10 Hawaiian Words We All Should Know

10 Hawaiian Words We All Should Know

Hawaiian culture is deeply filled with powerful words that hold very strong meanings. These words hold the true essence of Hawaiian culture and reveal what it is truly like living in their spirits. Understanding these words may prove to be a challenge for some people as they hold a couple of different meanings. This is the true beauty of the Hawaiian language. Each word may present itself to you in a different meaning, depending on where you’re in life and what energy you bring to the table. There is a very rich culture tied to the Hawaiian language. We can only go so far in explaining it to you. You need to focus on each word with your heart and soul and only then will you understand what it means to you.


Aloha is often seen as a form of greetings like hello or goodbye. However, Hawaiians will tell you that this soothing word actually holds a much deeper meaning to it. Aloha signifies love, respect, and mutual understanding with other beings. 

  • Akahi- kindness to be expressed with tenderness
  • Lokahi- unity to be expressed with harmony
  • Oluolu- agreeable to be expressed with pleasantness
  • Haahaa- humility to be expressed with modesty
  • Ahonui- patience to be expressed with perseverance

Expressing love and gratitude to each other, despite any differences that may be presented, is the true essence of Hawaiian culture. There is no one to judge here. Everyone is welcomed with open arms. 



Ho‘omanawanui signifies the importance of inner peace and self-control. It teaches us that not everything is under our control and sometimes, the universe has different plans for us. We need to be at peace with the fact that sometimes things won’t go as we planned and that’s okay. 

In the Ho‘omanawanui spirit, we don’t focus on the negativity that is happening to our lives. Instead, we work on ourselves and bring ourselves into a state of total inner peace. This way we will be completely okay when something doesn’t go our way as we know the universe has better plans for us and we just have to be patient to find out. 



Mahalo is truly the essence of Hawaiian culture. Hawaiians are seen living in a complete sense of gratitude for what they’re given in this life. They don’t have many materialistic desires. They only strive for complete inner peace.

In the spirit of Mahalo, a person is eternally grateful for what they’re given in this life. They understand how blessed they’re no matter the circumstances. We may face many hardships in life. But we need to be grateful for all the blessings we were given and never lose sight of how difficult it is for others.


‘Imi ola signifies the importance of working to become the best version of ourselves every day. Every day we learn something new or perform an act of service that would be beneficial to our own inner self and physical health. 

We are unable to truly give our 100% to someone else unless we are at a 100% capacity ourselves. In order to properly help someone else, we must first help ourselves. Once we are at a comfortable and clear headspace, only then can we truly be useful to someone else. Giving someone else our all before we are whole ourselves can prove to do more harm than good to them. We shouldn’t be selfish when it comes to self-care.


Ha’aha’a teaches us that we may not always have a perfect life and that’s okay. It also teaches us that having a perfect life does not mean we should be ungrateful for the blessings we are given. We could be at either one of those points in our lives and either way, we need to count our blessings instead of complaining about what isn’t meant to be.

In the Ha’aha’a spirit, we accept the lessons that we learn in life. We carry our bad days and our mistakes with pride and we work on improving ourselves the next day. we don’t let our mistakes ruin our energy. We focus on the positive side and all that we’re already blessed with in life.


Kūpa’a signifies the importance of standing up for what you believe in. In life, you may face a lot of people who may try to stray you away from the right path. They may make you change who you truly are or make you do things that you’re not comfortable with. 

In the spirit of Kūpa’a, you will stand firmly for what you believe is right for you. You will not let anyone else cloud your judgment or stray you away from your destiny. Only you’re responsible for yourself and the decisions you make.


Pono is the exact state of being the Hawaiian people strive to achieve every day. In life, we must always try to achieve the right balance in all our activities. We must not give more attention to a single activity. Instead, everyone and everything must get the same amount of energy and time from us.

Oftentimes we are working long hours or studying overnight which is hurting our spiritual energy. We need to give our bodies enough rest so they can heal from the constraints that life gives us every day. We need to give equal attention to our physical health and our spiritual health. Only then we will achieve true balance in our lives.


‘Ohana signifies how we are all one-being, interconnected to each other in one way or the other. We treat everyone around us with the same love and respect which we expect to get back ourselves. No one is superior or inferior to each other in the spirit of Ohana. Everyone is family and family comes first.

In the spirit of Ohana, we don’t discriminate between the different beings that roam this Earth. We are surrounded by both living and non-living beings. We are surrounded by both physical and spiritual beings. We are surrounded by all types of creatures. We show love and respect to each of them like they’re our own family.


Nānā I Ke Kumu signifies the beauty of the past and all that we can learn from it. It teaches us that whenever we are facing any obstacle in life, we need to take a step back and look towards our guiding light for help.

We may look towards God, towards our parents, and our ancestors for guidance. They have lived this life longer than we have. Their energy lives deep within us, we just need to focus on our goals and they’ll guide us along the way. We need to remember where we came from, stay grounded, and never forget who we truly are.



Mālama teaches us the importance of caring for our surroundings just as we would care for ourselves. It also teaches us to care for ourselves just as much as we would care for others. Often times we neglect our own personal needs and focus more so on the people around us. While this is also important, we need to know that our spiritual and physical health comes above all. We can’t care for others unless we maintain our own energy first.

The land we live on has blessed us with its gifts that we can never repay. It is therefore our duty to protect and maintain its beauty and blessings so that it may continue to allow us to use it as a source of shelter and protection. Nature works both ways. If we protect it, it will protect us.


There is no limit to what we can learn from the Hawaiian language. The peaceful energy it brings signifies exactly how the Hawaiian people are in real life. They truly live by their rich history and incorporate it in their everyday lives. There is so much we can learn from them and their way of living. Hawaiians are among the most peaceful people you will ever be surrounded by. When they enter a room, the energy completely shifts into one of complete calmness. They will always present themselves to be welcoming of all kinds of beings. They don’t discriminate and are always grateful for the blessings they’re given in life. Despite being very mindful and caring for the beings around them, they put just as much focus on themselves and that is the true beauty of this beautiful culture.