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50 Hawaiian baby names inspired by the Aloha State

Hoku, Kai or Leilani might be top contenders for parents seeking a Hawaiian name.
Young One Year Old Girl in Hawaii
Hawaiian names for babies are often deeply rooted in culture.Getty Images stock
/ Source: TODAY

If the 50th state holds special meaning to parents, a Hawaiian baby name like Kai or Leilani might be among their top choices.

Often deeply rooted in culture, Hawaiian names for babies are not new, but have grown in popularity in the past decade for mainland moms and dads.

"Hawaiian baby names first became trendy when Barack Obama was president," baby naming consultant Pamela Redmond of the baby name website Nameberry told TODAY Parents. "Hawaii was his home state and his older daughter Malia had a Hawaiian name, the Hawaiian form of Mary."

In 2007, the year before Obama took office, there were approximately 800 baby girls named Malia

"In 2021 there were 1,200," Redmond said.

Redmond explained the Disney film "Moana" also had a big influence on the popularity of Hawaiian names, and nature names continue to be popular.

"Many Hawaiian names having nature meanings," Redmond explained.

Related: 100 ocean baby names that are more popular than ever

Top 5 Hawaiian boy names and their meanings

Kai: An international name with origins and meanings in several cultures, with the primary one being Hawaiian for sea.

Koa: Hawaiian for warrior.

Kane: Another international name, the Hawaiian pronunciation is kah-nay and it means “man of the Eastern sky.”

Keanu: A name whose celebrity influence was slow to catch on, but of Hawaiian origin meaning “cool breeze over the mountains.”

Nakoa: A top 100 boys’ name in Hawaii itself, meaning "the warriors."

"Nakoa became more popular after Lisa Bonet and Jason Momoa used it for their son," Redmond said.

Related: These are the top French-inspired baby names

Top 5 Hawaiian girl names and their meanings

Kaia: The popularity of Kai, which is sometimes also used for girls, undoubtedly also influenced the emergence of Kaia, as did the model Kaia Gerber, daughter of Cindy Crawford.

Lilia: A multinational name with Hawaiian roots among others.

Leilani: Perhaps the best-known distinctively Hawaiian girls’ name meaning “heavenly flower.”

Naia: An international name meaning “dolphin” in Hawaiian.

Malia: The Obamas popularized this Hawaiian form of Mary.

Related: The most popular names in the U.S. are...

Top 50 Hawaiian baby names

  1. Kai
  2. Kaia
  3. Koa
  4. Kane
  5. Lilia
  6. Leilani
  7. Keanu
  8. Naia
  9. Malia
  10. Nakoa
  11. Kailani
  12. Lilo
  13. Makoa
  14. Alani
  15. Moana
  16. Kalea
  17. Kalani
  18. Kamala
  19. Malu
  20. Hoku
  21. Halia
  22. Noelani
  23. Keahi
  24. Ani
  25. Kalani
  26. Liko
  27. Lio
  28. Nalani
  29. Kainoa
  30. Maui
  31. Kala
  32. Hanalei
  33. Iolani
  34. Ailani
  35. Maile
  36. Makeo
  37. Makani
  38. Kalena
  39. Makala
  40. Elikai
  41. Kaena
  42. Kaleo
  43. Alani
  44. Kaimana
  45. Kimo
  46. Makaio
  47. Inoa
  48. Anela
  49. Hani
  50. Alika

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