As with AMALEKI and its gentilic, the temptation is to see the common Semitic root mlk or the biblical PN and gentilic ʿmlq, Amalek. It is possible that the ending, -iah, is the theophoric HEBREW shortened form of the DN yhwh, Jehovah. If so, this would be the only instance in the Book of Mormon onomasticon. In the only other possible example, MOSIAH, the theophoric nature of -iah is questionable. (All other names in the Book of Mormon with the -iah ending are biblical.)
The etymology based on biblical Amalek has strengths and weaknesses. It would account for the initial vowel (though the etymology is still unclear). But unless this was a name given to him by his enemies, it would be difficult to explain how a NEPHITE could have a name based on an Old Testament people despised by the HEBREWS. If it were given to him by the righteous NEPHITES, it would be difficult to explain why they would add the theophoric element (JH). Note however the biblical PN of a priest in the days of King DAVID, ʿbd-ʾdm Obed-Edom, which could be interpreted as “servant of EDOM,” the people who in later biblical periods, particularly in Hezekiah’s day, were despised by the Jews.
A remote possibility, though hardly plausible, is a feminine form, ʿmlqyh, Amalekiah, “Amalekitess,” which would explain all the vowels and consonants (JH).
If the ending is the theophoric name and the first element were somehow from the root mlk, then it would have the ironic meaning “Yahweh is king” or “Yahweh rules,” borne by a man who contrived to make not God, but himself, king (JWW).
See also Amalickiah / Ameleckiah Variant
Amaleki, Ameleckiah, Amaleckeah, Amelickiah, Amelickidh, Amalickaah, Amaleckiah, Aaalickiah, Amelickaah, Amalkiah, Ameleckiak, Amalickeah, Amellckiah, Ameleckeah, Amalichiah, Amelechiah, Amelichiah, Ammuckiah, Amalekiah
Deseret Alphabet: 𐐈𐐣𐐈𐐢𐐆𐐗𐐌𐐂 (æmælɪkaɪɑː), 𐐈𐐣𐐈𐐢𐐆𐐄𐐌𐐂 (æmælɪoʊaɪɑː)
- For all the variant spellings of these names see Skousen, Royal. Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon 6 Parts. Provo, UT: FARMS, 2005. For AMALEKI see p. 1116 and for AMALICKIAH p. 2529. Also see Smith, Robert F. Critical Text Second Edition. Provo, UT: FARMS 1986-7, Appendix III, “Book of Mormon Onomasticon Variants, 1225”).