The Quickest Guide to Hawaiian Names

The Beauty and Significance of Hawaiian Names

Hawaiian names are based on the Ōlelo Hawaiʻi, which means the Hawaiian Language. It is one of the many variants of the Polynesian language. The language came from the largest island in the tropical Pacific archipelago, Hawai’i, with its inhabitants being called Hawaiians. 

The Beauty of Hawaiian Names

One unique characteristic of Hawaiian names is being genderless. The names have literal meanings derived from symbolisms and nature. Ancient Hawaiians treat names as personal property. It is very important for them because they believe that their names have the power to help or harm other people.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Hawaiian names are based on the Ōlelo Hawaiʻi, which is the Hawaiian Language and is a variant of the Polynesian language.
  2. Hawaiian names are genderless and have literal meanings derived from symbolisms and nature.
  3. Hawaiian names can be created through dreams, signs, or sounds, and are sometimes based on personality and traits.
  4. Hawaiian parents and elders put deep thoughts into naming their children, making sure that meaningful names are given to them.
  5. Old Hawaiian names follow social class, and some names can only be carried by a chieftain or ending in -lani, which means high or sky, or heaven.
  6. Hawaiian boy names should be meaningful without sacrificing its Hawaiian tone, such as Ahuahu, Akahi, Koa, and Kane.
  7. Hawaiian girl names should sound beautiful and have a feminine meaning, such as Pua, Pualani, Moana, and Kanani.
  8. The most common Hawaiian boy name in Hawaii is Noah, while the most common Hawaiian girl name is Olivia.
  9. The longest Hawaiian name known in 2013 is Janice Lokelani Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele.

Hawaiian Name Generator

  • Ionakana
  • Alekanekeio
  • Lanai
  • Kalana
  • Salamasina
  • Melya

hawaiian boy names

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Hawaiian Naming Process

There are three common ways in how Hawaiian names are created. 

  • The first is through dreams, also known as Inoa pō
  • The second is through signs, or visions known as Inoa hōailona. The visions or signs may include the odd formation of clouds, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, or the flocking of birds. For example, a cold breeze or a drop of rain in the summer season is a symbol of hope and happiness. So, they may name a newborn in this season related to rain or breeze. Mists imply mystery and allusion, a great symbol of romance, and a good Hawaiian name for firstborns of newly-wed couples. 
  • Third is through Inoa ‘ūlāleo, a name derived from sounds or voices like winds and birds chirping. Hawaiian names are sometimes created based on their personality and traits. We call this method Inoa ewe.  

Hawaiian elders and parents put their deep thoughts into naming a child. They make sure that meaningful names are given to their children. Old Hawaiian names, however, follow the social class. Some names can only be carried out by a chieftain such as Keali’I, a prefix meaning the chief, or names ending in -lani, which means high or sky, or heaven.

Also, Hawaiian parents consider any events or incidents that happened at the time of birth. For example, the name Lulua ‘ina is a name describing a baby usually born with freckles. Mahina is a common Hawaiian girl name born during a full moon. Pele is named after children born during a volcanic eruption.

Good Hawaiian Boy Names

Although Hawaiian names are supposed to be unisex, we may also consider Hawaiian names specific for boys and girls, especially in our modern society today. A good Hawaiian boy’s name must be meaningful (either in nature, or description of the boy), without sacrificing its Hawaiian tone. Below are a few examples with their corresponding meaning. 

  1. Ahuahu – meaning, a healthy being. It may also imply a healthy body and mind.
  2. Akahi – meaning the first time.  This Hawaiian boy’s name is perfect for a firstborn child.
  3. Kai – meaning, sea. This is a commonly used Hawaiian boy name.
  4. Koa – translates as brave or fearless in the Hawaiian language.
  5. Ikaika – meaning, strength. This name is often given to young boys who display power and strength.
  6. Hiapo – meaning, firstborn. It is also an alternative name for Akahi.
  7. Alaka’I – it roughly translates as in charge, or a guide. This name is perfect for a born leader Hawaiian kid.
  8. Hao – meaning, iron in the common Hawaiian language. The name is either a representation of how the boy looks, or how his mind or will is set. 
  9. Kane – This name translates as male or man.
  10. Manu – meaning, bird. This name is suitable for a boy with high aspirations in life or foreseen to be one.

Pretty Hawaiian Girl Names

We can consider Hawaiian girl names belonging to this list if the name sounds beautiful and the meaning is feminine. By feminine, we mean things like light colors, flowers, and attitude. Below are our best picks for a Hawaiian girl name.

  1. Pua – flower
  2. Pualani – heavenly flower
  3. Alohi – brilliant
  4. Moana ocean
  5. Pele – volcano goddess
  6. Ao – clouds
  7. Malu – peacefulness
  8. Kanani – beautiful
  9. Havika – beloved
  10. Muliwai – river

3 Quick Facts You Need to Know About Hawaiian Names

There are a few things you need to know about Hawaiian names aside from how they were formulated. In this section, we’ll share a few things you didn’t know about Hawaiian names.

Trivia 1: Do you know that the most common Hawaiian boy name in Hawaii is Noah?

While the most common Hawaiian girl’s name is Olivia. This data is according to the federal SSA (Social Security Administration) of the US in 2019. Despite Hawaiians having their traditional naming convention, they are already influenced by western naming, paired together with traditional names.

The names Olivia and Noah are not the only popular names in Hawaii. Other names are widely used in Hawaii such as the following (not in order):

Boy Names

Girl Names

Kai

Malia

Kainoa

Kailani

Ezekiel

Maya

Liam

Chloe

Elijah

Ava

Luke

Olivia

Liam

Amelia

James

Luna

Ethan

Isla

Oliver

Emma

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It’s also note-taking that the only traditional Hawaiian boy names that made it to the list are Kai and Kainoa. While Hawaiin girls’ names are Kailani, Isla, and Malia.

Trivia 2: Do you know that the longest Hawaiian name has more than 35 letters?

You read that right. The longest Hawaiian name known in 2013 is Janice Lokelani Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele. If you lost count, that’s 6 letters for her western name Janice, 8 letters for her Hawaiian name, and a whopping 35 letters for her Hawaiian surname.

Janice Lokelani became the center of attention in Hawaii back in 2013 when she demanded the state Department of Transportation register her full name on her driver’s license. After numerous hearings and disputes, she was finally granted a license with her entire name written on it. The state Department of Transportation even revised its policy to increase the number of characters that can be written on released licenses.

The state fish of Hawaii boasts a name with an impressive 22 letters. The humuhumunukunukuapua’a, pronounced as “hoo-moo-hoo-moo-noo-koo-noo-koo-ah-poo-ah-ah,” is a remarkable and integral part of Hawaiian culture. Its name is said to originate from the sound it produces when grunting. This vivid and exceptional fish is found in the shallow waters of the coral reefs encircling the Hawaiian Islands. Its striking colors and intricate patterns make it an alluring sight for both snorkelers and divers. Moreover, the humuhumunukunukuapua’a holds significant cultural importance in Hawaii, with its name and image often featuring in traditional Hawaiian folklore and artwork. With its lengthy and intricate name that symbolizes its rich history and cultural significance, the humuhumunukunukuapua’a embodies the natural and cultural splendor of Hawaii. It is truly a one-of-a-kind species that contributes to the uniqueness and charm of Hawaii’s underwater world.

Trivia 3: Did you know that the Reef Triggerfish has an outstanding 22 letters in the Hawaiian language?

The Reef Triggerfish, locally known as humuhumunukunukuapua’a, is the state fish of Hawaii. The fish’s name came from the Hawaiian local’s description of the fish itself: a triggerfish with a snout like a pig. There are other known names for the reef triggerfish such as rectangular triggerfish, and wedgetail triggerfish. Lagoon-grown triggerfishes are also called by the same name in Hawaii.

Despite this fish’s name having an impressive 22 letters in it, there is another Hawaiian fish that exceeds this number. The lauwiliwilinukunukuʻoiʻoi is considered the longest name for a fish in the Hawaiian language. It has a total of 25 letters in it and translates as long-snouted fish shaped like a wiliwili leaf. This fish is known in English as the longnose butterfly fish and is a common sight in the Indo-pacific region.