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Ten Lilting Hawaiian Names for Girls

January 12, 2016 Sophie Kihm

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.

Ailani– Sweet, lyrical Ailani makes a lovely name for a baby girl–Hawaiian or not. It means “chief,” which is a strong and empowering sentiment.

EkikaEkika 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.

HualiHuali 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.

KaleaKalea 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.

Kilikina– I love a name that’s fun to say, and Kilikina is just that! She’s the Hawaiian variation of Christina, but feels like a more contemporary choice. Kiki or Kina would make cute nicknames.

MoannaMoanna 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.

SiliviaSilivia 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.

About the author

Sophie Kihm

Sophie Kihm has been writing for Nameberry since 2015. She has contributed stories on the top middle names of 2019, the top baby names in each state, and the hottest nickname names of 2018. Sophie is Nameberry’s resident Name Guru to the Stars, where she suggests names for celebrity babies. She also manages the Nameberry Instagram and Pinterest. You can follow her personally on Instagram or Pinterest, or contact her at sophie@nameberry.com. Sophie lives in Chicago.

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