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Aloha! If you’re interested in learning more about the Hawaiian language, you’ve come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the meaning and origins of the Hawaiian word “tita”.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Tita is an affectionate Hawaiian term for sister, similar to the words sis or sissy in English. It can be used both within families and more broadly as a term of endearment between friends or loved ones.

We’ll start by breaking down the definition and literal translation of tita, then dive into some examples of how it’s used in Hawaiian phrases. We’ll also touch on other Hawaiian vocabulary for family members and similar terms of endearment.

By the end, you’ll have a solid grasp on the nuances of this sweet and melodic Hawaiian word.

The Meaning and Origins of Tita in Hawaiian


Hawaiian language is rich in culture and history, and one word that holds a special meaning is “tita”. In Hawaiian, “tita” is a term that is used to refer to a woman who is strong, fierce, and independent.

It is derived from the English word “sister”, but it has evolved into a unique term that embodies the spirit of the Hawaiian people.

Literal Translation and Definition

When translated literally, “tita” means “sister” in Hawaiian. However, its usage has expanded beyond just referring to biological sisters.

It is now commonly used to describe any woman, regardless of familial relationship, who possesses qualities of strength, resilience, and fearlessness. It is a term that celebrates the power and spirit of women in Hawaiian culture.

Use as a Term of Endearment

In addition to its literal translation, “tita” is also used as a term of endearment among friends and loved ones in Hawaiian culture.

It is often used to affectionately refer to a close female friend or someone who is like family. It is a term that conveys a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect.

For example, if you have a friend who is always there for you, supports you, and has your back, you might lovingly call her “tita” as a way to acknowledge her strength and loyalty.

It is a term that brings people closer together and reinforces the strong bonds of friendship and family.

Relation to Other Family Terms

While “tita” is commonly associated with sisterhood, it is important to note that Hawaiian culture has a variety of terms to describe different familial relationships.

For instance, kaikamahine” refers specifically to a daughter, “makuahine” means mother, and “wahine” is a general term for a woman.

Each of these terms carries its own cultural significance and reflects the unique roles and responsibilities within the family structure. “Tita” adds to this rich tapestry of family terms, emphasizing the strength and resilience that women bring to their relationships and communities.

To learn more about Hawaiian culture and language, you can visit the Hawaiian Encyclopedia website, which offers a wealth of information about the history, traditions, and language of the Hawaiian people.

Read more: How Do You Say Family In Hawaiian?

Examples of Tita in Hawaiian Phrases and Sentences

Calling Someone Tita

In Hawaiian culture, the term “tita” is often used to refer to a strong, independent woman. It is a term of endearment and respect.

If you want to call someone “tita” in Hawaiian, you can say, E komo mai, tita!” which means “Welcome, tita! This phrase is commonly used to greet someone in a friendly and warm manner.

Responding to Being Called Tita

If someone calls you “tita” in Hawaiian, you can respond with a friendly and appreciative reply.

One common response is, “Mahalo nui loa, e kipa mai au i ke kahua!” which means “Thank you very much, I will gladly join you on this journey!

It shows gratitude for being recognized as a strong and empowered woman.

Read more: Different Ways To Say Thank You In Hawaiian

Other Terms of Affection

In addition to “tita,” there are other terms of affection that are commonly used in Hawaiian culture.

For example, you might hear someone being called “honey” or “sweetheart” in English. In Hawaiian, these terms can be translated as “honihoni” or “lei āpala”. These terms are used to express love and affection towards someone.

It’s important to note that the Hawaiian language is rich in its vocabulary and there are many other terms of endearment and affection that can be used. Exploring the language further can deepen one’s understanding and appreciation of Hawaiian culture.

The Cultural Significance of Ohana in Hawaii

The Concept of Ohana

In Hawaiian culture, the term “Ohana” holds a deep and significant meaning. It refers to the concept of family, not only limited to blood relatives, but also including close friends and even those who are considered as family through strong bonds and connections.

The idea of Ohana emphasizes the importance of unity, support, and unconditional love within a community. It is a fundamental value that shapes the social fabric of Hawaiian society.

How Tita Fits Into the Ohana

Tita is a term used in Hawaiian culture to refer to a strong, fierce, and independent woman within the Ohana. She is someone who exudes confidence, resilience, and a sense of empowerment.

Titas are often seen as the backbone of their families, taking on various roles and responsibilities to ensure the well-being and happiness of their loved ones.

They are known for their nurturing nature, their ability to bring people together, and their unwavering support for their Ohana.

The role of a Tita is not limited to just biological mothers; it extends to aunties, grandmothers, sisters, and even close female friends who embody the spirit of a Tita.

Titas play a vital role in preserving and passing down the values, traditions, and cultural heritage of Hawaii to the younger generations.

Preserving the Hawaiian Language

One of the ways in which the cultural significance of Ohana is preserved is through the use of the Hawaiian language. The Hawaiian language holds immense importance in the Hawaiian culture, as it is deeply intertwined with the history, traditions, and values of the islands.

Efforts have been made to revitalize and promote the Hawaiian language, which was once on the brink of extinction. Organizations, schools, and community groups have come together to teach the language to younger generations and create opportunities for its use in various aspects of daily life.

Preserving the Hawaiian language is not only a way to honor the ancestors and the rich cultural heritage of Hawaii but also a means to strengthen the sense of identity and belonging within the Ohana.

It helps to foster a deeper connection to the land, the people, and the traditions that make Hawaii unique.

For more information on Hawaiian culture and the significance of Ohana, you can visit Go Hawaii or Hawaiian Encyclopedia.


To recap, tita is an endearing Hawaiian way to address a sister, friend, or loved one. It stems from the close family bonds, or ohana, that are integral to Hawaiian culture.

While tita has a simple translation, it contains a much deeper meaning of affection. Understanding words like tita can provide insight into the beauty of the Hawaiian language and people.

We hope this guide has shed some light on the definition and cultural context of this charming term. A hui hou and mahalo for reading!

So the next time you’re in Hawaii and hear someone say, “Tita!” you’ll know it’s not just a casual greeting, but a word steeped in the warmth of aloha.

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