- a Hawaiian
- a person born in the South Sea Islands
Origin of KanakaHaw, man from Proto-Polynesian an unverified form tangata, man, person
- Hawaii A Hawaiian of Polynesian ancestry; a Native Hawaiian. Often used disparagingly.
- Australian & New Zealand A South Sea Islander, especially one brought to Australia as a laborer in the 1800s and 1900s. Often used disparagingly.
Origin of KanakaHawaiian human being, Kanaka
Usage Note: The word Kanaka simply means “human being” in the Hawaiian language. When borrowed into English, however, it was naturally used in referring not to people in general but rather to Hawaiians of Polynesian ancestry, or more broadly, to any Polynesian person. Since this usage has often been perceived, and has sometimes been intended, as derogatory, Kanaka is best avoided by outsiders. Among Native Hawaiians, however, it is often used today as a term of ethnic pride, especially in the form Kanaka Maoli, a traditional Hawaiian ethnonym which can be translated as “true human being” or “real person.”
- A person of Hawaiian descent.
- (historical) A South Pacific Islander, especially a labourer in Australia or Canada.
1840. From Hawaiian kanaka (“person”), ultimately from Proto-Polynesian *taŋata.