When visiting Hawaii it is helpful to know a few words you may hear, or want to use, during your vacation. Here is a list of Hawaiian words and Pidgin words that you can easily learn and use. Please feel free to add your own in the comments section below.
What is the difference between Hawaiian, English, and Pidgin?
Aloha from Hawaii
Hawaiian and English are the official languages of the State of Hawaii. Hawaiian is a Polynesian based language that originally developed from the South Pacific, most likely Marquesan or Tahitian, as these were the first peoples to inhabit the Hawaiian islands. Pidgin is based partly in English and partly in Hawaiian. Pidgin is used by most “local” residents of Hawaii in everyday conversation. Here is a list of Hawaiian/Pidgin words that you may hear while in Hawaii:
1. Aloha – Love, affection, peace, or used as a greeting
Use “Aloha” to say ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’. Hawaii is also nicknamed the “Aloha State” and it is common for people to refer to the “Aloha spirit” or to do something “with Aloha” – this basically means to be nice to all other people and treat them the way you would want to be treated. Some other variations of “Aloha”: “Aloha kakahiaka” = “good morning” “Aloha auinalā” = “good afternoon” “Aloha ahiahi” = “good evening” “Aloha kākou” = “welcome to all” Feel free to say Aloha to Discover Hawaii Tours
Aloha Tower in Honolulu, Hawaii
2. Mahalo – Thanks, gratitude, praise
It is very common to use “mahalo” in place of “thank you” with just about anyone.
3. Makai – Ocean
If you look at a map of Hawaii
you will see that the islands are shaped in many different ways, so it is difficult to give directions using “North” and “South”. Often times you will hear people using the word “Makai” instead, which means ‘Ocean’.
Makai means Ocean
4. Mauka – Mountain
The opposite of “Makai” is “Mauka”, which means “mountain”, or more generally it means towards the interior of the island.
Mauka means mountain
5. Ohana – Family
The word “Ohana” refers to your actual family or blood relatives. Hawaiians will use the word “Hui” to refer to a tight knit group that is not related.
Discover Hawaii Ohana
Join the Discover Hawaii Tours Hui
6. Pupu – Appetizer
If you are at a restaurant and would like to see an appetizer or bar menu simply ask for a “Pupu Menu”
7. Da kine – Everything, anything, or used as a placeholder
My favorite Pidgin word is “Da Kine” because you can use it to mean anything and everything, or nothing at all, or a placeholder, or just da kine. It is similar to the English slang words “whatchamacallit”, “widget”, “so and so”, but it can mean all of those.
“Da Kine” can be used to refer to anything from a place, to a person, or even a word you just can’t remember. If you are struggling with remembering any word, just throw in “Da Kine” . Da Kine is also commonly used to mean “the best”.
Example: “I went on a really fun Oahu Tour
with that da kine
tour company – Discover Hawaii Tours
8. Brah – Brother, friend, close associate
“Brah” is a very common word, especially when you are on the North Shore
, used a lot by surfers.
9. Shaka – Hang loose; recognition of something good, cool, or a sign of approval
The “shaka” is used by local Hawaiians as a sign of appreciation for a favor, or when appreciating something they approve of. If you allow someone to pass in front of you while driving you will receive a shaka, be sure to recipricate.
10. Nalu – Wave
11. Honu – Sea turtle
The “Honu” are considered sacred by Hawaiian locals, and are endangered species protected by the State of Hawaii. If you see a Honu on the beach or in the Ocean you can enjoy them from a distance, but do not attempt to feed or touch them.
Honu means turtle
12. Kama’aina – State resident
The word “Kama’aina” means “state resident” such as a local Hawaiian or a person who has lived in Hawaii for a long time. On occasion, you can ask certain stores and restuarants if they have a “Kama’aina rate” which can mean a discount.
13. Ma Li Hini – Visitor
Any visitor or tourist is called a “Ma li hini” by the kama’aina In between giving great Hawaii Tours
we will be adding to this list, so check back each week to learn a new Hawaiian word.
If you have some words that you think we should add to the list please put them in the comment section or send us a message on the Discover Hawaii Tours