21Hawaiianwords austin only

The alphabet

The Hawaiian alphabet has eight consonants and five vowels in words of native origin. The consonants are: H, K, L, M, N, P, W, plus the ’okina, which appears as a vertical mark. The five vowels are: A, E, I, O, U.


• Every word has at least one vowel.

• No word has two consecutive consonants.


• Words never end with a consonant.

• A common spelling mistake is the writing of one word as two, such as mahi mahi. The correct spelling of the fish is mahimahi.

The ’okina

The eighth consonant in the Hawaiian alphabet is called the ’okina, or glottal stop. The symbol for the ’okina is a single open quote or vertical mark.

The kahako:

The kahako is a diacritical mark, or macron, that indicates a long vowel.

10 common words

aloha (ah-LOW-ha): encompasses many meanings including love, affection, compassion, mercy, sympathy, pity, kindness, sentiment, grace, charity; also, hello, goodbye, farewell.


Hawai’i (ha-VAI-ee): both the official name for the island known as the Big Island and for the chain of the Hawaiian Islands.

kalo (KAH-low): taro, a sacred plant considered an ancestor to the Hawaiian people.

kapu (KAH-poo): taboo, prohibited, forbidden, sacred, holy, no trespassing, keep out.

keiki (KAY-kee): child, offspring, descendant, youngster, son, lad, kid, cub.

kupuna (kuu-POO-nah): elder, grandparent, ancestor.

kokua (ko-KOO-ah): help, aid, assistance, assistant, associate, deputy.

mana: (MAH-nah): supernatural or divine power, powerful, authority.

’ohana (OH-hana): family, relative, kin group, related.


’ono (OH-no): delicious, tasty, savory. (Ono, spelled without the ’okina, is a large mackerel-type fish.)

Learn more:

Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library:

Hawaiian Dictionary:

’Aha Punana Leo language program:

University of Hawai’i at Hilo’s College of Hawaiian Language:

SOURCE: ’Aha Punana Leo, The Hawaiian Dictionary

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