101+ Hawaii Slang & Pidgin Phrases (Complete List)

Hawaii is a state that’s extremely rich in culture. With Asian, Polynesian, and Portuguese influences prevalent throughout the whole state, a unique dialect has developed there that you won’t find anywhere else.

Going to Hawaii always feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – even if you’ve been there many times. Out of love for the state, we’ve pulled together this list of Hawaii slang and pidgin phrases you can learn before your next trip to the island state.

Let’s dive right in…


Table of Contents

Hawaii Slang and Pidgin Phrases (in Alphabetical Order)

A

A Hui Hou

Meaning:

  • (Expression): A phrase that translates to, “until we meet again.” Use it to say farewell to someone.

Aina

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Word that means land in general. Often said in reference to the island itself.
  • Example: “Treat the aina with love.”

Aku

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Shipjack tuna, an incredibly popular food in Hawaii.
  • Example: “Let’s get some aku for lunch.”

Aloha

Meaning:

  • (Expression): Hawaiian word that can stand in for both hello and goodbye – kind of like ciao in Italian. You’ve probably heard this saying before, as it is one of the most popular Hawaiian phrases.
  • Example: “Aloha, braddah. How have you been?”

Au’rite

Meaning:

  • (Expression): Alternative way to say, “all right.” It’s said to express agreement, excitement, or pleasure.
  • Example: “Got aku fo lunch – au’rite!”

Aunty

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A term that applies to any woman older than you. It’s not restricted to people who are actually related to you.
  • Example: “Tanks fo da food, aunty.”

B

Braddah

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Word that works for any younger man. Alternatively, you can use it as a friendly way to refer to a man you just met.
  • Example: “Aloha, braddah!”

Brah

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Basically just another way of saying braddah, so you can say it similarly.

Broke Da Mouth

Meaning:

  • (Expression): A phrase that means food you’re eating is ridiculously tasty. Essentially, it means the food is so good that it has broken your mouth.
  • Example: “You ever eat something so ono, it broke da mouth?”

C

Chang

Meaning:

  • (Adjective): A word that means someone is really stingy and cheap.
  • Example: “Stop being chang and pay your employees more, brah.”

Chee-hoo

Meaning:

  • (Expression): You can say this to show that you’re excited or happy about something.
  • Example: “Chee-hoo! I got da job!”

Chicken Skin

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Another phrase for goosebumps.
  • Example: “The water was so cold, I got all chicken skin.”

Choke

Meaning:

  • (Verb): Hawaiian pidgin that means a large amount of something.
  • Example: “You have choke money – no need to be chang.”

Cockroach

Meaning:

  • (Verb): To steal something.
  • Example: “Don’t cockroach stuff from friends.”

Coconut Wireless

Meaning:

  • (Expression): This is the Hawaiian equivalent to the old saying, “hearing something through the grapevine.” In other words, this is when you hear something through gossip.
  • Example: “So I heard through da coconut wireless that you’re single again…”

Crack Seed

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A popular snack in Hawaii. It’s made from preserved fruits that are split open with the seed still inside.
  • Example: “My favorite snack is candied ginger crack seed.”

D

Da kine

Meaning:

  • (Expression): This is like saying “what’s-her-face” or “so-and-so,” but for an object, verb, or adjective. It’s a placeholder word for when you can’t remember what something is actually called.
  • Example: “My wife told me to pick up da kine at the store. She’s gonna be mad when she sees what I’m coming back with.”

E

E komo mai

Meaning:

  • (Expression): Hawaiian phrase that means “welcome.”
  • Example: “Are you new here? E komo mai, brah.”

Ewa

Meaning:

  • (Expression): A phrase used specifically on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. It means in the direction of Ewa Beach, which is westward.
  • Example: “Do you live on ewa side?”

F

Fut

Meaning:

  • (Verb): To fart.
  • Example: “Don’t fut when you’re meeting a new wahine.”

G

Green Bottles

Meaning:

  • (Noun): This refers to Heineken, beer that is sold in a green bottle. It’s pretty popular in Hawaii.
  • Example: “I ordered some green bottles at the bar.”

Grinds/Grindz

Meaning:

  • (Verb): To eat. Grindz, on the other hand, refers to food.
  • Example: “Where do want to grind for lunch?”

H

Halala

Meaning:

  • (Expression): A Filipino phrase that’s the equivalent of saying “uh-oh.” You say this when someone else has or you have an issue.
  • Example: “Halala, I’m in huge trouble.”

Hale

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Your house or home.
  • Example: “I’m gonna stay hale tonight.”

Hamajang

Meaning:

  • (Verb): When something is disorganized and messy.
  • Example: “My room is all hamajang. I can’t bring any ladies home to this.”

Hana Hou

Meaning:

  • (Expression): A phrase that essentially means “encore,” or to encourage someone to repeat something.
  • Example: “That was amazing! Hana hou!”

Hanabata Days

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Your childhood; when you were a kid.
  • Example: “I’ve known my wife since my hanabata days.”

Hanabata

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Boogers from your nose. Because picking your nose is generally seen as a childish act, hanabata days essentially means “nose-picking days,” or your childhood. By itself, it’s just a booger.
  • Example: “Ew! Don’t eat that hanabata!”

Hanapa’a

Meaning:

  • (Expression): This is similar to saying, “I’ve got it!” It literally translates to tying something down or stabilizing it, though.
  • Example: “After that job interview, I’m happy to say…hanapa’a!”

Haole

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A white person. This can also be used in an insulting way if said person is being disrespectful.
  • Example: “Look at that haole over there.”

Hapa

Meaning:

  • (Noun): This word literally means half but is usually used to refer to people who are part Hawaiian.
  • Example: “He hapa – Hawaiian and English.”

Hapai

Meaning:

  • (Adjective): The state of being pregnant.
  • Example: “She’s hapai and proud of it.”

Haupia

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Hawaiian desserts made from coconut milk.
  • Example: “That haupia cake broke da mouth!”

Hawaiian Time

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Running late. This can be anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.
  • Example: “He’s on Hawaiian time, so don’t be upset if he’s not there at exactly 3:00.”

Hele

Meaning:

  • (Verb): To move.

Ho Brah

Meaning:

  • (Expression): A phrase used to make someone pay attention to you. It’s kind of like saying, “hey, you!”
  • Example: “Ho brah! Howzit?”

Holo Holo

Meaning:

  • (Verb): Aimless wandering. Taking a pleasurable stroll with no real destination in mind.
  • Example: “Want to holo holo on the beach with me?”

Honu

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Hawaiian word that means turtle.
  • Example: “Stay away from the honu – they bite.”

Howzit

Meaning:

  • (Expression): A phrase that combines the words “how,” “is,” and “it” into one. It’s like asking someone, “how’s it going?” or “how are you doing?”
  • Example: “Howzit, braddah?”

I

Imu

Meaning:

  • (Noun): An underground barbecue pit.
  • Example: “Wanna make pig in the imu?”

Irrahz

Meaning:

  • (Adjective): When someone or something is annoying.
  • Example: “My little sister is so irrahz.”

J

Junk

Meaning:

  • (Adjective): A way to describe something that’s bad.
  • Example: “The aku was junk.”

K

Kahuna

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Someone who’s an authority. Like aloha, this is another well-known Hawaiian phrase.
  • Example: “He’s the big kahuna around here.”

Kama’aina

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Someone who has either lived in Hawaii for a long time or someone who was born there.
  • Example: “She’s a kama’aina. She’s been here for decades.”

Kanak Attack

Meaning:

  • (Noun): When you’ve eaten too much and need to sleep it off. It’s the Hawaiian equivalent for food coma.
  • Example: “I ate too much grindz, and now I’m getting one kanak attack.”

Kane

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Use this to refer to any male, whether young or old.
  • Example: “You need to use the Kane bathroom.”

Kapu

Meaning:

  • (Adjective): Something that is restricted or not allowed. It can also mean sacred.”
  • Example: “That trail is kapu – don’t try and hike it.”

Kau Kau

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Synonymous with grindz. In other words, kau kau just means food.

Keiki

Meaning:

  • (Noun): You can use this to refer to a singular child or group of children.
  • Example: “Keep an eye on the keiki for me.”

Kotonk

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A somewhat insulting term that means a Japanese person born in the mainland United States.

Kuleana

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Hawaiian word that means responsibility.
  • Example: “It is your kuleana to take care of the aina.”

L

L’Dat

Meaning:

  • (Expression): Combination of the words “like” and “that.”
  • Example: “I feel l’dat today.”

Lanai

Meaning:

  • (Noun): The Hawaiian word for patio.
  • Example: “I’m resting on da lanai.”

Lei

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A necklace made of flowers. It represents love and friendship.
  • Example: “What a beautiful lei!”

Li Hing Mui

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Dried and salted plum, which is a popular flavor in Hawaii.
  • Example: “That li hing mui cake was so ono!”

Lilikoi

Meaning:

  • (Noun): The Hawaiian word for passionfruit – another beloved flavor.
  • Example: “Lilikoi tea is also ono!”

Local

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A person who is from Hawaii but is not necessarily of Hawaiian descent.
  • Example: “I was born in Hawaii. I’m local.”

Lolo

Meaning:

  • (Adjective): To be crazy or dumb.
  • Example: “He’s lolo – leave him alone.”

Lu’au

Meaning:

  • (Noun): The Hawaiian word for feast.
  • Example: “You going to the lu’au later?”

Lua

Meaning:

  • (Noun): The Hawaiian word for pit. It usually refers to an outhouse or bathroom.
  • Example: “Gotta run to the lua.”

M

Mahalo

Meaning:

  • (Expression): Hawaiian word for thank you.
  • Example: “The grindz were ono! Mahalo!”

Mahu

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A way to refer to gay individual. Be careful with this one to avoid insulting anyone.

Mainland

Meaning:

  • (Noun): The continental portion of the US.
  • Example: “That haole is from the mainland.”

Makai

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A way of providing directions to someone. It means towards the ocean.
  • Example: “Go makai to get to my hale.”

Malihini

Meaning:

  • (Noun): An outsider or non-islander. Often used to refer to tourists visiting the island.
  • Example: “Look that malihini over there, wearing socks with their slippahs.”

Mauka

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Another directional word. This one means to go inland or towards the island. You can use it similar to makai, just keep in mind it’s the opposite direction.

Mauna

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Hawaiian word for mountain.
  • Example: “I went to holo holo on Mauna Kea.”

Mele Kalikimaka

Meaning:

  • (Expression): The Hawaiian phrase for “merry Christmas.” You’ve probably heard this in a song before!
  • Example:
  • Person 1: “Happy holidays!”
  • Person 2: “Mele kalikimaka!”

Moke

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A tough man, usually Polynesian, who could likely kick your butt.
  • Example: “He’s a moke…don’t screw with him.”

Momona

Meaning:

  • (Adjective): A Hawaiian word that basically means fat.
  • Example: “That malihini over there is momona.”

Musubi

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A Japanese food comprised of seaweed wrapped around a ball of rice.
  • Example: “If you come to the island, try musubi.”

N

No Need

Meaning:

  • (Expression): This one is pretty self-explanatory. It just means something isn’t needed.
  • Example: “No need to make food – I got musubi for us.”

O

Ohana

Meaning:

  • (Noun): The Hawaiian word for family. It’s another word that you’ve likely heard before.
  • Example: “I miss my ohana.”

Okole

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Hawaiian phrase that means butt.
  • Example: “Keep your okole covered.”

Ono

Meaning:

  • (Adjective): A way to describe a food as delicious.
  • Example: “I’m hungry for some ono grindz.”

Opala

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Word that means garbage.
  • Example: “Make sure you pick up your opala. Take care of the aina.”

P

Pakalolo

Meaning:

  • (Noun): The Hawaiian word for marijuana.
  • Example: “Did you bring the pakalolo?”

Pali

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Hawaiian word that means cliff.
  • Example: “He’s lolo – he loves jumping off the pali.”

Pau

Meaning:

  • (Adjective): A Hawaiian word that describes when something is finished or done.
  • Example: “No more grindz for me – I’m pau.”

Pau Hana

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Similar to pau. It means done work and is often used to discuss happy hour.

Poke

Meaning:

  • (Verb): Hawaiian word that describes slicing or cubing wood or fish. It’s typically used to refer to food that has been prepared.
  • Example: “I want a poke bowl.”

Potagee

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Slang for a Portuguese person. Much of Hawaiian pidgin has Portuguese influence, so it’s not uncommon to have people of Portuguese descent in Hawaii.
  • Example: “She’s part potagee, I think.”

Puka

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Hawaiian word that means hole. This is not the same as lua, as it doesn’t refer to a bathroom.
  • Example: “Watch out for that puka in the ground!”

Pupus

Meaning:

  • (Noun): The Hawaiian word for appetizers.
  • Example: “There were ono pupus at the lu’au last night.”

R

Rajah

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Pidgin pronunciation of “roger.” It’s also often fallowed by the pidgin pronunciation of that, “dat.”
  • Example: “Rajah dat, braddah!”

S

Scosh

Meaning:

  • (Adjective): Something that is small in size or in amount. It comes from the Japanese word “sukoshi.”
  • Example: “Can I get one scosh poke bowl?”

Shaka

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Everyone has seen this hand gesture. Shaka is when you stick out your thumb and pinkie finger while curling your other three fingers against your palm. It means that things are all right.
  • Example: “She used the shaka – it’s all good.”

Shishi

Meaning:

  • (Verb): To urinate.
  • Example: “Make sure you go shishi before we leave.”

Shoots

Meaning:

  • (Interjection): Popular Hawaiian pidgin slang word for yes.
  • Example:
  • Person 1: “Did you like the pupus I made?”
  • Person 2: “Shoots! They broke da mouth!”

Shoyu

Meaning:

  • (Noun): The Japanese word for soy sauce. It is also commonly used in Hawaii.
  • Example: “Pass me the shoyu.”

Sistah

Meaning:

  • (Noun): The female equivalent of braddah. You can use it similarly to braddah when you’re referring to a woman.

Slippahs

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Flip flops. This type of shoe is ubiquitous in Hawaii.
  • Example: “Got me some new slippahs today.”

Small Kid Time

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Another way to refer to your childhood or infancy. You can use this one like you’d say hanabata days.

Small Kine

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Hawaiian slang that means a small amount. Kind of like scosh.

Stink Eye

Meaning:

  • (Verb): To give someone a mean look or to glare at them.
  • Example: “Don’t give me the stink eye. I didn’t do it.”

T

Tako

Meaning:

  • (Noun): The Japanese word for octopus that is often used in Hawaii.
  • Example: “Gonna have some tako for grindz later.”

Talk Story

Meaning:

  • (Verb): To make conversation with someone. It can be small talk or telling long tales – the bottom line is that it’s pleasant conversation that goes on for a long time.
  • Example: “I went to the bar and talk story with a wahine for hours.”

Tanks

Meaning:

  • (Interjection): Accented way of saying “thanks.” It’s just thanks without the ‘h.”
  • Example: “Tanks for the grindz.”

Tita

Meaning:

  • (Noun): The female version of a moke. A tough woman. Use it like you would use moke, but in reference to a woman instead.

Townie

Meaning:

  • (Noun): The Hawaiian equivalent of saying “city slicker.” Someone who lives in the city, which usually means Honolulu, and may be a bit on the pampered side.
  • Example: “This townie doesn’t even know how to light a fire.”

Try

Meaning:

  • (Interjection): A way of saying, “please.” The opposite of tanks.
  • Example: “Try talk louder. I can barely hear you.” 

U

Uncle

Meaning:

  • (Noun): The male equivalent of aunty. Can be used to refer to any older man.

W

Wahine

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Hawaiian word for woman or girl.
  • Example: “I can’t stop staring at that wahine.”

Y

Ya?

Meaning:

  • (Expression): You add this to end of a sentence as a way of seeing if someone agrees. It’s like saying, “right?” or “isn’t it?” at the end of a sentence.
  • Example: “You live on ewa side, ya?”

Wrap Up

Hawaiian pidgin is an interesting and complex dialect. Aside from the words and phrases we mentioned in this post, there are accented ways of speaking that make it into its own beautiful language.

Make sure you use the above-mentioned words and phrases respectfully. Remember, Hawaiian is a unique culture in and of itself that warrants care and respect.

Many other states in the US have their own lexicons. You can learn more about Minnesotan phrases and slang in our guide to Minnesota slang words, sayings, and phrases. Be sure to also take a look at our list of New York slang words and meanings.

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