In September of 1992, Hurricane Iniki struck the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Iniki was the costliest and most powerful hurricane to hit the state of Hawaii in recorded history.
Like hurricanes Alicia, Andrew, Elena, Gloria and Isabel, Iniki ended up inspiring a few baby names. Unlike those other storms, though, Iniki’s name wasn’t a human name to begin with. It came from the Hawaiian word ‘iniki, which the National Weather Service defines as “sharp and piercing wind.” The Hawaiian dictionary I consulted was a bit more specific:
‘iniki. vi. To punch, nip; sharp and piercing, as wind or pangs of love.
In 1992, the name Iniki popped up on the SSA’s official baby name list for the very first time. A total of 35 U.S. babies (28 girls and 7 boys) were named Iniki that year. According to news reports, one of the baby boys, Iniki Thor Faamausili, was born in Hawaii to mom Saipisa Faamausili at 2:53 p.m. — not long before Hurricane Iniki made landfall.
In 1993, at least 17 more babies were named Iniki. After that, though, so few babies were named Iniki that the name stopped appearing on the SSA’s annual list.
- The 1992 Central Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season (Central Pacific Hurricane Center)
- Pukui, Mary Kawena and Samuel H. Elbert. Hawaiian Dictionary. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986.
- Sanchez, Sandra, Anita Manning and Mary Smaragdis. “What’s in a Name.” USA Today 14 Sept. 1992: 3.A.
P.S. Iniki Faamausil’s older brother, Iran, was named after the Persian Gulf War.