Hawaiian names are unique and beautiful. They evoke a sense of the islands, the ocean, and all that is Hawaiian. However, when you are naming your son or daughter there can be huge pitfalls if you don’t know what to look for. In this blog post we will explore some of those pitfalls as well as ways to avoid them so that your child’s name has a chance at being perfect!
Native Hawaiian, or person who is born on the island of Hawai‘i. -Laua iki (adjective)
Mildly diseased; sickly, feeble. -Pekelo ma ka uka ke kula The small school up in the mountains with a very sunshiny name but dark clouds over its future. -Ke aloha nui loa hou Great love that never ends–for your kids to share this name!
Iōkua “work” + ola (verb) To heal oneself and others through work and preserving life’s energy so it can flow abundantly again: Ioukia laulanelea.
To work, to labor; to put forth the effort of one’s body and mind in order that life might go on–to heal oneself and others through work and preserving life’s energy so it can flow abundantly again: Ioukia laulanelea. -Aloha iki “Love” + kaona The dark side of love which is often hidden behind its brighter expressions: Aloheika no ka ou kaona!
The Hawaiian word kamaʻāina means ‘native’ or someone who was born on Hawai‘i island. You would not want your child with this name being teased by classmates for having a funny accent and being a foreigner.
Kama’āina (noun) ʻO wau hoi, he kama’āina ‘ôua ka moku o Hawai‘i! “I am the native of my land.” The Hawaiian word kamaʻāina means ‘native’ or someone who was born on Hawai‘i island. You would not want your child with this name being teased by classmates for having a funny accent and being a foreigner.
The Hawaiian language is difficult to learn if you live in Hawaii because it has three different dialects: Pidgin English; Standard Hawaiian Creole which combines words from both languages while still using some old terms; and Hawaiian Pidgin English.
Pidgin English (noun) ʻO wau hoi, he pidgin ‘ôua ka moku o Hawai‘i! “I am the Hawaiian language.” The word pidgin was first used in 1796 and means “broken speech of a foreigner with an outsider” and is now being used to describe languages that are derived from words or phrases taken from other languages such as French patois, Chinese dialects like Cantonese, Macanese Creole Português do Oriente or Vietnamese Tiếng Bát Tràng. You would not want your child teased for having a funny accent when they speak because it’s one
The most popular names for boys in Hawaii are Kanan, Keoni, and Kalei. The three name all sound similar to one another because they derive from the same Hawaiian word “ke” or island. For instance, a kane is an honorific term meaning male chief while keon has been used interchangeably with tsunami which means “big waves.” Therefore, it would not be surprising if these three words were pronounced identically to standard English speakers as well. With that said, I want to share some of my observations about certain common mistakes many people make when choosing a boy’s name (or girl’s). Here are six sins you may commit during your search for selecting an appropriate moniker.
The first sin of Hawaiian boy’s names is to choose a name that doesn’t sound like it has an e at the end. This mistake often occurs when new parents are naming their child, but are unaware they need to add another vowel such as au or oe in order for the word to be pronounced properly. Parents who want their son named Kale should keep adding vowels until they find one that sounds right: Kalae, Ka’lei, and Kea’lee (Ke-ah-Lee) come close while Kealii and Kalani sound perfect. Fortunately, this error can easily be avoided by checking how your child’s name will be spelled before you make any final decisions based on pronunciation alone. The second sin of Hawaiian boy’s name is to choose one that doesn’t have any vowels from the English alphabet. For example, some parents might want their son named Kalani which can be spelled as Kalanii or Kala’ni (Kah-lah-nee) if they need it to sound like a girl’s name.
Our search for an appropriate moniker led us down many different paths before we finally found something that sounded right and had meaning behind it. We learned early on about the six sins when naming our child, so this list was designed both with him in mind and other children who are struggling with what theirs should be:
This post covers just two of these mistakes: choosing a Hawaiin boy’s name that doesn’t have any vowels from the English alphabet and picking one that is unpronounceable.
The third sin of Hawaiian boy’s name comes from choosing a word with two syllables that are impossible to pronounce correctly without sounding like an excited squeak (e.g., Kalani). This has been pointed out often, but even when you can say it right, what does it mean? The fourth sin of Hawaiin boy’s names is shortening them or adding more letters than necessary just so they fit nicely on a T-shirt for your child. For example, Kaleo might become “Kaei” because no other kid in school had parents who wanted their son named after fresh pineapple leaves (
The most common Hawaiian boy names sound like they come out of a bad soap opera: Keanu, Ramiro, Soren.
What’s the problem with these normal sounding names? They’re not Hawaiian! Hawaiians traditionally use two sets of consonants and vowels to create their own unique alphabet called “kana.” Names in kana include Kalani (which means sky), Lono (happy), or Ekolu (to find joy). These can be difficult for outsiders to pronounce so why not try something more recognizable that doesn’t require an additional course on pidgin? You could go old school with James or John–or you could mix it up by picking from our list below.
If you’re still not convinced that Kalani is your son’s destiny, check out the six sins of Hawaiian boy names below:
John T. Smith sounds like a made up name from the American South and it just doesn’t feel authentic.
The middle initial can be tricky too you might think about using initials to avoid confusion with Jonathon or Jayden.
Kaleo becomes “Kaylee” if pronounced in English which will lead people to assume he has an entirely different heritage. This could lead to bullying at school!
Addison became Lopaka when my cousin moved back home after college because no one knew how to say his last name correctly anymore (and I’m sure -One: There are no Hawaiians on the list of top 100 names -Two: The trend is for more unusual, quirky boy names -Three: Hawaiian Names Tend to Be Four Syllables or More -Four: Avoid “hapa” as a word in your name. It has strong negative connotations and will not be embraced by many locals. A hapa person who doesn’t identify with their roots may feel uncomfortable at school because they’re teased about being “a mix” or feeling like an outsider among other classmates’ families. (See Hapa Girl) -Five: When it comes to choosing initials, avoid letters that might spell out something offensive such as KK, R