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Local Dictionary

Words Every Visitor to Hawaii Should Know to Sound Local.

ALOHA (ə-lō-hä)
Commonly used Hawaiian word meaning hello, goodbye and love.
“We share with you our aloha.’”

AUNTY (an-tē)
A local, usually older female; not necessarily related to you. Used as a term of respect.
“Aunty, let me carry those lei for you.”

BROKE DA MAUT (brōk dä maůt)
Something so delicious it could literally break your mouth.
“Whoa, the food at the luau broke da mout.”

BUMBAI (bəm-bī)
Local term for “or else.” Can also mean “later on.”
“You better use sun block, bumbai you goin’ get sunburn.”

CHOKE (chōk)
Basically means “a lot” or “numerous.”
“Had choke surfers at Waimea Bay this morning.”

DA KINE (dä kīn)
A phrase used in reference to someone or something; “that kind.”
“Da kine shave ice I like is rainbow.”

GRINDS (grīndz)
What locals call food or a meal. Generally, a positive term.
“That restaurant got awesome grinds.”

HOWZIT (haů-zit)
How locals greet each other. Equivalent of saying “hi." (Response is not required.)
“Howzit, brah.”

KANAK ATTACK (kə-nak ə-tak)
The feeling of intense laziness you get from eating too much.
“I ate the whole garlic shrimp plate and got a kanak attack.”

KDEN (kā-den)
Island slang for “OK, then.”
Man 1: I’ll see you tonight.
Man 2: Kden.

LOLO (lō-lō)
A Hawaiian language word meaning dumb, goofy or crazy.
“Did you hear what he said? That guy’s lolo.”

MAHALO (mä-hä-lō)
Means “thank you” in Hawaiian. As seen on trash cans in the state.
“Mahalo for the ride!”

MAKAI (mä-kī)
This means “ocean side,” or “towards the ocean” when giving directions.
“Head makai for a few blocks and you’ll get there.”

MAUKA (maů-kə)
Conversely, it means “mountain side,” or “upland” when giving directions.
“Our restaurant is just mauka of the flower shop.”

‘ONO (ō-nō)
In Hawaii, it describes food as delicious.
“Man, this chicken is ‘ono.”

PAU (paů)
It means “finished; done.”
To waiter: “I’m all pau with my meal.”

SHAKA (shäk-kä)
Hawaiian hand gesture as a sign of approval, hello/goodbye and thank you. How to shaka: Make a fist and extend your pinky and thumb. Lightly shake your hand. (Note: visit the Polynesian Cultural Center to learn about the man who invented it.) Means “awesome, cool, amazing.”
“That guy is shaka.”

SHOOTS (shütz)
Local slang for “OK” or “yeah.”
Man 1: Let’s go surfing.
Man 2: Shoots.

SMALL KINE (smo̊l kīn)
A little bit; not very much. The opposite of “big kine.” Also means “no problem; don’t worry about it.”
“This is a small kine dictionary, really.”

UNCLE (ən-kəl)
A local, older male; not necessarily related to you.
“Hey uncle, would you like to buy some macadamia nut cookies?”