Basic Hawaiian Words and Phrases

hawaiian words

15 Basic Hawaiian Words and Phrases for Your Trip to the Aloha State

Here are 15 Hawaiian words and sayings to learn before your next trip.

There aren’t numerous U.S. destinations more beautiful than Hawaii and is renowned for its beautiful hills, volcanoes that are active and peaceful beaches. Beyond just taking in the attractions, one of the best ways to appreciate Hawaiian tradition is to learn the Hawaiian language. If you try some of these words when you travel and you’ll be a part of the rising movement to revitalize the language that is dying. It’s true: at one time, Hawaiian was on the brink of disappearing.

Although it’s among the languages that are officially recognized of this state Hawaiian wasn’t officially permitted in school following the time that the kingdom was dissolved in the 1800s. This led to the number of native Hawaiian speakers fell. However, in the past 50 years the Hawaiian revival of the Hawaiian language has taken over across the country and is slowly returning the old tongue.

Most people you meet on your trip will speak the language, but those who will be surprised by the fact that you’ve decided to give Hawaiian the chance. When you’re packing your luggage, make sure you commit to a few of these important Hawaiian phrases and words to your the memory.


Basic Hawaiian Words

Aloha (and the variants)

Although you’ll hear the word “aloha” used as a way to express gratitude but is also an expression to live living. It can be used to express goodwill, positive thoughts and show respect to other people. When you travel you will be able to become familiar with the aloha symbol by making use of it at different times throughout the day.

Aloha kakahiaka: Pronounced a-lo-ha kah-kah-hee-yah-kah

Make use of this phrase to greet your guests.

Aloha awakeaPronounced a-loh-ha av-ah-kay-ah


It is recommended to use this variant of aloha in the late in the morning. It roughly means “good noontime.”

Aloha ‘auinala: Pronounced a-loh-ha ah-wee-na-lah

Check this out if you’re looking for a way to say “good afternoon.

Aloha ahiahi: Pronounced a-loh-ha a-hee-yah-hee

This is a good sign for a good evening. Be careful with your pronunciation as “ahi” means tuna. It is possible to avoid from embarrassment by using the word “tuna tuna” by using an item called a “y-glide” in the middle of the word. In place of using “a-hee a-hee,” pronounce it as “a-hee-yah-hee.”

Lu’au: Pronounced loo-ah-oo

I hope you’ll be able to experience the joy of a lu’au while on your journey. It’s so more than just a party which includes hula dancing. Lu’au in itself is a reference to the leaves of the taro plant that is a significant part of traditional Hawaiian culture. It is likely to be found in a variety of dishes at this time of year.

Mahalo: Pronounced mah-hah-loh

Mahalo signifies thank you. It’s on a lot of trash cans, and so most tourists think that it is a reference to trash. It’s not! Make it even more specific in your thank you by adding a couple of additional words. Mahalo nui (pronounced mah-hahloh nooo-ee) means “thank you very much.” If you really like something, you may say mahalo nui (pronounced mah-hah loh noo-ee wah-wah), which means “thank you so very much.”

Wahine: Pronounced vah-hee-neh

Are you looking for the bathroom for women? The word “women’s bathroom” will be displayed at the entrance.

Kane: Pronounced kah-neh

The word will be displayed on the bathroom door for men.

Common Hawaiian Phrases

“A’ole Pilikia: Pronounced ah-oh-leh pee lee-kee-yah

You can use this expression if someone is grateful to you. It signifies “you’re welcome.”

A ‘o ia! : Pronounced ah-oy-yah

Encourage your friend if he/she is able to perform the hula. Or shout it out when someone finally gets the wave in a surf lesson. It’s like declaring “there you have it!”

Hui! : Pronounced hoo-wee

There’s a courteous way of using the phrase “hey you,” and this is the way to do it.

E kala mai: Pronounced eh kah-lah mah-yee

Do you spill your drink or run into someone else in the crowd? It is possible to use this expression to apologize or sorry.

Useful Hawaiian Sayings for Travelers

Ma ukaPronounced mah-oo-kah

Ma uka is an directional word which means “upland.” It is possible to hear something like “We’ll be ma uka today doing the zipline.”

Ma Kai: Pronounced mah-kie-yee

Ma kai is the reverse of ma uka and it is a reference to “seaward.” Invite your guests to have drinks together “at the boathouse ma kai” while you travel.

A hui hou Pronounced as ah-hoo wee-hoo-

This signifies “until we meet again.”


Hawaii Travel Guide

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