Common Colours In Hawaiian

As in many languages of the world, some of the colour names that we have in English were not present in Hawaiian before recent times. The word for “colour” itself is “waihoʻoluʻu”, which literally means “water-based dye for dipping things into”. Let’s all try it: waihoʻoluʻu [2x]. Many people today like to say “kala”, which is a Hawaiianised version of the English, “colour”.

Here are the names of the colours. Repeat after me. E hoʻomākaukau.

  • ʻulaʻula – red
  • ʻōmaʻomaʻo – green
  • uliuli – blue
  • lenalena – yellow
  • ʻālani – orange
  • poni – purple
  • ʻākala – pink
  • mākuʻe – brown
  • ʻeleʻele – black
  • keʻokeʻo – white
  • ʻāhinahina – grey

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Would you like to try using them in some phrases? I’ll say the English, and you say the Hawaiian. We’ll use the Hawaiian form that you hear in your vocabulary lessons, and add the ʻaʻano descriptive word, the colour, afterwards. For example, I’ll say “A white skirt”, so you’ll respond, “he pāʻū keʻokeʻo”. “He pāʻū” means “a skirt”, and “keʻokeʻo” is the colour. He pāʻū keʻokeʻo – a white skirt.

In each of the exercises, you’ll hear the correct answer after a short pause, so you can check your response. Hoʻomākaukau!

  • a grey cliff – he pali ʻāhinahina
  • a brown animal – he holoholona mākuʻe
  • a blue sea – he kai uliuli
  • a yellow pineapple – he halakahiki lenalena
  • a green mountain – he mauna ʻōmaʻomaʻo
  • a pink flower – he pua ʻākala
  • a red lehua blossom – he lehua ʻulaʻula
  • a purple house – he hale poni
  • an orange fruit – he huaʻai ʻālani
  • a black coffee – he kope ʻeleʻele
  • a white restaurant – he hale ʻāina keʻokeʻo

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Great! Now I imagine you are ready for the next step. I’ll say an English sentence, and you make it Hawaiian. The colour words, since they are just descriptions, come right after the word they describe or modify. E hoʻomākaukau!

  • There is a grey cliff on Molokaʻi – Aia kekahi pali ʻāhinahina ma Molokaʻi
  • A brown animal will run on the ranch – E holo ana kekahi holoholona mākuʻe ma ke kahua pipi
  • There is a blue sea in Hawaiʻi – Aia kekahi kai uliuli ma Hawaiʻi
  • The yellow pineapple was delicious – Ua ʻono ka halakahiki lenalena
  • A green mountain is standing there (at that place) – Aia kekahi pali ʻāhinahina ma Molokaʻi
  • A green mountain is standing there (at that place) – E kū ana kekahi mauna ʻōmaʻomaʻo ma laila
  • I want a pink flower – Makemake au i ka pua ʻākala.
  • I carried a red lehua blossom – Ua hāpai au i kekahi lehua ʻulaʻula
  • There are two purple houses in Honolulu – Aia ʻelua hale poni ma Honolulu
  • The five orange fruits were famous – Ua kaulana nā huaʻai ʻālani ʻelima
  • There is a black coffee at the airport – Aia kekahi kope ʻeleʻele ma ke kahua mokulele
  • There are lots of visitors at the white restaurant – Ua nui nā malihini ma ka hale ʻāina keʻokeʻo

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If you managed to get those exercises mostly correct, you are doing really well! It’s time to start thinking ahead, to get some more supplemental material to study Hawaiian language from when you finish this program. You can always check the website mentioned in the introduction to this Topics Entertainment program for some recommendations.

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