Hawaii is arguably one of the most beautiful places on earth. Made up of 8 islands, it is the most isolated population centre on the planet. It is 2,390 miles from California, 5,280 miles from the Philippines and 4,900 miles from China. But despite this, the islands contain hugely diverse groups.
Imagine the impact this has on their language and it can be easily understood why Hawaii might be a good place to turn for a unique and beautiful name. Hawaii boasts three languages - English, Hawaiian and finally Pidgin, an unofficial colloquial language. There are also several rules about Hawaiian words. Made up of only 12 letters in their alphabet, Hawaiian words may start with any letter but never end with a consonant. Syllables within words are never longer than two letters and must also never be a single consonant. Many words and names begin with ‘Ke’ or ‘Ka’, which translates as ‘the’.
So why not have a look at some of these totally gorgeous names from the land of coffee and pineapples, and see what paradise has to offer.
This beautiful name different things in different places. It comes from the Old High German word for "precious" and also ‘a leanbh’ meaning ‘child’ in Irish, so meaning ‘precious child’. In Gaelic, it translates as ‘beauty’ or ‘serenity’. The Celts translated it as ‘noble’ or ‘harmony’. In Hawaii, it is the female form of Alan, and means ‘awakening’.
Alternative spellings and variations of the name include Allana, Alayne, Alayna, Alanna, Alani, Alane and Alaine, so there is plenty of choices if you’re still not sure about Aana.
Leilani is a pretty name with an equally pretty meaning. Taken from two Hawaiian words, ‘lani’ meaning ‘heavenly or spiritual’ and ‘lei’, which is a wreath of flowers, it translates as ‘heavenly flowers’ or ‘heavenly lei’. Popular nicknames are Lani, Lei, Leila and Layla. It has become an extremely popular name in the last 20 years and is currently ranked as the 108th most popular baby name in the US.
Although it is officially a unisex name, it is only the 758th most popular name for boys.
This is another unisex name that would make an unusual and stylish choice, being ranked at number 8,035 for boys and 9,329 for girls. It is used around the world and is most closely related to the Old Norse word meaning ‘woman or wife’. It is now commonly translated as ‘lady’.
If you are a sports fanatic you may recognise it as the Hawaiian host village of the Iron Man event. The village also boasts Kona Coffee and Kona Mountain Bikes. Pronounced ‘KON-ah’, this Hawaiian name will let your child stand out.
Kalani is a lyrical name that is suitable for both sexes and is pronounced ‘Kah-LAH-nee’. It means ‘the sky’ or ‘the chieftain’ or even ‘chieftain of the sky’ and only just entered the top 1000 US baby names in 2015.
Kalani likes to enjoy life and be the centre of attention. Kalani will lean towards careers that allow him or her to be the centre of attention and inspire others. They are drawn to the arts and are highly creative.
If you love traditional names but are looking for a more modern or stylish twist, then this could be for you. Kimo is the Hawaiian version of the very popular name ‘James’. Whilst James is currently the 9th most popular name in the USA, Kimo has yet to enter the top 1000. From the name ‘Jacob’, meaning ‘supplanter’, it is not a name whose translation you might want to dwell on, but Kimo sounds exotic and just that little bit different.
This is another gorgeous example of how Hawaii has taken a very common name and introduced a more tropical feel. Keoni is the Hawaiian version of ‘John’, meaning ‘God is gracious’. John is the 38th most popular baby name at the moment, whereas Keoni does not feature in the top 1000. Variations include Kioni, Keoki, Kiani and Keone, so there is plenty of choices if you are not quite sure about Keoni. Pronounced as ‘ke-OH-nee’, Hawaii gives us a gorgeous twist on an overused classic.
This name is short and to the point and was made popular by the 2002 animated Disney hit ‘Lilo and Stitch’. Meaning ‘the generous one’, it is still, however, down at number 2,846 in the baby name charts for girls and doing even worse for boys at number 8,035.
Lilo can be used as a short form of the German ‘Liselotte’, is the name of a French singer, and is the common nickname in the media for actress Lindsay Lohan.
This gorgeous name would make a fine and unique choice for your baby, as it is currently right down at number 14,877 in the baby charts. It was practically unheard of in the rest of the USA until this century. Many names are that far down because they just aren’t trendy or pretty enough, but this one goes against the rules. Super stylish ‘o-LEEN-a’ also has the great meaning of ‘joyous’. So what’s not to like? Try this unusual name on your bundle of joy.
This very pretty name means ‘serenity of the heavens’ in Hawaiian and has such nicknames as Nala, Lani, Lanna and Annie. It has become much more popular in the last 15 years and is used more for girls than boys, although it is unisex.
Girls with this name tend to admire power and wealth. Cool and classy, they have many qualities that make them effective leaders and people admire them and like to emulate them. Although they possess a lot of common sense they are also emotional people.
Ailani is a typically sing-song sounding name from Hawaii. It is yet another name with the word ‘lani’, meaning ‘chief’ and in this instance translates as ‘high chief’. Unsurprisingly, then, girls with this name tend to be leaders, like to initiate events and have strong personalities. They can be too stubborn and even proud at times and resent other authority. With a wealth of creative ideas and the ability to persuade others to implement them, Ailani is a born chief.
Maile is a female name that comes from the Hawaiian vine used in the making of leis. Leis are the flower garlands that we think of when someone mentions Hawaii, so this is a name intricately linked with the traditions of the islands. Pronounced ‘MY-lee’, it doesn’t feature in the US top 1000 but is so pretty that it deserves more use. If you love nature names then this would make a rare choice for your beautiful little flower girl.
Alamea is an unusual girls’ name that has not ranked in the top 1000 US baby names. It means ‘ripe’ or ‘precious’ and can also be spelt as Alamia or Alamiah. Other Hawaiian versions of it include ‘Aolani’ and even ‘Alohalani’ if you are looking for something a little longer and more complicated.
Alamea is a responsible and conscientious person who loves to help out in the community. She is likely to be an ambitious person who will want to be successful and consequently will study hard to make this happen.
This is the Hawaiian version of the name ‘Joyce’, which in turn originates in the Latin language and means ‘lord’ but also ‘cheerful’ or ‘merry’.
Girls with this name tend to work hard to achieve harmony and peace around them. They enjoy love and companionship. They hold strong ideals and believe deeply in truth and justice. They are well-disciplined but may become impatient with other people who do not follow the same ideas as them. They can even be anxious, stubborn and nervous people.
This is a simplified spelling or shortened version of the Hawaiian name ‘Ho'ola'i’. It means ‘cause to be still; to quiet; calm’ so is a really peaceful and tranquil name. Ola is also a word in the Hawaiian language which refers to life, health and wellbeing. This unisex name usually belongs to a creative and powerful person. Ola likes to lead rather than follow but will pursue a quiet life. Ola is a unique and creative person who enjoys bringing new ideas to their community.
This beautiful girls’ name has the rather brilliant translation of ‘soaring like a hawk’. This name symbolises freedom and nature and brings to mind lovely images of the ability to explore the world freely.
Girls with this name can be quite introverted and thoughtful. They are so quiet that many people might think they are being a bit rude, but it is just their solitary nature. However, Iolana also tends to be ambitious and aims to achieve power and wealth.
At number 332 in the baby name popularity charts, Kaia is a popular girls’ name that is used world wide. It has multiple origins and meanings and is pronounced ‘KY-a’. It is a form of the Scandinavian name Kaja, which is a version of Catherine, meaning ‘the pure one’ but also at times considered the feminine version of the Hawaiian ‘Kai’, meaning ‘the sea’. It can also mean ‘fast asleep’ or in Filipino translates as ‘ability, strength and influence’. Or maybe it refers to Caia, the goddess of fire, healing and women? Whichever translation you choose, this is a pretty name with a laid-back vibe.
Although in English this name has the rather sad translation of ‘solitary’, the Hawaiian language gives us ‘the sky’ instead. Girls with this name tend to be friendly and optimistic. Their huge amount of energy means that they easily make friends and enjoy socialising. Loni does not like to be constrained by rules but instead seeks out adventure and excitement. She is a dynamic person who is restless and can even be rebellious. Short but beautiful, this name makes a great alternative to Leona or Leni.
This boy’s name sounds masculine from the start. Whilst in Spain it is an abbreviation of ‘Manuel’, meaning ‘God with us’, the Italians would have it down a ‘hand’. In Hawaii it is a name that means ‘shark’ and ‘passionate lover’, two quite contrasting aspects! Boys with this name make excellent teachers and philosophers due to their considered views on life and desire to understand and analyse the world around them. At number 16,551 in the USA charts, this would make an unusual and masculine choice.
Pronounced ‘mah-LEE-ko’, this is the Hawaiian version of Mark. Mark is popular around the world and takes many different forms such as Malachi in English, Malkiya in Hebrew, Marcos in Spanish and Michalek in Polish. Mark is an ancient name, being one of the most popular Ancient Roman names, and means ‘war-like’. The form Maleko is mainly restricted to use on the Hawaiian islands and is rarely found elsewhere. Despite the meaning, Maleko’s name indicates that he is generally charming, happy and quite witty.
Here is a boy’s name that undoubtedly sounds Hawaiian. Meaning ‘wealthy protector’, Ekewaka is a boy who enjoys being in the spotlight. He will choose a career that allows him to shine and be recognised by other people. Ekewaka is drawn to the arts and likes to express himself through singing, dancing, public speaking or acting. This rare name is pronounced ‘eh-kay-wah-ka’ and does not feature in over 5 million social security birth records, meaning that fewer than 5 babies every year are named Ekewaka.
Hailama is another Hawaiian boys’ name that rarely makes it off the islands. It means ‘exalted brother’ or ‘my brother is famous’, so could be a great choice for baby number 2 if number 1 is a boy. Hailama is the Hawaiian version of the name ‘Hiram’, which in itself is also extremely rare. It is pronounced as ‘hah-ee-LAH-mah’ and was first recorded by US social security in 1962. Hailama is likely to be a compassionate and generous person who likes to be surrounded by beauty.
Meaning ‘the breeze’, Keanu is one of Hawaii’s most famous and popular exports. This is largely thanks to actor Keanu Reeves, who popularised the name around the world. Sitting at number 943 for boys, this has become a unisex name but is still highly rare for girls, being the 14,877th name in the baby name charts. It is made up of two Hawaiian words - ‘ke’ meaning ‘the’ and ‘anu’ meaning ‘coolness’ and is pronounced ‘kee-AH-noo’. A fun and breezy name for any little boy.
Whilst naming your child ‘style’ seems like something that a mad celebrity might do, using the Hawaiian word for the same thing sounds classy and exotic. Kaila is also a girls’ name meaning ‘crown or laurel’ and is currently at number 1,477, but in Hawaii, it is a name for boys. Whilst popular in Hawaii it is much more unusual in the rest of the world, sitting at around the 8,000th name in the USA. Kaila makes a great variation on the very popular ‘Kai’.
Here is another example of how Hawaii has taken a common name and made it their own. Akamu is the Hawaiian version of ‘Adam’, the 42nd most popular boys’ name. It means ‘of the earth’, reminding us of the first human, Adam, who God made from the earth. Akamu is likely to be an inspirational and almost visionary man, who holds high ideals for himself and others. Not a fan of tradition, Akamu enjoys travelling and adventure and being in control of his own life.
Another ‘ke’ name, Kekoa means ‘the warrior’, a brilliantly masculine name for any little boy or a fully grown man. Also translating as ‘brave’ Kekoa has yet to make the top 1000 names. This name is pronounced as ‘ke-KOH-a’ and is sometimes shortened to ‘Koa’, The popularity of this name has been steadily rising over the past 50 years and is currently ranked at number 6,591. Notable bearers of this name include the Hawaiian major league soccer player Kekoa Osorio.