Hawaiian Language

‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i - the native Hawaiian language - is a member of the larger Polynesian family of languages, and along with English, is official in the state of Hawai‘i. At Royal Hawaiian Center and throughout Waikiki, Hawaiian language surrounds you in place names, street names, publications, heritage films, signage, and more.


Here are some words, names and phrases you may encounter in Waikiki:

Aloha – Love, affection. This highly significant word also expresses hello and goodbye. "Aloha a hui hou" means aloha until we meet again.

E kipa mai / E komo mai – Two phrases meaning welcome.

He‘enalu – To surf.

Helumoa – "Chicken scratch" is the meaning of the Waikiki land section that today includes Royal Hawaiian Center, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Sheraton Waikiki, Halekulani and more. The story of this name is of an ancient encounter between a king and a supernatural rooster.

Ho‘okani pila – To play music.

Hula – Hawaiian Dance. Two broad categories are hula kahiko (ancient, traditional dance) and hula ‘auana (modern hula accompanied by singing and Western instruments).

Kalakaua – Meaning "day of battle," this main thoroughfare through Waikiki is named for Hawai‘iʻs seventh ruler, David La‘amea Kalakaua.

Leʻahi – "Brow of the ‘ahi fish (tuna)" is the Hawaiian name for Diamond Head, in reference to its shape.

Mahalo – Thanks, adimiration.

Pa‘ina Lānai – "Party veranda," the name of Royal Hawaiian Centerʻs food court.

Pau – Finished, completed.

Ulu niu – Coconut grove.

Waikiki – Wai means water, and kiki is to spout. This large district was once abundant with fresh water springs and streams that flowed from the Ko‘olau mountains.