Wait For It… a blog by Andy Ross

Hawaiian Words

Posted on January 17, 2011


A lot of people know that the Hawaiian word "aloha" has two meanings. But, did you know that every word in Hawaiian has two, sometimes contradictory meanings? Here's a helpful starter list of Hawaiian words:

Aloha - means both "hello" and "goodbye."

Mahalo - means both "thank you" and "tomorrow's the day I start my low carb diet."

Ohana - means both "family" and "the act of looking at a Q-tip after you use it."

Hale - means both "house" and "a random, desperate question meant to steer the conversation away from listening to the other person complain about work."

Mana - means both "spiritual power" and "finding that a dollar bill has gone through the wash and now looks like the fetus version of a dollar bill."

Hula - means both "a dance" and "a light switch that doesn't seem to be connected to a light. Maybe one of the outlets behind the couch used to be for a side table lamp? Am I supposed to try every outlet and then turn this switch on and off? It's not worth it."

Pupu - means both “appetizers” and “holding back a culturally offensive snicker.”

Keiki - means both "a child" and "the ways local newscasters smile in promotional pictures that makes them look dead inside."

Lanai - means both “a patio or balcony” and “the jealousy non-smokers feel towards smokers who are allowed smoke breaks.”

Ono – means both “tasty” and “a large type of mackerel.” It can also mean “the act of getting your groove back.”

Kai - means both “the sea” and “the rise in e-book sales compared to traditional paperbound book sales.”

Mauka - means both “toward the mountains” and “a person wearing multiple pieces of Burberry plaid, which still happens even though that was a trend from what, seven years ago? Eight?”

Wahini - means “a woman” and “tea which is neither hot tea nor iced tea but somewhere in between. Tea which is lost and unsure of itself. Tea which has no place to call its own in our society.”

Haole - means both “a Caucasian person” and “someone who makes you roll your eyes.”