A Glossary of Hawaiian Words in Hawaiian Pidgin English

The following is a listing of many of the Hawaiian words that are still in daily use by speakers of Hawaiian Creole English (commonly known locally as “Hawaiian Pidgin English” or simply, “Pidgin English”).

Note that I am not including Pidgin words that come from the many other languages that formed the basis for HCE; you can find those words in books, in blogs, and especially amusingly, in YouTube videos.

If you are learning Hawaiian language, then you should probably get all of the following 126 terms memorized right away, because most are used by local adults and elders who don’t even speak Hawaiian! Learning these words is a fun way to help perpetuate the Hawaiian language!

If you are interested in how Pidgin English came to be in Hawaiʻi, please read Hawaiian Pidgin English: A Brief History here on ʻŌlelo Online. Aloha!

Hawaiian Words and Expressions in Hawaiian Creole English (“Pidgin English”)
HawaiianPidgin Meaning
a hui hougoodbye
alohalove, sympathy, etc
akamaismart, intelligent
akulea type of fish
aliʻia chief
e kala maiforgive/excuse me
e komo maicome inside (invitation)
hana houdo again, repeat
hālautraditional workshop or school of learning
hānauto give birth
hapapart, half; mixed race
haupiacoconut pudding in blocks
heleto go (generic)
hemoto remove (really means removed, extracted, or opened)(
hikieʻea hybrid living room bed/couch
holoholoto go riding around
honito kiss
honua turtle
huia group or organization
“hū-ī”a call to get someone’s attention
hukilaua type of group fishing technique
hulito turn over, as a flipped canoe
hulihulito rotate something, as on a spit
hūpōstupid, foolish
i muago forward; in front
imuunderground oven
kahua reverend or priest
kahunaa priest (trad.) or master practitioner
kamaʻāinaa local or native-born
kanakaa Hawaiian person
“kanikapila”to play music
kapakahicrooked, bent; fig. messed up
Kepanīof Japanese descent
kupunagrandparent, ancestor
kāluato bake in an imu
kāneman, male, husband
koloherascal, naughty
kōkuahelp, assistance
kukuia type of tree
kūloloa type of Hawaiian dessert
lānaiveranda, porch
lauhalapandanus leaf
laulaulaulau (a type of food)
lehualehua (a type of blossom)
leilei garland or necklace
limuseaweed (usually edible)
lōkahitogetherness, unity
lunathe boss, foreman
lōlōstupid, idiotic
luatoilet, bathroom
lūʻaufeast often with a show
mahimahia type of fish
māhūhomosexual male; crossdresser
mailea type of vine
maka piapiasleepy dust (Hwn mng. eyes with dusty pia)
makaiseaward (properly ma kai)
mālamato care for something
malihinia visitor or non-local
manaspiritual power
maninia type of fish; fig., a small thing, “NBD”
maukaupland (properly ma uka)
maunaa mountain
menehunean ancient and mythical race of people
moemoe“go nighty-night” (sleep) for kids
momonafat, obese
moʻogecko etc.
moʻopunagrandchild, descendant
muʻumuʻua type of loose dress (mispron. “mūmū”)
nēnēthe native Hawaiian goose
pakalōlōmarijuana (mispron. as “pakalolo”)
palia cliff
Pākēof Chinese descent
paudone, finished
pau hanaafter work is done
pilaurotten stench, stink; fig. of bad character
pipibeef, cow, bull
pipi kauladried beef, similar to beef jerky
pōhakua rock
pohōuseless, wasteful, wasted
poipoi (a smooth taro pudding)
pokepoke raw fish dish
pōpoloa person of African descent
puaʻapig, pork
pukahole (perforated); doorway
pūpūan appetizer (Hawaiian lit., any marine shell)
a type of plant (sometimes “kī”)
tūtūgrandma (shortened from tupuna)
uku pauto pay off completely
wahinelady, wife, woman, female
walaʻauto chat, idle talk
wanaa sea urchin with long painful spines
wikiwikiquick, fast
ʻahia type of fish
ʻauʻauto bathe or shower or “clean up”
ʻaumakuaancestral family god
ʻāinathe land
ʻehua reddish tint in black Hawaiian hair
ʻōkolehuman rear end (Hawaiian lit., anus)
ʻōkole haoHawaiian tī root moonshine
ʻōpalarubbish, something which lost its value
ʻōpūstomach, tummy
ʻukuhead lice (“ʻukus”) (Hawaiian lit., flea)

Pane mai

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