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Hawaiian Words

The Hawaiian language is not in common use in Hawaii today, but many Hawaiian words are in everyday use.  Almost everyone has heard the word aloha and there are several other commonly used Hawaiian words, such as Mahalo (thank you).  It seems most places, streets, and roads have Hawaiian names.  

Visitors are often intimidated by Hawaiian words.  There are only 12 letters in the alphabet.  There are five vowels: A, E, I, O, and U.  There are seven consonants; H, K, L, M, N, P, and W.  Most of us aren't used to seeing so many vowels used in words, often many in a row.  Basically, you just pronounce all the vowels one by one.  The accented syllable is in all cap's.

Aina  (EYE-na) Land, earth
Akamai  (ah-kaw-MY) clever, smart
Alii  (ah-LEE-ee) Chief, chiefess, or royalty
Aloha  (ah-LOW-ha) Hello, good-by, or an expression of affection
Haole  (HOW-leh) A white person; Caucasian
Heiau  (hay-EE-ow) Pre-Christian shrine or place of worship
Hula  (WHO-lah) The dance of Hawaii
Imu  (EE-moo) An underground oven you will see at a luau
Kahuna (kah-WHO-na) A priest, minister, or an expert at any profession
Kai     (kigh)  The sea
Kamaaina     (Kah-ma-EYE-na)  Native born
Kane  (KAH-knee) A man or boy
Kapu  (KAH-poo) Sacred, taboo, forbidden, no trespassing
Keiki  (KAY-key) Child, offspring, or children
Kokua  (koh-KOO-ah) Help or give assistance
Lanai  (lah-NIGH) A porch, patio, or balcony
Lei  (lay) A necklace of flowers, leaves, shells, feathers, etc.
Luau  (LEW-ow) Literally means young taro tops, but used for a Hawaiian feast
Mahalo  (mah-HAH-low) Thanks, gratitude
Makai  (mah-kigh) Ocean, used to mean "toward the ocean"
Malihini  (mah-lee-HEE-knee) A stranger, foreigner, tourist, etc.
Mauka  (MOW-ka [rhymes with how-ka])  Toward the mountains
Mele  (MAY-lay)  song, chant, to sing
Ohana  (oh-HAH-nah) Family or relative
Nui  (NEW-ee) Big, large, great, or important
Ohana  (oh-HAH-nah) Family
Ono  (OH-no) Delicious or tasty, and also a large mackerel type of fish
Pali  (PAH-lee) Cliff, a steep hill or slope
Paniolo  (paw-knee-OH-low) Hawaiian cowboy
Pau  (pow) Finished, ended, all done
Poi  (poy, as in boy) A paste made from pounded taro root
Pupu  (poo-poo) Snacks or appetizers
Wahine  (wah-HEE-neh) Woman, lady  
Wikiwiki  (wee-kee-wee-kee) Fast or speedy

A Few Useful Phrases

A Hui Hou  (Ah Hooee Ho) Until we meet again
Aloha ahiahi  (Aloha ahee ahee) Good Evening
Aloha nui loa  (Aloha new ee low a) Very much aloha (love)
Hana Hou  (Hana Ho) Encore; repeat
Hau'oli la hanau  (how-oh-lee la haw-now) Happy Birthday
Hau'oli la ho'omana'o  (how-oh-lee la ho-oh-ma-na-oh) Happy Anniversary
Mea'ai Maika'i  (meh-ah'ah-ee mai-kah'ee)  Bon Appetit, good food

 

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