The word “Haole” literally means a person without a country or of known beginning. It is frequently used nowadays to identify a person of Caucasian ancestry but is an incorrect usage. When Captain Cook (the first Caucasian) came to the islands, he could only identify four generations of his which offended the Hawaiian Chief as it was traditional for Hawaiian people to recite their entire ancestry when meeting someone new. The term haole was used to identify those persons who did not know their ancestry. Although the term can be used in a derogatory fashion nowadays, the original derivation is innocent.


10 replies
    KALENA says:

    The true meaning of of “HAOLE”:

    ha= breath of life.
    A’ole: none (without) or no.

    The first white man who met the chief extended his hand and did not offer the “ha” …. therefore, the breath of life was not present or offered.
    Thus, “haole” (ha’a’ole) shortened to “haole.”

    • Dennis
      Dennis says:

      “Without the breath of life, unworthy”
      When you and I meet present the “Breath of Life”,
      we bcome friends.

  2. Malia Jones
    Malia Jones says:

    I , myself am native born Hawaiian. I am very proud of my heritage and want to learn the language of my forefathers. I’ve been able to learn some from my father and through investigation of history books. I plan on finding out more of my family tree, but can only do that by going back to the Islands. Which I can’t do anytime soon because of cost. I have kin there on several of the islands, but have lost contact with them. I now live in the state of Texas. Mahalo nui. Aloha ole

  3. lee gehrke
    lee gehrke says:

    Haole means without the abdominal breath, Ha Loa or eternal breath. The Ha is lost from eating the five cereal grains. Rice wheat millet rye oats. This is documented in the yellow emperors court the ancient document that outlines the acupuncture meridians and Chinese medicine. The five cereal grains are stated to rot the five internal organs, vex the soul, and stop the embryonic breath (abdominal breath we are all born with). The grains feed three energetic worms that exist in the third eye (pineal gland,) the Heart and lower abdomen. The document states, If you want to live long do not let the stench of grains touch your breath. Polynesians never had the grains in their genetic history and have been destroyed by them. They are the lost tribe of Israel who lived in the third garden paradise, and Lived awakened to the third eye. (let thine eye be one) Also see the great rendering. (hidden gospel)

  4. Alison
    Alison says:

    Drkwiat, language is a constantly evolving thing. You can tell the thirty kanakas hanging out this evening at salt pond, Kauai, that they are using “haole” incorrectly, and that wont change their usage of it! When they say it, it means caucasian. And depending on tone and context, it very often means “caucasian idiot.” In my observation, this is how the word is used and understood, by Hawaiians, island-wide. So, I’d say it is the “new”(evolved) “correct” usage.

  5. Beth
    Beth says:

    Aloha – Forgive me for posting this here, I can’t find any other place to post a comment/question on your website. I was showing this site to a friend to help them understand how to pronounce some Hawaiian words. Your voice is beautiful Kaumana and I appreciate your clear pronunciation.

    I did have one question. I lived in the Islands from 1971 to 2002 and my kids are all hapa Hawaiian with many other things mixed in. Aunty Mary Kawena Pukui was a longtime family friend and she gifted me a copy of her excellent 570+ page Hawaiian dictionary. Knowing her and listening to her chant is one of my most treasured memories of my time as a Kama’aina.

    So – I was confused when I saw that you have this on your site “na`au: pretty; beautiful” — I’ve never seen it defined that way. Pretty would be nohea, or huapala, maybe maika’i. As I’ve heard the Kupuna define the word Na’au, it means your gut or your ki or chi — the place where your soul resides just below your solar plexus. The place where you “know” things and hold the entirety of life’s experiences.

    I’ve always loved that word. Na’au is a place I go to when I meditate. I imagine it as a golden room that holds the records of my soul; a place for healing and coming home to myself.

    Perhaps in the making of the list you accidentally placed that definition there. Your site is very helpful and I appreciate all you have done to help people understand the beauty of the language.

    Mahalo for listening,
    A hui hou

    • drkwiat
      drkwiat says:

      Thank you, Beth! I like your definition far better and will incorporate yours into the site. We are always looking to improve.


  6. Kalani
    Kalani says:

    This is incorrect. The ancient meaning is foreign. In ancient chants Haole was used to describe plants, animals, and people not Native to Hawaii. Years later it was broken up Ha’ole then givin the meaning without breath.


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