Aloha! If you’re wondering how to properly say ‘tutu’ in Hawaiian, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll provide a comprehensive guide on the correct pronunciation and meaning behind this iconic Hawaiian word.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: tutu is pronounced ‘too-too’ in Hawaiian. It’s a term of endearment for grandparents or elders.

The Meaning and Origins of Tutu

If you’ve ever heard the word “tutu” being used in Hawaiian, you might be wondering what it means and where it comes from. Well, let’s dive into the fascinating world of Hawaiian language and culture to find out!

Literal Translation and Cultural Significance

In Hawaiian, “tutu” is often translated as “grandparent” or “elder.” It is a term of endearment and respect for one’s grandparents or older relatives. The word carries a deep cultural significance, as grandparents play a vital role in Hawaiian families, passing down knowledge, traditions, and values from one generation to the next.

Fun Fact: In Hawaii, it’s not uncommon for children to have multiple grandparents, as extended family ties are highly valued. So, you may have a “tutu” on your mother’s side and another “tutu” on your father’s side!

Other Ways Tutu is Used in Hawaiian

While “tutu” primarily refers to grandparents, it can also be used to address any elderly person as a sign of respect. Additionally, “tutu” can be used as a term of endearment for someone who is not necessarily related to you but holds a special place in your heart. It’s a way of showing affection and acknowledging their wisdom and guidance.

Did You Know? In traditional Hawaiian society, the elders are highly respected and revered for their wisdom and knowledge. Their role extends beyond the family unit and they often serve as community leaders and cultural experts.

So, the next time you hear the word “tutu” being used in Hawaiian, remember its deep cultural significance and the love and respect it represents. It’s a beautiful example of how language and culture intertwine to create meaningful connections between generations.

Breaking Down the Pronunciation

Pronouncing words from different languages can be challenging, and Hawaiian is no exception. One word that often causes confusion is “tutu.” So, let’s break down the pronunciation and learn how to say it correctly.

Vowel Sounds

Hawaiian has a unique vowel system, consisting of five basic vowel sounds: “a,” “e,” “i,” “o,” and “u.” The pronunciation of these vowels is similar to other languages, but it’s important to note that each vowel is pronounced individually and distinctly. In the case of “tutu,” the vowels are pronounced as follows:

  • The first “u” in “tutu” is pronounced as “oo,” similar to the “oo” in “moon” or “tune.”
  • The second “u” in “tutu” is pronounced as a short “oo,” like the “u” in “put” or “book.”

Remember to pronounce each vowel sound clearly to ensure accurate pronunciation of “tutu.”

Stress and Rhythm

Stress and rhythm play an important role in Hawaiian pronunciation. In general, stress is placed on the second-to-last syllable of a word. However, “tutu” is an exception to this rule. The stress falls on the first syllable, making it “TOO-too.” The rhythm of “tutu” is quick and even, with equal emphasis on both syllables.

To practice the correct stress and rhythm, try saying “TOO-too” repeatedly until it feels natural.

Learning how to pronounce words correctly is an essential part of embracing and respecting different cultures. So, go ahead and impress your friends with your newfound knowledge of how to pronounce “tutu” in Hawaiian!

Examples and Common Phrases Using Tutu

When it comes to the word “tutu” in Hawaiian, it carries a special meaning. Not only does it refer to a type of traditional dance skirt, but it is also a term used to address or refer to grandparents. Let’s explore some common phrases and examples where “tutu” is used in the Hawaiian language.

Referring to Your Grandparents

In Hawaiian culture, the term “tutu” is commonly used to refer to one’s grandparents. It is a term of endearment and respect. For example, if you are talking about your grandmother, you can say “my tutu wahine” and if you are talking about your grandfather, you can say “my tutu kane”. This shows the special bond and love between grandparents and grandchildren.

👵 “My tutu wahine is the best cook in the family. Her poi and laulau are absolutely delicious!”

👴 “I love spending time with my tutu kane. He tells the most amazing stories about our family history.”

Showing Respect to Elders

Not only is “tutu” used to refer to grandparents, but it is also used as a term of respect when addressing or referring to older individuals. It is a way to show reverence and acknowledge the wisdom and experience of elders in the Hawaiian community. For example, you can use “tutu” when speaking to or about an older person in a polite and respectful manner.

👵 “Aloha, Tutu! How are you doing today?”

👴 “I had the honor of meeting Tutu John, a wise elder who shared his knowledge about traditional Hawaiian practices.”

Using “tutu” in these contexts not only reflects the rich cultural heritage of the Hawaiian language but also demonstrates the importance of family and respect within the Hawaiian community.

Pronunciation Pitfalls to Avoid

Avoiding Common Mistakes

Pronouncing Hawaiian words correctly can be a challenge, especially for those unfamiliar with the language. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid when pronouncing the word “Tutu” in Hawaiian:

  • Don’t pronounce the “u” as a long vowel sound: In Hawaiian, the letter “u” is pronounced as a short vowel sound, similar to the “oo” in “book.” So, when saying “Tutu,” make sure not to elongate the “u” sound.
  • Avoid pronouncing the final “u” sound: Unlike English, where we often pronounce the final letter of a word, Hawaiian words typically end with a vowel sound. So, when saying “Tutu,” don’t add an extra “u” sound at the end.
  • Pay attention to stress: In Hawaiian, stress usually falls on the second-to-last syllable. So, when pronouncing “Tutu,” emphasize the first “tu” and keep the second syllable shorter and less emphasized.

Resources for Learning Hawaiian Pronunciation

If you’re interested in diving deeper into Hawaiian pronunciation, there are some great resources available:

  • Online tutorials: Websites such as Duolingo and Hawaiian Roots offer online tutorials and lessons on Hawaiian pronunciation.
  • Native speakers: Connecting with native speakers or attending Hawaiian language classes can provide valuable insights and guidance on proper pronunciation.
  • Language dictionaries: Hawaiian language dictionaries, like the one available on Wehewehe, can help you understand the correct pronunciation of various words, including “Tutu.”

Remember, learning a new language takes time and practice. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and keep striving to improve your pronunciation. With dedication and the right resources, you’ll be able to say “Tutu” in Hawaiian with confidence!

Tips for Practicing the Pronunciation

Focus on Vowel Sounds

One of the key elements in pronouncing “Tutu” correctly in Hawaiian is to focus on the vowel sounds. In Hawaiian, there are five vowel sounds: “a,” “e,” “i,” “o,” and “u.” Each vowel sound has a distinct pronunciation, and mastering these sounds will greatly improve your ability to pronounce “Tutu” accurately.

To practice the vowel sounds, you can try saying words that contain these vowels, such as “aloha” (which means “hello” or “goodbye” in Hawaiian) or “mauna” (which means “mountain” in Hawaiian). By repeatedly saying these words and paying attention to the sounds of each vowel, you can train your ear and mouth to produce the correct pronunciation of “Tutu.”

Listen to Native Speakers

Another effective way to learn how to pronounce “Tutu” in Hawaiian is to listen to native speakers. Hearing the correct pronunciation from those who are fluent in the language can be invaluable in understanding the nuances of pronunciation.

You can find videos or audio recordings of native Hawaiian speakers online, or you can seek out opportunities to interact with native speakers in person. Pay close attention to how they pronounce “Tutu” and try to mimic their pronunciation as closely as possible. Remember, practice makes perfect!

One great resource for listening to native Hawaiian speakers is the website They have a vast collection of audio recordings of native speakers pronouncing words in the Hawaiian language, including “Tutu.”

By focusing on vowel sounds and listening to native speakers, you can improve your pronunciation of “Tutu” in Hawaiian. Remember to be patient with yourself and keep practicing. Soon enough, you’ll be able to pronounce “Tutu” with confidence and accuracy!


Mahalo for learning how to properly pronounce tutu in Hawaiian. Mastering this special term is a great way to show respect for Hawaiian elders and connect with the language. With practice, saying ‘tutu’ with authentic Hawaiian pronunciation will become second nature. Aloha!

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