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Aloha! If you’re interested in learning how to say family in the Hawaiian language, you’ve come to the right place. The Hawaiian culture places great importance on ohana, which means family in Hawaiian. Understanding ohana and how to refer to your family members in Hawaiian can help you connect more deeply with Hawaiian customs. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll teach you several important Hawaiian family words and phrases so you can communicate just like a local.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Hawaiian word for family is ohana.

The Significance of Ohana in Hawaiian Culture

In Hawaiian culture, the concept of “ohana” holds great significance. It goes beyond the simple translation of “family” and encompasses a much broader meaning. Ohana represents the idea of a close-knit community that extends beyond blood relations. It emphasizes the importance of unity, support, and interdependence among all individuals.

The Meaning of Ohana

Ohana is derived from the Hawaiian word “oha,” which refers to the shoot or offspring of a plant. It symbolizes the idea that all members of a family are interconnected and grow together, just like the shoots of a plant. Ohana emphasizes the importance of maintaining strong bonds and nurturing relationships with one another.

One of the key aspects of ohana is the idea of inclusion. In Hawaiian culture, ohana extends beyond immediate family members and includes close friends, neighbors, and even distant relatives. This inclusivity fosters a sense of belonging and creates a support system that is essential for individual well-being and collective strength.

Respecting Elders and Ancestors

Respecting elders and ancestors is a fundamental value in Hawaiian culture, and it is deeply connected to the concept of ohana. Hawaiians believe in the wisdom and guidance passed down through generations, and they honor and value their ancestors’ contributions to their families and communities.

In Hawaiian families, elders hold a position of respect and authority. They are seen as the foundation of the ohana and are often sought for guidance and advice. Their experiences and knowledge are considered invaluable, and their wisdom is passed down to younger generations, ensuring the preservation of cultural traditions and values.

It is important to note that the concept of ohana and the respect for elders and ancestors are not unique to Hawaiian culture. Similar values can be found in many indigenous cultures worldwide. These shared beliefs highlight the universal importance of family, community, and intergenerational connections for the well-being and harmony of society as a whole.

Common Hawaiian Words for Family Members

Immediate Family

In Hawaiian culture, family plays a central role, and the language reflects this importance. Here are some common Hawaiian words for immediate family members:

  • ʻOhana: This is the Hawaiian word for family, and it encompasses both immediate and extended family members. It represents the concept of a close-knit group of people who support and care for each other.
  • Makua kāne: This term refers to a father. It is used to address or talk about one’s own father.
  • Makua wahine: This term is used to refer to a mother. It is used to address or talk about one’s own mother.
  • Keiki: This word means child or children. It can refer to both sons and daughters.
  • Keiki kāne: This term specifically refers to a son.
  • Keiki wahine: This term specifically refers to a daughter.

These words help to describe the immediate family members in Hawaiian culture and highlight the strong bond and importance placed on family relationships.

Extended Family

In addition to immediate family, Hawaiians also have specific words to describe their extended family members. Here are some commonly used terms:

  • Kūpuna: This word refers to grandparents or any older family member. It is a term of respect and honor.
  • Kāne hūnā: This term is used to refer to a paternal uncle.
  • Wahine hūnā: This term is used to refer to a paternal aunt.
  • Mākua kane hūnā: This term is used to refer to a maternal uncle.
  • Mākua wahine hūnā: This term is used to refer to a maternal aunt.
  • Mōʻopuna: This word means grandchild or grandchildren. It can refer to both grandsons and granddaughters.

These words provide a glimpse into the rich vocabulary that Hawaiians have to describe their extended family members. The language reflects the deep respect and reverence that is given to all members of the family, whether immediate or extended.

If you want to learn more about Hawaiian culture and language, you can visit the website, which offers resources and courses to help you on your journey to understanding and speaking Hawaiian.

Useful Phrases for Hawaiian Families


When it comes to greeting your family members in Hawaiian, there are a few phrases you can use to show your love and respect.

  • Aloha kākou – This is a common Hawaiian greeting that means “hello to all.” It’s a great way to start a conversation with your family members.
  • Aloha nui loa – This phrase translates to “much love” and is a heartfelt way to greet your loved ones. It shows that you care deeply for them.
  • E komo mai – If you’re welcoming your family members into your home, this phrase means “welcome.” It’s a warm and inviting way to greet them.

Remember to use these phrases with a smile on your face and a genuine sense of aloha. Your family members will appreciate the effort you put into learning their language and culture.

Terms of Endearment

In Hawaiian, there are also terms of endearment that you can use to show your affection for your family members. These phrases are a great way to express your love and strengthen your bond.

  • Pua – This word means “flower” and is often used as a term of endearment for a child or loved one.
  • Keiki – If you want to refer to a child or a younger family member, you can use this word. It means “child” in Hawaiian.
  • Kū’ipo – This term of endearment translates to “sweetheart” and can be used for a loved one, such as a spouse or partner.

Using these terms of endearment shows your family members how much they mean to you. It’s a small gesture that can make a big impact on your relationships.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Hawaiian language and culture, you can visit the Hawaiian Roots website. It offers a wealth of resources and information that can help you deepen your understanding of the language and its significance in Hawaiian families.

Cultural Insights on Hawaiian Families

Hawaii is known for its rich cultural heritage and strong sense of community. Understanding the cultural insights on Hawaiian families provides a glimpse into the unique social dynamics and values that shape the local community. In Hawaiian culture, the concept of family extends beyond blood relatives to include close friends, neighbors, and even the wider community. This emphasis on collective well-being creates a strong sense of belonging and support among individuals.

Focus on Community

In Hawaiian culture, the concept of ‘ohana’ (family) extends beyond the immediate family unit. It encompasses a broader sense of community, where individuals are interconnected and rely on each other for support. This communal mindset is deeply ingrained in the Hawaiian way of life and is reflected in various aspects of daily interactions. For example, the practice of ‘aloha spirit’ emphasizes treating others with respect, kindness, and love. This concept extends to all members of the community, creating a warm and inclusive environment for everyone.

The importance of community is also evident in the traditional Hawaiian hula dance. Hula is not only a form of artistic expression but also a way to preserve cultural heritage and strengthen community bonds. Through hula, families and communities come together to celebrate important milestones, share stories, and honor their ancestors. This cultural tradition highlights the significance of collective identity and unity in Hawaiian families.

Gender Roles and Responsibilities

In Hawaiian families, gender roles and responsibilities are often defined by cultural traditions and historical practices. Historically, men were responsible for activities such as fishing, farming, and building, while women played a crucial role in nurturing and caring for the family. However, it is important to note that these roles have evolved over time, and contemporary Hawaiian families embrace a more egalitarian approach.

Today, both men and women in Hawaiian families contribute to household chores, child-rearing, and decision-making. The emphasis is on shared responsibilities and mutual support. This shift can be attributed to various factors, including the influence of Western cultures and the changing societal dynamics in Hawaii. Nonetheless, the respect for cultural traditions and the value placed on family unity remain strong.

It is worth noting that Hawaiian families are diverse, and individual experiences may vary. While these insights provide a general understanding of cultural dynamics, it is essential to engage with and learn from the local community to gain a deeper appreciation for the unique aspects of Hawaiian families.


In Hawaiian culture, ohana is at the heart of everything. By learning some basic vocabulary for family members and Hawaiian philosophies around family, you can gain valuable insight into this community. Use this Hawaiian language guide to deepen your understanding and make important connections during your time in Hawaii. After reading this comprehensive overview, you’ll be ready to understand and talk about the concept of ohana like a local! Aloha!

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