Top 22: Local Slang Words

Chaminade student Amber Manuel shares a conversation with Kris Adams.

Sierra Mendiola

Chaminade student Amber Manuel shares a conversation with Kris Adams.

By Sierra Mendiola

Whether you are visiting Hawaii or moving to Hawaii, at some point you will wish that someone had given you a quick rundown of Hawaii’s most popular local slang words. English may be Hawaii’s official language, but locals have created their own language made up of a mixture of ethnicities.


  1. Howzit: This word is like the local “hello.” Don’t get confused when people ask you howzit. It’s not to give a whole life story, they are simply asking, “How are you?” or “Hi, how are you doing?”
  1. Pau: It is probably the most frequently used slang word. Pau means finished or done. “Are you pau with your essay?”
  1. Kanak: Kanak is when you eat too much and fall asleep. Basically, it is like a food coma. There is no word that describes this feeling other than “kanak.” After eating local food, people will experience this feeling multiple times. “She’s going to kanak after she eats all that food.”
  1. Bumbai: This word you will most likely hear coming from more of the older generations. It is just another word for “later.” “Do your homework bumbai.”
  1. Grindz: Grindz is when you eat a lot of food. “The girl is going to grine all her food tonight.”
  1. Da kine: A filler word if the word cannot be found. This word is used by lazy people. “Where’s da kine?” “What is that da kine you had the other day?”
  1. Hash: Messy, not neat. Often used by local females when they do not feel pretty. “I don’t want to go out tonight I feel all hash.”
  1. All Buss: Drunk. “Buss” is a pidgin word for “bust”. Another word that “buss” can be referred to is “buss up.” The term is most likely used to refer to drinking. “I heard you was all buss last night.”
  1. Choke: A lot. Don’t get this word confused with the English definition of “choke.” here in Hawaii “choke” signifies when there is a lot or plenty of something. “There was choke fish the other day.”
  1. Pakalolo: The Hawaiian word for marijuana.
  1. Brah: Meaning a person, “boy” or ”girl.” This word should never be used by anyone that isn’t raised in Hawaii because you will get looked at funny, teased, or bothered. Use at your own risk. “Brah, the other day I saw a dog.”
  1. Rubbish: Trash. “Can you throw away the rubbish, please?”
  1. Kalakoa: Refers to colorful clothing. Not matching. “Your clothes is all kalakoa.”
  1. Bachi: This is a Japanese word that means bad karma. “I wanted to trip him but I didn’t want to get bachi.”
  1. Try: In Hawaii, locals use “try” as a substitute word for “please.” “Try turn off the light before you come in.” “Can you try shut up?”
  1. ‘Aina: The Hawaiian word for land. “Always take care of the ‘Aina.”
  1. Talk story: Locals use this short phrase that generally means to converse. “Come over to my house so we can talk story.”
  1. … guys: Another way for saying “… and friends.” “I’m going to hang out with Sam guys.”
  1. Puka: Hole. “I ripped my jeans and now it has a puka.”
  1. Mahu: Another word for gay. In Hawaii, being called “mahu” doesn’t always mean that you are gay.
  2. Hanai: Someone who is close to you. They are like family but with no blood connection. “This is my hanai sister.”
  3. Shootz: The local word for “bye” or “see you later.”