Meaning and Origin of: Kai

Kai has many origins, but it most often thought of as Japanese and Hawaiian origin and means "sea."
Meaning and Origin of Kai

Girl name origins & meanings

  • Hawaiian : Sea
  • Native American : Willow tree

Boy name origins & meanings

  • Hawaiian : Ocean
  • Greek : Earth
  • Native American : Sea, willow tree
  • Scottish : Fire
  • Welsh : Keeper of the keys
  • Welsh, German : Rejoicer; fort; joyful

What does Kai mean and stand for?

The name Kai has many origins, but it most often thought of as Japanese and Hawaiian origin and means "sea". It is a possible Frisian diminutive of Gerhard, Nicolaas, Cornelis, or Gaius.

Syllables: 1

Boy name variations

Family name origins & meanings

  • Dutch and North German : topographic name for someone living by a quayside, from Dutch kaai ‘quay’, German Kai (which was borrowed from the Dutch).
  • Danish and Frisian : from the Danish personal name Kai, Kaj, Kay, which is of uncertain origin, most likely from Frisian or Latin Caius.
  • Japanese : the original meaning is probably ‘shell’, but the name is written phonetically with two characters meaning ‘first class’ or ‘shell’, plus ‘beauty’. Though the surname is found mostly in the island of Kyūshū, some families could have connections with the ancient province of Kai (now Yamanashi prefecture) in the mountains of central Honshū.

Famous people who gave their babies this name


According to Social Security Administration data, Kai has only recently become popular, jumping from 403 in 2000 to 100 in 2019, and increasing since.

However, it is the 27th most popular name on

According to Google search data analysis, in the last five years Kai was at its peak popularity in January 2021.

Kai is an exotic name found in various cultures and has recently become popular. Jennifer Connelly and Donald Trump Jr. have named their children Kai, and Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber chose it for their son's middle name. Famous namesakes include Kai Alexander, Kai Ryssdal, and Kai Wulff. It has been chosen for various fictional characters in Star Trek, The Snow Queen, Frozen, Ben 10, Dragon Ball Z, and The Vampire Diaries.

Where is it Popular?

Kai was searched for most often in the following states:

Nicknames for Kai

  • Kay

Pairs well with these middle names