The 22 handiest words used by Hawaii’s locals

First, there was the list of ultra-useful Hawaiian words. Now it’s time to focus on the local everyday vernacular of our kama’aina (local residents).

As you’ll see, local Hawaii vernacular uses a mix of words from English, Hawaiian, Japanese and other languages as well as some hybrid/made-up words.

Before you read on, a word of advice: this list is more for learning about than it is for actual speaking (you may get some weird looks if you try). Therefore, speak at your own risk. Ready?

Slippers / “slippahs”

Other people call them thongs, flip flops or sandals. In Hawaii, we call them slippers and usually pronounce them “slipp-ahs.”

Okole

Try not to giggle — okole means “butt.”

Puka

Puka is the Hawaiian word for “hole. ” Very handy.

Piko

Like an okole, everyone has a piko — aka “bellybutton.”

Howzit

Howzit is the local way of saying “How’s it going?”

Da kine

Da kine is such an awesome and useful term that we’re repeating it from the Hawaiian word list.

Da kine means “that thing.” It can be used in vague terms when you can’t remember the thing in question: “Where did you put da kine?”

It can also be used to describe something you know about but don’t want to explicitly mention, like “Watch out for him — he get da kine.”

Brah

Brah is one of the most common terms used in Hawaii. It means “dude” or “mate.”

Shoots

Shoots is a super handy term which basically means “sure,” “okay,” “right on.” You can even combine brah and shoots for “Shoots, brah!”

Poke (proper pronunciation)

Most of you probably know poke is (yummy Hawaiian style raw fish), but have you ever stopped and wondered how to pronounce it properly? Well, here you go — it’s “po-kay.”

Shaka

A shaka is a hand gesture that means hello, what’s up or aloha. Make a fist, then fully extend your pinky and thumb.

Haole

A haole is an outsider, or a person of Caucasian descent (or both). Haole can be sometimes be used in an insulting way.

Small kine / “skosh”

“Just a little”

Choke

Choke means “a lot” of something.

Lua

Lua is the Hawaiian word for bathroom.

Pau hana

Pau hana is that wonderful time of day after work, before dinner, when you can just kick back and enjoy a beverage and snack (pupu) with good company.

Pupu

pupu is an appetizer, tapa or hors d’oeuvre.

Grind

To grind is “to eat.”

Hana hou

Hana hou means “encore.”

Kapu

Kapu means sacred or forbidden. It can also be used in casual terms, as in “Nani just kapu-ed my surfboard, so I can’t paddle out right now.”

Learn more about kapu here.

Hapa

Hapa refers to someone that’s half or mixed race.

Image credits: Ian Rinefort, makenag, nukelarburrito, auvet, Juliane Ragojo, kanaka, Tyler Raye, Don Daskalo, volvob12b, Roozbeh Eslami, danramarch, thegirlsny, Derek Owens, Jeremy Bishop, Logan Lambert, Jakob Owens, Tim Foster, 8751723@N02, taylor deas, Marvin Meyer, Stoke Drift

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