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.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Sulky, sullen, peeved, peevish, stubborn; to sulk, balk.

If you grew up in Hawaiʻi, or Hawaiian style, surely you remember the word nuha. I can just hear my dad calling me "Nuha-lani".  Whenever you got all mad because someone did something to you, usually a sibling or older cousin, and no adult would "back you up" you got all nuha.  Funny thing is when I read the definition for nuha in the dictionary, nowhere did it say "salty."  Is that just a made up word or is that also a translation for nuha?  Is that a "real" word synonymous with sulky?  Oftentimes I wonder if words like "salty" for nuha or one hand "spam" instead of span when playing marbles are words just used here in the islands by the local families.  People just hearing the words wrong.  Not attuned to fine tuning, so to speak.  I mean salty sounds like sulky, but I NEVER heard the word sulky small kid time.  It was always either, "What, you nuha?" or "She stay all salty."  And they weren't referring to taste. Just a point to ponder during those nuha times.

Nuha ʻo ia. - She's "salty."

Mai hoʻonuha 'oe iā ia. - Don't make him get sulky.

Monday, September 28, 2009


to deny, refuse, reject, veto, contradict, prohibit, protest, nullify, disclaim, renounce, repudiate; refusal, denial, negative.

Whenever something is refused or rejected we say (and by we I mean me) hōʻole ʻia, with the ʻi stretched out for emphasis (more like 'iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiaaaa) with a little tilt in the head. Usually it's something that I actually wanted to be rejected or refused, like when my kids ask their dad if they can do something that they knew I would not let them do but they thought dad would (don't you just hate it when they do that?). And then "dad" sees the look on my face and just KNOWS to refuse their request. Then I hum the little ditty to myself...."hōʻole ʻia" (please imagine that ʻia being stretched oooouuuutttt). REJECTED!

You may have recognized ʻole in there. same ʻole as you find in ʻaʻole and ʻaʻohe, meaning no or none. By putting the hō in front of it (remember hoʻo-? it's a causative) it literally means to cause no-ness. to deny! When you stick ʻia after that (ʻia makes words passive for you English language buffs) it makes it passive. Kind of like "denied". I have visions of a big rubber stamp marked: HŌ'OLE ʻIA on all my tax papers and loan requests.

hōʻole 'ia - denied
hōʻole loa - to deny or refuse absolutely
hōʻole Akua - to deny the existence of God; atheist
hōʻole wai ʻona - prohibition of intoxicants (literally - to prohibit intoxicating liquids)
Mai hōʻole i ka makua - don't refuse the parent

Friday, September 25, 2009


east; coming

To the Hawaiians, the direction of hikina is very significant. The son rises in the hikina and the sun signifies enlightenment. When the rays of the sun (kukuna o ka lā) touch our ʻāina they brings forth life. Day. When it sets in the west or komohana it signifies death. Darkness. When the first child was born of gods here in Hawaiʻi, he was very weak and didn't live long. He was buried on the hikina side of their dwelling and from this spot, where the sun first shows off its immense beauty in the early morning, grew the first kalo, or taro plant, Hāloanakalaukapalili. Their next child, also named Hāloa, was the progenitor of the Hawaiian race. The first Hawaiian. Brother to the kalo.

The easternmost point of the state of Hawaiʻi is located on the Big Island at Kumukahi. "Aia i Kumukahi ka lā e puka maila." There at Kumukahi the sun appears. This ʻāina is sacred because it is from here that Hawaiians first see the sun appear to warm us, to bring forth life, to enlighten us. We hear of children having the word hikina in their name but never hear the word komohana or west in names. Hikina also means the coming, advent. "Mai ka hikina a ka la i Kumukahi a i ka welona i Lehua" - from the arrival of the sun in Kumukahi to its setting in Lehua.

Aia ʻo  Kumukahi ma ka ʻaoʻao hikina o Hawaiʻi mokupuni - Kumukahi is on the east side of Hawaiʻi Island.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009


Smooth, thin, as poi; fine, mashed, soft, powdery, supple, limber, as a dancer's body.

When you find that perfect poi, just the right consistency, it nice wali.  When you put hoʻo- in front of wali that becomes the action of making something smooth and thin.  Hoʻowali 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 hoʻowali until it is wali.  Bad karma to have lumpy poi.

Ua wali ka poi - The poi is smooth.
ʻuala hoʻowali ʻia - mashed sweet potatoes.

Nā mea hoʻowali o loko - digestive organs (literally "the smoothing things inside")

Wednesday, September 23, 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 ʻōhua lemu kaumaha, he mau ʻopeʻope 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)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


1.  pinworm, as in the rectum; white specks in feces; larvae, as of mosquitos; worm in dung or in taro.  2.  Inferior taro left in the field after the crop is removed.  
3.  The bastard sandalwood (Myoporum sandwicesne), a native tree.  
4.  Name of a seaweed

Of all these meanings, the first one is the most well known.  In fact, I would go so far as to say it is the most similar thing to a swear word in Hawaiian.  If anyone refers to you as a pala naio, OUCH!  that is a definite term of contempt, a definite swear word, cussing to the max!  It means you are not even worth as much as a daub of excreta.  We'll try to offset today's word with something much nicer tomorrow!

Naio ʻai kae - Dung-eating pinworm (an expression of contempt for one who slanders, especially his own ʻohana)

Kohu ʻole kahi wai o Kanaio - Unattractive is the water of Kanaio (A contemptuous expression meaning that something another person has said or done is worthless.  A play on naio, found in the anus).

Monday, September 21, 2009


1.  Young hāpu'u ferns that have not yet developed trunks.  
2.  Young stage of hāpu'u fish. 
3. rough, bumpy, piimpled. 
4.  A mound, as for playing marbles.  
5.  sweet potato sprouts.  
6.  a variety of taro.

        Okay, here in Hawai'i most people know the hāpuʻu fern.  Now you know that before it has a trunk it is hāpuʻupuʻu.  But the main translation I want to focus on is the fourth one.  A mound.
        Remember playing marbles small kid time?  Had one hand spam, kinikini or kini, and hapupū?  Well, that hapupū is actually hāpuʻupuʻu.  I suppose if you say hāpuʻupuʻu fast enough it comes out sounding like hapupü.  As far as marbles are concerned hāpuʻupuʻu was that mound you made.  What was that hāpuʻupuʻu used for in marbles?  Darn if I can remember.  I loved playing marbles.  I bet a lot of you can remember what your best kini looked like.  You know, your favorite marble.  Was it a clearie?  A bamboocha?  Cat eyes?  And remember using that blue velvet crown royal bag for your marbles?  I never had one so I was envious of those who did.  My dad was a beer drinker.  Those were the days.  Hey, if you remember the function of the hāpuʻupuʻu leave a comment below!

Friday, September 18, 2009


False staghorn ferns

       My son, in his earlier pig hunting days, was relating a story to me and mentioned the uluis...needless to say, I paused in thought and then asked him what the uluis are.  I soon realized that he was referring to the uluhe fern, found in abundance on hillsides along the Hāmākua Coast.  The uluhe grows so thick that it gives the false impression that there is land right under it but in reality there might be a huge lua or pit and you don't even know it.  Well, a long lecture ensued in which I explained to my son how it is now his duty to teach his fellow pig hunter friends that the plant is really the uluhe, it should not have an "s" at the end (no Hawaiian word should!), and the end sound is en "eh" sound, rather than "ee" as in eek.
        Uluhe is a native forest fern and can grow 10 to 15 feet long and make a tangled mess.  It can be difficult to walk through as it covers ditches and hides cliffs well.  Amongst its good qualities, it prevents the growth of non-native plants in forest regions by shading out the sun to anything it overtakes.  Hawaiians used the uluhe as a laxative tea.

Pala uluhe - ripened in uluhe fern leaves
(A term of derision applied by the shore-dwellers of Ka'ū, Hawai'i, to the uplanders, who were poor farmers.  They ripened their bananas in pits lined and covered with uluhe fern leaves, instead of allowing the bananas to ripen in the field.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009


1. to be surrounded, controlled. 
2. to be fond of, desired, to be liked. 
3. to be deceived or deluded. 
4. completed.  
5.  head cold.
6. a kind of coconut.

       Actually if you look up the word puni you will see the translations of 1-4 above.  Punia is actually the passive/imperative form of puni (this probably makes more sense to the advanced language learners).  ʻIa is usually the passive marker (peku = to kicked; peku ʻia - to be kicked).  But with punia, it's a combination of puni + ʻia.  There are some other Hawaiian words similar to this. 

Punia is not used very often in spoken Hawaiian but is found more often in song, poetry, and older literature.  Here are some examples:

Ke ʻala o ka lauaʻe, punia ai ka nahele - the fragrance of the laua'e fern permeates the forest.

Aloha wale ku'u kaikunāne ē, ua punia au - Alas for my brother, I am overcome with grief.

Punia kuʻu lei i ke ʻala o ke aloha - My beloved is surrounded by the sweet scent of love.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Poʻo Huaʻi

splitting headache

Nothing like a poʻo huaʻi to generate today's word!  Totally unrelated is the poʻo huaʻi lama or the splitting headache or hangover caused by liquor (lama = rum or any type of liquor).  Poʻo is the Hawaiian word for head and huaʻi literally means to dig up, pour forth, break forth; to churn water.  That pretty much describes a splitting headache well.  Just like those ship propellers churning away in your head.  Ouch.  I'm not going to forget this word as long as this poʻo huaʻi lasts.

ʻEha kuʻu poʻo i ke poʻo huaʻi - My head is in pain with a splitting headache.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Fulll-sized ʻamaʻama mullet fish

The mullet (both at the ʻamaʻama and the ʻanae stage) was and is the most important of the fresh or brackish water fish for Hawaiians.  It is delicious both raw and cooked and is considered somewhat a delicacy. 

Because fish is such an important food source in Hawaiʻi there are names not only for the different stages of a fishes life but for the mullet there are different names for the different seasonal migration period it is in.  For instance, when they are migrating they are called ʻanae-holo (travelling mullet).  When they remain off shore or returned from the journey, they re called ʻanae-pali (cliff mullet).   But when are they known as an ʻanae as opposed to ʻamaʻamaʻAmaʻama is about eight inches long and ʻanae is anything about 12 inches or more. 

Here are a couple of place names given to honor the ʻanae:

Waiʻanae - Mullet water.  (located on O'ahu) Now, because I have spent MANY years growing up in Waiʻanae I am particularly sensitive to its pronunciation.  People tend to say "Waenae" (why-nye) when referring to this district on Oʻahu's leeward shore.  Please be more attentive to its correct pronunciation:  Wai = water.  ʻAnae = mullet.
ʻAnaehoʻomalu - restricted or protected mullet. (located on Hawaiʻi island)

Keʻanae - the mullet. (located on Maui)

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Monday, September 14, 2009


mange, impetigo, itch, itching pustules of the skin

Growing up, us small kids always had kākiʻo somewhere on our bodies, but the way it was used I always assumed it was synonymous with "owies" or scabs. "kākiʻo leg," "no pick your kākiʻo" were commonly heard around everybody's house (and not only aimed towards me!). But it occurred to me just this past weekend as I saw my granddaughter's leg, mosquito bites scratched till they bled, with plenty kākiʻo that it's a word I don't hear too often anymore. And the translation in the dictionary is by far worse than what I assumed it meant. Nevertheless, if I am correct in my assumption that its use is diminishing I say we all make every attempt to revive it! Tell your kid clean his owies good or else going be kākiʻo. Make your daughter wear long pants riding bicycle so she no get kākiʻo if she fall down (painful memory on that one!).

So, what is the word for owie? ʻEha works well. ʻEha means ache, pain, sore.

Scab? Pāpaʻa, yes, pāpaʻa, like burnt or crispy. Same. Kinda looks the same, too, huh?

E hoʻōla hou kākou i ka huaʻōlelo "kākiʻo "
Let us revitalize the word "kākiʻo" in honor of all our kupuna who used it on us!

Friday, September 11, 2009



         Not a pleasant word to most of us.  My memories of hahano mostly come from small kid time, from my tūtū wahine, my grandmother.  Hahano was her "cure-all."  Don't be telling her you weren't feeling well!  It was either hahano or castor oil!  Both horrific!
        The kahuna lāʻau lapaʻau, or healing "physician" who healed using medicinal herbs, would use hahano as an integral part of healing certain ailments.  It would mostly be given to prepare the patient for medicines that would be given later.  An example of a hahano might consist of placing two handsful of salt in a container with a little water and letting it stand overnight.  In the morning the salt water was warmed before being put to use (I'm cringing just thinking about it!).  Juice of the ʻilima or a mashed kukui nut might be added.
        Boy, used to be that whenever you were giving birth, first thing they did to you in the hospital?  You got it!  Hahano!  Thank goodness that practice ended after my first baby was born.  Never wanted to do that again as "cleansed" as it made me feel!
        I bet you're wondering how those Hawaiians actually gave the enema.  I mean I'm sure they didn't have those rubber contraptions my tūtū used (and it always stared down at me in the shower!).  They would use either a small gourd with a long neck or bamboo.
        Enough hahano talk.  I'm getting queasy.  And I'm sure many of you are, too, reliving those memories.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


1.  To yearn for; to be in love with; to love, desire, long for.
2.  Drowsy, languid, sleepy.

       Ah, surely we have all experienced nipo at one time or another...maybe even a few times!  This yearning or desire for a loved one must have been highly regarded by Hawaiians because there are several "yearning" type words, such as ʻiʻini, ake, and hoʻohihi.
        If you put hoʻo- in front of nipo, hoʻonipo, then it means to make love, court, woo, yearn for.  This word is quite powerful and pretty straightforward.  Use it well.
        Interesting to note that nipo also means drowsy or sleepy, perhaps because of all the sleep we lose when we can think of nothing else but that special someone.

ʻO ka holu nape a ka lau o ka niu, hoʻonipo ana lā i ke ehu kai - swaying, dipping of the coconut fronds, making love in the sea spray.

E hoʻi i kapili e kuʻu ipo, e neneʻe mai, e nanea mai, e ke aloha, e hoʻonipo kāua - Let's get back together, my sweetheart, move closer, relax and enjoy, my beloved, and let's make love (from Kealiʻi Reichel's E Hoʻi i ka Pili)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


1.  Feather, quill, plumage.  
2.  Esteemed, choice, precious.  
3.  fur, wool, fleece, human body hair. 
4.  Kind, nature, color.  
5.  Hackle; fishhook with barb on the outside.  
6.  Brush.  
7.  Muscle attaching a bivalve to rocks.  
8.  Seal.  
9.  Cloth. 

        Of all these translations the first three seem to be the most well-known and widely used so we'll concentrate on those.  Below are some explanations referring to the specific translations:

1.  Hulu refers to the feathers or plumage of birds. Hulu manu - bird feather (often "manu" follows hulu when referring to feathers to differentiate it from the fur of any animal). 
        Ka hulu 'i'iwi nani - the beautiful ʻiʻiwi bird feathers

2.  Frequently the elderly are often referred to as hulu kupuna - esteemed grandparent.  The translation of esteemed or prized might be related to the fact that bird feathers were highly prized in  Hawaiʻi and used in symbols of royalty such as capes, lei and helmets.

3.  Any human hair, with the exception of the hair on the top of our head (which is lauoho) is known as hulu or huluhulu.  Similarly, any fur on animals is also hulu.

He huluhulu kau i ka puka ihu - Hair growing inside of the nostril (said in envy of a person who is regarded as a favorite by a superior--he is so closely allied to the person that he is likened to a hair in the other's nostril.  Also said in criticism of one who is made too much of).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


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

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 $4,622.79.  Well, at least to most people.  But in traditional Hawaiʻi, if it was around 4,000 it was mano.  Also manomano (there's one of those reduplicated words, a common occurence in Hawaiian).  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 Kauaʻi.  In fact, Kauaʻi is known to many as Kauaʻi o Mano (Kauaʻi of Mano) or Kauaʻi o Manokalanipō.

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

Ua nui a manomano ka ʻikena a ka Hawaiʻi - Great and numerous is the knowledge of the Hawaiian.

Friday, September 4, 2009



This is the generic word used in Hawaiian for any type of gardenia. I do believe this is a form of an older Polynesian word (tiale) and you can see the similarity in its sound with the name of the Tahitian gardenia that we see a lot of here in Hawai'i, tiare (roll the r on this one, please!).

Many people do not know, however, that Hawaiʻi has a native gardenia of its very own, that is not found anywhere else (it's endemic to Hawaiʻi). It is known as nānū or nāʻū. Fortunately, after being endangered in the wild for so long (which prevented its propogation for home use), it was fairly recently put on the list of endangered plants that can be propogated and grown in gardens. So that means that you can search out nurseries, buy a nāʻū plant and grow it at home! How special is that? You would help save this endangered plant AND have a sweet smelling flower. Its scent, like all kiele varieties, is exquisite! If you can get by the cost (upwards of $15) then it would surely be considered an investment in our 'āina.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pua Kenikeni

small tree, flowers (fagraea berteriana), fruit, fragrant, used for leis.

Today's word is especially for my dear friend, E. Kaiponohea Hale. His favorite lei is the lei pua kenikeni. Like the pua kenikeni, kaipo is strong, VERY sweetly scented, leaving you dizzy, and yet you should take the time to enjoy the beauty from afar or up close, next to your bosom.

It's pua kenikeni blossoming time, people. If you see a blossom on the tree, whether it's in its early stage as white or just turning yellow or in its deep orange state, pick it, enjoy it, even when it has bruises on it and is withering because its smell is just as sweet. Of course we all know pua means flower, but I bet most of you don't know that kenikeni is the word for dime or 10 cents. Yes, it's the 10 cents flower, because it is said that at one time they were sold 10 cents apiece. well worth its price, I assure you. Nowadays, you can buy those fimo dough looking flowers for your hair or a fake pua kenikeni lei for your neck. Good if you're on the mainland or want to dress up your muʻu on an out of season occasion, but when you have a chance, there is no substitution worthy of its beauty, its fragrance. Splurge. Buy a lei, pick a flower. And enjoy the pua kenikeni. And think of my hoaaloha, Kaiponohea!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


The Arabian jasmine (Jasminum sambac), introduced from India, a shrub or climber, with rounded, dark-green leaves and small, white, very fragrant flowers used for lei.
Once you've seen/worn/smelled pīkake, you never forget it. mostly it's the aromatic fragrance. But also its delicate features, so many little white petals, sewn close to each other, releasing more and more scent as its buds begin to unfold. It's no wonder that many, many Hawaiian songs have been composed for this flower. I'm sure many sweethearts were likened to the pīkake flower when they were composed, too!

The pīkake was the favorite flower of Princess Kaʻiulani (the most elegant and beautiful of aliʻi, many pictures of her grace books and walls; she was the daughter of Princess Likelike [sister of Kalākaua & Liliʻuokalani] and Archibald Cleghorn, so she possessed that beautiful hapa haole look). And because her favorite bird was the peacock, she gave the flower the same Hawaiian name as the peacock...pīkake. did you notice how it sounds just like "peacock?" Clever. A beautiful flower and a beautiful bird. I'm sure we can all agree the princess had impeccable taste.

Ke ʻala o ka pīkake, ke moani mai nei - The fragrance of the pīkake is wafting towards me.
ʻO ka lei pīkake ka lei punahele a Uluwehi - The pīkake lei is the favorite lei of Uluwehi.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


the chinese violet (Telosma cordata), which has yellowish-green flowers

Since mokihana is not plentiful, is costly, and is not available but for a few months beginning in or around March, I do have a second favorite lei and that is the pakalana. Its Hawaiian name actually comes from the flower's Chinese name: Paklan. This fast growing vine enjoys hot weather so it grows quite well in areas such as Waiʻanae and Molokaʻi. Fetching an easy $5 a strand it can be quite costly as one strand is not enough...3 is a minimum. Its delicate petals can be revitalized by a nice cold bath in water. Its scent wafts gently into the house if you plant it in strategic places in the yard. Give it a good trellis and you needn't do much more except watch for the bees, although they don't both humans when they have pakalana to keep them fed. Want a nice lei to give to someone on a special occasion? When in season, order pakalana. Though not as popular as pīkake it is just as sweet!

E lei i ka lei ʻala onaona, ʻo ka pakalana - where the sweet scented lei, the pakalana.
ʻO ka pakalana kekahi lei punahele - The pakalana lei is a favorite lei.