50+ Hawaii Pidgin Words and Terms Visitors Need to Know | Hawaii.com (2023)

If itʻs your first time to the Islands, you may be a little thrown off by all of the local slang. “Shoots,” “slippahs” and “kapu” probably arenʻt in your day-to-day vernacular, and it can all seem like a lot when you first arrive in Hawaiʻi. So donʻt fret, and check out the collection of words and terms weʻve put together that will get you through your trip without anything important being missed in translation.

1. Aloha

Aloha is a funny one since it has so many definitions—it can mean hello and goodbye. Itʻs also what we call the spirit of generosity and giving found here in Hawaiʻi, hence the term “aloha spirit.”


2. ʻĀina

The Hawaiian word for land, locals will often refer to the island youʻre on as the “ʻāina.”

“Please pick up your trash to care for our ʻāina.”

3. Aurite

A local way of saying “alright,” residents of Hawaiʻi use aurite as a more excited way of agreeing with something or for confirmation.

“Keoni got some poke? Aurite!”

4. Aunty/Unko

Itʻs not uncommon for kamaʻāina to call men and women older than them “aunty” or “unko”—a local version of uncle that omits the “le” sound. You donʻt have to be blood related at all to be—or call someone—an aunty or unko.

“Hey aunty how are you doing? Is unko Silva still working at Pearl Harbor?”

5. Bumbai

Pidgin phrase that typically means “or else.”

“You better pick up your slippahs bumbai you’ll get scolded.”

6. Braddah (Brah)

An endearing way to call out to a young to middle-aged man.

“Hey brah, you left your wallet at 7-11!”

7. Broke da Mouth

When something you’ve eaten is so good, that your mouth is left in a state of disbelief and can be considered “broken.”

“Aunty Thelma’s banana lumpia was so good brah, broke da mouth.”

8. Chee-hoo

An extremely local expression of excitement or happiness. The longer you can draw out the “chee” and “hoo” phase of the word, the better.

“Rebel Souljahz set was so good! Chee-hoo!”

9. Choke

Plenty, or a lot.

“I went to Costco last Sunday and had choke cars in the parking lot.”

10. Coconut Wireless

Local word-of-mouth is strong, especially in smaller communities. It’s so strong we’ve begun calling it the “coconut wireless.”

“I heard on the coconut wireless that Sabrina just got engage to Rubio. For real, my aunty heard it from her daughter’s best friend’s boyfriend!”

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11. Da Kine

A catch-all term to denote literally anything you can’t remember the name of.

“Shoot, you remember where I put da kine? It was right by da kine when I left for da kine.”

12. E Komo Mai


“I heard you just moved here. E komo mai!”

13. Fut

To fart.

“Tati did you just fut? Brah it stinks so bad.”

14. Green Bottles

Specifically used to refer to Heinekens, the preferred beer of quite a few locals in Hawaiʻi.

“We gonna hit the beach this Thursday—Sandy’s of course—with a six pack of green bottles if you wanna come?”

15. Grinds (Grindz)

To eat, it can also refer to food. It can also be spelled with a “z” for unknown reasons.

“I surfed so long yesterday, I was grinding on some ono grindz.”

16. Hale

Home, someone’s house.

“Come over to my hale for some grinds.”

17. Hamajang

When someone or something is very disorganized, not put together or messy.

“Did you see Jaden’s room? So hamajang!”

18. Hana Hou!

A term used to ask for “one more!” Typically will be shouted by a crowd of a music act to encourage the artist to perform an encore.

“Hana hou, hana hou, hana hou!”

19. Hanabata Days

Childhood, when you were a child.

“I loved those red Otter Pops from my hanabata days.”

20. Hapa

Half, usually used to denote that someone is of two ethnicities.

“Didn’t you know Dillyn is hapa? She’s Japanese and Caucasian.”

21. Hawaiian Time

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If you’re running late, or just aren’t in a rush to get to something or do something, you’re on Hawaiian time.

“Sorry Kainoa, I’m gonna be a bit late to dinner, I’m on Hawaiian time right now.”

22. Ho

If you’re trying to get someone’s attention, a short “ho” will do the trick.

“Ho! You got the time?”

23. Holo Holo

To take a pleasurable stroll or to wander without a purpose.

“I just went holo holo around Kaimukī and found the coolest little coffee shop.”

24. Howzit

A combination of the words “how” “is” and “it.” Often used to ask someone how it’s going, or how they are doing.

“Ho howzit brah?”

25. Irrahz

If you’re annoyed, or someone is annoyed, they are irrahz.

“I went to the Wahiawa DMV to get my license renewed and the line was so long, brah I was so irrahz.”

26. Junk

A way to describe that something is bad or not up to par.

“Not going to lie, that movie was pretty junk.”

27. Kamaʻāina

Longtime resident or local.

“My great-grandparents came over to Hawaiʻi during the plantation days and our family has been here ever since, so yeah I guess we’re kamaʻāina.”

28. Kanaks (Kanak Attack)

Being put into a food coma.

“I fully had a kanak attack after pounding down that chili loco moco from Zippy’s.”

29. Kapu

A term of warning that something is forbidden or not allowed.

“Kapu, do not enter.”

30. Kāne

Man, men.

“Don’t go into the bathroom marked wahine, Richard. You want the one that says kāne.”

31. Keiki

Kid, kids.

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“It was so cute watching all the keiki run around Makiki District Park yesterday for their soccer games.”

32. Kuleana

The Hawaiian word for responsibility, or to take responsibility.

“The beach is our kuleana, and we have to make sure to pick up our trash and the trash of others to keep it clean.”

33. L’dat

A combination of the words “like” and “that.”

“I like it just l’dat.”

34. Lānai

Not to be confuse with Lānaʻi, the island, lānai mean porch, or veranda.

“Let’s go cruise on my lānai and watch the sunset.”

35. Local

Like a kamaʻāina, someone who has lived in Hawaiʻi since birth or for a long—long—time. People who live in Hawaiʻi are referred to as locals, and not Hawaiians—unless they are of Hawaiian descent.

“I never knew Chris was a local until he busted out in the meanest Pidgin.”

36. Mahalo

A way to say thanks, or thank you.

“Mahalo for the malasadas!”

37. Makai

Towards the ocean. Often used in a directional sense.

“Yeah I’m going makai on Ward Street, I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

38. Mauka

Inland, or towards the mountains. Often used in a directional sense.

“Where are you at Ala Moana? Are you at the mauka side bus stop?”

39. ʻOhana


“ʻOhana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind.

40. ʻŌkole

Hawaiian phrase for butt.

“Seriously pick up your slippahs bumbai you gonna get your ʻōkole whipped!”

41. ʻOno

When food is delicious, it’s ʻono.

“My unko Braden made the best steaks last night, was so ʻono.”

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42. ʻŌpala

Garbage, trash.

“Make sure to bring a bag with you on any hike you go on so you can pick up ʻōpala.”

43. Pau Hana

To be done with work, often used to denote happy hour at bars.

“Let’s go hit up the pau hana special at Duke’s and start the weekend off right.”

44. Poke

Cubed raw fish that can be eaten on its own or in a bowl of rice, called a poke bowl.

“Foodland Pūpūkea has the best poke bowl on island, seriously.”

45. Pūpū

Appetizer or appetizers.

“Let’s share a pūpū, I don’t want to fill up to much before the main.”

46. Rajah Dat

Local way of saying “rodger that.”

“You want to go hike Koko Head Crater tomorrow morning? Rajah dat!”

47. Shoots

Another phrase to agree with something, or say yes.

“Jadelynn needs to use my car? Shoots.”

48. Slipphas

Flip flops, sandals.

“Brah who took my slippahs. For real, who took them.”

49. Small Kine

A small amount of something.

“I was small kine annoyed that Tiffany stood me up last night, but it was all good, her pit bull got out and she had to find him.”

50. Stink Eye

A nasty, mean look.

“Brah this guy cut me off on the H2 so I gave him stink eye, but I was behind him so he couldn’t see it …”

51. Talk Story

To talk about anything and everything—it can range from small talk with strangers to catching up with old high school friends.

“I saw Kyle from my class in Roosevelt and we talked story for half-an-hour.”

52. Tanks

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Local pronunciation of “thanks.”

“Ho, tanks!”


What does faka mean in Hawaiian? ›

Verb. faka. (transitive) to swallow. (transitive) to drink very quickly, to bolt down.

How do you say hello in Hawaiian pidgin? ›

Aloha is commonly used as both hello and goodbye in Hawaiian and has many other meanings both as a stand-alone word and in combination with other words. Some examples: Aloha: hello in Hawaiian, and goodbye.

What does Braddah mean? ›

Bra / braddah / bruddah

Definition: Bro, brother.

What does Grindz mean in Hawaii? ›

-Grindz: delicious food, as in at a party or a favorite food establishment. -Aloha: specifically the Hawaiian word for “love,” aloha is a catch-all word of good intentions and feelings.

What does boom kanani mean? ›

(boom kuh-nuh-knee) Ah yeah! You say boom kanani when you're excited and happy.

What does Bumbye mean? ›

”Bumbye (bum-bye): Means later or eventually.

How do you respond to Mahalo? ›

What does one say in response to Mahalo? If you are just curious as to the proper response when someoone says Mahalo. It's this, ALLLOHHAA! No seriously, when someone says Mahalo, you can say "Aloha" or just plain your welcome.

What does e komo mai mean? ›


Also used for hello and goodbye. Aloha ā hui hou - Aloha, until we meet again. E kipa mai & E komo mai – Two phrases meaning welcome.

What do you call a beautiful Hawaiian girl? ›

Learn the basic word.

The standard word beautiful is "nani". It is pronounced as nah-knee.

What does Auntie mean in Hawaii? ›

In Hawaii, “Aunty” and “Unko” (Uncle in Standard English) are used as a sign of respect towards elders. While it is common practice, there are times when these terms of endearment can be used in woefully wrong ways.

What does Tita mean in Hawaii? ›

"A Tita is the Hawaiian pidgin word to describe a girl who doesn't give a f***, is loyal, and is strong headed.

What do you call a friend in Hawaii slang? ›

Hoaloha means "friends" and was chosen to recognize the united efforts of the community to create the park. Literally, beloved companion.

What is the white word in Hawaii? ›

Today, “haole” is basically a word used in Hawai''i to describe a white person. Many cultures around the world have their own term for haole.

What does Opala mean in Hawaii? ›

nvs., Trash, rubbish, refuse, litter, waste matter, junk, garbage, muck; littered (said also of “trashy” people); riff-raff. Related: Ahu ʻōpala, junk heap, garbage pile. hoʻōpala Caus/sim.; To litter, make rubbish, strew, soil, make untidy.

What does shootz mean in Hawaii? ›

SHOOTS (shütz) Local slang for “OK” or “yeah.”

What does Lai Lani mean? ›

From root name Leilani. Compound name composed of the Hawaiian elements lani (sky, heaven, heavenly, spiritual; majesty) and lei (a wreath of flowers and leaves, garland): hence, "heavenly lei."

What does Holo Kai mean? ›

Anciently, Pacific Islanders sailed to new lands in voyaging canoes using the stars and waves for navigation. The Hawaiians call this voyage holokai (kai = ocean, holo = to go, to move, to travel).

What does Kai Lani mean? ›

Origin:Hawaiian. Meaning:Sea and sky. Inspired by nature, Kailani is a girl's name of Hawaiian origin, meaning “sea and sky”.

What does Moke mean in Hawaiian? ›

Moke is a term used by residents of the Hawaiian Islands to describe segments of the local Polynesian population. In practice, the word "moke" is similar to "redneck", as it is only used to describe a certain personality type, instead of an entire ethnic group.

What does Chuche mean in slang? ›

चूची = BREAST(Noun)

What does chopsy mean in slang? ›

Chopsy. If someone is getting mouthy or arguing with you, the Welsh would call this 'Chopsy' or 'Chopsing'.

What should I reply to aloha? ›

If someone says “Aloha” to you, say it right back. Mahalo means “thank you.” If someone does you a kindness, don't be shy about saying, “Mahalo,” to them.

What does Mahalo Piha mean? ›

Mahalo Piha (wholehearted gratitude) is surrounded by native birds and plants.

What does Oli Mahalo mean? ›

Oli Mahalo

This oli is an expression of appreciation, love, and/or acknowledgement. 'Uhola 'ia ka makaloa lā Pū'ai i ke aloha ā Kūka'i 'ia ka hāloa lā Pāwehi mai nā lehua.

What is aloha Kakou? ›

"Aloha kakou" means "Greetings between you and I". "Aloha nui loa" means "With much love" or "Warm greetings".

What is the meaning of Hele Mai? ›

This week's Hawaiian phrase is hele mai ho'ohiwahiwa, meaning “to honor.” You'll hear it expressed when celebrating a loved one or recognizing a hero.

What is pili mai in Hawaiian? ›

Background information: Pilimai literally means "come this way, come hither, or cuddling." An alternative name is ''Akilolo Ke'oke'o,' meaning "white ''Akilolo.

What do they call girls in Hawaii? ›

Wahine. What does wahine mean in Hawaiian? Wahine is the Hawaiian word for female/woman and you may see it as a sign on a bathroom door.

What do Hawaiians call their girlfriends? ›

The word on the other bathroom door. Guys will use this word to refer to their girlfriends: “My wahine is waiting for me.

What Hawaiian girl name means love? ›

Kealoha. This cute and pretty Hawaiian girl name has the word aloha in it, making it an adorable choice! And since aloha can mean “love,” Kealoha means “the loved one.” As a bonus, it has a beautiful pronunciation, as KEL-oh-aa.

What do Hawaiians call their wife? ›

The word "wahine" came into English in the late 18th century from Maori, the language of a Polynesian people native to New Zealand; it was originally used for a Maori woman, especially a wife. The word is also used for a woman in Hawaiian and Tahitian, though spelled "vahine" in the latter.

What do Hawaiians call their moms? ›

Your mother is your makuahine, while your father is your makua kāne. These terms are used to show respect and honor to your parents. In addition, there are terms for aunty and uncle in Hawaiian culture, which are relatively new additions to the language.

What is the Hawaiian word for love? ›

“Aloha” is our most important Hawaiian cultural value. Without Aloha all the other cultural values are not complete. It is defined as a noun and means love, affection, compassion, charity, grace, empathy, and much more.

What does honey girl mean in Hawaiian? ›

Honey Girl was like a “dog running in the rough seas,” which is the meaning of the Hawaiian name for monk seals: 'īlioholoikauaua (ilio-holo-i-ka-ua-ua).

What does Holoholo mean in Hawaii? ›

Holoholo means to go for a walk, stroll or sail, and Kanoa-Wong shows viewers how to use it in a sentence.

What do Hawaiians call grandma? ›

may not know that kūkū is another perhaps more tr. grandmother, but kūkū by itself will always suffice.

What is a Buk Buk in Hawaii? ›

Updates. Variant of book book. English In Hawaii, denotes a Filipino, from the alleged sound of Filipino language. Nationality Ethnicity.

What does Chi Chi mean in Hawaii? ›

5. Submitted by Marg (CaymanDesigns) "I feel in love with these while in Hawaii. It is basically a Pina Colada made with vodka instead of rum.

What do Hawaiians call their boyfriend? ›

Ipo ahi, ardent lover.

What do Hawaiians always say? ›

Aloha – Hello

This tropical greeting is known around the world, but its literal meaning is 'love'. In Hawaii, Aloha means more than 'hello'; it expresses wishes for a positive and respectful life. Use Aloha kakahiaka to say, 'good morning', Aloha 'auinalā for 'good afternoon' and Aloha ahiahi for 'good evening'.

What is the Hawaiian word for clean up? ›

Ho'o ma'e ma'e is the Hawaiian word to make clean, disinfect, purify, and in the Hawaiian language can take on many meanings including clean house, spiritual cleanliness, clean body and mind, and pure spirit.

What do Hawaiians call the US? ›

To most Native Hawaiians, Hawai'i is the mainland and North America is “the continent,” “turtle island,” etc.

What does high Maka Maka mean? ›

“It's time for me to hele on.” 5. High maka maka is a great expression and difficult to translate. It means stuck up or pretentious. “I don't enjoy working with Sally; she's so high maka maka.”

What is the Hawaiian word for honest? ›

—Upright, honest, decent, proper, appropriate, rightful, reliable, worth, merit, excellence.

What does Helu mean in Hawaii? ›

helu. 1. nvt. To count, number, compute, take a census, figure, enumerate, list, include, impute (Oihk. 7.18); to assess, as taxes; to chant a list of names, as of genealogy; including, counting, enumeration, census, list, rate, number, figure, total, inventory; statistics.

What is a famous Hawaiian saying? ›

Aloha Aku No, Aloha Mai No – (I give my love to you, you give your love to me.) `A`ohe loa i ka hana a ke aloha – (Distance is ignored by love.) Ua ola loko i ke aloha – (Love gives life within.)

What does faka mean in tonga? ›

Good bye - (said to someone who is going, when you are staying, very formal) Faka'au a. Yes, is the common response to all the farewells above.

What do Hawaiians call their friends? ›

Hoaloha (hō'-ă-lō'-na), n.

/ hō'-ă-lō'-na / Parker Haw to Eng , Loulou paʻa | Permalink. [A contraction of hoaaloha.] A friend; a beloved companion.

What is a Laho in Hawaiian? ›

[Hawaiian Dictionary (Hawaiian)] laho. n. 1. Scrotum; with qualifiers, a term of abuse.

What does Mata Ma Tonga mean? ›

The team are commonly referred to as Mate Ma'a Tonga, which means, Die for Tonga.

What does Nuku mean in Polynesian? ›

1. (verb) (-hia,-tia) to move, shift, extend.

What does living pono mean? ›

Being “pono” means living in perfect alignment with all things in life where your every thought and action is in perfect harmony, including yourself as a spiritual being. Living pono means having a proper and respectful relationship with your parents, spouse, children, neighbors, and all others.

Is the H silent in Hawaiian? ›

6. The H is never silent in Hawaiian language. In this guide, we are using an “h” following some vowels solely to demonstrate the pronunciation of short vowels.

What do you call a Hawaiian girl? ›

wa·​hi·​ne wä-ˈhē-nē -(ˌ)nā : a Polynesian woman.


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