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Hawaiian Word of the Day: Honua

January 16, 2010

Ka honua nui a Kāne... The great Earth of Kāne | Cliffs, Molokaʻi

Today’s Hawaiian word of the day is honua, or world, earth, or land. It may also mean fundamental.

There is a quite beautiful ʻōlelo noʻeau (traditional saying) that refers to this great earth of Kāne, the Hawaiian akua of fresh water and life.

Ka honua nui a Kāne i hōʻinana a ‘ahu kīnohinohi.

{The great Earth animated and adorned by Kāne.}

You can sense this greatness of the honua when you can gaze on a sight like the cliffs of Molokaʻi Nui a Hina above.

The creator of new land, the goddess Pele is also called ka wahine ʻai honua, the earth-eating woman.

For a word that seems to evoke such stability, honua can also mean quite the opposite. Its other meaning is suddenly or abruptly.

  • Ua nalowale honua ʻo ia. She suddenly disappeared.

With all the challenges facing this honua nui a Kāne, may we all come together to protect this amazing creation.


  • Pukui, ʻŌlelo Noʻeau
  • Pukui and Elbert, Hawaiian Dictionary.

Image used under Creative Commons license

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