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The Basics

The Hawaiian language is derived from an ancient Polynesian precursor language. Visitors to the islands are often embarrassed to attempt to speak many of the words. This site was developed to provide visitors to the islands a place to hear the common Hawaiian words spoken out loud by native Hawaiian language experts.

Hawaiians are very proud of their language and culture and tend to be very forgiving and welcoming of all outsiders. Anyone who shows an interest in learning the language and culture tends to be embraced. In general, if you speak a Hawaiian word with a smile and Aloha, it’s OK– you can’t be wrong

First, some basics of the Hawaiian language. The 5 vowels a,e,i,o and u as well as the 7 consonants h,k,l,m,n,p, and w make up the entire Hawaiian alphabet. In the Hawaiian language a consonant is always followed by a vowel which also means all Hawaiian words end in a vowel.

Names and words are more easily pronounced when they are broken down into single syllable chunks. Sometimes the letter W is pronounced the same as V as in the traditional pronunciation of Hawai’i which is phonetically pronounced huh-vi-ee rather than huh-why-ee. Both versions are considered acceptable.

a: “ah”
e: “eh”
i: “ee”
o: “oh”
u: “oo”

a – ah, as in father: aloha
e – a, as in may: nene
i – ee, as in bee: honi
o – oh, as in so: mahalo
u – oo, as in spoon: kapu

Waipio Valley
Waipio Valley on Hawaii Island

Essential Hawaiian Words

Anyone planning to visit the islands should learn how to pronounce the following words that are widely used:

ListenHawaiian Word English Translation
AlohaLove, affection, hello, goodbye
MahaloThank You
MakaiTowards the sea; the ocean side.
MaukaTowards the mountain; the side facing the mountain.
E Komo MaiWelcome!
PauDone, finished
HanaWork
Pau HanaWork is done
Hana houEncore, do it again. The name of Hawaiian Airlines magazine.
AinaLand--especially Homeland
KamaainaOne of the land. Native-born but also used as a long-term resident of Hawai'i.
AkamaiSmart, clever
AliiChief
HaleHouse or home.
HaoleLiterally, means a person without a country or of known beginning. Often used to identify a person of Caucasian ancestry but is incorrect.
HonuA turtle--especially Hawaiian green sea turtle.
HulaHawaiian dance
KahunaExpert, usually refers to a priest, minister, or person held in esteem.
KaneMan
WahineWoman, female
KeikiChild , children
KuuipoSweetheart. Often used on jewelry--especially the Hawaiian bracelets worn by wahine.
MalamaTo take care of, to tend. Mālama aina: to care for the land.
KapuForbidden. Do not enter.
KokuaHelp, aid, provide assistance.
KuleanaResponsibility
LanaiPorch, patio, or balcony. Usually at the back of the house.
LeiA necklace, usually, of flowers. Also, shells or kūkui nuts.
LuauHawaiian feast or party
MaikaiExcellent, goodness. Sack and Save grocery has a Maika'i discount card.
MalihiniNewcomer, visitor
OhanaFamily, kin, relative
OnoGood or tasty as in ‘ono grinds (food).
PanioloHawaiian cowboy
PoiA paste made from Taro root. A mainstay of the traditional Hawaiian diet.
PakaloloMarijuana
PupuSnacks or appetizers
PupuleCrazy (especially referring to a mentally deranged person).
TutuGrandparent (affectionate)
UkuFleas or head lice (as in ‘undesired’ little critters in your hair').
WikiwikiSpeedy or fast. Honolulu Airport has a Wikiwiki shuttle.

Aloha

The word “Aloha” is one that is very difficult to define but is very special to the Native Hawaiians. In the Hawaiian language, aloha is not just a greeting or a word to convey love, hello, or goodbye. It has other meanings including, compassion, mercy, grace.

“Aloha” actually comes from two Hawaiian words: “alo” — which means the front of a person, the part of our bodies that we share and take in people. And “ha”, which is our breath. When we are in each other’s presence with the front of our bodies facing, we are exchanging the breath of life. So, instead of a word, it’s more of a feeling.

When used in concert with other words, a specific meaning as can be seen as follows:

ListenHawaiian Word English Translation
Aloha kākouAloha to all (including myself) Warmest welcome. Usually said to a group of people. Hawaiian Airlines uses this on all flights.
Aloha kāuaAloha to you (singular) and me
Aloha nui loa Very much love, fondest regards

Mauna Kea
Snow Covered Mauna Kea. December 2017.

Hawaiian Words of Love

This table includes Hawaiian phrases of love and affection as might be spoken between lovers or persons close to one another.
Pronunciations by Native Hawaiian speaker Jessica Kaikaina.

Click on a button to listen:

ListenHawaiian Phrase English Translation
E kipa maiCome to me
E ku'u alohaMy love
Eia au, eia 'oeHere I am, here you are
Hele mai 'oe i ko maua male 'anaCome to our wedding
Ho'i hou ke alohaLet us fall in love all over again
HokeoTo secretly love
Ia iho ke alohaTo my love
Ka honi mai me ke alohaAnd with love is a kiss
Ke alohaBeloved
Kipona alohaDeep love
Ko aloha makamae e ipoSweetheart you are so precious
Ko`u AlohaMy love
Ku`u LeiMy beloved
Ma'ane'i no ke alohaFor love is here and now
Mahalo e ke akua no keia laThanks be to God for this day
Male 'anaWedding
Male ana e pili mai aloha kauaWe two will cling to love in marriage
Mau loaForever
Mea alohaLoved one
Me ke alohaWith love
Me ke aloha pumehanaWith the warmth of my love
Nau ko`u alohaMy love is yours
Na'u `oeYou're mine
No Kau a KauFor eternity
No keia la, no keia po, a mau loaFrom this day, from this night, forever more
Nou No Ka `I`iniI desire you
'O ku'u aloha no 'oeYou are indeed my love
Pa'ipunaheleAn expression of love for a favorite
PilialohaTo be in a bond of love
Aloha au ia 'oeI love you
'Aha'aina male Wedding feast
Aloha aku no, aloha mai noI give my love to you, you give your love to me
Aloha kauaMay there be love between us (said to one person)
Aloha kakouMay there be love between us (said to more than one person)
Aloha no au ia 'oeI truly love you
Aloha nui loaAll my love
Aloha pumehanaWarm love, affection
E hoomau maua kealohaMay our love last forever

Frequent Words and Phrases

Anyone who lives or plans to visit Hawaii should know the following words used frequently:

ListenHawaiian Word English Translation
AlohaLove, affection, hello, goodbye
Aloha kākouAloha to all (including myself) Warmest welcome. Usually said to a group of people. Hawaiian Airlines uses this on all flights.
Aloha kāuaAloha to you (singular) and me
Aloha nui loa Very much love, fondest regards
MahaloThank You
MakaiTowards the sea; the ocean side.
MaukaTowards the mountain; the side facing the mountain.
E Komo MaiWelcome!
PauDone, finished
HanaWork
Pau HanaWork is done
Hana houEncore, do it again. The name of Hawaiian Airlines magazine.
ListenHawaiian WordEnglish Definition
AinaLand especially, Homeland
KamaainaOne of the land. Native-born but also used as a long-term resident of Hawai'i.
AkamaiSmart, clever
AliiChief
HaleHouse or home.
HaoleLiterally, means a person without a country or of known beginning. Often used to identify a person of Caucasian ancestry.
HonuA turtle--especially Hawaiian green sea turtle.
HulaHawaiian dance
KahunaExpert, usually refers to a priest, minister, or person held in esteem.
KaneMan
WahineWoman, female
KeikiChild , children
KuuipoSweetheart. Often used on jewelry--especially the Hawaiian bracelets worn by wahine.
MalamaTo take care of, to tend. Mālama aina: to care for the land.
KapuForbidden. Do not enter.
KokuaHelp, aid, provide assistance.
KuleanaResponsibility
LanaiPorch, patio, or balcony. Usually at the back of the house.
LeiA necklace, usually, of flowers. Also, shells or kūkui nuts.
LuauHawaiian feast or party
MaikaiExcellent, goodness. Sack and Save grocery has a Maika'i discount card.
MalihiniNewcomer, visitor
OhanaFamily, kin, relative
OnoGood or tasty as in ‘ono grinds (food).
PanioloHawaiian cowboy
PoiA paste made from Taro root. A mainstay of the traditional Hawaiian diet.
PakaloloMarijuana
PupuSnacks or appetizers
PupuleCrazy (especially referring to a mentally deranged person).
TutuGrandparent (affectionate)
UkuFleas or head lice (as in ‘undesired’ little critters in your hair').
WikiwikiSpeedy or fast. Honolulu Airport has a Wikiwiki shuttle.

PEOPLE YOU SHOULD KNOW

Hawaiian WordEnglish Definition
Alaka’iLeader
Ali`iHawaiian royalty
`AnakalaUncle
`AnakeAunt
HaumanaStudent
HoahanauCousin
Hoa kulaClassmate
HoalohaBeloved friend
HoapiliClose friend
HuiStaff, team, group
Kahu lioGroom
KahunaPriest
Kahuna pulePastor
KaikamahineDaughter
Kaikua’anaOlder brother of a male
KaikainaYounger brother or sister of the same sex
Kaiko’ekeBrother in law
Kaikua’anaOlder sister of a female
KaikunaneOlder brother of a male
KaikuahineSister of a male
KahunaPriest, skilled person, expert in a field
Kamali`iChildren
KanakaHuman
KaneMan
Kane maleMarried man
KupunakaneGrandfather, grandpa, granpa, grampy, gramps, papa, pops
KupunawahineGrandmother, grandma, granma, granny, grammy, grams, nana
KeikiChild, children, kid, kids, offspring
KeikikaneSon
KoaSoldier
KumuTeacher
KupunaGrandparent
Ku`uipoSweetheart
Lawai`aFisherman
MakamakaIntimate friend
MakuaParent
MakuahineMother, mom, mama, mommy
MakuakaneFather, dad, pa, daddy
Mo`iRoyalty, King or Queen
Mo`opunaGrandchild
OhanaFamily
PanioloCowboy
TutuAffectionate name for grandmother or grandfather
WahineWoman
Wahine makuaSister in law
Wahine maleMarried woman
Wahine male houBride

More Popular Hawaiian Phrases

Hawaiian PhraseEnglish definition
A hui hou kakouUntil we meet again--as said to a group
Aloha kakahiakaGood morning
Aloha`auinalaGood afternoon
Aloha ahiahiGood evening
Aloha`oeFarewell to you
A`ole pilikiaNo problem, You are welcome
E komo maiWelcome, come in
Hana Hou!One more time! Do it again.
Kipa hou maiCome visit again
MahaloThank you
Mahalo nui loaThank you very much
Malu NoReserved For (Ideal for placecard settings)
Me ka `oia`i`oWith sincerity
Mau LoaForever
Nau wale noJust for you
`O wai kou inoa?What is your name?
Pomaika`iGood Luck