Where did the baby name Haunani come from in 1953?

Soundtrack to the movie "From Here to Eternity" (1953)
“From Here to Eternity” soundtrack

In 1953, the Hawaiian name Haunani saw high enough national usage* to appear for the first time in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: unlisted
  • 1953: 6 baby girls named Haunani [debut]
    • 5 born in Hawaii specifically
  • 1952: unlisted
  • 1951: unlisted

The soundtrack to From Here to Eternity — one of the top-grossing movies of not just 1953, but the entire decade — featured a song called “Haunani.”

The song had been composed by hapa haole musician Randall Kimeona “Randy” Oness for his daughter Haunani (b. 1944). The lyrics were originally in Hawaiian, but English lyrics were added later by lyricist Jack Pitman. Here’s the English version of “Haunani,” as sung by Alfred Apaka:

Later the same year, Coral Records put out an album of the film’s Hawaiian songs, including “Haunani,” performed by Danny Stewart and His Islanders.

The Hawaiian name Haunani is composed of two elements: hau, meaning “ruler,” and nani, meaning “beauty” or “glory.” (Hau also happens to be a Hawaiian word for snow.)

Do you like the name Haunani? Do you like it more or less than Leimomi?


*The minimum threshold for inclusion in the publicly available dataset is five U.S. babies per gender, per year.

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