Hawaiian Glossary: The Letter H

This glossary does not go from A to Z. The Hawaiian language only has five vowels and twelve consonants, out of which twelve letters, a, h, i, k, l, m, n, o, p, t, u, and w, are represented here.

This is the glossary chapter for the letter H. Below, there are links to various parts of the travel guide, but the best way to return to where you've just been is to use the "BACK" button or function in your browser.


*Words marked with an asterisk (*) are used commonly throughout the islands.

house or building. Often combined with other words to name a specific place such as Haleakala ("House of the Sun") or Hale Pai ("printing house")
work; combined with pau means end of work or quitting time
literally "to feed." Part of the true aloha spirit. A hanai is a permanent guest, or an adopted family member, usually an old person or a child. This is an enduring cultural phenomenon in Hawaii, in which a child from one family (perhaps that of a brother or sister, and quite often one's grandchild) is raised as one's own without formal adoption.
The word "haole" has a floating connotation that depends upon the spirit in which it's used. It can mean everything from a derisive "honky" or "cracker" to nothing more than "white person." The exact Hawaiian meaning is clouded, but some say it meant "a man of no background," because white men couldn't chant a genealogical kanaenae telling the Hawaiians who they were. The word eventually evolved to mean "foreign white man" and today, simply "white person."
half, as in a mixed-blooded person being referred to as hapa haole
pregnant; used by all ethnic groups when a keiki is on the way
a coconut custard dessert often served at luaus
a traditional Hawaiian temple. A platform made of skillfully fitted rocks, upon which structures were built and offerings made to the gods.
an ankle-length dress that is much more fitted than a muumuu, and which is often worn on formal occasions
bay, as in Honolulu ("Sheltered Bay")
traditional Hawaiian winter that began in November
any happy event, but especially a family outing or picnic
sweet talk; flattery
angry; irritated
a group; meeting; society. Often used to refer to Chinese businesspeople or family members who pool their money to get businesses started.
traditional shoreline fish-gathering in which everyone lends a hand to huki (pull) the huge net. Anyone taking part shares in the lau (food). It is much more like a party than hard work, and if you're lucky you'll be able to take part in one.
a native Hawaiian dance in which the rhythm of the islands is captured by swaying hips and stories told by lyrically moving hands. A halau is a group or school of hula.
huli huli
barbecue, as in huli huli chicken