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also ka·na·ka  (kə-nä′kə, -năk′ə)
1. Hawaii A Hawaiian of Polynesian ancestry; a Native Hawaiian. Often used disparagingly.
2. Australian & New Zealand A South Sea Islander, especially one brought to Australia as a laborer in the 1800s and 1900s. Often used disparagingly.

[Hawaiian, 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."


(kəˈnækə; ˈkænəkə)
1. (Peoples) (esp in Hawaii) a native Hawaiian
2. (often not capital) Austral any native of the South Pacific islands, esp (formerly) one abducted to work in Australia
[C19: from Hawaiian: man, human being]


(kəˈnæk ə, -ˈnɑ kə, ˈkæn ə kə)

n., pl. -nak•as. (sometimes l.c.)
2. (esp. formerly) a member of any people indigenous to the islands of the S Pacific.
[< Hawaiian: person]


A Hawaiian word meaning human being, used to mean a Hawaiian of Polynesian descent.
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References in classic literature ?
It is really eleven years since we came here, I and Montgomery and six Kanakas.
Then I came upon the creature squatting up in a tree and gibbering at two of the Kanakas who had been teasing him.
When the schooner departed, he called the kanakas down to the beach and challenged them to throw him in a wrestling bout, promising a case of tobacco to the one who succeeded.
He frequently declared that England was the finest country in the world, sir, and he felt a lively superiority over Americans, Colonials, Dagos, Dutchmen, and Kanakas.
Now you rode the breakers with the Kanakas at Kealaikahiki.
What kanakas there were wouldn't work, and the officials seemed to sit up nights thinking out new obstacles to put in our way.
Then it was, the danger past, and as the Kanakas began to coil the halyards back on the pins, that Boyd Duncan went below.
In the top one lay Oofty-Oofty, a Kanaka and splendid seaman, so named by his mates.
People who don't know a Chileno from a Kanaka can afford to hang out liberal ideas about Chinese immigration, but a fellow that has to fight for his bone with a lot of mongrel coolies hasn't any time for foolishness.
I remember, somewhere, sitting in a circle with Japanese fishermen, Kanaka boat-steerers from our own vessels, and a young Danish sailor fresh from cowboying in the Argentine and with a penchant for native customs and ceremonials.
It's the Kanaka for 'finish,'" he explained, "and it just come out naturally.
Nay, what food or experience or succor have they for the Esquimaux seal-hunter, for the Kanaka in his canoe, for the fisherman, the stevedore, the porter?