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Want to know the Hawaiian word for local and how to use it properly? You’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: kamaʻāina is the Hawaiian word for local.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the Hawaiian word kamaʻāina, including its definition, origin, usage, and cultural significance. We’ll provide example sentences and phrases to help you use it correctly. Whether you’re visiting Hawaii or just curious, you’ll learn all about this important Hawaiian term by the end.

Definition and Origin of the Word Kamaʻāina

The word “kamaʻāina” is a Hawaiian term that is widely used in the Hawaiian Islands. It is commonly used to refer to someone who is a local resident or someone who has a deep connection to the land and culture of Hawaii. The word is often translated as “child of the land” or “one who is born and raised in the land.”

Basic Meaning and Definition

Kamaʻāina is more than just a word; it embodies the spirit of aloha and the unique sense of belonging that Hawaiians feel towards their homeland. It is a term that is used to distinguish between locals and visitors, and it is often seen as a mark of respect and honor.

When someone is referred to as a kamaʻāina, it signifies that they have a deep understanding and appreciation for Hawaiian culture and traditions. They are seen as being part of the community and are often trusted and respected by others.

Being a kamaʻāina is not just about being born in Hawaii or living there for a certain amount of time. It is about embracing the values and customs of the Hawaiian people and being an active participant in the local community.

Origin and Etymology

The word kamaʻāina has its roots in the Hawaiian language and is made up of two parts: “kama,” which means child, and “ʻāina,” which means land. Together, they form a word that represents a strong connection to the land and a sense of belonging.

The concept of kamaʻāina has been an integral part of Hawaiian culture for centuries. In traditional Hawaiian society, the land was considered sacred, and the people had a deep reverence for it. Being a kamaʻāina meant being a caretaker of the land and preserving its natural beauty and resources.

Today, the word kamaʻāina is used in everyday conversation in Hawaii and is often used in advertising and marketing to promote local businesses and products. It is a term that is deeply rooted in the culture and history of the Hawaiian Islands, and it serves as a reminder of the strong connection that Hawaiians have to their land.

Proper Usage and Pronunciation of Kamaʻāina

How to Pronounce It

Before we delve into the proper usage of the Hawaiian word “kamaʻāina,” it’s important to know how to pronounce it correctly. The word is pronounced “kah-mah-ah-ee-nah,” with a glottal stop (represented by the ʻokina) between the second and third “a” sounds. The glottal stop is a brief pause or catch in the pronunciation, similar to saying “uh-oh” or “uh-uh.” It may take some practice to get the pronunciation just right, but don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it!

When and How To Use It (With Examples)

The word “kamaʻāina” is an important term in Hawaiian culture that refers to a person who is a local or long-time resident of the Hawaiian Islands. It is not just a word to describe someone’s residency status, but it also carries a sense of belonging, connection, and understanding of the local culture and customs. Here are a few examples of how to use “kamaʻāina” in everyday conversation:

  1. Restaurant Discounts: Many restaurants in Hawaii offer special discounts for kamaʻāina, so if you are a local, make sure to ask if they have any kamaʻāina deals available.
  2. Introductions: When introducing yourself to someone new, you can say, “Aloha, I’m a kamaʻāina,” to let them know that you are a local resident.
  3. Cultural Events: If you are attending a cultural event or festival in Hawaii, you can use “kamaʻāina” to describe yourself and show your appreciation for the local traditions.

Using “kamaʻāina” in the right context can help you connect with the local community and show respect for the rich Hawaiian culture. Remember, it’s not just about using the word correctly, but also understanding its deeper meaning and significance in Hawaiian society.

For more information on Hawaiian culture and language, you can visit the To-Hawaii website, which provides a comprehensive guide to the Hawaiian language, including pronunciation guides and common phrases.

Cultural Significance of Kamaʻāina

When it comes to the Hawaiian word for “local,” kamaʻāina holds a special place in the culture. It goes beyond simply indicating residency and carries a deeper meaning of connection and belonging. Understanding the cultural significance of kamaʻāina is essential to embracing the true essence of being a local in Hawaii.

Indicates Being Local, Not Just Residency

Kamaʻāina is more than just a term for residents of Hawaii. It signifies a sense of familiarity with the islands, its people, and its customs. While anyone can live in Hawaii, being kamaʻāina means having a deep understanding and appreciation for the unique culture of the islands. It is a recognition of the time and effort invested in becoming a part of the local community.

For example, if you’ve lived in Hawaii for a few years, you may be considered a malihini, which means a newcomer or visitor. However, once you’ve established roots, learned the local customs, and become involved in the community, you can proudly claim the title of kamaʻāina.

Conveys a Special Connection to Hawaii

The word kamaʻāina also conveys a special connection to the land and people of Hawaii. It signifies a deep love and respect for the islands and all they have to offer. Kamaʻāina understand and embrace the unique traditions, language, and history that make Hawaii so special.

Being kamaʻāina means more than just living in Hawaii; it means immersing yourself in the local culture and becoming a part of the ohana (family) that exists within the community. It’s about appreciating the beauty of the land, participating in local events and festivals, and supporting local businesses.

Earning the Title of Kamaʻāina

While there is no official certification or test to become a kamaʻāina, it is a title that is earned through time and experience. It’s not just about how long you’ve lived in Hawaii, but also about how you embrace the culture and contribute to the community.

To earn the title of kamaʻāina, immerse yourself in the local culture. Learn the Hawaiian language, participate in cultural activities, and show respect for the traditions and customs of the islands. Engage with the community, volunteer, and support local causes. By doing so, you will not only earn the respect of the locals but also develop a deeper connection to Hawaii.

Remember, being kamaʻāina is not something that is given; it is something that is earned. Embrace the culture, immerse yourself in the local community, and show your love and respect for the islands. In doing so, you will truly embody the spirit of kamaʻāina.

Related Hawaiian Terms


One of the most commonly used Hawaiian terms is “haole.” This word is often used to refer to someone who is of Caucasian descent or a non-Hawaiian. However, it is important to note that the term itself is not derogatory. In fact, it simply means “foreigner” or “outsider.” The word “haole” has been a part of the Hawaiian language for centuries and is ingrained in the culture of the islands. It is important to understand and respect the meaning and usage of this term when interacting with the local community in Hawaii.


Another term you may come across in Hawaii is “malihini.” This word is used to describe someone who is a newcomer or visitor to the islands. It can also be used to refer to someone who is new to a particular area or activity. The term “malihini” is often used in a welcoming context, as Hawaiians are known for their hospitality and aloha spirit. So, if you hear someone referring to you as a malihini, it’s a good sign that they are acknowledging your presence and extending a warm welcome.


The Hawaiian word “ʻohana” is perhaps one of the most well-known and cherished terms in the islands. It translates to “family” in English, but its meaning goes far beyond just blood relatives. ʻOhana encompasses a sense of community, unity, and togetherness. It represents the idea that everyone is connected and that we all have a responsibility to care for and support one another. In Hawaiian culture, ʻohana is highly valued and is often used to describe a close-knit group of people who share a bond of love and support. Whether you are a visitor or a local, embracing the concept of ʻohana can greatly enrich your experience in Hawaii.

Using Kamaʻāina in Different Contexts

In Everyday Conversation

When engaging in everyday conversation in Hawaii, it is common to use the word “kamaʻāina” to refer to someone who is a local resident of the islands. The term can be used to describe oneself, as in “I am a kamaʻāina,” or to refer to others, such as “He’s a kamaʻāina.” It is a word that carries a sense of belonging and connection to the local community.

Using “kamaʻāina” in conversation not only shows respect for the local culture, but it can also help to establish a sense of camaraderie with other residents. It is a way to acknowledge and celebrate the unique experiences and perspectives that come with being a part of the Hawaiian community.

At Local Businesses and Establishments

When visiting local businesses and establishments in Hawaii, it is common to hear the word “kamaʻāina” used as a special designation for residents. Many businesses offer kamaʻāina discounts or promotions, which are exclusive to those who can prove their local residency.

To take advantage of kamaʻāina discounts, simply bring a valid form of identification that verifies your residency, such as a Hawaii driver’s license or a state ID card. This can be a great way to save money while supporting local businesses in the community.

In Formal Writing

While the word “kamaʻāina” is commonly used in everyday conversation and at local businesses, it is important to know its proper usage in formal writing. In formal contexts, such as academic papers or professional documents, it is advisable to provide a clear definition of the term when first introducing it.

For example: “In Hawaiian culture, the term ‘kamaʻāina’ refers to a local resident of the islands.” This ensures that all readers, including those who may not be familiar with the word, can understand its meaning within the given context.

Furthermore, when using “kamaʻāina” in formal writing, it is essential to use proper diacritical marks to accurately represent the Hawaiian language. This includes the ʻokina (ʻ) and the kahakō (ā). Paying attention to these details shows respect for the language and culture being discussed.


The Hawaiian word kamaʻāina describes someone with a deep, lifelong connection to the Hawaiian islands. While it literally means ‘child of the land,’ its cultural meanings run much deeper. We hope this guide gave you a comprehensive overview of how to properly use kamaʻāina in the right contexts.

With this knowledge in hand, you can now confidently use the term kamaʻāina and understand its implications when visiting Hawaii or interacting with locals. It may take time to truly earn the title, but learning about it is the first step. Now you can talk story like a real kamaʻāina!

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