Tuesday, December 8, 2009


1. to go down, descend; downhill, towards the sea.
2. core, as of an apple, breadfruit, or pandanus.
3. directional, down, below; used with words describing activities of ones own body, as eating, drinking, etc. ('ai iho - to eat. No'ono'o iho, to think) "self" personally.  

E hana ana 'o ia nona iho - he will work for himself.  Used with words of time, usually present or future, or just past.

WOW. The first two are pretty straightforward.

Iho i lalo - go down.
Ua iho a i ke kai - (It) descended until it reached the ocean.
He iho ko ka 'ulu - the 'ulu has a core.

The third translation is a bit more tricky.  In an English teacher's term, it is a particle, and its placement usually (but not always) follows the verb:

hele iho - go down, descend
makewai iho 'o Kaniela - Daniel was thirsty.
'O au iho nö me ka ha'aha'a - I am yours, humbly
ma hope iho - right afterwards
kēia lāpule iho - this coming Sunday
There are four directional words: mai, aku, iho, a'e. Iho is not as straightforward as mai (since mai is generally a direction towards the speaker). Iho is used in reference to a downwards motion, such as rain or tears, a motion unto oneself, such as inu iho, drinking, reflecting unto oneself, pa'akiki me kāna iho - stubborn with his own self, and has a time reference, such as i kēia mau lā iho nei - a few days ago (though the other directionals has a reference to time, also). Not always an easy concept to grasp, the unconscious use of directionals in speaking Hawaiian is hard to explain by a native speaker and very difficult to understand and use by a second language speaker. As with anything, practice makes almost perfect.  Pay attention to Hawaiian songs, which tend to use the directionals a lot. if you don't know what the whole line is referring to, at least you'll have an idea of what direction it's happening in!

Ke iho la ka ua - The rain is falling

Iho i lalo! - get down!

'O au iho nō me ke aloha nui no ka 'ōlelo makuahine (just me, with great aloha for the mother tongue)

Monday, December 7, 2009


Smooth, thin, as poi; fine, mashed, soft, powdery, supple, limber, as a dancer's body.
Ho'owali is the word used when mixing something, like poi or dough, because your main goal when doing this is to get to that smooth, fine consistency. NEVER a good thing to have lumpy poi.  You MUST ho'owali until it is wali. Bad karma to have lumpy poi.

Ua wali ka poi
- The poi is smooth.

'uala ho'owali 'ia - mashed sweet potatoes.

Nā mea ho'owali o loko - digestive organs (literally "the smoothing things inside)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Puaʻa Hame


And what's Thanksgiving without ye ole pua'a hame?  Can't live without that word!  I'm sure many of you recognized the word pua'a in there because where do we get the ham from?  That's right!  Porky Pig!   Other words for ham include 'ūhā hame ('ūhā means hindquarters) or ''ūhā pua'a or just plain hame.

He pua'a hame nui kā mākou no ka Lā Ho'omaika'i - We have a big ham for Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Gravy, sauce, dressing, soup, broth

Yes, gravy.  Of course kai also means sea or sea water but I didn't want to "water" down the focus on FOOD!  Kai, or gravy, because it always has a nice salty taste to it, is referred to as kai.  And nothing goes better on pelehū or pua'a hame or palaoa that has been puhi 'ia than kai.

'Ono loa ke kai ma luna o ka 'i'o pelehū - Gravy is very delicious on top of the turkey.

Loa'a ke kai no ka lau'ai? - Is there dressing for the green salad?

Monday, November 23, 2009



        Gearing up for the big Thanksgiving Day festivities!  So I want to equip you with some vocabulary words that you can use in your food preparation. Teach the kids (or grandkids!), make vocabulary placecards.    Another word for turkey is pōkeokeo.  Some areas say palahū (like Waimea, Hawai'i).
        We've got lots of pelehū roaming wild here in Hāmākua but fortunately for them, it's easier to pay $5.00 for a ready to cook one from Sack n Save than to have to shoot, pluck, clean, and cook for DAYS our own for free.  Maybe not as fun, but a heck of a lot less work.  Plus those pelehū know not to come around in November! We did (and by we I mean my son and my brother, John) shoot a couple of pelehū for Motherʻs Day last year and just used the breast meat. It made a wonderful turkey burger for our meal! The rest of the carcass was returned to the earth way up in the pasture only to be recovered by my lab, Loku. Three days worth of feathers flying around her kennel. Sheʻs like a vulture.

E 'ai ana kākou i ka pelehū - We are going to eat a turkey

Nui ka pelehū ma Hawai'i - There are a lot of turkeys on Hawai'i

Friday, November 20, 2009


Gambling, betting, gambler; to bet, gamble.

        Literally piliwaiwai means to wager wealth.  Thought this might be a good word for you to learn during this football season (I know what happens at those parties during the super bowl!) and since trips to Las Vegas (alias Lost Wages) are SO AFFORDABLE (they appear to be but it's all an illusion) I know that many of you can find piliwaiwai useful.  But maybe if you break the word into its parts (pili = to wager.  waiwai = wealth) it might slow you down a bit.
        Don't you think it's funny that when we go to Las Vegas we don't think twice about throwing down $20 at one time for a wager but we walk miles for a cheap meal?
Nui ka piliwaiwai ma LV - There's a lot of gambling in LV

Ho'opāpā 'ia ka piliwaiwai ma Hawai'i - It is forbidden to gamble in Hawai'i.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


1.  fruit, tuber, egg, produce, yield, ovum. 
2. round object, as pill or bead.  
3.  result, effect. 
4. Tesitcles. 
5. a vulgar gesture. 
6. word,letter,figure.  
7.  Name of the thirteenth night of the lunar month.  
8.  Name of a star.  
9. The bulging of the broadest part of a paddle blade.

Wow, that was a lot!  But the main meaning I would like to focus on is the 7th one.  Name of the thirteenth night of the lunar month.  Last night's moon is named appropriately Hua.  One night after Mōhalu. It is during the Hua moon that one should plant any fruiting plant.  This helps us to remember that Hua actually means fruit!  Here's another easy way to remember Hua the moon with hua the fruit.  This moon is in the shape of an egg and hua also means egg!  Hua moa - chicken egg.  So think of an egg as you go outside to look at tonight's moon and notice the resemblance.  Then remember that this is the time to plant fruiting trees, plants.  Hawaiians once again showing their "oneness" with nature and their environment.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


To burn, set on fire, bake
Okay, you alert readers know that there are other meanings to puhi (think eel) but since I am getting in the Thanksgiving spirit (one of my favorite holidays) and I love baked goods, I want to share with you the word for bake...puhi.  In fact, a bakery is known as a hale puhi palaoa - a house that bakes bread.  Now I suppose you can use this word when you want to burn or set anything on fire (and being a firefighter's wife I am not promoting anything of the sort!) but we won't go there.  Just baking.  Because I have a one track mind.

E puhi palaoa ana au i ka lā 'apōpō - I am going to bake bread tomorrow.

Puhi 'ia kēia mea'ono e ko'u makuahine - This dessert was baked by my mother.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


1.  Down, downward, low, lower, under, beneath,below, subordinate. 
2.  Leeward, lee, southern.

Opposite of luna is lalo.  So it makes sense that if a luna is a manager, then a lalo is a subordinate.  Of course these terms, used in this way, did not come around until the plantation era.  There was no need for it before then.  It was strictly ali'i (chiefs), maka'āinana (commoners), and kauā (outcastes).  The plantation era changed many things in Hawai'i, including the language.

ko lalo - of or belonging to below or the south.

mai lalo - from below

Aia ka puke ma lalo o ke pākaukau - the book is under the table.

E waiho i këia ma lalo nei - Leave this here.

Monday, November 16, 2009


1.  high, upper, above, over, up. 
2. foreman,boss, leader, overseer, supervisor, headman, officer of any sort. 
3. chief piece in the kōnane game.

If you've studied anything about the plantation era here in Hawai'i you've heard the word luna.  The plantation heads were all known as luna and most of the time these were the Haole people and then when there weren't enough of them, the Portuguese people that came to Hawai'i for the purpose of working in the sugar plantations.  And they were chosen mainly because of their fair skin more than anything else.  Because luna means up or above, this was synonymous with the status of any high ranking position in a job, whether it be an officer of some sort, a superintendent, commissioner or plantation manager.

He lani ko luna, he honua ko lalo - Above has the heavens, below has the earth.

He luna ko'u kupuna kāne ma ka mahi kō - My grandfather was a luna at the sugar plantation.

Aia ka penikala ma luna o ka pepa - the pencil is on top of the paper.

Friday, November 13, 2009


1.  To speak imperfectly, as of one with a foreign accent or speech defect; to work in a disorderly, slipshod way; confusion.  
2.  To drip, spatter, spill, fart.

Once in a while I will come across a word that I don't know but I find very interesting and quite humourous.  Palalē is a new one for me!  And I'm going to make an attempt to use it at least once everyday this week!  And I think you should, too! 

When I first looked at it I thought of myself, and how I must have a "foreign accent" when I speak in Hawaiian. After all, Hawaiian is a second language to me.  And then as I read the other meanings, I couldn't help but laugh to myself at how ALL the meanings are not very flattering.  All the more reason to try them out in my daily usage of Hawaiian!

He mau 'ōhua lemu kaumaha, he mau 'ope'ope palalē - heavy-butted passengers, farting bags (HEY, I didn't make this up.  This was a phrase found in Fornander's Hawaiian Antiquities, 4:577)

Thursday, November 12, 2009


1.  Many, numerous, four thousand; thick.  
2.  To throw, as a stone; to aim at and hit.  
3.  Short for Mano-ka-lani-pō.

This is not the word for shark.  That word is manō (pronounced mah-NOH).  Big difference.  Mano, more frequently than not, refers to a large number.  See, Hawaiians didn't have precise big numbers like we do today.  I mean, in our lives today it's important to know whether we have $4,839.00 versus $4622.79.  Well, at least to some people.  But in traditional Hawai'i, if it was around 4,000 it was mano.  Also manomano (there's one of those reduplicated words again!)  There are other words that refer to great numbers, such as kini, lehu, lau.

Mano is also short for Manokalanipō, famous ruler in ancient times of Kaua'i.  In fact, Kaua'i is known to many as Kaua'i o Mano (Kaua'i of Mano) or Kaua'i o Manokalanipō.

He lau ka pu'u, he mano ka ihona - many hills, numerous descents (said of trouble)

Ua nui a manomano ka 'ikena a ka Hawai'i - Great and numerous is the knowledge of the Hawaiian.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


1. nvs. Brave, bold, fearless, valiant; bravery, courage.
2. nvs. Soldier, warrior, fighter; military, hero, martial.
3. n. The largest of native forest trees (Acacia koa)

Today's He Momi is dedicated to the men and women who have served their country and continue to serve defending our freedom and sacrificing their lives. It is no mistake that the Hawaiian word for soldier is synomymous with the word for bravery and courage. Koa. That is what it takes to be in the Armed Forces. To be willing to travel to faraway places, putting their lives on the line. It amazes me. Every. Single. Day. And it doesn't surprise me that the koa tree is a symbol of strength, is a strong hardy wood that was used extensively by Hawaiians and used for lei in hula, transformed into a garland of beauty but also signifying strength.

Mahalo nui to all the koa and especially to my dad, Shermaih Kahuakai Iaea, Jr., who retired from the U.S. Army. He was proud of his service, he was active in his local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and he cherished his medals and letters of commendation.

Aloha nui to you all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


A small, downy, American weed (Waltheria indica var. americana), with ovate leaves and small clustered yellow flowers.

        You know someone once told me that a weed is just a plant whose true worth has not yet been discovered.  I think 'uhaloa is one of these "weeds."  Many people don't know the power that this little plant has to cure!  And it's plentiful.  We see it a lot but don't really know what it is when we see it. 
        'Uhaloa is used, among other things, as a remedy for sore throat.  A tea can be made from the root or you can simply chew the root slowly.  It is one of the plant forms of Kamapua'a, the pig god.  Other names include 'ala'alapūloa, hala 'uhaloa, hi'aloa, and kanakaloa.

Maika'i ka 'uhaloa - 'Uhaloa is a good plant.

Aia i kula i ka 'ala'alapūloa
Gone on the plain to gather 'ala'alapūloa
(Gone on a wild goose chase.  A play on the word 'ala'ala [octopus liver], meaning nothing worthwhile)

Mai hilahila! Don't be shy to leave a comment here! People leave me comments on my posts on Facebook and Twitter but are experiencing bouts of shyness here on the blog! But the beauty of the blog is the interactivity allowed with comments! Bring it on.

Monday, November 9, 2009


To sleep, lie at ease, lounge, relax.

This is a pleasant word for just relaxing.   Contrary to popular belief Hawaiians were hard workers (and I like to think that many Hawaiians today are also hard workers).  They woke up at the crack of dawn so they could get the majority of hard work done before the sun was up high.  I remember my grandfather getting up super early to begin his day by raking the entire yard and pull weeds.  I just love driving through homestead areas in the morning because you inevitably see this tradition continuing.  Someone is outside raking up the leaves, scooping them into the cut pakini scooper. And it isnt just kupuna. I see makua (parents) outside doing it and even keiki on some early weekend mornings.

This word sometimes replaces moe (for sleep) in poetry because moe can also suggest death.  

Ua kau ke keha i ka uluna, ua hi'olani i ka moena - the head rests on the pillow, stretching out on the mat [relax after work is done]  This line comes from a chant called Ke Welina, dedicated to Käne.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Thorn, barb, spine, bur; barbed, thorny, prickly, burry; jabbed, pricked, hurt by a thorn.

        Now this is a small kid time word.  And because of the pain involved when stepping on a kukū, I think it's a word being perpetuated to the next generation.  At least for the people living in Hawai'i.  We get all kine kukū over here.  Remember that small kukū hiding in the grass?  Da bugga stuck to your long pants or your shoe string or if you get one towel, auē, they all come on top da towel and hard for get 'em out!  Not only dat kine!  Get the kiawe tree kukū.  Talk about 'aui!  das one sore one, right tru da rubba slippa an' all!
        In old Hawai'i the only thing you can get pricked with, besides a speartip, would probably be the wana.  Other than that, plants in old Hawai'i had no thorns.  Because of the pristine environment and lack of predators many of the plants here did not need to have thorns for protection.

Akahele i ke kukū ma ka pā hale - Watch out for the kukū in the yard.

'Eha maoli ke hehi 'oe ma ke kukū - It really hurts when you step on a kukü.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Acrid odor, unpleasant body odor of perspiration; to smell thus.

To smell thus. Okay, that phrase alone cracks me up. If you smell thus (unpleasant body odor of perspiration), you know you are HOHONO. That yucky stinky smell of B.O.? Hohono.  Or you know that strong mimi (urine) smell of a small child's shorts that have since dried up but you KNOW he went shishi and just won't admit it? That smell is hohono. I remember my children at Pūnana Leo o Honolulu. When someone went mimi in their pants, they would say "mimi hono"! In other words, that unpleasant odor is from some sheesh!
Gosh this word is giving me flashbacks of a plane ride. I mean seriously, Mister. Do you not consider the welfare of fellow passengers before you get on a flight straight out of Waipiʻo?
 I have shared some other smelly words (pīlau) in the past. Add this one to your list.  I just wanted to make sure that you have an appreciation for the fine tuning of the Hawaiians' sense of smell that so many words were derived to describe the differences among odors, both pleasant and not so pleasant.

Auē ʻo ka hohono ē o kēia wahi lumi - Omg, this damn room smells [thus] :-)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


To seek knowledge or information; to investigate; investigation, examination, research, searching for even the smallest detail.

       With all the talk of cutting the budgets for schools, I want to mention the importance of allocating money for professional development.  Today's word, noiʻi, is basically the word for research, an important process to developing one's understanding in a given arena.  It is important to promote research and investigation among teachers by allocating funds for them to attend conferences, workshops, classes (you know many teachers pay for these on their own).  Bottom line is, it doesn't matter how nice the classrooms are, how many books are in it, how many pupils there are to adults.  If the teacher does not know how to teach or is not up to date with the research all other efforts are in vain.  We all know that a good education doesn't come from the availability of "stuff."  It comes from delivery of a quality education by a well-informed teacher who knows the importance of compassion, love, and patience and weaves this together with teaching strategies that suit the needs of each student in the classroom.  We need to give teachers opportunities to better themselves through professional development.
I know, I know. Schools are having furlough Fridays here in Hawaiʻi and I am worried about professional development? Poopoo on me. But I dont care. PD pays for itself tenfold in the classroom.

He mea nui ka noiʻi i nā kumu - Research is an important thing for teachers.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


 1.  To pull or draw frequently, or by many persons; to pull by jerks or continuously, as in the tug-of-war game; to gather, as taro; friction, dissension.  
2.  To disagree, quarrel; disagreement; not cooperative, headstrong, obstinate.  
3.  Tug of war game, to play the game.

We all enjoy playing the game of hukihuki but we probably don't enjoy being involved in a hukihuki of dissension.  This word is used a lot today when referring to disagreements or friction occurring between families or friends or colleagues.  State workers have plenty
hukihuki nowadays with all the layoffs and furloughs.  Politics always get hukihuki.  I'm sure many of you remember using this word or hopefully you still use it or better yet, you remember it, never used it in your adult life but now you will revive it!  And so hukihuki lives on, in a good way!

Hele maila lākou a
hukihuki i ka wai - They came to draw water.

Pili hukihuki
- a relationship with constant quarrels

Monday, November 2, 2009


nvt. To believe, trust; to lean on, rely on; trust, confidence.

Not much else to say about this word other than, to be able to hilinaʻi, to trust, someone, is to me the greatest attribute of a friend and partner.

Hilinaʻi au iā ʻoe - I trust you.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Rot, stench, rottenness; to stink; putrid, spoiled, rotten, foul, decomposed.

Last weekend as I went for my weekend walk along the dairy road up Paʻauilo, there was a definite pilau smell along the road.  It began abruptly and ended abruptly.  It was so pilau I immediately put my hand up to cover my now. Major pilau.  My eyes scanned the horizon searching for a cow with four feet up in the air.  That pilau smell was definitely a decomposed animal of some sort.  Pilau.  It's that odor that your nose really can't take.  You want to pinch your nostrils together, put your shirt up over your nose, hold your breath all together. That rotting, stinking stench.  Think of decomposition of the worst sort.

Kü ka pilau - the stench rises

Maka pilau - rotten eyes, one with rotten eyes, a ghost.

Make pilau - complete defeat in a game

Do you have a pilau story? Do you remember hearing and using the word pilau when you were growing up?  My grandma and my dad used it a lot. Must have had plenty stink stuff around!

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Thursday, October 29, 2009


1.  The tropic or boatswain bird, particularly the white-tailed tropic bird which inhabits cliffs of the high islands.  
2.  a variety of banana.  
3.  A variety of taro.  
4.  A snapper, probably onaga.  
5. A variety of sweet potato.

You will find other birds which may have a counterpart, either in the ocean or on land.  Koaʻe is just one fine example.  I saw many koaʻe flying in Borabora when I went there a few years ago.  They are a beautiful, sleek bird. There are koaʻe kea (white koa'e) and koaʻe ʻula (red-tailed).   I am particularly fond of the koaʻe because the Hāmākua coast of Hawai'i island is known poetically as ka pali lele koaʻe, or the cliff where tropic birds fly.

He koaʻe, manu o ka pali kahakō - It is the koaʻe, bird of the sheer cliffs (An expression of admiration for an outstanding person.  The koa'e build their nests on cliffs.)

'Ōlelo ke kupa o ka 'āina ua mālie; ua au koaʻe - The natives of the land declare that the weather is calm when the tropic bird travels afar.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Scattered, littered disheveled; disorder, untidiness, mess, chaos.

     Mōkākī ko'u hale!  My house is a MESS!  Okay, now you know what generated today's word.

    In English when something is messy, we might want to say it's dirty or lepo, but really, that's not the case (unless you live in Mākaha next to the highway, with lots of louvered windows that have to stay open because it's so hot, then it IS lepo!).  We might want to say kāpulu which means the same as mōkākī and more.  But generally speaking, if your house is in need of some tidying up, it's mōkākī.  If it's downright disgusting (and mine is bordering that state) then it's kāpulu.

'A'ole mōkākī kona hale - Her house is not untidy.

'A'ole au makemake i ka lumi mōkākī - I don't like a messy room.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


1.  Loss, damage; out of luck; vain.  
2.  Bog, swamp, mire, slough; sunken, sinking, to settle, as earth.

Those of you familiar with this word surely know it wasn't commonly used to refer to #2 above.  More likely it was used in the context of #1, that is, when something is "waste time."  Pohō.  Neva mind.  Now this is a word that I always heard, especially from my dad.  It hasn't lost its steam, like many other Hawaiian words that were used a lot in small kid time.  Not every Hawaiian word can stand on its own in the midst of an English sentence.  Pohō definitely can.

"Pohō help you guys!"  "Das pohō already."  "Pohō clean dis yard wit all da weeds!"

Here's an interesting 'ōlelo no'eau using pohō:

Pohō i ka mālama i ko ha'i keakea!
A waste of effort to take care of someone else's semen!
(Usually said in anger by one who cares for the children of another.  Also expressed "Pohō i ka mālama i ko ha'i kūkae!"  A waste of effort to take care of someone else's excreta.

Well, hopefully all is not pohō in today's word!

Monday, October 26, 2009


Piece labor, pay by the job rather than according to time, as on sugar plantations; used in pidgin for any work that everyone should pitch in gladly to finish; contract labor.

        The word was brought to my attention by a very dear friend of mine, Lisa Wood. She was gathering together common phrases and words used in ranching and this is a word that she heard being used by the cattlemen many times.

        Ukupau is comprised of two words: uku=to pay, and pau=finished.  Finished pay. In other words, you are paid by the job, much like the plantation workers who had to clear out a certain section of land before getting paid, or complete a certain task, whether it took them all day or two days. This enticed the workers to work as hard and as fast as they could!

Hana kākou a ukupau - We work until the task is completed.

Friday, October 23, 2009



When my family rides in the car together, everyone has their own cell phones, except of course the moʻopuna.  The age of technology is upon us.   Now our cell phones, instead of just making and receiving calls, allow us to text one another, take and send photos and videos, search on the internet, play games and much more.
        Kelepona is the transliteration of the English word telephone.  Along the lines of "tele" communication we also have:

kelepona lawe lima - cordless phone (phone to take by hand)
kelepaʻi - fax phone (kele=tele; pa'i=print)
kelekaʻaʻike - telecommunication (ka'a'ike-transferred knowledge)
keleō - beeper/pager (ö=tinkling, tolling or chime of a bell)
kelulā - cellular

Thursday, October 22, 2009


1.  Oven, baking pan; to roast, bake; roasted. 
2. To open the mouth, as though to speak. 
3. Female mahimahi fish. 
4. Concave. 
5. small adze. 
6. Space between opposing armies where sacrifices were offered; preparations for war; first men killed in war.

    Here's a word you can use everyday, especially those who cook in the kitchen.  So go and make a post-it note, stick it on the 'oma, and, starting today, begin using
'oma instead of oven!  I'm sure the people in your house will not get it confused with the other meanings of 'oma. After all I'm sure there are no wars in your household (well, not of the magnitude where sacrifices are offered).

pelehū 'oma - roast turkey

'oma wawe - microwave oven (wawe=quick)

Mākaukau ka 'oma - The oven is ready.

Wela ka 'oma - The oven is hot.

E ho'ohana i ka 'oma wawe - Use the microwave oven.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009



Now in English, the world of sheep is quite extensive.  I mean how many of you know the real difference between a lamb, sheep, and mutton?  But in Hawaiian there's one word for all of these and that word is hipa.  Though hipa are being raised on the different islands, the only island where you may find wild sheep and mouflon (a relative of hipa) is on Hawai'i Island.  Unfortunately these cutie animals are quite destructive to native growth (particularly the mamane trees, one of my favorites).  In 1980 the Sierra Club won a lawsuit which prompted the state to eliminate most wild hipa from Mauna Kea.  Have you ever saw that horrible gorse that has devastated the upper slopes of Mauna Kea, near Hakalau?  It's the most awful looking plant, with horrible thick long spines that has ruined the landscape and killed everything in its way.  I do believe it was the hipa that was brought in by Parker Ranch (perhaps from New Zealand) that spread this seed (it was stuck in their thick wool) on those upper slopes.

Kahuhipa - Shepherd (sheep guardian)

hulu hipa - wool (sheep fur)

'ili hipa - sheepskin

'īlio kia'i hipa - sheep dog

Iesū nō ke kahuhipa - Jesus is the shepherd

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


1. Dog. 
2. A generic term for foreign quadruped.  
3. Cloud 
4. Tie beam in a house, brace that holds rafter to crossbeam. 
5. A seaweed


Though there are five different meanings, the most common is the first one, dog.

    Polynesians brought with them to these islands a small ʻīlio that was primarily used as a food source, sometimes as a sacrifice and also as pets.  These first "four legged settlers" no longer exist in their pure state as inter-breeding has thinned out their bloodline.  It is hard for some to fathom that Hawaiians ate ʻīlio but, hey, I hear they are low in fat and quite good tasting.  I will take their word for it, just like frog legs, I'm sure.  Some accounts say that women were not allowed to eat ʻīlio but I'm not sure about that.  Below are some ʻīlio terms:

ʻīlio pulu - bulldog

ʻīlio mo'o - brindled dog

ʻīlio hahai - greyhound (chasing dog)

ʻīlio hahai manu - bird dog (bird chasing dog)

He ʻīlio ka'u - I have a dog

'a'ohe a'u ʻīlio - I don't have any dogs

'ai nō ka 'īlio i kona lua'i
a dog eats his own vomit
 (Said of one who says nasty things of others and then has those very things happen to himself)

Monday, October 19, 2009


1.  Hawaiian pearl oyster. 
2. feelers of an insect, as of an ant. 
3. a leafless plant, also called moa (Psilotum).
4. a kind of tapa. 
5. body depression; eyeball. 
6. lower part of an adze. 
7. beef, cattle, ox.

I am on an animal theme with todayʻs Hawaiian word.  

Pipi most often refers to beef, cattle or ox.  In fact, the word pipi is also found in older palapala, or documents, written as bipi.  It comes directly from the English word beef.  And since we only get beef from cattle it makes sense that pipi refers to cattle.

Do you like to eat pipi kaula?  That is our local beef jerky.  Literally this word means "rope beef."

pipi wahine - cow (female beef)

pipi waiū - dairy cow (milk beef)

pipi kāne - bull (male beef)

pipi laho - bull (laho refers to scrotum and when used with animal words it means "male")

pipi keiki - calf

He pipi kaulana 'o Lani Moo - Lani Moo was a famous cow.

Nui ka pipi ma Waimea - There is a lot of beef/cattle in Waimea.

Friday, October 16, 2009


1.  pack, knapsack carried on the back.  runners, as on a vine; tentacles.

    In English we refer to the tentacles of an octopus (or a squid) as legs.  In Hawaiian they are not legs.  They are 'awe'awe.  Interestingly, this is the same word used for the rawhide twine on a saddle.  It's the rigging that attaches the saddle to the cinch.  And there is some resemblence between the tentacle and the twine, particularly when it is braided and especially when there are several braids.

    This word also refers to carrying on the back,like a backpack, which is known as an 'eke hā'awe or pāiki hā'awe.

'Ewalu 'awe'awe o ka he'e - an octopus has 8 tentacles.

Maika'i ka 'awe'awe o ka noholio - The 'awe'awe of the saddle is good.

He 'awe'awe ko ka 'uala - The sweet potatoes have runners.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


1.  bottle gourd. 
2. watermelon 
3. general name for vessel or container. 
4. drum consisting of a single gourd or made of two large gourds joined together. 
5. Crown of a hat.

    Ipu are most visible in hula.  When dancing the ancient style of hula (hula 'ōlapa), usually the dancing is accompanied with an ipu to help keep rhythm or beat while the ho'opa'a (the chanter) chants the mele.  This style of hula is termed hula 'ala'apapa.  This is hula accompanied by an ipu.  In most cases the ho'opa'a uses an ipu heke or a double gourd (this is actually two ipu glued together).  This is in contrast to the ipu heke 'ole  or single gourd ipu which is used more for the hula 'auana or modern type hula.

    Since ipu was also used as a container for water, food, or supplies, containers are also known as ipu today, even if it is not made from an ipu.  Ipu is also the general term for watermelon, sometimes followed by another word to be more specific:

ipu 'ai waha - watermelon (ipu you eat with your mouth)

ipu wai - watermelon (water ipu)

ipu haole - watermelon (foreign ipu)

ipu 'ai maka - watermelon (ipu eaten raw)

ka ipu o ka 'ike
 a container of knowledge
 (a learned person)

Got an ipu comment or question? Press on comments and type away! I LOVE COMMENTS! It keeps me going. Day after day after day. Having a one way conversation is NOT fun. Part of the blogging beauty is the ability to "converse".

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Falling; scattered, as rain, tears, grain; crumbling, as the earth; dilapidated; to shed, as a dog's hair.

As I was walking yesterday morning on our country road, I could see the bright red stamens of the lehua blossoms scattered on the road.  I wish everyone could bask in that beauty.  On O'ahu it's hard enough to find a single tree, let alone a forest vibrant with the lehua 'ula'ula (red lehua) and lehua mamo (yellow lehua).  The word used to describe the falling of these stamens is helele'i.  Hawaiian language learners usually use the generic word hā'ule when describing something that is falling.  But there are many words to describe how something falls.  Helele'i is one of them.  When flowers fall from a tree, that is helele'i.  When rain falls from the heavens, that is helele'i.  When tears fall from the eyes, that is helele'i.  And just knowing that gives helele'i a whole different feeling to it when using it.  We are so used to generic words as language learners and as speakers that we forget the intricacies of ALL languages.

"Helele'i pua i ke kai"... - Flowers falling into the ocean (from Ka Wai Lehua by Frank Hewett)

Ua helele'i iho kona waimaka i ka papalina - her tears fell to her cheeks.

Ke helele'i nei ka hulu o ka 'īlio - The dog's fur is shedding.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Spouses sharing a spouse, as two husbands of a wife, or two wives of a husband.

Today's word, like yesterday's, is not something that we typically practice today (not in Hawai'i, at least!). Yesterday's word, po'olua, referred to a child who had two fathers.  Today's word, punalua, refers to the relationship between two husbands or two wives who share the same spouse.

Hawaiians, back in the pre-missionary days (and even in the early years after their arrival in 1820) practiced polygamy. A husband could have many wives and a wife could have many husbands.  This was more prevalent among the ali'i (chiefly) class.  Kamehameha had many wives.  The two most well known are Ka'ahumanu and Keōpūolani.  They were punalua to each other since they both shared the same husband.   Polygamy wasn't practiced for the fun of it.  It was more for social ranking (by having children with Keōpūolani, a very sacred ali'i, Kamehameha I assured the continuation of the monarchy by his children) and economics.  A wife may ask her husband to take her widowed sister as a wife so that there would be a man and a family to care for her.

For whatever reason, it was uncommon for punalua to be jealous of one another.  There are some stories/legends that tell of a jealous punalua and doom being the outcome of a jealous rage.

In modern day Hawaiʻi, I know of one punalua relationship (this was years ago) and I am wondering about another. I am sure it happens here in our own islands, along with all of the other "out of the norm" relationships out there. To each his (or her) own. I do not sit in judgment, lest I be judged.

'O Ka'ahumanu ka punalua o Keōpūolani - Ka'ahumanu was the punalua of Keōpūolani.
'O wai kona punalua? - Who is his punalua?

Monday, October 12, 2009


Child sired by other than the husband, but accepted by both husband and sire.

In other words, mom went out and had a child by someone else but husband is okay with it.  Doesn't happen a lot today (although I have heard instances of it happening) but I think it was a more common happening in traditional Hawai'i. A poʻolua child was lucky in the sense that it increased the number of relatives of the child (related to mom's family, dad's family, and biological father's family) and if he was aliʻi then it assured loyalty to him as kinsmen.

Poʻolua literally means "two heads" and the best example of a poʻolua child is Kamehameha I.  His mother was Keku'iapoiwa and her husband was Keōuakupuapāikalaninui.  Many historians believe that Keku'iapoiwa had a liaison with Kahekilinui'ahumanu (ruler of Maui) and from this union was born Kamehameha Pai'ea (otherwise known as Kamehameha the Great).  Therefore, though Kahekili was thought to be his biological father, he was raised by his parents, Keku'iapoiwa and Keōua.

Now one must not frown upon this as being unacceptable behavior for Hawaiians. After all, they had a very intricate social system, practiced polygamy, had a matrilineal society and a monarchy.  They had a very detailed kapu system.  They had it all under control.  All the fathers and mothers took responsibility for their offspring, cared for them, taught them.

He po'olua 'o Kamehameha I - Kamehameha I is a po'olua child

Friday, October 9, 2009


1. earthquake, tremor. 
2. light porous stone or pumice, as used for polishing canoes or for scraping off hair of pig or dog to be roasted.

In light of the ōlaʻi that have taken place in the Pacific Ocean recently, perhaps you can find some use of today's word in your daily practice.  Ōlaʻi (with a macron over the o for stress) is an old word, as ōlaʻi are not a new phenomenon to Hawaiians.  Many ōlaʻi occur in our islands, particularly because of the activity generated by the still active volcano on Hawai'i Island.  I find it particularly interesting this word has a smaller word in it, la'i, that actually means calm or peaceful.  Perhaps this refers to the calmness that follows an earthquake, when you experience it.  I'm only speculating and using this connection as a tool to help me better remember the ōlaʻi.  As we make connections to certain words, that's how we remember them, right?

Ōla'i ikaika loa i 'ike 'ole 'ia kona lua - very strong earthquake, the like of which had never been seen before.

Halulu ka honua i ka ōla'i ē - The earth resounds because of the earthquake (from a chant by Edith Kanaka'ole)

Nei ka honua, he ōlaʻi ia
When the earth trembles, it is an earthquake.
(We know what it is by what it does)

Ua loa'a ʻelua ōla'i ma Vanuatu i kēia pule. - There were two earthquakes in Vanuatu this week.

Aia ke ōlaʻi ma Indonesia. - The earthquake was in Indonesia.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


1. Community, neighborhood, village. ʻOia nō kekahi o nā kānaka waiwai nui a kūʻonoʻono ma iā mau kaiāulu, he was one of the wealthiest and most prosperous persons of these communities.
2. (Cap.) Name of a pleasant, gentle trade-wind breeze, famous in song, at Wai-ʻanae, Oʻahu. ʻOluʻolu i ka pā a ke Kaiāulu (song), cool with the touch of the Kaiāulu. Also Pua-kaiāulu.

Todayʻs He Momi is dedicated to my kaikamahine hānau ʻelua, my second born daughter, Kika. Her Hawaiian name is Kīkahakamanuikekaiāulu - the bird soars in the Waiʻanae wind, so named because at the time of her birth we were living in Waiʻanae.  And despite the fact that we moved out of Waiʻanae when Kika was still in elementary school, she still has a deep fondness for the area (as we all do). In fact, her first job after graduating from UHM with her MSW was in Waiʻanae!

For us, Kaiāulu refers to the wind of Waiʻanae, a pleasing wind, as any wind on that coast is welcomed! The song, Aloha ʻia ʻo Waiʻanae, has the line: Pā ana ka makani ke Kaiāulu, he aheahe mālie - the kaiāulu wind blows, a gentle breeze.

Kaiāulu also refers to a community or neighborhood. Noho au i ke kāiaulu o Pōhākealani - I live in the community of Pōhākealani.

Hauʻoli lā hānau e Kīkahakamanuikekaiāulu!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


1.  Scattered, dispersed, routed, gone, tousled; fine, crumbling; every which way, as hair in the wind.  2.  Peeling, as sunburn.  3.  Remainder, remnant; to remain.

    You know when you're sitting near a heap of ashes, maybe from the hibachi or a rubbish fire and then a gust of wind comes and whoooooosh, the ashes go flying all about?  That's puehu.  Or when you're riding in the car, hair all beautiful and all of a sudden someone opens a window and hair is flying all over the place, especially in your eyes?  That's puehu.

    Hopefully you haven't been peeling lately from a sunburn.  That is also puehu.  Use sunscreen!  Gee, I remember that the only thing we put on our skin way back in my youth was anykine oil to get more pāpaʻa!  Now we need to protect our skin from the harmful rays of the sun.

Ua puehu ka hulu o ka manu
 the feathers of the bird have scattered
 (Said of one who has left in a hurry)

Puehu ka lehu i nā maka o ka mea luhi
 Ashes fly into the eyes of the toiler
 (One must endure the unpleasant in order to gain the pleasant, just as the cook at a fireplace gets ashes into his eyes when he blows on the fire)

Puehu li'ili'i ka lehu o kapuahi
 The ashes of the fireplace are scattered in every direction.
 (Said of an angry person whose temper makes everybody scatter)

'Elua a puehu - two and a little over.

Ua puehu ka lehu i ka makani - the ashes were scattered in the breeze.

E puehu ana kona 'ili - Her skin is going to peel.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


1.  to go inland (whether or not uphill, to go up, climb, ascend, mount, rise; to fall, as one shadow on another.  2.  to experience personally, or appear, as heat.

Generally in our Hawaiian islands, and many other island communities, I suppose, when you go inland you are more than likely ascending.  This word is piʻi.  When you go mountain climbing specifically, you "piʻi kuahiwi."  When the tide rises it is called "piʻi ke kai" or literally, "the sea rises."  Any form of ascending, whether it be climbing a tree or going up a bunkbed, would be called piʻi.

Piʻi is also the word used to describe a feeling that you get, particularly heat, cold, and emotion, such as  "piʻi ka wela" the heat rises, for when you get angry. No kona huhū, piʻi ka ʻōlelo ʻino - because of his anger, evil words come forth. Piʻi ke anu - to get chills (literally it means the coldness rises).   Piʻi ka ʻula - the redness rises (blushing).

Here are several ʻōlelo noʻeau using the word piʻi:

Piʻi ka ihu o ka naiʻa i ka makani - The nose of the dolphin rises toward the wind. (Said of one who is haughty.)

Piʻi mai nei i ka pali me he ʻaʻama lā - Climbs the cliff like an ʻaʻama crab (said of one who goes beyond the limit).

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ehu Ahiahi

The dust of evening

Aloha ahiahi!  Good evening!  Many of you may recognize ahiahi as being the Hawaiian word for evening.  And you may also know the word ʻehu (usually referring to the reddish tinge in hair). ʻEhu also refers to sea spray and dust.  In other words,ʻehu  ahiahi literally means "the dust of evening."  Otherwise known as evening twilight.  What a nice way to put it, huh?  Here's something else that seems so beautiful and is one of the reasons that I love the Hawaiian language so much. ʻEhu  ahiahi figuratively refers to old age. I think I like the idea of comparing old age to evening dust or twilight. Not a bad thought, especially since that time of day is a favorite of mine.

Ua hiki mai ka ʻehu ahiahi - Evening twilight is here (Old age has finally arrived).

Friday, October 2, 2009


nvi. Circle, group, as of people, trees (For. 5:287); gathering; to gather about in a circle.

How many of you are thinking of a song?  Pōhai ke aloha...  A gathering of love, encircled by love.  How magnificent. 
Pōhai is this gathering of people or things into a circle.  Pōhainani is the name of a retirement home on Oʻahu.  It means to be surrounded by beauty.  Isn't that a wonderful name for a home filled with kupuna?

Pōhai ka manu ma luna, he iʻa ko lalo - When the birds circle above, there are fish below.

Pōhai ka neki lewa i ka makani - Surrounded by the reeds that sway in the breeze. (Said of one handsome and graceful of movement)

Thursday, October 1, 2009


instruction, teaching, learning, to learn, teach, instruct, train, tutor, coach

The thing that I find most interesting and peculiar about today's "momi" that is SO different from English is that in Hawaiian the word for "to learn" is the same word for "to teach." And you don't really stop to think about it, but the best way to learn something is to actually teach it. That is aʻo.
I took Hawaiian for three years in high school and four years in college but never really could use it like I wanted to, just did well on the tests and speeches because you can study for that. But how did I finally learn to actually communicate in Hawaiian? I taught my babies! Yup, not much you need to say to an infant and a toddler (want to eat? don't do that!), and as my children got older my abilities had to get better in order to keep up the conversation! It was great! The intricacies of any fine art are best learned when it is taught to someone else. Want to learn more about Hawaiian history? Give someone else a reason to want to learn it and teach it to them. If you think you're good at something, try teaching it to someone else. that will show how good you really are.
This reminds me of one of my favorite ʻōlelo noʻeau:
Ma ka hana ka ʻike - in doing, one knows
E lawe i ka aʻo a e mālama, a e ʻoi mau ka naʻauao - He who takes his learning and applies it increases his knowledge.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


crazy, insane, reckless, wild
This is a small kid kine word. And although us kids were sometimes referred to as being pupule we knew that this was the word that referred to those who were REALLY crazy (imagine your pointer fingers going in circles pointing to each ear...that kine crazy). I mean someone who has really lost it ("it" probably referring to their brains or senses).
Pupule also brings to mind a song made famous years ago:
Princess Pupule get plenty papaya,
She love to give 'em away
And all of the people they say,
"Omiya Omya, you really should trya
Little piece of the Princess Pupule's papaya..."
Remember that one? That was one good song. Didn't make much sense but not everything should, right? It was just super catchy.
Now there's a new song out for the younger generation that has pupule in it:
I've been watching you from across the way, girl
Moving that sexy body, girl
And I must say that you are driving me pupule
ʻIke anei ʻoe i kekahi kanaka pupule? - Do you know any crazy people?
Pupule kēlā wahine ma ka hale kūʻai - That woman in the store is CRAZY.
All in good fun, again. and the pupule legacy lives on in song.