The Baby Name Keanu

Keanu Reeves photoKeanu Reeves was born in Lebanon and raised mostly in Canada. But he has ties to Hawaii through his father, so that explains the Hawaiian first name.

What does Keanu mean?

According to A Dictionary of First Names, Keanu means “cool breeze blowing down from the mountains.”

Not quite.

Keanu literally means “the coolness” or “the cold.” Ke is “the” and anu is “cool,” “coolness,” or “cold.”

In fact, if you want to tell someone you’ve gotten a cold (i.e., gotten sick) in Hawaiian you say: “Ua loa’a au i ke anu.”

The name was used rarely in the U.S. — Hawaii included — until the movie Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) came out. That’s when we start to see the baby name Keanu on the SSA’s national list:

  • 1996: 280 boys and 23 girls with the name Keanu
  • 1995: 356 boys and 31 girls with the name Keanu
  • 1994: 195 boys and 13 girls with the name Keanu
  • 1993: 102 boys and 13 girls with the name Keanu
  • 1992: 105 boys and 12 girls with the name Keanu
  • 1991: 71 boys and 15 girls with the name Keanu
  • 1990: 8 boys with the name Keanu [debut]
  • 1989: not listed

Usage peaked in 1995, right around the time the movie Speed (1994) was popular.


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