How popular is the baby name Lei in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Lei and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Lei.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Lei

Number of Babies Named Lei

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Lei

Is it OK for Non-Hawaiians to Use Hawaiian Names?

Mary Astor, 1931More than 80 years ago, Hollywood actress Mary Astor gave her daughter a Hawaiian baby name.

Mary Astor (born Lucile Langhanke) and her husband Franklyn Thorpe bought a yacht and set sail for Hawaii in May of 1932. One month later, Astor gave birth in Honolulu.

The baby girl was named Marylyn Hauoli. Marylyn was a combination of Mary and Franklyn, and Hauoli came from the Hawaiian word hau’oli, meaning “happy, glad, gay, joyful.”

(The name Hau’oli has never been on an SSA’s baby name list, but I’ve found one other semi-famous person with the name: college football player Hau’oli Kikaha, originally from Oahu.)

Mary Astor choosing Hauoli for her daughter in 1932 reminds me of Helen Hunt choosing Makena Lei for her daughter in 2004. And both of these names make me wonder: Do you think it’s acceptable for non-Hawaiian parents to choose Hawaiian names for their children? If so, under what conditions?


  • Mary Astor – Wikipedia
  • Pukui, Mary Kawena and Samuel H. Elbert. Hawaiian Dictionary. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986.

P.S. There are a few more Hawaiian names in Tuesday’s post Names Collected on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Celebrity Baby Name – Kahekili

Another celebrity has gone with a Hawaiian baby name. Helen Hunt has a daughter named Makena Lei, Lisa Bonet has a son named Nakoa-Wolf Manakauapo Namakaeha, and now Evangeline Lilly has a son named Kahekili.

This is old news, actually. Lilly’s baby (with boyfriend Norman Kali) was born in mid-2011, and the name was revealed later that year. Kahekili means “the thunder” in Hawaiian: ka is “the” and hekili is “thunder.”

But apparently Lilly has only recently come out with the full story behind Kahekili’s name:

My son was born outside in Hawaii in the middle of a thunder and lightning storm that was so insane that we had an island-wide power outage… We were woken out of our sleep by the thunder, it was so intense, and in Hawaii they call that mana, which is like your essence or your spirit… so we had to name him after his mana.

She’d previously mentioned that the baby was born “outside in a thunderstorm.” Also, that the name wasn’t chosen right away: “My baby did not have a name for a month. It took me a month to name my child.”

A handful of other baby boys have been named Kahekili lately. In fact, over past few years, the name has popped up on the national list three times and on the Hawaii list twice:

  • 2012: 6 baby boys named Kahekili nationally
  • 2011: unlisted
  • 2010: 6 baby boys named Kahekili nationally, 5 in Hawaii
  • 2009: 5 baby boys named Kahekili nationally [debut], all 5 in Hawaii [debut]
  • 2008: unlisted

I wonder how many of these babies were born during thunderstorms.

What do you think of the name Kahekili?

Sources: Evangeline Lilly – Wikipedia, The Things They Say –, Evangeline Lilly was in labor for 30 hours (h/t elbowin, for making me look up Tauriel)