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Hawaiian Names

Hawaiian Names

Hawaiian names are becoming more widely used in the US in recent years, especially for girls. Names ending in -lani are particularly popular, thanks to the resurgence of the name Leilani. It’s even inspired parents to create pseudo-Hawaiian names for their daughters, such as Jenni "JWOWW" Farley did for her daughter Meilani.

As the world gets smaller, parents in the mainland US and beyond become more familiar with Hawaiian names. Two important influences: the presidency of Barack Obama, who was born and raised in Hawaii and whose oldest daughter Malia bore a Hawaiian name, and the Disney animated film Moana.

Along with Leilani and Malia, other Hawaiian girl names in the US Top 1000 include Kehlani, Alani, Kailani, Kaia, and Nalani. Hawaiian boy names in the US Top 1000 includeKoa, Kai, and Keanu.

Hawaiian girl names that are uniquely popular in Hawaii itself include Kalea, Makena, and Mahina, Popular Hawaiian boy names in their native state include Kaimana and Nakoa. Hawaiian names are known for their rhythmicity, significant meanings, and evocative beauty. If you're looking for a Hawaiian name for your baby, consider these choices for both girls and boys.

  1. KaiHeart
    • Origin:

      Hawaiian
    • Meaning:

      "sea"
    • Description:

      Kai has many origins and meanings. What does the name Kai mean? That depends on which Kai you're referring to.
  2. KoaHeart
    • Origin:

      Hawaiian
    • Meaning:

      "warrior"
    • Description:

      With Noah taking the Number 1 spot in 2013, Koa is attracting more attention than ever.
  3. KaiaHeart
    • Origin:

      Latin, Scandinavian, or Hawaiian
    • Meaning:

      "to rejoice or sea"
    • Description:

      The new Maia, the next Kayla, Kaia has been on the charts since the year 2000. You might see it as a female form of the also-rising Kai, which means sea in Hawaiian and is sometimes used for girls as well, or as a Kardashianization of the ancient goddess name Caia.
  4. KaneHeart
    • Origin:

      Celtic
    • Meaning:

      "warrior"
    • Description:

      A name of multiple identities: a somewhat soap-operatic single-syllable surname, a homonym for the biblical bad boy Cain, and, when found in Japan and Hawaii, it transforms into the two syllable KA-neh. Kane also has multiple meanings: in Welsh, it's "beautiful"; in Japanese, "golden"; and in Hawaiian, "man of the Eastern sky."
  5. KeanuHeart
    • Origin:

      Hawaiian
    • Meaning:

      "cool breeze over the mountains"
    • Description:

      An evocative name brought from Hawaii to the mainland by Keanu Reeves, who was born in Beirut to a part-Hawaiian, part-Chinese father. It moved into the Top 1000 for the first time in over a decade in 2016. Keanu ranks among
  6. LiliaHeart
    • Origin:

      Russian
    • Meaning:

      "lily"
    • Description:

      One of a group of pretty double L names, Lilia is more unusual and distinctive than some others. Truly cross-cultural, the lilting Lilia is heard in the Russian, Spanish, Hebrew, and Hawaiian communities and would be a good choice for a child born to parents of different ethnicities.
  7. LeilaniHeart
    • Origin:

      Hawaiian
    • Meaning:

      "heavenly flower"
    • Description:

      Leilani is derived from the Hawaiian elements lei, meaning "flower," and lani, "heavenly." It can also be translated as "royal child," as lani is connected to high-birth and aristocracy, and leis—flower garlands worn around the neck—are associated with children. "Sweet Leilani" is an Academy Award-winning song by Bing Crosby.
  8. NaiaHeart
    • Origin:

      Hawaiian, Greek, Basque
    • Meaning:

      "dolphin; to flow; wave, sea foam"
    • Description:

      Multicultural option, equally intriguing as, but more unusual than, Maia.
  9. LiloHeart
    • Origin:

      German, diminutive of Liselotte; Hawaiian
    • Meaning:

      "generous one"
    • Description:

      Lilo is the name of the spunky little Hawaiian girl character in the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch-- and is also Lindsay Lohan's nickname. Multi-cultural, it can be found in Hawaiian, German and Hebrew nomenclature.
  10. AniHeart
    • Origin:

      Hawaiian
    • Meaning:

      "beautiful"
    • Description:

      Folk singer DiFranco popularized this simple, appealing form.
  11. MaliaHeart
    • Origin:

      Hawaiian variation of Mary
    • Meaning:

      "bitter"
    • Description:

      Makes Grandma Mary or Maria's name fresh and modern. A fairly unusual name made more familiar by one of Barack and Michelle Obama's young daughters.
  12. NakoaHeart
    • Origin:

      Hawaiian
    • Meaning:

      "the warriors"
    • Description:

      Nakoa is a Top 100 name for boys in Hawaii. It became more widely known after actors Lisa Bonet and Jason Mamoa chose it for their son.
  13. KailaniHeart
    • Origin:

      Hawaiian
    • Meaning:

      "sea and sky"
    • Description:

      This name's similarity to Kalani and pretty Hawaiian origin helped catapult it into the Top 1000 for the first time in 2013.
  14. MakoaHeart
    • Origin:

      Hawaiian
    • Meaning:

      "brave man"
    • Description:

      One of the most popular native language names for boys in Hawaii, Makoa joins Nakoa and Koa as Hawaiian boys' names finding a wider audience in the US.
  15. LioHeart
    • Origin:

      Variation of Leo, Latin
    • Meaning:

      "lion"
    • Description:

      This alternative spelling of Leo is popular with German-speaking parents. It's rare in English-speaking areas, which could be a burden, but the advantage is that it could be short for (or honor) a name such as Julio or Lionel.
  16. AlaniHeart
    • Origin:

      Hawaiian
    • Meaning:

      "orange tree"
    • Description:

      One of those names you may not even be aware of if you haven't been paying attention to recent naming trends, Alani was given to more than 700 baby girls in the US in one recent year, to be the second most popular feminization of Alan after Alana. It's certainly the most modern-sounding female version of Alan.
  17. HokuHeart
    • Origin:

      Hawaiian
    • Meaning:

      "night of the full moon"
    • Description:

      Like a large proportion of traditional Hawaiian names, Hoku can be used for both girls and boys.
  18. NoelaniHeart
  19. KalaHeart
    • Origin:

      Tamil; Hawaiian
    • Meaning:

      "Virtue; princess"
  20. KaleaHeart
    • Origin:

      Hawaiian
    • Meaning:

      "joy, happiness"
    • Description:

      Kalea is a Top 100 name for girls in Hawaii. Sources differ on the meaning of the name, but the most authoritative land on joy or happiness...though kalea is also the Hawaiian word for orgasm.