Kai Name Meaning

Kai is often seen as a unisex name, but it is most commonly used for boys. Its meaning has evolved over time, and today it is often seen as a reference to the sea or ocean, as well as a symbol of strength, courage, and wisdom. It is also seen as a modern alternative to the more traditional boys’ names such as John and Michael.

Origins of the Name Kai

Kai is an old Hawaiian word meaning “sea” or “ocean.” In Hawaiian, the name was traditionally used as a reference to the sea, and it still holds this meaning in modern Hawaiian. It was only in the late 19th century that Kai began to be used as a name in its own right.

Popularity of the Name Kai

Kai is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, and it is currently in the top 100 most popular boys’ names. It is particularly popular among parents who are looking for a unique name that still has a strong cultural meaning. It is also popular with parents who want to honor their Hawaiian heritage.

Final Thoughts on the Name Kai

Kai is a unique name with a whimsical history and a strong cultural meaning. From its origin as a Hawaiian word for “sea” to its modern use as a unisex name, Kai is a versatile and meaningful name that is growing in popularity. Whether you’re looking for a traditional name or something more unique, Kai is an excellent option.

Infographic of Kai name meaning, which is Kai is a Polynesian name meaning sea.
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Kai Name Popularity

How popular is the name Kai? Here’s everything we know.

Year Rank # Births % Births
1910 0 0%
1911 0 0%
1912 0 0%
1913 0 0%
1914 0 0%
1915 0 0%
1916 0 0%
1917 0 0%
1918 0 0%
1919 0 0%
1920 0 0%
1921 0 0%
1922 0 0%
1923 0 0%
1924 0 0%
1925 0 0%
1926 0 0%
1927 0 0%
1928 0 0%
1929 0 0%
1930 0 0%
1931 0 0%
1932 0 0%
1933 0 0%
1934 0 0%
1935 0 0%
1936 0 0%
1937 0 0%
1938 0 0%
1939 0 0%
1940 0 0%
1941 0 0%
1942 0 0%
1943 0 0%
1944 0 0%
1945 0 0%
1946 0 0%
1947 0 0%
1948 0 0%
1949 0 0%
1950 0 0%
1951 0 0%
1952 0 0%
1953 0 0%
1954 1,580 5 0.0003%
1955 1,551 5 0.0003%
1956 0 0%
1957 1,447 6 0.0003%
1958 0 0%
1959 0 0%
1960 1,331 8 0.0004%
1961 0 0%
1962 0 0%
1963 1,118 15 0.0008%
1964 1,459 6 0.0003%
1965 1,362 7 0.0004%
1966 1,074 16 0.001%
1967 1,192 10 0.0007%
1968 1,171 13 0.0009%
1969 1,076 19 0.0012%
1970 1,203 16 0.001%
1971 1,437 9 0.0006%
1972 1,183 16 0.0012%
1973 1,815 5 0.0004%
1974 1,128 20 0.0015%
1975 1,069 25 0.0019%
1976 1,175 19 0.0015%
1977 1,218 19 0.0014%
1978 1,015 32 0.0024%
1979 969 42 0.003%
1980 1,019 37 0.0025%
1981 1,044 35 0.0024%
1982 968 45 0.003%
1983 1,076 33 0.0022%
1984 1,006 37 0.0025%
1985 948 50 0.0033%
1986 1,038 40 0.0026%
1987 928 58 0.0038%
1988 1,080 44 0.0028%
1989 850 90 0.0056%
1990 945 75 0.0045%
1991 915 86 0.0053%
1992 819 113 0.0071%
1993 845 110 0.0071%
1994 741 150 0.0098%
1995 532 319 0.0212%
1996 612 242 0.0162%
1997 581 271 0.0183%
1998 543 324 0.0216%
1999 479 427 0.0285%
2000 405 575 0.0376%
2001 373 677 0.0449%
2002 278 1,075 0.0717%
2003 265 1,190 0.0782%
2004 251 1,293 0.0848%
2005 240 1,385 0.0906%
2006 237 1,436 0.0917%
2007 251 1,378 0.0873%
2008 229 1,587 0.1027%
2009 214 1,736 0.1161%
2010 205 1,719 0.1193%
2011 202 1,760 0.1235%
2012 193 1,930 0.1354%
2013 198 1,965 0.138%
2014 177 2,395 0.1644%
2015 145 2,838 0.195%
2016 144 2,883 0.2%
2017 128 3,112 0.223%
2018 113 3,412 0.2483%
2019 100 3,718 0.2746%
2020 93 3,764 0.2957%
2021 71 4,591 0.3756%
2022 59 5,265 0.3991%

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Data via SSA.gov.

Names Like Kai

If you like Kai, you’ll love these other names like Kai.

What names are variants of Kai?

Mix it up with these names that are a variation of the name Kai.

Name Meaning Origin Popularity Other Gender

Keeper of the keys; earth



Keeper of the keys; earth; happy, rejoicing



Keeper of the keys; earth; narrow, straight


What names sound like Kai?

If you like how Kai sounds, you might also like these names that sound like Kai.

Name Meaning Origin Popularity Other Gender

Rejoice; happy, rejoice



Rejoice; happy, rejoice



Lively, high-spirited; son of the fair-skinned one



Garden island



The waters



Rejoice; happy, rejoice



Note; key


Lists With Kai

Find inspiration in these baby boy name lists featuring the name Kai.

Siblings of Kai

Mamas with kids named Kai also have kids with these names.

Name Meaning Origin Popularity Other Gender

From the sea



Lily flower






Horse lover






God is gracious



Thankful one



Thankful one



New house



  1. Just have always loved the name Kai.

  2. I love the ocean and surfing so Kai means “ocean/sea”. I’ve had this name picked out for a long long time ?

  3. Connection to the meaning of the name and always knew our first boy would be kai

  4. We chose the name Kai because it is Hawaiian/Japanese for “ocean” and Native American for “willow tree”

  5. We looked up K names for boys because our girls names start with K. There’s not much selection for K boys names. But Kai means something like Champion or Warrior which was fitting to his daddy’s name which means winner. So Kai it is.

  6. I believe in God/Jesus and when he died for us he went to the pits of hell and took the keys Kai meaning is the Keeper of the keys and I love that meaning

  7. I have a grandson with this name, born 2 days ago. I had no idea that there were so many links in so many languages. Yes, we once did our job well while chosing the name for our daughter (Freya is the daughter of Njord, the god of the seas in the Scandinavian works of Snorri Sturluson (the Icelandic author), her chariot was pulled by cats, her favorite animals. Nice to hear we’re staying next to the sea…… But my daughter has a higher grade Shotokan Karate, she already used this warrior shout many many times……my son-in-law is a good hobby-cook and Kai-Shun is also a brand of top-end handmade Japanese damast knives. So I have an idea.

  8. meaningful, plus that was first name me and my partner were in agreement for

  9. My three year old son! Love the name, means “sea” and my kids and I all LOVE the Florida ocean , nothing like a beach day, and felt
    It was fitting for him.

  10. So funny ?

  11. I first heard of this name on a Canadian nineties Sci-fi series called Lexx. One of the main character’s is a handsome man named Kai. I also like the name of the female love interest her name being Zev.

  12. His father came up with his name because it means world

  13. Kai means the sea and water, which is important to us as we live by the ocean!

  14. We chose our son’s name on my second day of labor. We had a list and Kai means warrior, and he was for sure putting up a fight.

  15. I just really love the name. A lot of people think since my name is Kaitlyn that’s why I decided to name him that but I just think it’s cute. The meanings are nice too. In Hawaiian it means “sea”. In Japanese it means “shell”. In Europe, it means “warrior”. It’s also said to have Greek roots meaning “keeper of the keys” or “earth”. It kinda worked out cutely because his nursery theme is nautical so that fits well and he’s an Aquarius so that’s water related as well 🙂

  16. My husband is Scandinavian and wanted a named based around his heritage. Therefore I began looking at the multiple Scandinavian names and most of them are what I thought to be “Viking” names. There ended up being only two names that I liked “Kai” and “Gunner.” We started asking family members which one they liked more and as the days went by (I think within a week of finding these names) the name “Kai” grew on me more than the name “Gunner.”

  17. We chose the name Kai after hearing it, letting it sink in, and trying it out in multiple different forms while talking to my belly. It was one of those things that just clicked and felt right. We knew our baby boy needed to have this name. We love that it’s a cute name, but will also be a strong name as an adult.

  18. Kai – The Almighty Ocean. Chosen because his daddy loves the sea and spent part of his childhood in Hawaii.
    Also means warrior like his daddy.

  19. Just gave his god mother the opportunity to name him

  20. Kai is the perfect mix of cool and slightly hippie!! Also I love that Malakai is a bible name as well!

  21. It has both Japanese and Hawaiian meaning (sea/ocean). My husband is Japanese which made it a little more significant for us. We also just love how short and sweet it is. We both have short names.

  22. My husband and I wanted a short first name that started with a K because I refused to call my son a Jr. We also opted out of a middle name. My husbands name is Kieffer Alan and I’m Irene. If you take the first letter of each name it spells out Kai. We felt it was perfect! ?

  23. We loved how short and sweet the name is. We also liked that Kai is a name in many different cultures and languages since our family has a varried background.

  24. It was important to me to have a short sweet name that was also strong and unique. I wanted all of these traits in my baby.

  25. Same I like his name and wanted a three letter name

  26. It was between Kai and Cruz. Hard choice but went with Kai because my other sons middle name is Cruz and he promised me if I named baby Kai I would be able to call him Cruz! Lol

  27. We love that this name can be pronounced the same way in multiple languages and it’s meaning in Hawaiian as Ocean is significant for us as baby’s great grandpa was Hawaiian and the ocean is very dear to us. Also it’s meaning in Navajo as willow tree and other languages it’s meaning as earth or keeper of keys. We find it to be so beautiful and fitting for our calm and grounding little one.

  28. my sons name is kai ?

  29. Don’t dislike anything about this name!
    When I found it it just felt right and like magic, then I looked up meanings and found it has like 50 different meanings around the world and they are all positive. Sounds like good vibes to me ?

  30. We were living in Hawaii when we conceived so Kai was picked because it is Hawaiian. It means “ocean” so we thought it was a perfect fit. It also happened to be the last name of our pastor at our church!

  31. We wanted a name that had water symbolism. I think the name suits my sons personality and his appearance. There were many attributes behind the meaning of his name that I wanted my child to have.

  32. The name came to me while swimming in the ocean very early in my pregnancy.
    After looking into it the name meant ocean in Hawaii. My name is also from Hawaii. We did not know the sex but I had a strong feeling I was having a boy. Although I may have kept the name boy or girl.

  33. We chose Kai because it means ocean and my husband and I love vacationing to Aruba for the crystal blue waters.

  34. I love this name. I’ve heard it on a few shows and it was close to my moms name Kim.

  35. We chose Kai because it means ocean. We are beach people, and loved the connection the the ocean. Also, his twin sister’s name means sea and we loved that their names shared some meaning.

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