What is “Pidgin”

The locals say there are three languages spoken in Hawaiʻi. They are English, Hawaiian, and Pidgin. So what is Pidgin? It is a broken or simplified form of a language used to communicate between people of different languages. A sentence like, “Can you please repeat that?” can be reduced to a one-word syllable, “eh.”


Here are some useful vocabulary words to learn.

ʻAinā – land, earth
Ahupua‘a – land division
Aloha – used as a greeting or parting, but also means love, affection, kindness and goodness
Aunty – aunt, may not be blood-related, elderly woman
Babooze – stupid, dumb ass
Broke da mouth – very delicious
Ewa – direction for west
Cuz – cousin, friend
Da kine – thing, used as a verb or noun
Diamond Head – direction for east
E Huli – turn
Grind – eat
Hale (hah-leh) – house, building
Hana (ha-nah) – work
Haole – foreigner; Caucasian
Hapa – part, half, mixed ancestry
Hono – green sea turtle
Hula (hoo-lah) – Hawaiian dance
Hulihuli – chicken cooked “end-over-end,” or rotisserie
Humuhumunukunukuāpua‘a (hu-mu-hu-mu-nuku-nu-ku-a-pu-a-a) – state fish, type of triggerfish
I Hope – go back
Imu (ee-moo) – underground oven
I mua – go forward
Kalua (kah-loo-ah) – cook food underground
Kane (kah-neh) – men, male
Kapu – forbidden, taboo
Keiki (kay-key) – child, children
Koko Head – direction for east
Kona (koh-nah) – winds blowing from the southwest direction (Kona winds)
Kou maka – your eyes
Kou lima – your hands
Lanai (lah-nigh) – patio, balcony, porch, veranda
Lei (lay) – necklace made of flowers shells, feathers, candy
Luau (loo-ow) – Hawaiian feast
Mahalo – Thank you
Malasada – Portuguese donut
Malihini (mah-lee-hee-nee) – newcomer, visitor, or guest
Mauka (mau-kah) towards the mountain
Makai (mah-kigh) – toward the ocean
Neighbor islands – outer islands, islands of Hawaiʻi
No can – cannot, not possible
No need – don’t need it, don’t bother
Ohana – (oh-hah-na) – family
Ono (oh-no) – delicious, tasty
Pali (pah-lee) – cliff
Pau (pow) – finish, done
Pau hana – finish work
Poi (poy) – pounded taro root that becomes a starchy paste
Poke (pok-keh) – cubes of raw seafood (typically ahi tuna) mixed with sauces and onion
Pua (poo-ah) – flower, blossom
Puka (poo-ah) – hole
Pupus – hor d’oeuvres, appetizers
Rubbish – garbage
Shaka (shah-kah) – great
Shi-shi – restroom word for pee-pee
Slippas – flip flops
Stink eye – mean or dirty look
Talk story – chat
Uncle – uncle, may not be blood-related, elderly man
Wahine (wah-hee-nay) – women, female
Vog – volcanic smog that periodically wafts over the islands from the volcano on the Big Island