Hawaiian Baby Names: Beyond Malia

Filed under: Babies, Baby Names

Malia Obama, shown with her famous dad, has helped popularize her name. Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images


Thanks to first daughter Malia Obama, Hawaiian baby names are more popular than ever.

But Malia, a Hawaiian form of Mary that means "calm," "peaceful" or "probably," isn't the only interesting and popular Hawaiian name you may consider for your baby girl.

With a few exceptions, Hawaiian-influenced girls' names are more widely used today than boys' names. Still, there are many unique and engaging Hawaiian baby names for parents to consider for their son, as well.
Here are some popular Hawaiian baby names for girls:
And Hawaiian baby names for boys:

  • Iz, while not technically a traditional Hawaiian baby name, is the nickname of legendary Hawaiian musician and cultural hero Israel Kamakawiwo'le. Israel, a name of Hebrew origin, means "ruling with the Lord."
  • Kai, a popular Hawaiian baby name for boys, means "the sea." Welsh actor Kai Owen stars as Rhys Williams on the BBC TV series "Torchwood." Kainoa means "the name" and it's the first name of surfer and waterman Kainoa McGee.
  • Kale, the Hawaiian form of Charles, means "man." Once less commonly used, it has grown in popularity in the United States as a boys' name in recent years.
  • Keanu means "the breeze." This Hawaiian baby name has remained popular largely due to the career of actor Keanu Reeves.
  • Koa is a Hawaiian baby name with a variety of meanings, including "brave," "bold," "fearless" and "happy."
  • Lio, a variation of the more widely known boys' name Leo means "lion."
  • Mano, a Hawaiian boys' name that evokes strength, Mano has two distinct meanings: "passionate lover" and "shark."
  • Noa, a Hawaiian variation of the Biblical name Noah, means "free" or "freedom."
There are also many interesting Hawaiian traditions parents consider when choosing their baby's name. For example, inoa poa means the name came to a parent in a dream. Inoa kupuna refers to a name handed down through the family and inoa ewe is a Hawaiian baby name based on a personality trait.

Aloha Friends has more information about traditional Hawaiian baby names and their meanings. Also check out Magical Hawaii for background on Hawaiian names.

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