out there. If you wanna get the right information ask the person from Nigeria (someone that grew up at home not outside).

  32. Thank you for having this dialogue. As as an anglo child I grew up in part in Onicha Ngwa, and I love my friends there. I want to honor those who live there and it sounds like it would be most correct to call them the Ndi-Igbo. Thank you for the references.


    This is the truth, it’s your choice to accept or not. Many words, places, and rivers, were renamed by the british who could not pronounce these words in the correct manner. The referred to the people as IBO, and this term has stuck with the riverine and western Igbos. Even today in pronunciation and spelling the correct ENGLISH is Ibo. However, we are not English, we are Igbo. Below is an example of other Igbo words that have changed since the colonials.

    Asaba originally Ahaba
    Bonny (Ubani)
    Enugu (Enu Ugwu)
    Oguta (Ugwuta)
    Onitsha (Onicha)
    Ibuzor (Igbuzor)

  34. I would just like to say Im Rivers not Igbo
    I lol at sugarbellys comment, how can some igbo people serously think they are hebrew? the fuck?
    Delusional guys, its the same way they claim the niger-delta is igbo.

  35. The earliest reference to the Igbo people was the word ‘Eboe’. This same word was used by Olaudah Equiano(a slave cum freeman) in naming his people back then in the 18th century. This was perhaps due to the absence of ‘gb’ in the English alphabeth. The Britons later changed it to Ibo which dominated up to the mid 20th century. Later writers(especially Bible translators to the Igbo Language) saw the vacuum and created various forms of ‘b’s to augment for the apropriate ‘gb’ with little success. Even when the ‘gb’ was adopted, it did replace ‘b’ in other words but not in the ‘Ibo’ since non-Igbos and some Igbos are not keen on the difference. The validity of the term was questioned by a vast majority including scholars, since the word ‘Ibo’ does not connote anything nor is it used among the people themselves. ‘Igbo’ which is the correct name happens to be used in the naming of many communities all over Igboland from the Igbo speaking part of Delta State(eg. Igbodo, Igbo-uzọ(Ibusa), Akwukwu-Igbo) through to Igbo speaking part of Rivers State (eg.Obi-Igbo, rumu-Igbo) thus, majority stick to IGBO.

  36. there is different between two of them.(1)igbo is the legitimate of the people that born in the south east and they are the right people that speaking igbo language clearly then those that born in lagos or else where that can not pronounce the language clearly is ibo but we are one blood.

  37. From my knowledge growing up in Ibo Land and humble opinion; originally, Ibo is meant to be the tribe and Igbo is the language. English (language) is the language spoken in England (country). People routinely say they are from England (the country) and not from English (the language).

    So, I always say I am an Ibo man and I speak Igbo. Now, in the Ibo Land proper, when one speaks, that person will say for example: “Ndi Igbo” – Igbo people (As Englishmen); A bu mu onye Igbo (as I am English) – I am from Igbo land.
    When we speak the language, we never say Ibo; we say Igbo. But in English, the Ibo and Igbo could be distinguished.

  38. I have been corrected as follows:
    On the issue of Igbo or Ibo. It is unequivocally Igbo. “Ibo” does not exist in the Igbo language and so the people could not and cannot describe themselves as “Ibo”. The term “Ibo” came about as a phonetic spelling to help the “oyibo” come a bit closer to pronouncing the real word “Igbo” because the “gb” is an impossibility for their fragile tongues. Most sub-Saharan African cultures and in particular the Bantus of Western Sudan where the Igbo belong do not distinguish in spelling and pronunciation the cultural identity of the people and the place, hence yoruba, ijaw, asante, etc. all refer to both the ancient kingdoms (polity), geography (the land), ethnicity (people) and linguistic group (language or dialect). So, yes – all correct reference to us as a people, our place and language should correctly be written as “Igbo”.

  39. @mypenmypaper

    Funny enough “Ibo” wasn’t the original misspelling/mispronunciation by the white man. It was originally spelt and pronounced as “Ebo”, and this was the term used to describe the Igbo slaves that were brought to Virginia, USA in 1850. Apparently some African Americans in the Virginia area use “Ebo” as a surname. History, albeit a sad one, is amazing isn’t it?

    An aside your response:

    now you’ve thrown in another light on the whole issue: “Whether you believe you belong to the superordinate, subordinate, subpar, submarine part of the tribe…it’s spelt IGBO.

    and her reply:

    Mami wata = submarine one
    I de jest (^_^)

    ^^^ lol! classic! I’m chuckling at my PC monitor! Rrrhh! I want to take that girl as my second wife

  40. Onece you say ibo i then know that you are not a son of the soil cos no Igbo freeborn can pronounce Igbo as Ibo.

  41. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was wondering what all is required to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
    I’m not very web smart so I’m not 100% certain.
    Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated.

  42. Hi guys! I think the major problem here is not knowing the Igbo alphabet. The Igbo alphabet known as “Abidii Igbo” has 36 letters including some twin alphabets — ch, gb, gh, gw, kp, kw, nw, ny, sh. The word Igbo is known to be the language spoken by the Igbo people but it is often confused with “Ibo”. Ibo came as a result in the difficulty in spelling and pronouncing the original word “Igbo”, because the word Igbo according to its right pronounciation cannot be written in English alphabet which does not include “gb”. It wasn’t until the Igbo alphabet emerged was the real spelling gotten. The white masters invented the use of Ibo which neither corresponds with the pronounciation nor the spelling. It is important to know that Ibo existed before Igbo using the British alphabet until the “Abidii Igbo” also known as “Mkpuru asusu Igbo” (Igbo alphabet) was introduced. The Abidii Igbo is used by Ndi Igbo (Igbo people aka Igbos) to write words.
    It is important to understand that the correct spelling for the language of Ndi Igbo is “Igbo”.
    Ibo is a variant spelling of Igbo in English spelling and pronounciation. It has been adopted by non-Igbo person and some part of Igbo land where the whites dominated during colonial rule.
    Igbo is the language of Ndi Igbo (Igbo people). It is not the Igbo people. The Igbo people are Ndi Igbo. Igbo is the correct spelling and pronounciation for the Igbo word. The letters are gotten from “Abidii Igbo” which includes letters like “ch, gb, gw…”.
    Ibo is the variant spelling of Igbo with spellings and pronunciation adopted from English language.

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