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22 Popular Hawaiian Words to Know Before Visiting the Islands

Aloha! Ready to learn some Hawaiian words? 

Learning new languages is always fun and exciting. Why not start with some important Hawaiian words so you can visit the islands more confidently? 

While English is the official language in Hawaii, learning some Hawaiian words will surely please the locals and show some appreciation for their culture. 

Without further ado, here are some important Hawaiian words you should know before your next trip to Hawaii.

Top Hawaiian Words

(1) Aloha

About: Aloha is the most popular Hawaiian word, and most people know that it means hello, goodbye, and love, but it has a lot of meanings. It carries a profound philosophy that promotes love, peace, affection, mercy, compassion, respect, honesty, greeting, farewell, and more.

We wrote a detailed review about the meaning of Aloha, so be sure to read that post as well.

Pronunciation: ah-low-ha

(2) Mahalo

About: Mahalo is another popular Hawaiian word used to express gratitude and thanks.

Pronunciation: ma-ha-lo

(3) Ohana

About: Most everyone has heard the popular phrase “ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind.” But ohana has a much deeper meaning than just that. While ohana means family, it includes more than just your immediate family members. It can refer to anyone who plays a vital role in your life.

Pronunciation: oh-hah-nah

(4) ʻĀina

About: ʻĀina is a very important Hawaiian word, translated as land or place of life.

Pronunciation: eye-nah

(5) Wahine

About: Wahine means woman; feminine.

Pronunciation: wah-hee-neh

(6) Kāne

About: Kāne means man; masculine.

Pronunciation: kah-neh

(7) Kamaʻāina

About: Kamaʻāina is a term used to refer to someone who has been living on the islands, also known as a local.

Pronunciation: kah-mah-eye-nah

(8) A’ole pilikia

About: A’ole pilikia translates to you’re welcome, or no problem.

Pronunciation: ah-oh-lay pee-lee-kee-yah

(9) Hoʻomaha

About: Hoʻomaha means to rest or slow down. 

Pronunciation: hoh-oh-mah-hah

(10) Howzit

About: Howzit is a Hawaiian Pidgin term and is a casual way to say, “How are you?”

Pronunciation: how-sit

(11) A hui hou

About: A hui hou is the Hawaiian way of saying goodbye. It means “until we meet again.” 

Pronunciation: ah hwee ho

(12) Honu

About: Honu is a Hawaiian green sea turtle. You’ll often hear the phrase “respect the honu” since green sea turtles are endangered and protected species.

Pronunciation: hoh-noo

(13) Koa

About: Koa can mean warrior, brave, bold, and fearless in Hawaiian. 

Pronunciation: ko-ah

(14) Lei

About: Lei is a flower necklace used as a symbol of love and respect in Hawaiian culture. 

Pronunciation: lay

(15) Wai

About: Wai means water in Hawaiian.

Pronunciation: why

(16) Keiki

About: Keiki means child in Hawaiian. 

Pronunciation: keh-kee

(17) Malama

About: Malama means to take care of something or someone, such as taking care of the environment and taking care of one another. 

Pronunciation: mah-lah-mah

(18) Imu

About: Imu is an underground oven used to cook traditional Hawaiian food such as kalua pork. You will primarily hear this word when attending a luau, such as the Polynesian Cultural Center or Chief’s Luau.

Pronunciation: ee-moo

Side note: looking for the best luau in Hawaii? Check out our review of the top luau on Oahu, the top luau on Kauai, and the top luau on The Big Island of Hawaii.

(19) Lanai

About: Lanai is a type of porch or patio. 

Pronunciation: la-nigh

(20) Lūʻau

About: Lūʻau is a traditional Hawaiian feast or party with songs and dances. This is the most popular tourist activity in Hawaii.

Pronunciation: loo-ow

(21) Pali

About: Pali means cliff in Hawaiian. 

Pronunciation: pah-lee

Side note: If you are going to Oahu, stop by the Pali Lookout, one of the best things to do on the island.

(22) Haole

About: Haole is a term used to refer to someone not of Hawaiian descent, especially a white person.

Pronunciation: how-lee 

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you’re familiar with some of the top Hawaiian words to know, here are a few FAQs:

What is the Most Used Word in Hawaii?

The most used word in Hawaii is Aloha. It can be used to say hello, goodbye and to express love or gratitude.

What is the Hawaiian Word for Beautiful Life?

The Hawaiian word for a beautiful life is ke ola nani.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, the top Hawaiian words you should know before visiting Hawaii. While it is important to learn some local lingo, it’s even more important to show respect for the Hawaiian culture by understanding and appreciating their customs and traditions.

Mahalo for learning with us today!