10 Hawaiian Pidgin Words To Know To Sound Like a Local

Da Jesus Book: Hawaii Pidgin New Testament
By Pidgin Bible Translation Group

When my boyfriend visited Hawaii and we were checking out book stores, he found a pidgin English copy of the Bible titled Da Jesus Book. It’s the entire New Testament “translated” into pidgin. Hearing him trying to read passages out of it in his best Hawaiian accent still makes me laugh.

What is Hawaiian pidgin English?

Pidgin is not unique to Hawaii. It can develop anywhere there are a lot of people from different backgrounds who have no common language between them. It arises as a simplified form of communication and draws from multiple languages.

However, because of the influx of plantation workers to Hawaii from all over the world, pidgin developed because they had to work and live together. Much like local foods in Hawaii, they borrowed and simplified words from all different cultures.

Note that none of the words I’m listing here are Hawaiian. Even though pidgin draws from the Hawaiian language as well, I figured it would simplify things by only taking non-Hawaiian words and creating a separate only-Hawaiian words list.

With this list, I’m not recommending that you go out of your way and try to fake a local Hawaii accent. That will definitely go poorly and you will definitely not sound local. However, knowing a few common words and even throwing one or two into natural conversation will help you blend in.

10 Hawaiian Pidgin Words To Know To Sound Like a Local

10 Pidgin Words to know to fit in while in hawaii:

1. Howzit

A common greeting, shortened from “how’s it (going).” The meaning can range from a simple hello to asking how someone is doing. You’ll sound less like a tourist saying this than saying aloha.

Example: Howzit, cuz.

10 Hawaiian Pidgin Words To Know To Sound Like a Local - Howzit

2. Da kine

When you can’t think of a specific word or phrase, this is the word to use! Think of it like a “whatchamacallit” or a “thingamajig.” When speaking to someone else, you don’t need to elaborate. The listener can usually piece it together.

Example: I saw da kine at Ala Moana yesterday.

3. Braddah / brah / Cuz

Two words coming from “brother” and “cousin,” you don’t need to be related to someone to call them this… But you should be kind of close to them, or at least read the situation.

Example: You going home now, cuz?
Ho, brah, slow down!

4. Buss

Essentially, it means broken or drunk. Using it to refer to a person, it means they’re wasted. When referring to an object, it means it’s pretty beat up.

Example: (Person) You better take care of your boy; he looks buss!
(Object) Your car is pretty buss up. What happened?

10 Hawaiian Pidgin Words To Know To Sound Like a Local - Buss

5. Kanak Attack

Ever have the urge to fall asleep after a large and heavy meal? That’s a kanak attack. Whether or not you actually fall asleep is irrelevant.

Example: *yawn* Kanak attack, for real.

6. Shoots

A catch-all word with a positive meaning. It can substitute the word “okay” or “gotcha” or even “goodbye,” depending on what it’s paired with.

Example: Want to go to L&L? Shoots.
See you later! Kay shoots, then.

7. Talk story

Any sort of casual conversation. Whether it be gossip, catching up, or just talking with your friends, talk story sums it all up. Important conversations, sharing drastic news, and the like don’t fall under talking story.

Example: The cashier was talking story with her friend for ten minutes so I just left.

10 Hawaiian Pidgin Words To Know To Sound Like a Local - Talk Story

8. Choke

Pronounced the same way as standard English, yet has a totally different meaning. It means “a lot” or “plenty” of something.

Example: They got choke deals at the mall this weekend.

9. Bumbye

Put together “bum” and “bye” and you get “bumbye.” Depending on the context, it can be used to replace words like later on, eventually, etc.

Example: I’ll see you bumbye.

10. Chee-hoo

Any time you want to express happiness, excitement, or encouragement, just throw out a chee-hoo! While best demonstrated as a yell (preferably with your head thrown back and hands cupped around your mouth) as long as you say it with enthusiasm your meaning will be clear.

Example: *Any good news* Chee-hoo!

TravelMorgan MHawaii, Culture