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[kuh-nak-uh, -nah-kuh, kan-uh-kuh] /kəˈnæk ə, -ˈnɑ kə, ˈkæn ə kə/
noun, (sometimes initial capital letter)
a native Hawaiian.
a South Sea islander.
Origin of kanaka
< Hawaiian: person Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for kanaka
Historical Examples
  • As your hand dashed aside the knife of that kanaka you have a claim on my confidence.

    The Bishop's Secret Fergus Hume
  • That shuts out Boompointer or kanaka Joe, for the matter o' that.

  • The kanaka easily could be mistaken for a woman, as he also, like Sidney, was slender and smooth-chinned.

    The Green Mummy Fergus Hume
  • He seemed to read the thoughts which were in the kanaka's mind.

    The Trembling of a Leaf William Somerset Maugham
  • Like the negro, there is little push in him, and it is said that there is not one successful business kanaka in the group.

  • "Just the same one big weather devil," came the kanaka's answer.

    A Son Of The Sun Jack London
  • It is easy to understand why the Queensland sugar planter should want the kanaka recruit: he is cheap.

    Following the Equator, Complete Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • The kanaka caught the bobstay, climbed over the bow, and crawled aft.

    A Son Of The Sun Jack London
  • The kanaka had gained his intelligence from Marnoo, to whom, after all, I was indebted for my escape.

    Typee Herman Melville
  • She's only a kanaka girl, but I wouldn't trade her for a million.

British Dictionary definitions for kanaka


/kəˈnækə; ˈkænəkə/
(esp in Hawaii) a native Hawaiian
(often not capital) (Austral) any native of the South Pacific islands, esp (formerly) one abducted to work in Australia
Word Origin
C19: from Hawaiian: man, human being
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for kanaka

U.S. nautical and Australian name for "native of South Sea islands," 1840, from Hawaiian kanaka "man" (Samoan tangata).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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