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The Hawaiian word “dakine” is used in a variety of contexts, often to refer to something excellent or of high quality. If you’ve spent any time in Hawaii, you’ve likely heard locals use the term dakine to describe anything from food to waves. But where does dakine come from and what exactly does it mean?

Here’s a quick answer to your question: Dakine is a Hawaiian Pidgin word that translates loosely to “the kind” in English. It’s used to refer to something cool, great, genuine or authentic. The term originated in Hawaii in the 1960s and has roots in Hawaiian Pidgin. Read on for a deep dive into the origins, meanings and uses of dakine in Hawaiian slang and culture.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the origins of dakine, break down its meanings and definitions, look at some examples of how it’s used in Hawaiian Pidgin, and explain why it has become such a popular and ubiquitous term in Hawaiian culture over the past few decades.

The Origins and History of Dakine

Etymology and Meaning

Dakine is a Hawaiian word that has gained popularity outside of Hawaii in recent years. The word has an interesting etymology and carries multiple meanings depending on the context. The term “Dakine” is derived from the Hawaiian Pidgin phrase “da kine,” which means “the kind” or “the thing.” It is a versatile term that can be used to refer to a specific object, a person, or even an abstract concept. The beauty of the word lies in its flexibility, allowing it to be used in various situations.

Roots in Hawaiian Pidgin

Hawaiian Pidgin, a creole language spoken in Hawaii, is a unique blend of English, Hawaiian, and other languages brought to the islands by immigrants. The term “Dakine” originated in this linguistic mix, where it became a catch-all phrase to refer to something that is difficult to name or specify. It serves as a convenient shorthand for locals to express a wide range of ideas or things without going into specific details. For example, if someone can’t remember the name of an object, they might say, “Pass me the dakine over there,” and everyone would understand what they mean.

Spread Through Surfing Culture in the 1960s

The word “Dakine” gained further popularity and spread beyond Hawaii through the surfing culture of the 1960s. Surfers from around the world flocked to Hawaii’s beautiful beaches to catch the perfect wave, and they embraced the local language and culture. As a result, the term “Dakine” became part of the surfer’s lexicon, used to describe anything and everything related to the sport. It became a symbol of the laid-back and inclusive nature of the surfing community, and its usage spread to other coastal regions with dedicated surfing communities.

Today, “Dakine” has become a widely recognized term, not just in Hawaii or among surfers but also among people who appreciate its versatility and unique cultural origins. Whether you’re talking about a surfboard, a person, or an indescribable feeling, “Dakine” is the perfect word to capture the essence of the unknown or the unnameable.

What Does Dakine Mean in Hawaiian Pidgin?

If you’ve ever spent time in Hawaii or have interacted with people from the islands, you might have come across the term “dakine.” While it may seem like a simple word, it carries a deep meaning in Hawaiian Pidgin. Let’s take a closer look at the origins and meanings of dakine.

Definition as “The Kind”

In Hawaiian Pidgin, dakine is often used as a catch-all term when referring to something or someone whose name you can’t remember or don’t know. It can be used as a noun, verb, adjective, or adverb, depending on the context. Essentially, it functions as a placeholder for a specific word or concept.

The term “dakine” originated from the Hawaiian phrase “da kine,” which translates to “the kind.” Over time, it has evolved and become a versatile slang term that is widely used in casual conversations among locals.

Connotations of Quality and Authenticity

One interesting aspect of dakine is that it often carries connotations of quality and authenticity. When someone refers to something as “dakine,” it implies that it is the genuine article or of superior quality. For example, if someone says, “This poi is dakine,” they are praising the poi for being the real deal and not a subpar version.

This connotation of quality and authenticity is deeply rooted in the Hawaiian culture, where craftsmanship and attention to detail are highly valued. By using dakine to describe something, Hawaiians are emphasizing its excellence and credibility.

An All-Purpose Slang Term

Dakine is an all-purpose slang term that can be used in a wide variety of situations. It’s a versatile word that can be used to describe objects, people, actions, or even emotions. Its flexibility and adaptability make it a ubiquitous part of Hawaiian Pidgin.

For example, if someone asks you, “Hey, can you pass me that dakine over there?”, they could be referring to any object that they can’t recall the specific name for. Similarly, if someone says, “I went to the beach and had one dakine time,” they are using dakine to express a general sense of enjoyment and fun.

How is Dakine Used in Hawaiian Culture?

In Hawaiian culture, the word “dakine” is a versatile term that has multiple meanings and uses. It is a popular slang word that has found its way into mainstream usage in Hawaii and beyond. Let’s take a closer look at the various ways in which “dakine” is used in Hawaiian culture.

Describing “The Best” of Something

One of the most common ways in which “dakine” is used in Hawaiian culture is to describe something as “the best” or “the ultimate.” It is often used as a substitute for a specific noun when the speaker is trying to express that something is exceptional or outstanding. For example, if someone asks you how your day was, you might respond with, “It was dakine!” meaning that it was great, fantastic, or amazing. This usage reflects the laid-back and positive attitude that is characteristic of Hawaiian culture.

Referring to High Quality Surf and Waves

Another specific usage of “dakine” in Hawaiian culture is in relation to surfing and waves. In the context of surfing, “dakine” is used to describe high-quality waves or ideal surfing conditions. Surfers might say that they had a “dakine session” or that the waves were “dakine” to indicate that the conditions were perfect for surfing. This usage highlights the deep connection between the Hawaiian people and their love for the ocean and water sports.

Talking About Genuine or Real People and Things

In addition to describing the best of something and referring to surf and waves, “dakine” is also used to talk about genuine or real people and things. It is often used as a placeholder word when the specific noun is not known or cannot be remembered. For example, if someone asks you for a tool and you can’t recall its name, you might say, “Pass me the dakine over there,” referring to the tool. This usage reflects the practical and resourceful nature of the Hawaiian people.

Other Dakine Slang Uses and Variations

While Dakine is commonly known as a versatile word that can represent anything and everything in Hawaiian slang, there are a few specific variations and uses worth exploring. These variations add an extra layer of depth and nuance to the already multifaceted meaning of Dakine.

Dakine Denz – “The Best Food”

One interesting variation of Dakine is “Dakine Denz,” which is often used to describe the best food or a delicious meal. So, if you ever hear someone saying, “This plate lunch is Dakine Denz!” while enjoying their meal in Hawaii, you can be sure that they are referring to the exceptional taste and quality of the food they are eating.

No Mo Dakine – “Nothing Left” or “All Out”

Another intriguing slang use of Dakine is “No Mo Dakine,” which translates to “nothing left” or “all out.” This phrase is commonly used when someone has run out of something or when a particular item or resource is no longer available. For example, if you go to a popular bakery in Hawaii and they say, “Sorry, no mo dakine,” it means they have sold out of their delicious pastries.

Any Kine – “Whatever” or “Anything”

Lastly, we have “Any Kine,” which is a slang term used to mean “whatever” or “anything.” This versatile phrase is often used to express a sense of flexibility or openness. For instance, if someone asks you what type of food you want for dinner, and you reply, “Any kine,” you’re essentially saying that you’re open to trying anything or that you don’t have a specific preference.

These variations of Dakine add an extra layer of richness to the already diverse meanings of the word. Whether it’s describing the best food, indicating that something is sold out, or expressing a sense of openness, Dakine continues to be a fascinating and versatile term in Hawaiian slang.

The Lasting Popularity of Dakine in Hawaii

When visiting or even just casually conversing with locals in Hawaii, you may come across a word that is frequently used: “dakine”. This unique term has gained lasting popularity among the people of Hawaii, and it carries a rich cultural significance.

A Term That Crossed Over From Pidgin to Mainstream

Dakine is a word that originated from Hawaiian Pidgin, which is a creole language spoken by many locals in Hawaii. Initially used as a filler word when an individual couldn’t recall the specific name of something, it quickly became a versatile term that could be used to refer to anything and everything. Its adaptability and ease of use contributed to its widespread adoption, allowing dakine to cross over from pidgin to mainstream Hawaiian vernacular.

Used By Locals and Visitors Alike

What makes dakine truly fascinating is its universal appeal. While it is widely used by locals in Hawaii, it has also made its way into the vocabulary of visitors and tourists. This is likely due to the warm and welcoming nature of the Hawaiian culture, where visitors are encouraged to embrace and integrate themselves into the local way of life. So don’t be surprised if you find yourself using dakine more often than you’d expect during your time in Hawaii!

Featured in Songs, Media and Brand Names

The popularity of dakine extends beyond everyday conversation. It has also made its mark in various forms of media and entertainment. You may come across dakine in Hawaiian songs, where it is often used to add a touch of local flavor to the lyrics. Additionally, dakine has been incorporated into brand names of local businesses, further cementing its place in the Hawaiian culture.

Exploring the origins and meanings of dakine provides us with a deeper understanding of the cultural richness that Hawaii has to offer. So the next time you find yourself in the beautiful islands of Hawaii, embrace the spirit of aloha and use dakine with confidence!


In summary, dakine is a Hawaiian Pidgin term that has come to mean “the best,” “genuine” or “real deal.” While its exact origins are unclear, it emerged in the Hawaiian lexicon in the 1960s and quickly spread through surf culture on the islands. Today dakine is used broadly in Hawaii when talking about anything of exceptional quality, from perfect waves to delicious food.

The term has its roots in the phrase “da kine,” meaning “the kind” in English, but has taken on connotations of coolness and authenticity in Hawaiian slang. Though it originated in Pidgin, dakine is now widely used in mainstream Hawaiian culture and media as a shorthand way to describe the essence of true Hawaiian style. With its laidback pronunciation and emphasis on quality, dakine perfectly encapsulates the island spirit and will likely continue to be a popular term in Hawaii for years to come.

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