Aloha (pronounced [əˈlōˌhä]) is the Hawaiian word for love, affection, peace, compassion and mercy, that is commonly used as a simple greeting.[1][2]


The origins of the Hawaiian word aloha are unclear. 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. 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. [3] The word has become a part of the English vocabulary in an awkward misuse.[4][5][6] The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word as a "greeting" like "welcome" and "farewell" using a number of examples dating back as far as 1798. The term has come to epitomize the appropriation of the Hawaiian Language and the cultural dispossession of Native Hawaiians.[4]

Lorrin Andrews wrote the first Hawaiian dictionary, called A dictionary of the Hawaiian language.[7] 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. Anthropologist Frances Newton states that "Aloha is a complex and profound sentiment. Such emotions defy definition".

Hawaiians believe the concept to be unique, with no English equivalent.[8]

See also