The Hawaiian Islands are unique in more ways than any one person could count – and that includes our language, vocabulary, and local diction. While most people from Hawaii don’t exclusively speak Hawaiian – except those who call Niihau home – there are a variety of words and phrases from the Hawaiian language that are still frequently used today. From traditional Hawaiian phrases to modern slang and pidgin terms, these 17 common words and phrases used throughout the islands might make visitors swear Hawaii locals have their own language – which they technically do, of course.
1. Pau Hana
Directly translating to "after work," pau hana is a celebration of the end of the work day. Basically: happy hour.
2. Howzit, braddah?
This common Hawaiian greeting essentially translates to "What’s up, man?" and is easily a shortened version of "How is it going?"
3. Da Kine
Often seen as a placeholder word with no true definition, da kine is often used as the English equivalent to whatchamacallit, you know, for when you really don’t want to use real words.
4. Ono Grinds
Quite literally, delicious food. As in, "Braddah, let’s go to Rainbow Drive In for some ono grinds."
5. Aloha aina
Directly translated from Hawaiian, "love of the land," Aloha Aina is a term to describe the nurturing and care of our land.
6. E Komo Mai
Meaning welcome or enter, "E Komo Mai," is perhaps one of the most common phrases you’ll hear in Hawaii.
7. Hapa Haole
If haole refers to someone of Caucasian descent, what does hapa haole mean? Someone of mixed race, of course.
8. Mahalo Nui Loa
What you say when you are extremely thankful. Quite literally, "thank you very much."
9. Kala Mai Ia’u
A polite term meaning "Excuse me."
A not so polite slang term meaning "butt."
You might not hear this greeting as often as "Howzit," but it essentially means the same thing: how are you?
Kama’aina literally translates to "child of the land," but generally refers to Hawaii locals.
Like Da Kine, this is another catchall word. It is often defined as righteousness, but can also mean fair, moral, or proper.
14. Broke Da Mout
A term used when talking about ono grinds… Broke da mout is used when your food is so good it basically "broke your mouth." This is easily my favorite slang term used in Hawaii.
15. No Can
Quite literally, "I can’t." Also potential definitions: it’s not possible, cannot.
No, we’re not referring to the common verb in the English language. In Hawaii, choke is a slang term that means "a lot of something."
17. A Hui Hou
A hui hou translates to "until we meet again," and sounds a lot nicer than simply saying goodbye.