Hawaiian Names – 165 Tropical Baby Names Inspired by Hawaii

165 Hawaiian Names
Hawaii is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, but some people may or may not know just how beautiful the language is. Hawaiian names are sacred to Hawaiian culture, making a perfect fit for your family’s newest, beautiful member.

The Hawaiian language, or ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, contains more detailed and distinguished phrases than English words, for example, to specify whether the fruit is aged or ripe, rather than only speaking of the color.

We’re here with the most beautiful names within the Hawaiian language. Or, if you’re looking to name a pet or dog, you can head over to our Hawaiian names for dogs.

Hawaiian Names Contents

What’s Special About the Hawaiian Language?
A Person’s Name
Pronouncing Names
Popular Names
Girls
Boys
Gender Neutral
Middle Names
Surnames
Popular
Uncommon

What Makes the Hawaiian Language So Special?

’Olelo Hawai’i in Hawaiian Flag Colors
First, let’s take a brief look at the Hawaiian language, or ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi.

Dr. Larry Kimura, professor at the College of Hawaiian Language, says the Hawaiian language is a “treasure house embedded with the whole way of seeing the world. It adds to the whole richness of being on Earth and approaching different concepts in different ways.”

An example of the Hawaiian language that is more precise in its meaning is the word Hāʻena, which means a red-hot burning, what we would know as rage or anger, and is also the name of a location on one of the Hawaiian Islands. You could see what has influenced this word’s meaning, coming from a chain of islands born of volcanic activity!

The same practices bred by the Hawaiian language also apply to naming people in their culture.

When someone is named in Hawaii, not only are they connecting with their culture, people, and history, but a story is told through their name; their history is preserved, and their culture is honored.

A Person’s Name

Because words have power for the people of Hawaii, a person’s name is their number one prized possession.

Mary Kawena Pukui, a Hawaiian scholar and educator, puts it this way, “A name became a living entity…identified a person and could influence health, happiness and even life span.”

Names in Hawaii are not so much given to people as bestowed upon them from the divine; there are three different types of naming experiences a person can go through.

  1. The first is referred to as Inoa pō – the given name comes in a dream to a family member of the person when they’re a baby.
  2. The second is inoa hōʻailona, when a family member has a vision or sign that gives the name.
  3. The third and last way is called an inoa ʻūlāleo, also known as a voice name. When this takes place, a person hears a mystical voice speaking their name.

Anyone in the Hawaiian culture must be given names from these three ways otherwise there is a high chance they risk sickness and even untimely death.

How to Pronounce Hawaiian Names

When reading and writing the Hawaiian language you will find some things that are different from English.

The first is a backward apostrophe between certain vowels, ʻ. This is called an ʻokina and means that you pronounce the vowel before it, take a very brief pause, then pronounce the vowel after it, just like the pause between syllables in “oh-oh.”

The second difference is a small dash over certain vowels, called a macron in English or a kahako in Hawaiian. This means that the vowel it sits over is lengthened with a heavier accent.

Both the okina and kahako occur is the Island Name of Lānaʻi. The “a” and the “i” are not combined when sounding it out but are kept separate, so it is pronounced as “lah-na-ee,” rather than “lah-nai.”

 

You can get some hands-on (or ears-on!) experience with these common phrase pronunciations.

Note: Longer names for people and pets are often broken up with a hyphen. Treat this the same way you would in English.

Now that you know how to pronounce them, and why they are so important to the people of Hawaii, here are the most popular names for girls, followed by those for boys, then unisex names.

Hawaiian Girl Among Yellow Flowers

  • Alana – “awakening”
  • Alaula – “light of dawn”
  • Anela – “angel”
  • Anuenue – “rainbow”
  • Aolani – “heavenly cloud”
  • Apikaila – a variation of Abigail
  • Edena – “Eden”
  • Haleakala – “house of the rising sun”
  • Heiau – “temple”
  • Iolana – “to soar like an eagle”
  • Iolani – “bird of heaven”
  • Kaia – “fast asleep”
  • Kailani – “beach” or “sky”
  • Kaili – “departing spirit”
  • Kailua – “two seas”
  • Kalama – “flaming torch”
  • Kalea – “prayers”
  • Kalena – “radiate”
  • Kumulāʻau – “tree”
  • Laka – “Goddess of the hula”
  • Lani – “heaven or sky”
  • Lani-kai – “heavenly beach”
  • Leilani – “heavenly child”
  • Mahina – “moon”
  • Manaʻo – “thoughts”
  • Moana – “ocean”
  • Naʻau – “heart and mind”
  • Nalani – “the heavens”
  • Noelani – “heavenly mist, a beautiful girl from heaven”
  • Palila – “bird”
  • Pele – “volcano Goddess”
  • Pōhaku – “rock”
  • Pule – another word for “prayer”
  • Wai nani – “beautiful water”

 

Hawaiian Baby Boy
We can’t leave out the boys! Here are the most commonly used names for Hawaiian boys with their meaning(s).

  • Akau – “God”
  • Alakaʻi – “guide, leader”
  • Alapai – “coastal area”
  • Alekanekeio – “defending man”
  • Ano – “awe, reverence”
  • Apekalmoa – “my father is peace”
  • Aukai – “seafarer”
  • Haoa – “hot as the sun”
  • He pohaku – “stone”
  • Ikaika – “strong”
  • Iokepa – a variation of St Joseph
  • Ionakana – “God gives” or a variation of Jonathon
  • Kaʻeo – “strong, zealous”
  • Kai – “sea”
  • Kainalu – “surf”
  • Kainoa – “place”
  • Kalākaua – “the day of battle”
  • Kalani – “of the heavens”
  • Kaleo – “saying, expression”
  • Kamehameha – “the lonely one”
  • Kanakamana – “powerful man”
  • Kane – “man”
  • Kealakekua – “pathway of the gods”
  • Kekoa – “the coral”
  • Keona – “God’s gracious gift”
  • Kimokea – “honoring God”
  • Koa ikaika – “strong warrior”
  • Lokela – “famous warrior”
  • Lono – “God of the harvest”
  • Makaʻala – “vigilant”
  • Mana – “divine power”
  • Mililani – “to praise”
  • Nikolao – a variation of Nicholas
  • Pukalani – “heavenly gate”

 

Baby Feet Swaddled
Traditionally, names from Hawaii are all gender-neutral. With time, the names have become more and more associated with gender, most likely due to a preference for their sound.

However, there are still a bunch of gender-neutral Hawaiian names that you can use for your baby boy or baby girl. That way, there’s no societal pressure from their name to conform to either gender’s stereotype.

Here are the most popular 40 gender-neutral names from Hawaii!

  • Aʻala – “fragrant”
  • Ahe – “softly blowing breeze”
  • Aheahe – variation of the name Ahe.
  • Ahuahu – “healthy”
  • Aʻiaʻi – “bright like the moon”
  • Aiden – “little fire”
  • Ailana – “island”
  • Ainakea – “white land”
  • Akahi – “for the first time”
  • Akau – “north, right”
  • Alohilani – “bright sky”
  • Aulani – “messenger of a Chief”
  • Io lani – “royal hawk”
  • Ipo – “sweetheart, lover”
  • Iwalani – “heavenly seagull”
  • Kahiau – “selfless generosity”
  • Kaholo – “nimble”
  • Kahoni – “the kiss”
  • Kahua – “base, foundation”
  • Kamea – “the one and only”
  • Kamiyah – “precious one”
  • Kaniela – “God is my judge”
  • Kanoa – “the free one”
  • Kawena – “rosy reflection in the sky”
  • Keahi – “flames, fire”
  • Keala – “the path”
  • Kealii, Kelii – “Chief”
  • Keani – “cool breeze”
  • Keiki – “child”
  • Konane – “bright”
  • Ky – “ocean”
  • Lilo – “generous one”
  • Loe – “King”
  • Makaio – “gift of God”
  • Makani – “the wind”
  • Mikala – “one who is like God”
  • Moke – “born of”
  • Nalu – “wave”
  • Oke – “deer lover”
  • Olina – “joyful”

 

Hawaiian Middle Names for Baby Girls and Boys

Boys and Girls at Honolulu Festival
Image Credit Daniel Ramirez from Honolulu, USA – No Changes Made
(CC BY 2.0)

What about middle names for Hawaiian boys and girls? Here is a list of popular Hawaiian middle names for babies.

  • Aliʻikai – “queen/king of the Sea”
  • Inoa – “namesake”
  • Ka Hiwa – “sacred vine”
  • Kamea – “the one and only”
  • Kaulana – “famous”
  • Kealoha – “the loved one”
  • Keone – “the sand”
  • Kuʻu Hoaloha ʻOi – “my best friend”
  • Kuʻu Maka – “the apple of my eye”
  • Haliʻa – “remembrance of a loved one”
  • Hiapo – “first born”
  • Maka – “favorite one”
  • Pilialoha – “close friend”
  • Punahele – “favorite”

 

Hawaiian Surnames

Portrait of native Hawaiian family sitting on the floor eating poi, Hawaii, 1907
Image Credit: University of Southern California Libraries and California Historical Society

The interesting thing about Hawaiian last names is that originally native Hawaiians never used last names.

When Hawaii was colonized by the West, it was the Western civilization that demanded every Hawaiian native have a last name.

Most natives chose their surnames, which is why you’ll not only see most Hawaiian surnames as similar or identical to Hawaiian first names, but also Hawaiian surnames that take their origin from English, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean languages, among many other western civilizations.

Hawaiians will choose their last names carefully because, as we said before, names are important in Hawaiian culture. Since the westernization and colonization of their culture, Hawaiian Surnames have taken on importance within their history, even though it wasn’t originally that way.

People in Hawaii take great pride in their names, including their last names, so here is a list of the most popular surnames in Hawaii.

Surname Meaning/Origin
Aka “noble”
Akamai “smart, clever, wisdom”
Akamu “Adam, of the earth”
Akana “bright”
Alama “earth and eternity”
Alana “arise, awakening”
Alika “the most beautiful”
Anela “angel”
Aukai “sailor”
Hale “home, house”
Halia “memorial”
Haoa “exalted protector, chief, chief guardian” and a variation of Howard
Haukea “white snow”
Havika “beloved”
Hekekia “Yahweh strengthens” and a variation of the Hebrew, Hezekiah
Ikaika “strong, powerful, determination”
Inoa “of the virgin Mary”
Iokua “God is salvation, to deliver” and a variation of the Hebrew, Joshua
Kaʻanaʻana “the black magic”
Kaʻaukai “the swimmer”
Kaʻuhane “the spirit, the soul”
Kahale “the house”
Kahananui “the hard job, the great work”
Kahele “to go”
Kahue “the gourd”
Kalama “the torch, flaming torch”
Kalawaiʻa “the fisherman”
Kalili “the jealousy”
Kalua “the companion”
Kama “child, person”
Kamealoha “the beloved one”
Kane “man of the eastern sky” and is both Japanese and Welsh, as well as Hawaiian
Kapule “the magic, the prayer”
Kawai “the water”
Keahi “fire, flames”

 

Unusual Hawaiian Surnames

Young Hawaiian Hula Dancers

Surname Meaning/Origin
ʻAkamu The Hawaiian variation of the name Adam from the Bible
Iona The Hawaiian variation of the name Jonah from the Bible
Kahale Actually means “the house”
Kalawaiʻa Means “the fisherman”
Kameāloha Means “the beloved one”
Kekoa Refers to a Koa tree and meand “the warrior”
Kelekolio The Hawaiian variation of the name Gregory, which is originally English
Mahiʻai Means “farmer”
Māhoe Means “twin”
Nakamura Actually a Japanese surname that means “middle village” commonly used as a surname by Hawaiian natives
ʻŌpūnui It means “big-bellied”
Palakiko The Hawaiian variation of the name Francis in English, or Francisco in Spanish or Portuguese

 

There are many more last names to peruse, especially if you’re looking to name your fictional characters.

Hawaii is rich in its culture and language, so using Hawaiian names is a highly important thing in their culture. Names can come from visions and must be given or else the person risks sickness and death.

But Hawaiian names can also make cute names for your pet.

David Woods Autho Bio Picture
David is the pet lover behind My Pet's Name. He is a member of the Dog Writers Association of America, holds two degrees and has studied Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare. As well as writing, David has helped over 2 Million people choose the best name for their pet.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*