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What 'Malia' means...

Good question!

-17 °C

To be honest, Margit and me did not research the meaning of the name Malia too intensively before today. But seeing as so many people have asked what it means and how to pronounce it, I've done some googling and these are my findings:

According to several websites (for example this one, this one and this one), Malia is Hawaiian. A few other websites (like this one) say it is American Indian, but I am taking that to mean native American, ie. for Hawaii the original inhabitants, the Polynesians. This could then mean this name might actually be Polynesian (I'll let our Polynesian specialist answer that one!).

Regarding the meaning. For those that clicked on the above links, you'll already have seen some different ones. "Bitter" is one that is mentioned on a few sites, so that might be the direct translation of Malia in Hawaiian. Not my favourite :) Quite a few sites agree that Malia is a variant of Mary; another name of which the meaning is unclear (see here), so it's not so strange that they can't agree on Malia. So, what are the possible meanings???

  • "perhaps/probably" (source)
  • "calm and peaceful (waters)" (source and source with 'waters')
  • "bitter/bitterness" (several places as above and here)
  • "rebeliousness" (as variant of Mary - see source)
  • "wished for child" (as variant of Mary - see source)

As you can see, plenty of choice :) I think we'll go with the last one (hey, with that much uncertainty, one should be allowed to choose!), which is kind of neat seeing as Samuel has a similar meaning (see here). Plus, that website seems to give the most reason for actually claiming the meaning and seems to be the most professional. And yes, we prefer it over 'bitter' or 'rebeliousness'

Regarding pronounciation. We'll be pronouncing it so: ma-LEE-ah . This is actually one of the reasons we liked this name so much, it pronounces exactly the same in Norwegian, Dutch and English (this is extremely hard to find!). So no hassles there and she's already equipped with a name she can travel the world with easily and without too many translation/spelling problems.

How we came about the name? While on holiday (and discussing baby names) I was listening to a random song on the ipod and the artist's name on the display caught my attention. From the album "Saint Germain des Pres Cafe - Volume 5", the song was "Yellow Daffodils" by "Malia feat. Erik Truffaz" - the song is pretty nice too (there's a snippet available to listen to under the artists website, click Music and scroll down to song one of the second album). A total coincidence in other words, but in our opinion a beautiful name. It stayed our number one pick with no other name coming near it for a girl - whereas we had gone back and forth up until then with about 5 names ;)

And for those of you that just can't get enough (read: myself), here's another picture of sweet Malia asleep...


Posted by Sam I Am 00:20 Archived in Norway

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A beautiful name for a beautiful little girl. Congratulations to you all :)

by finesilver

It's a great name! And some definite benefits in the pronounciation department too.. The other great thing is that she even has a whole town named after her in Crete as well as a bird found on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi :)

by Peter

try pronunciation peter...

by dr.pepper

You don't have to worry about Malia being a Polynesian word meaning "bitter" The standard Polynesian word for "bitter" is "mala" or "mara" just like in Hebrew. So the "bitter" must be native American, which does not include Hawaiian.
the Kapingamarangi word "malia" means "good", and is a common greeting. It is pronounced like "maria". I'm sure the Hawaiian link is from the translation of Mary in their Bible. Either way, a beautiful name for a beautiful girl.

by dadmin

Dang Eric, I never knew that! grrrrrr......

by Peter

But at least I started my sentence and proper names with capitals ;)

by Peter

Congratulations Sam & Margit!!! Thats a beautiful name for a very pretty little girl !

by Rraven

Nice blog! Malia is a good name. It happens to be my name.
As for what it means, I'm part Hawaiian, and I was always told that Malia is Hawaiian for Mary. Hawaiian does not have the letter "r" in it. My grandmother's name is Mary, and so my folks named me Malia after her.
Meanings for Mary vary, but I have heard "bitter". My parents gave me a scripture that said it meant "living fragrance" and I always thought that was nice. But I'm 99% sure it does not mean "peaceful, calm water".
I've read on a couple of sites the definition as "peaceful, calm" and I think they are all just referencing each other. In Hawaiian, there is no meaning for "Malia", but there is a word "Malie" (emphasis on the first syllable) which means peaceful, calm. I think that people mistake the two and think that Malia means peaceful, calm when what they really mean is Malie. Malie is a common Hawaiian name too.

Well congratulations on naming your daughter Malia. It's an excellent name that will serve her well.

by rudiegirl

My name is Malia and I am from Hawaiian. The name does not mean Mary in Hawaiian - that was the translation given to Malia by Christian missionaries (it is also the translation that you see on key chains and other gadgets in Hawaii that feature an English name alongside its Hawaiian translation. Malia means "peaceful or calm" relating to the sea and I believe that it is connected to a female deity. When the missionaries came to Hawaii they gave Malia that translation as Malia was the closest notion to the Mary in the Bible that Hawaiian culture had.

by CeltsFan33

I have the mystery solved because I have 2 cousins and 1 aunt named Malia. Moist Islamic names are pronounced and written differantly in the West. (like in french Jack is Jacque I think. Or in Turkish Mohammad is Mehmet).

Malia is spelled maliha in the Islamic world and pronounced the same way as its spelled - Mali-ha.
The meaning of the name Maliha is Attractive, Beautiful.

The origin of the name Maliha is Arabic

Also Sasha is a very popular Turkish name !

by moidansari

Moist = Most ! oops

by moidansari

Sorry Moidansari - Malia and Maliha are not the same name. Malia is a Hawaiian name, it is not a derivative or translation of an Islamic name. There is also a word similar to Malia in Hebrew (which means full), but again, that Hebrew word has nothing to do with Malia the Hawaiian name.

I believe that Obama named his daughter Malia because he grew up in Hawaii and liked the name. Obama is not Turkish so I don't see why there word be a connection between Turkish names and Obama's children's names.

The name means peaceful or calm in Hawaiian.

by CeltsFan33

stop with the discussion, its not a matter of opinion. it means 'peaceful'. enough.

by taylor

The ensuing discussion in the comments regarding this name is fascinating. Obviously with the new US president having a daughter called Malia this post is getting some traffic from people interested in the name.... I can already see the name becoming way too popular for our liking, but we sure didn't know the president 3 years later would have a daughter by the same beautiful name.

Personally I stick to 'peaceful/calm' if people ask me what the name means, however names often mean different things in different countries, and no reason not to think they are any 'less right'! Please feel free to let me know if you name your daughter (or son :)) Malia.

by Sam I Am

I've landed here after a quick search for the meaning of the name Malia as we are considering that for our baby. We like the spelling Meleah (w the same pronunciation). Can't find meaning for this spelling. Any suggestions???

by Angela

im 20yrs and have loved my name (malia) my whole life. so my suggestion to angela would be to not butcher such a unique name ( or at least it was ) i've only met 2 other people with my name so i hope people dont go on a Malia name craze. So i wonder why you cant find a meaning for the spelling "Meleah"... because you took a already pretty name and tried to make it unique with the spelling. Ya you can pronounce it the same but a name reflects who you are and you want to give your child a name with meaning not something you and your partner thought was cool one day.

by Malia16

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