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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."
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(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]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(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]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


A Hawaiian word meaning human being, used to mean a Hawaiian of Polynesian descent.
Dictionary of Unfamiliar Words by Diagram Group Copyright © 2008 by Diagram Visual Information Limited
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References in classic literature ?
All the Kanaka boys are dead now; one fell overboard of the launch, and one died of a wounded heel that he poisoned in some way with plant-juice.
In the top one lay Oofty-Oofty, a Kanaka and splendid seaman, so named by his mates.
The interpreter, who is invariably a 'tabooed Kanaka'*, leaps ashore with the goods intended for barter, while the boats, with their oars sloped, and every man on his thwart, lie just outside the surf, heading off the shore, in readiness at the first untoward event to escape to the open sea.
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?
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.