Ten Lilting Hawaiian Names for Girls
By Sophie Kihm
With our current love for lyrical, liquid names, it’s no wonder that Hawaiian names like Leilani, Malia, and Kai are popping up all over the mainland. Hawaiian names have a uniquely gorgeous melodic quality almost unmatched by any other culture. The following names possess that lovely rhythmicality, have rarely been heard outside their native culture.
Ekika– Ekika is the chirpy Hawaiian form of Edith. This provides a fun and unusual way to get to Kiki, but still fits in with the three-syllable-ends-in-“A” name trend. Ekika is a downright cheerful choice–I’d love to see her used on a baby.
Huali– Huali may sound like she means “hula,” but her real denotation is “pure, bright, polished, and gleaming.” Either way, she’s bound to conjure up images of the beautiful dance for some people. Huali is the name of an electric van company in China, but if you live anywhere else, she’s more than usable.
Inoa– All you name nerds, are you looking for a name that sums up your obsession? Inoa could be your girl–she means “name” or “name chant.” Noa is currently becoming more popular among girls–Inoa is a great way to use that name while distinguishing her from all the male Noahs.
Iolani– Unlike many other Io– names, Iolani‘s first syllable is pronounced like an “E,” ee-oh-LAHN-ee. Her meaning is somewhat debated. Nameberry (my go-to for reputable information) says she means “hawk of royalty,” while other sites claim “bird of heaven” or “to fly like a hawk” as her meaning. In any case, Iolani definitely counts as a bird name, and a powerful one at that.
Kalea– Kalea is Hawaii‘s answer to Claire, though unlike her “light” sister, is said to mean “joy” or “happiness.” This is a simply gorgeous name–one of my favorites, and would wear well back on the mainland. I can see many parents embracing her–much as they have with Leilani.
Moanna– Moanna is a beautiful, beachy name meaning “ocean.” She’s quite similar to the Maori name Moana–meaning “sea”–which is also used in Hawaii. Moana is the name of the first Disney Polynesian princess and spirited teenaged title character in an upcoming animated movie.
Noelani– It wouldn’t be a Hawaiian name post without three names that end in -lani. Noelani, though it means “heavenly mist,” is an especially appropriate name for a baby born around this time of year. The easy-to-spot “Noel” makes her a Christmas name possibility.
Silivia– Silivia sounds like a made-up mash-up of Silvia and Olivia, but is an authentically Hawaiian name. The Hawaiian form of Sylvia, its meaning is “woman of the woods.” Silivia is a unique and appealing name–I wonder if she’ll ever catch on in the U.S.