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The Hawaiian language contains many beautiful words, and baby is no exception. For expecting parents considering Hawaiian names, understanding the Hawaiian word for baby can provide inspiration and meaning.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Hawaiian word for baby is keiki.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore the Hawaiian term keiki in detail, looking at its definition, pronunciation, usage in names and phrases, and cultural significance. With over 3,000 words, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this special Hawaiian word.

The Meaning and Pronunciation of Keiki

Definition of Keiki as Baby or Child

In Hawaiian, the word “keiki” is commonly used to refer to a baby or child. The term encompasses both infants and older children, highlighting the importance of the younger generation in Hawaiian culture. The word carries a sense of endearment and nurturance, reflecting the Hawaiian value of community and the special bond between parents and their children.

The concept of keiki extends beyond biological children and can also refer to any young person within a community. In this broader sense, keiki represents the future and the hope for continued growth and prosperity. The Hawaiian culture places a strong emphasis on the well-being and education of its keiki, recognizing them as the foundation for a thriving society.

How to Pronounce Keiki Properly

Pronouncing Hawaiian words can be a bit challenging for those unfamiliar with the language. To properly pronounce “keiki,” start by sounding out each syllable. The “k” is pronounced as in the English word “key,” while the “ei” is pronounced like the “ay” in “say.” The “ki” combination is pronounced as a single sound, similar to the English word “key.” Finally, the “i” at the end is pronounced as a long “ee” sound.

Putting it all together, the correct pronunciation of “keiki” is “kay-ee-kee.” Remember to place emphasis on the second syllable, as Hawaiian words typically have stress on the penultimate syllable.

For a more accurate understanding of the pronunciation, you may find it helpful to listen to audio recordings or watch videos where native speakers pronounce the word. Several websites, such as, provide resources for learning and hearing correct pronunciations of Hawaiian words.

Using Keiki in Hawaiian Names and Phrases

One of the most endearing aspects of the Hawaiian language is the use of the word “keiki” to refer to babies and children. In Hawaiian, “keiki” means “child” or “offspring.” The term is widely used in Hawaiian culture, and it holds a special place in the hearts of the Hawaiian people.

Keiki as a Name for Babies

In Hawaiian culture, it is common to incorporate “keiki” into baby names to honor the child’s connection to their ancestors and the land. Many Hawaiian names have beautiful meanings and are often inspired by nature. For example, the name “Leilani” means “heavenly flowers” and is a popular choice for baby girls. Another example is the name “Kai,” which means “ocean” or “sea” and is commonly used for both boys and girls.

Choosing a name that includes “keiki” not only reflects the importance of children in Hawaiian culture but also emphasizes the love and respect Hawaiians have for their heritage. It is a way of passing down traditions and honoring the bond between generations.

Common Hawaiian Phrases with Keiki

In addition to names, the word “keiki” is also used in various Hawaiian phrases and expressions. These phrases often convey love, protection, and guidance for children. Here are a few examples:

  • Aloha keiki: This phrase means “love the child” and is used to express affection for children.
  • E hoʻomākaukau keiki: This phrase means “prepare the child” and is used to encourage children to be ready for new experiences and challenges.
  • Mālama keiki: This phrase means “care for the child” and emphasizes the importance of nurturing and protecting children.

These phrases highlight the deep-rooted belief in the value of children in Hawaiian culture. They serve as a reminder to cherish and support the younger generation, ensuring their well-being and success.

The use of “keiki” in names and phrases is just one example of how the Hawaiian language embraces and celebrates the concept of family and community. It is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Hawaii and the importance of children in Hawaiian society.

The Cultural Significance of Keiki

In Hawaiian culture, the word “keiki” holds a special meaning. Derived from the Polynesian language, keiki refers to a child or a baby. This term not only represents the physical presence of a young one but also carries deep cultural significance within the Hawaiian community. Understanding the importance of family and celebrating the arrival of a new keiki is essential to grasp the true meaning behind this word.

The Importance of Family in Hawaiian Culture

In Hawaiian culture, family is at the heart of everything. The concept of “ohana” emphasizes the close-knit bonds between relatives and the sense of community that is fostered through these relationships. The arrival of a new keiki is seen as a joyful event that further strengthens these familial ties. Hawaiian families come together to support and care for each other, creating a nurturing environment for the keiki to grow and thrive.

Traditionally, multiple generations live together under one roof, allowing for the transfer of knowledge, values, and traditions from elders to the younger members of the family. This intergenerational connection is essential in preserving Hawaiian customs and cultural practices. The presence of a new keiki symbolizes the continuation of lineage and the passing down of cultural heritage.

Celebrating a New Keiki with the Aloha Spirit

When a new keiki enters the world, Hawaiians celebrate with the aloha spirit. This spirit is characterized by love, compassion, and a genuine sense of hospitality. It is a way of life that extends warmth and acceptance to all, including the newest members of the family.

During the celebration, family and friends come together to offer their support and blessings to the parents and the new keiki. Traditionally, a baby luau is held, where loved ones gather to enjoy delicious traditional Hawaiian food, music, and dance. This joyful occasion allows for the strengthening of relationships and the creation of lasting memories.

The celebration of a new keiki also serves as a reminder of the interconnectedness of all living beings. It is a time to reflect on the beauty of life and the responsibility that comes with raising and nurturing the next generation. Hawaiians believe that every child is a gift, and it is their duty to provide a loving and supportive environment for them to thrive.


The Hawaiian language contains beautiful words that offer insight into Hawaiian culture. Understanding terms like keiki brings you closer to the spirit of aloha in Hawaii. Whether you’re expecting a new addition to the family or just want to learn more Hawaiian, keiki is a special word worth knowing.

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