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Flowers arranged to make the word aloha

Aloha (/ɑːˈlhɑː/; Hawaiian: [əˈloːˌha]) is the Hawaiian word for love, affection, peace, compassion and mercy, that is commonly used as a simple greeting[1][2] but has a deeper cultural and spiritual significance to native Hawaiians.

A greeting of love and compassion; also means "to be in the presence of the divinity" or in the presence of (alo) the "divine breath of life" (Ha). [3]

The Aloha Spirit law became official in 1986.[4]



The origins of the Hawaiian word aloha are unclear.[5] The word goes back to the very origins of Hawaii to Kahiki (the homeland) and even further. The word is found in all Polynesian languages and always with the same basic meaning of: love, compassion, sympathy and kindness[5] although the use in Hawaii has a seriousness lacking in the Tahitian and Samoan meanings.[6] Its beginnings may be seen in the Maori definition as "love of kin". Mary Kawena Pukui wrote that the "first expression" of aloha was between a parent and child.[5] The word has become a part of the English vocabulary in an awkward misuse.[7][8][9] The term is now part of English vocabulary. The Oxford English Dictionary defined the word as a "greeting" like "welcome" and "farewell" using a number of examples dating back as far as 1798 and up to 1978 where it was defined as a substitute for welcome.

Lorrin Andrews wrote the first Hawaiian dictionary, called A dictionary of the Hawaiian language.[10] In it he describes aloha as "A word expressing different feelings; love, affection, gratitude, kindness, pity, compassion, grief, the modern common salutation at meeting; parting". Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel Hoyt Elbert's Hawaiian Dictionary: Hawaiian-English, English-Hawaiian also contains a similar definition. The modern use as a greeting diminishes the terms original meaning and reduces it to the more superficial expression of Good wishes. Anthropologist Francis Newton states that "Aloha is a complex and profound sentiment. Such emotions defy definition".[6]

Hawaiians believe the concept to be unique, with no English equivalent.[6]

See alsoEdit

  • Mahalo
  • Ohana
  • Namaste, Peace, Salaam and Shalom have similar meanings.
  • Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. (May 15, 2008). "The Aloha Spirit -- what it is, who possesses it, and why it is important". Hawaii Reporter.
  • Talofa


  1. ^ Pukui 1986, p. 21.
  2. ^ Van Valkenburg 2012, p. 69.
  3. ^ Wesselman PhD, Hank (2011). The bowl of light : ancestral wisdom from a Hawaiian shaman. Boulder, CO: Sounds True. p. 254. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  4. ^ Kerr, Breena. "In Hawaii, being nice is the law".
  5. ^ a b c George Hu'eu Kanahele; George S. Kanahele (1992). Ku Kanaka Stand Tall: A Search for Hawaiian Values. University of Hawaii Press. p. 470. ISBN 978-0-8248-1500-4.
  6. ^ a b c Anna Wierzbicka (22 October 1992). Semantics, Culture, and Cognition: Universal Human Concepts in Culture-Specific Configurations. Oxford University Press. pp. 152–155. ISBN 978-0-19-536091-2.
  7. ^ Sämi Ludwig (7 March 2017). American Multiculturalism in Context: Views from at Home and Abroad. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 287. ISBN 978-1-4438-7482-3.
  8. ^ Janie Guy Winter (30 December 2010). World Peace: A Possible Dream. Xlibris Corporation. p. 243. ISBN 978-1-4568-2416-7.[self-published source]
  9. ^ First Pan-Pacific Educational Conference, Honolulu, August 11-24, 1921: Held Under the Auspices of the Pan-Pacific Union and Called by the U. S. Department of Education. Invitations for Participation of Pacific Governments Sent Through the Department of State of the United States of America. Program and Proceedings. Pan-Pacific Union. 1921. p. 25.
  10. ^ David W. Forbes (1998). Hawaiian National Bibliography, Vol 3: 1851-1880. University of Hawaii Press. p. 385. ISBN 978-0-8248-2503-4.