Hawaiian Terms

‘a‘ā  Basaltic lava flows typified by a rough, jagged, spinose, clinkery surface.  See also pāhoehoe.

‘ae  Yes.

ae‘o  A bird, Himantopus mexicanus, the Hawaiian stilt.

āholehole  The Hawaiian flagtail fish, Kuhlia sandvicensis.

ahu  Heap, pile; altar, shrine, cairn.

ahupua‘a  Traditional Hawaiian land division, usually extending from the uplands to the sea.

‘ai kapu  To eat under taboo, to observe eating taboos.

‘āina   Land, earth.

‘aka‘akai  A native grass, Schoenoplectus lacustris.

‘ākau  Right (not left). North (when one faces west, the direction of the sun’s course, the right hand is to the north).

akua  God, goddess, spirit, ghost, devil, image, corpse.

akualele  Meteor, fireball. Meteors were thought to be gods that flew through the air.

akule  Hawaiian name for the finfish, bigeye scad, Selar crumenophthalmus.

ala  Path, trail, road.

ali‘i  Chief, chiefess, officer, ruler, monarch, peer, head man, noble, aristocrat, king, queen, commander.

ali‘i ‘ai moku Chief who rules a moku.

aloha Love, affection, compassion, mercy, sympathy, etc.

ama  Outrigger float; port hull of a double canoe, so called because it replaces the float.

‘ama‘ama  Mullet (Mugil cephalus), a very choice fish.

‘anae Full-sized ‘ama‘ama mullet fish. See also ‘ama‘ama.

‘a‘ole  No, not; to be none, to have none.

‘aumakua  Family or personal gods, deified ancestors who might assume the shape of animals, rocks, clouds, or plants.

‘auwai  Ditch.

‘awa A shrub, Piper methysticum, the root of which is the source of a narcotic drink of the same name used in ceremonies, prepared formerly by chewing, later by pounding.

awa The milkfish, Chanos chanos, an important food fish traditionally reared in ponds in Hawai‘i.

awa‘aua  Tenpounder, or tarpon, fish, Elops hawaiiensis.

‘āweoweo   Various Hawaiian species of Priacanthus, red fishes, sometimes called bigeye.

e kala mai “Pardon me”.

‘eke Sack, pocket, bag; bag-shaped fish net.

‘ele‘ele Long, filamentous, green, edible seaweeds, Enteromorpha spp. Some kinds are among the most popular in Hawai‘i, being eaten raw as condiments at feasts.

enenue Rudder or pilot fish, Kyphosus fuscus.

haku ‘aina  Landowner; landlord.

hala An indigenous tree, Pandanus tectorius, whose leaves were used for mat making, canoe sails, baskets, and thatching.

hālau  Long house, as for canoes or hula instruction.

hale  House, building, station, hall.

hale kā humu  Cookhouse.

hale kuku  House for beating kapa.

hali‘a aloha   A beloved recollection.

hā mau ka leo  “Keep the voice quiet”.

hana  Work, labor, job, duty, office.

hana ‘ino  To mistreat, mutilate, abuse, treat cruelly or carelessly.

hānau To give birth; to lay (an egg); born; offspring, child, childbirth; productive, fertile.

haole White person, American, Englishman, Caucasian; American, English; formerly, any foreigner.

hapa haole Part-white person; of part-white blood; part-white and part-Hawaiian, as an individual or phenomenon.

hānai  Foster child, adopted child; foster, adopted.

hāpai   Pregnant.

hau A native tree, Hibiscus tiliaceous, which was highly valued for a variety of uses: the bark was used for cordage; the light wood was used in canoe construction, to make floating containers, fishing floats, adze handles, fireworks, spears, and to mark fishing grounds; the wood was also rubbed together with olomea to make fire; and the flowers and the slimy sap were used medicinally. See also olomea.

haumana  Student, pupil, apprentice, recruit, disciple.

he‘e Octopus.

heiau  Traditional Hawaiian place of worship.

helu To count, number, compute, take a census, figure enumerate, list, include, impute; to assess, as taxes; to chant a list of names, as of genealogy; including, counting, enumeration, census, list, rate, number, figure, total, inventory; statistics.

hīnālea Small- to moderate-sized brightly colored wrasses of the family Labridae. Hīnālea was eaten raw as an aftertaste for kava. It was prepared in the i‘a ho‘omelu fashion with kukui nuts and chili pepper.

hoa‘āina  Tenant, caretaker, as on a kuleana. See also kuleana.

holoholo  To go for a walk, ride, or sail; to go out for pleasure.

hōlua Sled, especially the ancient sled used on grassy slopes; the sled course.

honu General name for turtle and tortoise, as Chelonia mydas.

hō‘oio  To show off; to assume an air of superiority; conceited; affectation, conceit.

huaka‘i pō  Procession of ghosts of a departed chief and his company. Also called ‘oi‘o and commonly known as night marchers.

hūhū  To bulge, effervesce. Used colloquially to mean angry, mad.

huluhulu waena An irregularly branching, dark red seaweed, Grateloupia filicina, with many narrow segments. It is commonly eaten and sold in some markets.

hūnā  To hide, conceal, disguise.

i‘a Fish or any marine animal; meat or any flesh food; any food eaten as a relish with the staple, including meat, fish, vegetable, or even salt.

‘ili  A land section, next in importance to ahupua‘a, and usually a subdivision of an ahupua‘a.

‘ilima An indigenous shrub, Sida fallax. Traditionally, the flower was used in lei making, both the flower and the root were used medicinally, the stems of the large plants were used as slats in house construction, and the stems of smaller plants were used in rough basketry.

ilina  Grave, tomb, sepulcher, cemetery, mausoleum, plot in a cemetery.

īlio  Dog.

imu  Underground oven.

‘inamona  Relish made of the cooked kernel of kukui mashed with salt. See also kukui.

‘iole Hawaiian rat, Rattus exulans.

ipu The gourd, Lagenaria siceraria.

‘iwa  Frigate or man-of-war bird, Fregata minor palmerstoni.

iwi  Bone.

ka‘a Vehicle, carriage, wagon, automobile, car.

ka‘ao Legend, tale, usually fanciful; fiction; to tell a fanciful tale.

kahakai  Beach, seashore, seacoast, seaside, strand.

kāheka  Pool, especially a rock basin where the sea washes in through an opening and salt forms.

Kahiki Tahiti, foreign land.

kahu Honored attendant, guardian, nurse, keeper of ‘unihipili bones, regent, keeper, administrator, warden, caretaker, master, mistress; pastor, minister, reverend, or preacher of a church; one who has a dog, cat, pig, or other pet. See also ‘unihipili.

kāhua Foundation, base, site, location, grounds, background, platform, as of a house; an open place, as for camping or for sports.

kahua hale  House foundation or site.

kahuna  Priest, sorcerer, magician, wizard, minister, expert in any profession.

kai  Sea, sea water; area near the sea, seaside, lowlands.

kai lawai‘a  Fishing grounds.

kaiāulu Community, neighborhood, village.

kala A generic name for fish in the Unicornfish genus Naso. It is generally caught in nets or with a spear. The flesh has a strong odor and is rarely eaten raw; it is often broiled or partially dried and broiled.

kalakala  Craggy, thorny, knotty. Figuratively, rough in language, rude, harsh.

kalana Division of land smaller than a moku or district. See also moku.

kalo The taro, Colocasia esculenta, was a staple food in traditional Hawai‘i and all parts of the plant were used. The rootstock was baked or steamed, then eaten sliced or pounded to make poi, raw taro was also grated and mixed with coconut milk to make desserts, the leaves, leaf stems and flowers were also used in cooking. Medicinally the leaves and rootstock were used to treat many ailments. The plant was also used ritually, as bait for fish, glue, and to make dye.

kama‘āina Native-born, one born in a place, host.

kanaka maoli  An indigenous Polynesian person or people of the Hawaiian Islands.

kānāwai  Law, code, rule, statute.

kāne  Male, husband, male sweetheart, man; brother-in-law of a woman.

kanikau  Dirge, lamentation, chant of mourning.

kanu  To plant, bury.

kapa Tapa cloth, as made from wauke or māmaki bark.

kapu Taboo, prohibition; special privilege or exemption from ordinary taboo; sacredness; prohibited, forbidden; sacred, holy, consecrated; no trespassing, keep out.

kauhale Group of houses comprising a Hawaiian home, formerly consisting of men’s eating house, women’s eating house, sleeping house, cooking house, canoe house, etc.

kauna‘oa  The native vine, Cuscuta sandwichiana, or dodder.

kī  A woody shrub, Cordyline terminalis, in the lily family. Traditionally the leaves were used for a variety of purposes, such as wearing apparel, thatching, food, fishing, and religious purposes. The root was eaten in times of famine and was the basis in historic times for ‘ōkolehao, a fermented drink.

kiawe The algaroba tree, Prosopis sp., a legume from tropical America, first planted in Hawai‘i in 1828.

kīhāpai Small land division, smaller than a paukū; cultivated patch, garden, orchard, field, small farm.

kilu A small gourd or coconut shell, usually cut lengthwise, as used for storing small, choice objects, or to feed favorite children from.

kinolau The many forms taken by a supernatural body. Pele, for example, could at will become a flame, a young girl, or an old hag.

 Sugarcane, Saccharum officinarum, was introduced to Hawai‘i by Polynesian settlers, who cultivated it widely. The stalk was chewed between meals for its sweetness, brought on long journeys to ease hunger, and eaten in times of famine; juice from the stalk was fed to nursing babies, and used as a sweetening agent in medicinal herbal concoctions; the leaves were used as thatching for houses; the leaf midrib was used for plaiting braids that were made into hats; the stem of the flower was used to make darts for a child’s game.

ko‘a Shrine, often consisting of circular piles of coral or stone, built along the shore or by ponds or streams, used in ceremonies as to make fish multiply; also built on bird islands, and used in ceremonies to make birds multiply.

koa  A tree, Acacia koa, one of the largest endemic trees in Hawai‘i. Wood used for canoes, paddles, and surfboards.

koa haole A historically introduced small tree, Leucaena glauca.

ko‘i  A cutting tool with a blade of stone, shell, or sometimes bone, typically hafted to a wooden handle and used to work wood.

ko‘i lipi  Adze, axe, hatchet.

kōkua  To help, assist, support.

koloa maoli  A bird, Anas wyvilliana, the Hawaiian duck.

kolū  A historically introduced shrub or tree, Acacia farnesiana.

konohiki Head man of an ahupua‘a land division under the chief; land or fishing rights under control of the konohiki. See also ahupua‘a.

kou A native tree, Cordia subcordata, with a wood prized for its grain and ease of carving. It was used for carving a wide variety of objects from platters to images of gods; the leaves were made into dye and the flowers were also used in lei making.

Kū The god of war in Hawaiian mythology.

kuapo To swap, exchange, trade. In ancient Hawai‘i, resources were often exchanged between those who lived in the mauka areas of an ahupua‘a and those who lived near the sea, e.g. sweet potatoes for fish.

kūhonu  An edible spotted-back crab, Portunus sanguinolentus.

kūkā kama‘ilio  Interview, conference; to hold such.

kukui  The candlenut tree, Aleurites moluccana, introduced to Hawai‘i by Polynesian settlers. The outer husk of the fruit or nut was used to make a black dye for tapa and tattooing; sap from the fruit was used as medicine to treat thrush, and used as a purgative; the hard shell of the nut was used in lei making; the kernel of the nut was the source of an oil that was burned for illumination and also used as a wood varnish for surfboards and canoes; the kernel was also chewed and spit on rough seas to calm the ocean and baked kernels were mixed with salt and chili pepper to make a relish (‘inamona); the trunk was used to make canoes and floats for fishing nets; a reddish dye was made from the bark and/or root; a gum exuded from wounded bark was used to treat tapa; the flower was mixed with sweet potato to treat thrush; the leaves were used in a poultice for swelling and infection.

kula  1. Plain, field, open country, pasture; land with no water rights. 2. School.

kulāıwi  Native land, native.

kuleana Right, title, property, portion, responsibility, jurisdiction, authority, interest, claim, ownership.

kumu  Bottom, base, foundation. Or, teacher, tutor, manual, primer, model, pattern.

kupaianaha Surprising, strange, wonderful, extraordinary, unaccountable, marvelous.

kupapa‘u  Corpse, cadaver, dead body.

kūpou A fish, Cheilio inermis.

kupua  Demigod or culture hero, especially a supernatural being possessing several forms.

kupukupu General name for ferns on a single stem, such as the sword fern, Nephrolepis exaltata, a long, narrow fern with many lateral divisions.

kupuna  Grandparent, ancestor, relative, or close friend of the grandparent’s generation, grandaunt, granduncle.

lala Small bait fish.

lau hala  Pandanus leaf, especially as used in plaiting.

lawai‘a Fisherman; to catch fish.

lehua  The flower of the ‘ōhi‘a tree, Metrosideros polymorpha; also the tree itself. See also ōhi‘a lehua.

lei  Garland, wreath.

lele  Sacrificial altar or stand.

lepe-o-Hina A red seaweed, Halymenia formosa, with a wide, thin, branching thallus. Also called lepe‘ahina.

lepo  Dirt, earth, group, filth, excrement (euphemism); dirty, soiled.

limu A general name for all kinds of plants living under water, both fresh and salt; also, algae growing in any damp place in the air, as on the ground, on rocks, and on other plants; also mosses, liverworts, lichens.

limu kohu   A soft, succulent, small, red seaweed, Asparagopsis sanfordiana, narrow, cylindrical, tufted. It is one of the best known and best liked of edible seaweeds.

līpe‘epe‘e  Some native species of a genus of edible red seaweeds, Laurencia, that are small, narrow, stiff, branching, and knobbed. This seaweed was taboo to those learning hula because pe‘e means to hide, and the gods would hide their secrets from those eating the seaweed.

līpoa  Bladelike, branched, brown seaweeds with conspicuous midrib on blade, unique aroma and flavor; highly prized on all islands.

lo‘i  A single irrigated taro patch; irrigated terrace, especially for taro.

lo‘i kalo Irrigated taro patch. See also lo‘i.

loko  Pond, lake, pool.

lua 1. Hole, pit, grave, den, cave, mine, crater. 2. A type of dangerous hand-to-hand fighting in which the fighters broke bones, dislocated bones at the joints, and inflicted severe pain by pressing on nerve centers.

lua meki  Deep pit or cave.

luakini  Heiau of the ruling chiefs where human sacrifices were offered. See also heiau.

lū‘au  Hawaiian feast, named for the taro tops always served at one; this is not an ancient name, but goes back to at least 1856.

mahalo  Thanks, gratitude.

mahamoe  An edible bivalve.

maha‘oi  Be nosy, ask questions; bold, impertinent, presumptuous.

Māhele  The mid-nineteenth century land division responsible for the introduction of fee simple land title in Hawai‘i.

maika  Ancient Hawaiian game suggesting bowling.

maile A native twining shrub, Alyxia olivaeformis, used in traditional Hawaiian religion to evoke Laka, the goddess of hula. Maile sticks gummed with lime were used as part of a rig to catch birds.

maka‘āinana Commoner, populace, people in general.

makahiki  Ancient festival beginning about the middle of October and lasting about four months, with sports and religious festivities and taboo on war.

makai  Seaward.

maka‘u  Fear; frightened, afraid.

makua  A parent or any relative of the parents’ generation (uncles and aunts).

māla Garden, plantation, patch, cultivated field.

mālama To take care of, care for, preserve; to keep or observe, as a taboo; caretaker, custodian.

malihini  Stranger, newcomer, guest; one unfamiliar with a place or custom; new, unusual, rare, or of foreign origin; for the first time.

māmaki A small native tree, Pipturus albidus, also called māmake; the berry was used as a laxative, a dressing for wounds, and a tonic for general debility; the berry was fed to children to treat thrush; the bark was used to make tapa cloth.

mana  Supernatural or divine power; spiritual, miraculous power.

mana‘o  Thought, idea, opinion, theory, meaning; mind; desire, want; to think, suppose, meditate, deem, consider.

manauea  A kind of small red seaweed, Gracilaria coronopifolia, with stiff, cylindrical, succulent stem and branches.

mānienie  A grass, a.k.a. Bermuda grass, Cynodon dactylon, that has been introduced and naturalized in Hawai‘i.

manini The convict surgeonfish, Acanthurus triostegus.

manō  Shark. In Hawaiian culture, there are two classes of sharks. Manō kānaka are sharks with human affiliations, and manō i‘a are wild sharks. Manō kānaka were revered and cared for, and were akua or ‘aumakua.

manu  Bird; any winged creature.

ma‘o  A native shrub, Gossypium tomentosum, the leaf of which was traditionally used to make a green dye.

mauka Inland, upland, toward the mountain.

mele  Song, anthem, or chant of any kind.

Menehune  Legendary race of small people who worked at night, building fish ponds, roads, temples; if the work was not finished in one night, it remained unfinished.

mihi  Repent.

mihi aku  Give forgiveness.

mihi mai  Ask for forgiveness.

milo A tree or arborescent shrub, Thespesia populnea, either indigenous or introduced by Polynesians for its wood and fiber.

moa  Chicken, red jungle chicken (Gallus gallus), fowl, as brought to Hawai‘i by Polynesians; for some people, an ‘aumakua.

moemoe  Sleep.

mō‘ī  King, queen, sovereign, monarch, or a rank of chiefs who could succeed to the government but who were of lower rank than chiefs descended from the god Kāne.

moi  The threadfin, Polydactylus sexfilis, is found in schools along sandy shores and at sandy holes in rocky shores, where it reaches a length of 45 cm. It is caught with a hook and line and with nets. It is a delicious food fish and was reportedly reserved for chiefs, the commoners prohibited from eating it.

moku  District, island, section; forest, grove.

mo‘o  1. Narrow strip of land, smaller than an ‘ili; 2. Lizard, reptile of any kind, dragon, serpent; water spirit.

mo‘olelo  A story, tale, myth, history, tradition, legend, fable, chronicle, or record.

mo‘opuna Grandchild; great-niece or -nephew; relatives two generations later, whether blood or adopted; descendant; posterity.

muliwai  River, river mouth; pool near mouth of a stream, as behind a sand bar, enlarged by ocean water left there by high tide; estuary.

na‘auao  Learned, intelligent, enlightened.

nahawele  A bivalve of the family Isognomonidae. On O‘ahu, the Perna costellata, Atrina sp.

nalowale  Lost, gone, forgotten, vanished; disappeared.

nehu  An anchovy, Stolephorus purpureus.

niho palaoa  Whale tooth, whale-tooth pendant, a symbol of royalty.

niu  The coconut palm was widely used in traditional Hawai‘i. The base of the trunk was used to make calabashes and drums; the trunk was used to make canoes and posts for houses; leaves were used for thatching, plaited to make baskets and fans, and used to beat the water to scare fish into nets; the base of the leaf was used to pound the banks of taro patches; the midribs of the leaves were used to make brooms, string kukui nut kernels for lights, make shrimp snares, and as musical instruments. The fruit’s fibers were used to make sennit; the shell of the fruit was used to make bowls, spoons, and knee drums; the flesh of the fruit was eaten at all stages of maturity and used in various dishes; milk and oil were made from the flesh, the oil was used on the body and hair, and also used to calm water; the water from the fruit was drunk.

nohu  Indigenous prostrate to ascending perennial herbs, Tribulus cistoides, found on coasts of tropical regions.

noni  The Indian mulberry, Morinda citrifolia, a small tree or shrub in the coffee family, native to Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands. In Hawai‘i, noni was used for medicines and dyes.

‘ohai  A native shrub, Sesbania tomentosa.

‘ohana  Family, relative, kin group.

‘ōhi‘a  Various kinds of forest trees in the family Myrtaceae, either in the genus Metrosideros or Syzygium.

ōhi‘a lehua A native plant, Metrosideros polymorpha, that ranges in habit from prostrate shrubs to tall trees and is distributed from sea level to 2,200 m elevation on all the main Hawaiian Islands.

ōhua 1. Retainers, dependents, servants, inmates, members (of a family), visitors or sojourners in a household; passengers, as on a ship; 2. Young of such fish as hīnālea, kala, kūpou, manini, pualu, and uhu.

ō‘iō  The bonefish, genus Albula.

‘oi‘o Procession of ghosts of a departed chief and his company. See also huaka‘i pō.

o‘io‘ina  Resting place for travelers, such as a shady tree or rock.

‘oki  To cut, sever, separate.

‘ōkupe A bivalve, Spondylus tenebrosus.

oli   Chant that was not danced to, especially with long phrases chanted in one breath, often with a trill (‘i‘i) at the end of each phrase; to chant thus.

olomea A native shrub or small tree, Perrottetia sandwicensis, the wood of which was used in conjunction with the softer hau wood to produce fire by rubbing. See also hau.

olonā  A native shrub, Touchardia latifolia, whose bark was valued as the source of a strong, durable fiber for fishing nets, for nets to carry containers, and as a base for ti-leaf raincoats and feather capes.

‘ono Delicious, tasty, savory.

ōpae  A general term for shrimp of several kinds.

ōpala   Trash, rubbish, refuse, litter, garbage.

pā  Fence, wall, corral, pen, sty, enclosure, courtyard, patio, arena, (house) lot, yard, extremity.

pa‘ahao Prisoner, convict. As a land term, pa‘ahao lots were those which were worked by prisoners or others who were repaying some debt to society.

pa‘akai  Salt. A traditional Hawaiian method of making salt is to evaporate sea water in salt pans. Salt is valued in Hawaiian culture for its cleansing power.

pāhale  House lot, yard, fence.

pāhoehoe Basaltic lava flows typified by smooth, billowy, or ropy surface. See also ‘a‘ā.

pala A native fern (Marattia douglasii), with a short trunk and large, long-stemmed, much divided, dark green fronds. In time of famine, the thick, starchy, hoof-shaped bases of the frond stems, which cover the short trunk, were eaten after being baked in an imu overnight. The mucilaginous water resulting from slicing and soaking the raw stems in water was used medicinally. Pieces of the fronds mixed with maile lei enhanced their fragrance. The fern was also used in heiau ceremonies.

palani  A surgeonfish, Acanthurus dussumieri, famous for a strong odor.

pali  Cliff, precipice, steep hill or slope suitable for olonā or wauke

pana pua  Shooting with bow and arrow; archery.

pānini A cactus, Opuntia megacantha, introduced to Hawai‘i in the 1800s. The Hawaiian name means “unfriendly wall.” Hawaiians made a fermented drink from the fruits and also ate them raw.

paniolo Cowboy.

pau  Finished, ended, completed, over, all done.

paukū  A land section smaller than a mo‘o

pēpē  Baby.

piko  Navel, navel string, umbilical cord.

pili A native grass, Heteropogon contortus, whose leaves were used traditionally as house thatch.

pilikia Trouble of any kind, great or small; tragedy, nuisance, bother, distress, accident, difficulty, inconvenience, lack; in trouble; troubled, bothered, camped, crowded.

pipi 1. Hawaiian pearl oyster, Pinctada radiata. In songs this is known as the i‘a hāmau leo o ‘Ewa, ‘Ewa’s silent sea creature—it was believed that talking would cause a breeze to ripple the water and frighten the pipi. 2. Cattle.

po‘e  People, persons, assemblage; group of, company of, number.

po‘e haole Foreigner.

pōhaku Rock, stone, mineral.

poi The Hawaiian staff of life, made from cooked taro corms, or rarely breadfruit, pounded and thinned with water.

pono Goodness, uprightness, morality, moral qualities, correct or proper procedure, excellence, well-being, prosperity, welfare, benefit, behalf, equity, righteous, completely, properly.

po‘olua Child sired by other than the husband, but accepted by both husband and sire; this acceptance increased the number of relatives of the child who gave their loyalty to him as kinsmen; it thus fostered the prestige of children of chiefs.

pōpolo  A native shrub, Solanum nelsonii.

pualu A species of surgeonfish about eight inches in length and brown or dull-gray in color. It resembles the palani in tough skin and strong smell but may be distinguished from the latter by a blue line across the soft part of the fin.

pueo Hawaiian short-eared owl, Asio flammeus sandwichensis, sometimes regarded as a deity.

pūhi  Any eel.

puka Hole.

pule  Prayer, magic spell, incantation, blessing.

punahele A favorite; to treat as a favorite. In ancient Hawaiian culture, children were often treated as favorites, getting special treatment from parents and grandparents.

pu‘u Any kind of a protuberance from a pimple to a hill; hill, peak, cone, hump, mound, bulge, heap, pile, etc.

ta‘ape   The blue-lined snapper, Lutjanus kasmira, introduced to Hawai‘i in 1956.

‘uala The sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas, introduced to Hawai‘i by Polynesian settlers, was a staple food. The tuber was cooked whole and eaten or it was made into poi and mixed with coconut milk to make a dessert; it was used as bait for mackerel fishing; and to make a fermented drink called ‘uala ‘awa‘awa. The vine made a lei which was worn by nursing mothers to ensure a good flow of milk; when dried, the vine was also used as padding underneath floor mats. All parts of the plant were used as food for pigs. Kamapua’a was the god of the sweet potato.

uhu  An adult fish in the family Scaridae.

‘ūkēkē  A musical bow indigenous to Hawai‘i, fifteen inches to two feet long and about an inch and a half wide, with two or commonly three strings drawn through holes at one end. The strings were strummed and the mouth cavity acted as a resonance chamber.

ula  Hawaiian lobster, Panulirus japonicus.

‘ulu  1. Discoidal, smooth stone as used in ‘ulu maika game; 2. Breadfruit, Artocarpus altilis.

‘ulu maika  Stone used in the maika game. See also maika.

ulua  An adult of various Carangid fishes.

‘unihipili  Spirit of a dead person, sometimes believed present in bones or hair of the deceased and kept lovingly.

‘ū‘ū  All squirrelfishes of the genus Myripristis.

uwea Wire.

wahi pana  Legendary place.

wahine  Woman, lady, wife; sister-in-law, female cousin-in-law of a man.

wai  Water, liquid of any kind other than sea water.

wai kai  Brackish water.

waihau  1. A heiau where hogs, bananas, and coconuts were sacrificed, but not human beings; 2. A small, tight bundle.

wauke A small tree or shrub, Broussonetia papyrifera, whose bark was made into kapa cloth. The inner bark was used to make cordage, and the shoots were used to treat childhood diseases. The leaves, along with banana and taro leaves, were used ceremonially to wrap the bodies of ali‘i after death.

wāwae‘iole A cosmopolitan tropical club moss, Lycopodium cernuum, a far-creeping mosslike plant, growing one to five feet high. Its stems and many branches are covered with short, narrow-pointed leaves, and are made into Christmas wreaths.

weke Certain species of Mullidae, surmullets, or goatfish, which have large scales and are usually found in reefs. Red and light-colored weke were popular as offering to the gods.

wiliwili A native tree with reddish, papery bark, Erythrina sandwicensis, the wood from which was used to make net floats, outriggers for canoes, and surfboards. The seeds were also used in lei making.