10 common Hawaiian sayings and what they really mean

Aloha is the most common and probably the most beautiful word in the Hawaiian language. It is the first greeting you hear when you are in Hawaii.  While everyone speaks English in Hawaii, the ancient language is making a comeback. The Hawaiians really appreciate it when you take the effort to speak some phrases in the native language. To help you get started, here are 10 most common Hawaiian sayings and what they really mean.

 

1. Aloha – like many Hawaiian words, it has multiple meanings. While it is commonly used to say hello, good-bye and to express love, the beauty of the word comes through when it is broken down into the foundation root words.

 

Alo means to share in the present moment. Oha is joy. Ha is life energy Therefore Aloha translates to meaning “The joyful sharing of life energy in the present” or “joyfully sharing life.”  Viewed another way, Aloha means living in harmony. Remember Hawaii is known as the Aloha state, and its multi-ethnic population attests to its living up to its name.

 

Aloha wau la 'oe means I love you.

 

2. Aloha kakahiaka – means good morning. The Hawaiian alphabet is made up of only 12 letters. There are the 5 vowels and 7 consonants. The vowels are pronounced as ah, ay, ee, oh and oo and are pronounced separately. So, good morning is pronounced as A lo ha Ka ka hi a ka.

 

3.Aloha ahiahi - good evening.   This is how you are greeted when you walk into a restaurant for dinner or into the house of a native Hawaiian. If you are staying in a resort, you will be frequently greeted this way as resort employees go through several hours of Hawaiian cultural training.

 

4. E komo mai – welcome. The traditional Hawaiian greeting is “E komo mai. Nou ka hale” which means “Welcome, my house is yours. “ This is the Hawaiian equivalent to the Spanish greeting “Mi casa su casa”

 

 In the kid’s movie Lilo & Stitch, one of the top songs was “Aloha, E komo mai”. Among the top 10 most common Hawaiian sayings and what they really mean, another useful phrase to include in your vocabulary is malama pono i kou ola kino or take good care of your health

 

5. Pehea 'oe? – it means how are you and among the younger Hawaiians, it is “what’s up?” When addressing more than one person, the phrase changes to pehea oukou

 

6. Malama pono – this means to take care and is the shortened form of the phrase e malama pono.  Malama means to care for and to protect and pono is the adverb meaning completely, wholly and carefully. It is common on the Hawaiian islands to hear this said in parting malamapono a hui hou which translates to take care, until we meet again.”

 

7 maika ' i – means I am fine. This is the answer to the question pehea `oe or for a more polite response say maika`i no mahalo. Maika'i is also a name used in Hawaii for either a boy or a girl as it conveys the meaning of beautiful, handsome and in good health. This is highly popular as a business name.. For example, the supermarket chain Foodland names its frequent shopper rewards the “Maka' i program. On your next trip to Hawaii, count how businesses adopt this term in their business name.

 

8 mahalo – expresses gratitude and is used to say thank you. It is as important as Aloha in the Hawaiian language and conveys much sacred and spiritual meaning. The root words are Ma  which means in, ha which is breath or life energy and alo which is in the presence of. Mahalo means In the presence of the Divine.

 

There are two popular phrases that you will hear often in Hawaii. Mahalo nui loa and mahalo a nui mean thanks very much.

 

9. Mele kalikimaka – is Hawaii’s way of saying Merry Xmas. You will hear this displayed in bold letters in flashy decorations in the hotels and big shopping malls.

It is also the title of a very popular and catchy Xmas song, sung almost always to accompaniment from the ukulele. It was written in 1949 by R. Alex Anderson and has been sung by Bing Crosby, the Andrew Sisters, the Beach Boys, Jimmy Buffet, and Bette Midler among other artists.

 

Here are some of the lyrics so you can sing along to this

      Mele kalikimaka is the thing to say

      on a bright Hawaiian Christmas day

      That’s the island greeting that we send to you

      From the land where palm trees sway

      Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright

     The sun will shine by day and all the stars at night

      Mele kalikimaka is Hawaii’s way to say Merry Christmas to you

 

10 Hau`oli Makahiki Hou – there is no better start to a new year and a new beginning than relaxing on a beach in Hawaii and sipping iced umbrella drinks.  Spread the spirit of aloha and wish everyone you meet with Hau`oli Makahiki Hou or Happy New Year.

 

The native Hawaiians believe that words are sacred and have spiritual power. Intent is crucial when you are speaking in the ancient language. Hawaiian is considered by some to be one of the most beautiful languages in the world. Therefore, speak with intent when you are using Hawaiian sayings and know what they really mean for it will go a long way in paying respect to the Hawaiian way of life.

I will expand on this later with other common Hawaiian words and saying. I believe it is important that we expand our experiences and we have the opportunity witha great culture, the Hawaiian culture...

Mahalo