21 Slang Words You Should Know Before Visiting Hawaii (Part 1)

by Gee Why on September 1, 2009 · 28 comments

in Life, Pulp

NEENZ tweeted about the 21 slang words you should know before visiting Canada and asked for a Hawaii version. Sure!  So here is my list of 21 slang words you should know before visiting Hawaii (at least part 1 of the list).

Note: Hawaii slang is mostly based on the long standing Pidgin English, well covered in Pidgin to Da Max. This list ain’t going up against this classic, but instead is my interpretation weaved in with familiar faces. :)

Basics

lua – bathroom. After flying for hours over the Pacific Ocean, one of your first stops will proably be the lua. Kane is for the men and wahine is for the ladies.

howzit – the all around Hawaiian-style greeting asking in easy going short form, “How is everything going?”

shaka – the universal hand gesture of Hawaii that can be used as a form of thanks, a greeting, or a good bye. LA Laker Kobe Bryant demonstrates the shaka.

kobe-shaka

While driving in Hawaii, If you ever make a mistake and inadvertently cut someone off, be sure to immediately sign the shaka as an apology. I call this the “shakalogy.”

shark bait – the stark white skin tourists like to tan while visiting the 50th state.  Why “shark bait?” Because in the ocean, sharks find that white skin so visually yummy.  Be sure to slather on that SP50 sunscreen even on your ears and top of your feet.

haole – a white person but not necessarily derogatory or demeaning, just a fact. Chris Pirillo is a haole who typifies shark bait.

chris-pirillo-tweetup

Culture

ohana – your family, can consist of immediate family members, extended relatives, and friends. If you want an impromptu gathering of your ohana, just go to any grand opening of a new store like Target. You’re guaranteed to see someone from your ohana.

“small world” – you’ve heard how it’s a small world after all. Well, living on an island hyper-sensitizes this meaning. With an estimated 1.5 degree of separation in Hawaii, it’s hard to keep secrets. Somebody knows. But it’s also part of the social fabric of Hawaii that engenders the spirit of aloha.

“where you went grad?” or “what school you went?” – because it’s a small world, Hawaii’s one of the few places where your high school matters. This is one of the first questions local people will ask each other when meeting for the first time. Yes, even when at sea on board a nuclear powered naval aircraft carrier, “where you went grad?” rings true (see the 5:05 mark).

poho – a waste of time. Trying to keep secrets from your ohana in Hawaii’s small world is poho.

Dining

ono – delicious, scrumptious.

malasada – a doughnut-like pastry with Portuguese origins. Hawaii’s version of Krispy Kreme way before there was Krispy Kremes.

Zippys – Hawaii’s equivalent to (but more ono than) Denny’s. Always serving Hawaii comfort food. Here’s a haole eating ono grinds (food) at Zippys.

Continued in Part 2 of 21 Slang Words You Should Know Before Visiting Hawaii.

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  • http://hawaiitraditions.com NEENZ

    Wonderful list! I have nothing but faith and pulp in you :)

  • http://hawaiitraditions.com NEENZ

    Wonderful list! I have nothing but faith and pulp in you :)

  • Fooking Haole

    You’re kidding, right? Sure “haole” means foreigner, but like “gaijin” and “gringo” mean foreigner and that is not necessarily a nice thing to say. Of course, a bunch of haoles talking story will call each haole, or bitch for that matter, not meaning either in a bad way, but still using a derogatory word.

    • http://www.pulpconnection.net Gee Why

      I hear your point, and this was a sensitive one. But seeing how there are additional terms such as “dumb haole” and “fooking haole” (as your commenter name points out), the need for additional adjectives “dumb” and “fooking” kinda indicates the trending neutrality of “haole.”

      That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. ;)

    • http://www.facebook.com/cloe.parks.9 Cloe Parks

      actually haole came from ha ole (ha-oh-lay) which means no breath. when the white people came from america, the hawaiians had never seen someone so pale and thought that they were dead. then it turned something you call white people. it actually isn’t really mean because usually people just joke around with there friends and say oh you haole oh you fillipino kine

      • Kawika Young

        No you retard haole is pronounced (how-lee) and means white person.

  • Fooking Haole

    You’re kidding, right? Sure “haole” means foreigner, but like “gaijin” and “gringo” mean foreigner and that is not necessarily a nice thing to say. Of course, a bunch of haoles talking story will call each haole, or bitch for that matter, not meaning either in a bad way, but still using a derogatory word.

    • http://pulpconnection.net Gee Why

      I hear your point, and this was a sensitive one. But seeing how there are additional terms such as “dumb haole” and “fooking haole” (as your commenter name points out), the need for additional adjectives “dumb” and “fooking” kinda indicates the trending neutrality of “haole.”

      That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. ;)

  • http://ktcatspost.blogspot.com/ K T Cat

    How about “talk story”?

    • http://www.pulpconnection.net Gee Why

      As requested, “talk story” added to Part 2 of the list

  • http://ktcatspost.blogspot.com/ K T Cat

    How about “talk story”?

    • http://pulpconnection.net Gee Why

      As requested, “talk story” added to Part 2 of the list

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  • Mainlander

    Haole literally means “Intruder” in Hawaiian.

    • Stephen McMahon

      While I cannot verify this, I believe that the most detailed and thoughtful explanation of the word ‘haole’ can be found here:  http://www.hawaiithreads.com/showpost.php?s=21e9b5a6a5a872b34713f28bc18807a1&p=5634&postcount=6.  I would say that the last 2 paragraphs of that explanation say a lot about the person that posted it and I think that the next time I’m living in Hawaii I will go out of my way to make this person my friend :)

    • Eyeofset1

      no breath

    • Haole!

      not really…it translates as ‘no breath’, as white colonists refused the traditional Hawaiian greeting in which you touch noses and exhale into each others mouth. From the book ‘Unfamiliar Fishes’ by Sarah Vowel(great book).

    • Guest

      no it means no breath

  • infernal campain

    Haole means no breath

  • Nalo Keed 808

    Haole boyyyyyyyyyyy

  • kj

    ”chillax’n”

  • Bradda cuz

    I’m born an raised in Hawaii and I’ll say this list is a little off. Haole is meant for white people and is DEFINATELY a derogatory term. If someone calls you a fucking Haole they are pissed at you and you should leave the situation.

    • http://www.pulpconnection.net Gee Why

      Thanks Bradda. I get your point but then again I’ve used “haole” in general to describe the white guy. Usually the tone of the use kinda dictates derogatory or not and that f&*king part is a giveaway. ;)

      • bob

        Use to live there and F&H is very close to saying F&N. It’s just that the haters have the stupid people fooled in to thinking it’s o.k. Just trying to fool whitey and others into using it.

  • Hilarious

    Hello, can someone please tell me what Cheeee huuuu means in English

    • http://www.pulpconnection.net Gee Why

      Hilarious, I’m writing up a separate blog post with my interpretation of cheehoo right now. I’ll post it on Thursday.

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