Friday, August 28, 2009


tooth; toothed; nipper, as of an insect; octopus beak; claw, as of a crab; tusk; biting, of the teeth

Most people know niho to mean teeth or tooth. Most don't know that the claws of a crab are also his niho. Don't they serve the same purpose?

niho ʻole - toothless (I remember my dad calling me this when my baby teeth began falling out, then singing, way too many times, "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!")

He kekē niho wale iho nō - just an exposing of teeth (just threats)

niho huʻi - toothache; having a toothache (huʻi = ache, pain; aching)

niho ʻawa - poisonous fang or tooth, as of a centipede (literally - bitter tooth)

In Hawaiʻi the molars of defeated warriors, preferably or more likely those belonging to fallen chiefs, were taken and inlaid into bowls, like spittoons (used for the aliʻi to spit into to protect their mana, so that it can be properly disposed of) as an insult to that particular aliʻi. An example of this can be seen at Bishop Museum. I mean, talk about defiling someone's mana! Along the same lines, some kāhili posts (feather standards) were made from the leg bones of humans! That's gotta hurt!

He niho ko kaʻu keiki - My child has a tooth.
Ma hea kou niho? - Where is your tooth?

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