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Palala is a Hawaiian word that has taken on some interesting meanings over time. If you’ve heard the term palala used in a Hawaiian context and wondered exactly what it signifies, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Palala is a Hawaiian word meaning threshold or veranda.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the origins and evolution of palala, examining how it has been used in Hawaiian language and culture over the centuries. We’ll look at traditional and modern definitions, its significance in Hawaiian architecture, and examples of palala in Hawaiian songs and sayings. Whether you’re visiting Hawaii or simply interested in Hawaiian words and phrases, read on to learn all about the term palala!

The Origins and Literal Meaning of Palala

Palala is a fascinating word in the Hawaiian language that carries multiple meanings and connotations. It is important to understand the roots of this word in order to fully grasp its significance in Hawaiian culture and language.

Palala’s Meaning as Threshold or Veranda

One of the primary meanings of palala is “threshold” or “veranda.” In traditional Hawaiian houses, the palala referred to the raised platform that served as the entrance to the home. This platform was often covered and provided a space for socializing, relaxing, and enjoying the beautiful Hawaiian scenery. The palala was a place where families and friends would gather, share stories, and connect with one another. It was a symbol of hospitality and community.

Interestingly, the word palala can also be used to describe the act of stepping over a threshold or onto a veranda. This connotation adds a sense of movement and transition to the word. It reminds us that the palala is not just a physical structure, but also a metaphorical gateway between different spaces or states of being.

Use as a Noun and Verb in the Hawaiian Language

Palala can be used as both a noun and a verb in the Hawaiian language, further expanding its range of meanings. As a noun, it refers to the physical structure of a threshold or veranda. As a verb, it describes the action of crossing over or stepping onto a palala.

The versatility of palala reflects the rich linguistic and cultural heritage of the Hawaiian people. It showcases the interconnectedness between language and the physical world, highlighting the importance of the environment in shaping the meanings of words.

To learn more about the Hawaiian language and its cultural significance, you can visit, a comprehensive resource for Hawaiian language learning and preservation.

Palala in Traditional Hawaiian Architecture

When exploring traditional Hawaiian architecture, one cannot miss the significance of the palala area within a traditional home. Palala, which translates to “gathering place” or “meeting place,” holds great cultural and social importance in Hawaiian society. It is a space where people come together, celebrate, and engage in various ceremonies.

Description of the Palala Area in a Traditional Home

In a traditional Hawaiian home, the palala area is typically an open-air space located in the center of the house. It serves as a communal area where family members and guests gather to socialize, share meals, and engage in cultural activities. The palala area is often adorned with beautiful decorations, such as handcrafted furniture, traditional artwork, and plants.

One distinct feature of the palala area is its connection to the surrounding nature. It is not uncommon to find elements of the natural environment incorporated into the design, such as a flowing water feature or a garden. This connection to nature emphasizes the Hawaiians’ deep respect for the land and their close relationship with it.

The palala area also acts as a central hub for the household, connecting various rooms and spaces. It serves as a place where family members can easily come together and communicate, fostering a sense of unity and togetherness. In this way, the palala area becomes the heart of the home, embodying the spirit of aloha and creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for all.

Palala as a Place of Gathering and Ceremony

Palala is not only a space for everyday gatherings but also plays a vital role in hosting important ceremonies and events. In traditional Hawaiian culture, these ceremonies hold deep spiritual and cultural significance. They range from birth celebrations and weddings to blessings and rites of passage.

During these ceremonies, the palala area transforms into a sacred space where prayers are offered, chants are sung, and blessings are bestowed upon individuals or important objects. The open-air design allows the energy and mana (spiritual power) to flow freely, creating an atmosphere of reverence and spirituality.

It is important to note that while traditional Hawaiian architecture and cultural practices have evolved over time, the concept of palala remains an integral part of Hawaiian identity and heritage. Today, many modern homes in Hawaii still incorporate elements of the palala area, paying homage to the rich cultural traditions of the islands.

To learn more about traditional Hawaiian architecture and the significance of the palala area, you can visit the Hawaii History website or explore books and resources on Hawaiian culture and architecture.

Palala in Hawaiian Expressions and Songs

Significance of Crossing the Palala Threshold

Palala holds a special place in Hawaiian culture, particularly in expressions and songs. In Hawaiian, “palala” refers to the act of crossing a threshold or boundary. It symbolizes a transition or transformation, often signifying a spiritual or emotional journey. Crossing the palala threshold represents a shift from one state of being to another, whether it be from darkness to light, ignorance to knowledge, or a physical crossing from one place to another.

According to Hawaiian beliefs, crossing the palala threshold is not just a physical act but also a metaphorical one. It represents personal growth, self-discovery, and the overcoming of obstacles. It is a powerful concept that encourages individuals to embrace change, face challenges, and embark on new adventures with courage and determination.

It’s important to note that the significance of crossing the palala threshold may vary depending on the context and individual interpretation. It can hold different meanings for different people, making it a deeply personal and meaningful concept in Hawaiian culture.

Examples of Palala in Mele Songs and Oli Chants

Palala is often found in traditional Hawaiian mele songs and oli chants. These musical compositions serve as a way to preserve and pass down cultural knowledge and values. They often incorporate palala to convey powerful messages and emotions.

In these songs and chants, palala is used to symbolize the journey of the human spirit. It represents the crossing of boundaries and the transformation of the self. The lyrics and melodies evoke a sense of awe, inspiration, and connection to the land, ancestors, and the divine.

One example of palala in a mele song is “Ke Ala O Ka Palala,” which translates to “The Path of Crossing Palala.” This song celebrates the journey of self-discovery and the courage to embrace change. It encourages listeners to step outside their comfort zones and explore new horizons.

Another example is found in the oli chant “He Inoa No Palala,” meaning “A Name for Palala.” This chant honors the significance of palala as a threshold of transformation. It acknowledges the power of crossing boundaries and the strength gained through personal growth and overcoming challenges.

These examples demonstrate how palala is deeply intertwined with Hawaiian music and culture. It serves as a reminder of the importance of embracing change, exploring new possibilities, and continually striving for personal growth.

For more information on Hawaiian culture and the significance of palala, you can visit and

Modern Usages and Interpretations of Palala

Palala as Porch or Lanai

In Hawaiian, the term “palala” can refer to a porch or lanai, which is an outdoor space commonly used for relaxation and socializing. In the traditional Hawaiian culture, the porch was a place where families would gather to share meals, stories, and laughter. Today, many Hawaiian homes still have a palala that serves as an extension of the living space, allowing residents to enjoy the beautiful weather and connect with nature. Whether it’s sipping a cup of coffee in the morning or hosting a barbecue with friends, the palala remains an integral part of Hawaiian lifestyle.

Symbolic Meanings of Palala Today

While the term “palala” may have originally referred to a physical space, it has also taken on symbolic meanings in modern times. Today, palala is often associated with the idea of relaxation, tranquility, and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. It represents a break from the fast-paced world and an opportunity to reconnect with oneself and loved ones. The concept of palala encourages individuals to slow down, appreciate the present moment, and find joy in the little things. Whether it’s taking a leisurely walk on the beach or spending quality time with family, embracing the palala mindset can bring a sense of peace and contentment to our lives.

Did you know?

The word “palala” can also be used as a verb in Hawaiian, meaning to lounge or relax. So next time you find yourself in need of a little downtime, why not give yourself permission to palala?

For more information on Hawaiian culture and language, you can visit the official website of the Hawaiian Language Commission at

Similar Hawaiian Words Related to Palala


One of the similar Hawaiian words related to “palala” is “hale.” In the Hawaiian language, “hale” means “house” or “home.” It is often used to refer to a building or structure where people live, work, or gather. The word “hale” is an important part of Hawaiian culture and reflects the importance of community and family. It is often used in place names and can be seen in various contexts throughout the Hawaiian Islands. For example, Haleakala, which means “house of the sun,” is the name of a volcano on the island of Maui.


Another Hawaiian word related to “palala” is “kahua,” which means “foundation” or “base.” In Hawaiian culture, the concept of a strong foundation is essential for stability and growth. The word “kahua” can be used both in a literal sense, such as the foundation of a building, and in a metaphorical sense, to represent the underlying principles or values that provide a solid base for various aspects of life. For example, in the context of education, the word “kahua” can be used to emphasize the importance of a strong educational foundation for future success.


The third Hawaiian word related to “palala” is “lanai,” which refers to a covered outdoor space or porch. In Hawaiian culture, the lanai is a place where people gather, relax, and enjoy the natural beauty of the islands. It is often used as an extension of the living space and is commonly found in Hawaiian homes and resorts. The lanai provides a connection to the outdoors and allows people to appreciate the scenic views and pleasant climate of Hawaii. It is a popular feature in many Hawaiian homes and adds to the overall sense of aloha and relaxation.


In the Hawaiian language, palala beautifully captures the essence of the threshold space, representing the intersection between inner and outer realms. While its literal meaning refers to the veranda or porch of a traditional home, metaphorically palala conveys a place of transition and spiritual significance. When we understand concepts like palala, we gain a richer appreciation for the wisdom embedded in Hawaiian language and culture. We hope this overview has deepened your knowledge of the term’s history and many layers of meaning.

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