Hawaii Coastline
Image by Flying Cloud via Flickr

He’s a Hollywood appellation embraced by more parents than you might guess.

Thanks to Casandra for suggesting Keanu as our Baby Name of the Day.

If you’re anything like me, your first question is this: does Keanu really mean cool breeze in Hawaiian?

The best answer I can find is maybe.

Anu means cool or cold, in reference to temperature.

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What do you think?


  1. I like this name, but like most people associate it with the actor immediately. I think other options like Kekoa and Kainoa are less obvious and just as cool.

  2. I know a Keanu in his early 20s and he’s really from Hawaii, though only half Hawaiin. His brother is Bodhi. I like Keanu but it’s so tied to the actor for me that my brain just automatically puts Reeves after Keanu. I would be pleasantly surprised to meet a little Keanu.

    And as for the pronunciation issue, I think we (mainland) Americans like to emphasize that first syllable. Just ask Deborahs, Pamelas, etc. 😉

    1. sarah a, the keanu with a brother called bodhi must have been named by someone with a keanu OBSSESSION! keanu reeves’ 90s film, much beloved by my girlfriends and i, had keanu as an undercover cop turned novice surfer, “apprenticed” to…. bodhi.

  3. I love the sound of Keanu…but then I had a Keanu Reeves poster on my wall growing up so I might be biased.

  4. Keanu is nice enough, but it’s so connected with the actor. My cousin’s husband is Hawaiian, and their children’s middle names – Keona and Makana – are much less in-your-face.

  5. Please note that the proper pronunciation of the first syllable is *not* KEE — it annoys me to no end when I hear people say it incorrectly [don’t even get me started on Maile as Miley…] — it should be keh-AH-noo.

    1. That’s a nice point, Panya. Anyone know how it is typically pronounced in Hawaii? I suspect it would be impossible to argue for keh AH noo in, say, Maryland. Reeves is just too well known, and the first place most people have heard the name.

    2. Thank you! The Maile thing drives me crazy! And my sister named her daughter it, but then decided to make it Mailee so people would “pronounce it correctly.” Then she gets mad when people around here pronounce her spelling as May-Lee. We’re not even of Hawaiian descent, but even I know that if you’re going to take a name from a different culture–do a little research to figure out how it is *really* pronounced. And don’t get mad when people pronounce it differently. 🙂

  6. It’s not TOO uncommon for me to across one or two little Keanus a year. It seems to be popular in the Pacific Islander community, but also amongst geeks.

    Use of the name seems to be increasing since “The Matrix” movies were made; other “Matrix”-inspired names are also doing well.

  7. I live on the West Coast and have a 6 year-old Keanu in my Kinder class. I was really surprised to hear his name on the first day of class, but now Im surprised I havent met any others.