Save money on your next flight

Skyscanner is the world’s leading flight search engine, helping you find the cheapest flights to destinations all over the world.

Poke, a raw fish salad that originated in Hawaii, has become increasingly popular in recent years. With its growing fame across the mainland United States, many people find themselves wondering: how exactly do you pronounce the name of this tasty dish?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: poke is pronounced poh-kay. The emphasis is on the first syllable, with a long O sound.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a deep dive into the proper Hawaiian pronunciation of poke. We’ll cover the origins of the name, its core sounds and syllables, common pronunciation mistakes to avoid, examples from native speakers, and tips for perfecting your poke Hawaiian accent.

The Origins and Meaning of the Word “Poke”

The word “poke” originates from the Native Hawaiian language and has a rich cultural significance. In Hawaiian, “poke” is a verb that means “to slice” or “cut crosswise into pieces”. It is derived from the root word “poki”, which refers to the act of sectioning or dividing. The word is closely associated with the traditional Hawaiian cuisine, where it was used to describe the process of preparing raw fish by slicing it into bite-sized pieces.

The Native Hawaiian Root Words

In the Hawaiian language, words are often composed of smaller root words that convey specific meanings. In the case of “poke”, the root word “po” means “to sever” or “to cut”, while the root word “ke” refers to the action of doing something. When combined, these root words form the basis of the word “poke” and its meaning of slicing or sectioning.

It’s important to note that the pronunciation of “poke” in the Hawaiian language may differ slightly from its English counterpart. The “e” at the end of the word is pronounced as a short “eh” sound, similar to the “e” in “pet”. So, the correct pronunciation would be “poh-keh” rather than “pohk”.

The Evolution of the Name

As the popularity of Hawaiian cuisine spread beyond the islands, so did the word “poke”. In recent years, “poke” has become a global food trend, with poke bowls and poke shops popping up in various parts of the world. However, it’s worth noting that the traditional Hawaiian dish and the modern poke bowls may differ in terms of ingredients and preparation methods.

The word “poke” has also undergone some evolution in its pronunciation and spelling. In English-speaking countries, it is often pronounced as “pohk” and spelled as “poke”. This variation in pronunciation and spelling can be attributed to cultural differences and the influence of the English language.

Breaking Down Poke’s Sounds and Syllables

Poke, a popular Hawaiian dish made with raw fish, has gained popularity worldwide. However, many people struggle with the pronunciation of this delicious dish. In this guide, we will break down the sounds and syllables of poke to help you pronounce it correctly and confidently.

The “Poh” Sound

The first sound in poke is “poh.” It is important to note that the “o” in “poh” is pronounced as a long vowel sound, similar to the “o” in “go.” It is not pronounced like the short “o” sound in “pot.” To make the “poh” sound, start by shaping your lips into a small “o” shape and then pronounce the “p” sound. Remember to let the “o” sound linger for a moment before moving on to the next syllable.

The Emphasis on the First Syllable

In the word poke, the emphasis is placed on the first syllable. This means that when you say the word, you should give more stress or emphasis to the “poh” sound. To achieve this, slightly raise your pitch and volume when pronouncing the first syllable. This will help give the word its distinctive and authentic Hawaiian pronunciation.

The Two-Syllable Pronunciation

Poke is a two-syllable word, with the first syllable being “poh” and the second syllable being “kay.” The second syllable, “kay,” is pronounced like the letter “k” followed by the long “a” sound. To pronounce the second syllable correctly, start by pronouncing the “k” sound and then move on to the long “a” sound. Remember to keep the emphasis on the first syllable, but still pronounce the second syllable clearly.

Now that you have a better understanding of poke’s sounds and syllables, you can confidently order this delicious dish without any pronunciation concerns. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to say “poh-kay” out loud to familiarize yourself with the correct pronunciation. Enjoy your poke experience!

Common Pronunciation Mistakes

When it comes to pronouncing “Poke” correctly, there are a couple of common mistakes that people often make. Let’s take a look at these mistakes and how to avoid them:

Adding an Extra Syllable After “Poke”

One of the most common mistakes is adding an extra syllable after “Poke.” Many people pronounce it as “Poke-ee” instead of the correct pronunciation, which is simply “Poke.” This mistake may stem from the misconception that “Poke” is a Hawaiian word meaning “to slice” or “to cut into pieces.” However, “Poke” is actually an English word derived from the Hawaiian language.

It’s important to remember that “Poke” is a two-syllable word, not three. So the next time you order your favorite bowl of Poke, make sure to pronounce it correctly!

Stressing the Wrong Syllable

Another common mistake is stressing the wrong syllable in the word “Poke.” Some people tend to stress the first syllable, pronouncing it as “POKE” instead of “poke.” The correct pronunciation has the stress on the second syllable, with a slightly softer emphasis on the “o” sound.

To avoid this mistake, try saying “poke” with equal emphasis on both syllables. Remember, the word “Poke” should have a gentle and flowing rhythm, not a sharp emphasis on the first syllable.

For more information on Hawaiian pronunciation and language, you can visit the website. They provide comprehensive guides and resources to help you improve your understanding and pronunciation of Hawaiian words.

Expert Examples and Accent Tips

Audio Examples from Native Hawaiian Speakers

One of the best ways to learn and perfect the pronunciation of Hawaiian words, including the word “poke,” is to listen to native Hawaiian speakers. Hearing the correct pronunciation from those who grew up speaking the language can help you develop an authentic accent. Thankfully, there are many resources available online where you can find audio examples from native Hawaiian speakers. Websites like or provide audio recordings that demonstrate the correct pronunciation of “poke” and other Hawaiian words. By listening to these examples, you can train your ear to recognize the unique sounds and intonations of the Hawaiian language.

Tips for Perfecting Your Poke Accent

While listening to native speakers is a valuable tool, there are also some specific tips you can follow to perfect your “poke” accent:

  1. Pay attention to vowel sounds: In Hawaiian, each vowel represents a distinct sound. For “poke,” the “o” is pronounced as a long “o” sound, similar to the “o” in “so.” Practice elongating the “o” sound to achieve the correct pronunciation.
  2. Master the glottal stop: The glottal stop is a common feature in the Hawaiian language, and it is denoted by the symbol “╩╗” (called an ╩╗okina). In “poke,” the glottal stop occurs between the “o” and the “k.” Practice pausing slightly between these two letters to pronounce the glottal stop correctly.
  3. Emphasize the second syllable: In the word “poke,” the stress falls on the second syllable. Make sure to give that syllable a bit more emphasis when pronouncing the word.

By following these tips and practicing regularly, you can improve your “poke” accent and speak the word with confidence. Remember, pronunciation is not just about getting the sounds right but also understanding the cultural context behind the language. So, take your time, be patient with yourself, and enjoy the journey of learning the beautiful Hawaiian language!


In closing, perfecting the Hawaiian pronunciation of poke is all about placing the stress on that first “poh” syllable and keeping the name to two crisp syllables. With an understanding of its linguistic origins and helpful audio examples from native speakers, you’ll be well on your way to sounding like a true poke aficionado.

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts