Like a hand-sewn flower lei, "Aloha" has a variety of meanings that make up this beautiful Hawaiian word. It may not be physically worn like a lei but rather embraced with love and affection. Each flower represents an important element that make up the overall lei – or in this case – the overall meaning of Aloha.
One of the most common ways of using this word would be when greeting someone. You might hear it when stepping off of a plane in the islands or even when making a phone call to a local hotel or business. The other person may warmly say, "Aloha! How may I help you?" It can also mean good bye, so when hanging up the phone or walking away, the person may say something like, "Aloha! See you soon!"
Visitors pick up this word very quickly. It's one of the few Hawaiian words that are actually easy to pronounce; just three simple syllables to remember, uh-low-HA, and you're good to go. But one thing that you may not learn while in the islands is the difference between greeting two people, as opposed to greeting three or more people. These are specifics in the Hawaiian language that aren't often used by visitors. But with this post, you'll be able to better understand these variations if you happen to hear or read them.
A greeting between two people would be: Aloha mai kāua, pronounced uh-low-HA mye KAU-uh.
A greeting between three or more people would be: Aloha mai kākou, pronounced uh-low-HA mye KAH-koh.
You'll see that the only difference between those two phrases are the third word, kāua and kākou. This doesn't mean you must always greet someone this way, but it's nice to have this understanding and appreciation when it comes to the Hawaiian language. You just might end up using it.