Discovering the Aloha Meaning: A Greeting, A Law, a Way of Life

aloha meaning
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Discovering the Aloha Meaning: A Greeting, A Law, a Way of Life

Aloha is packaged in all kinds of ways here in Hawaii. It’s a word used so often that it’s easy to forget the true aloha meaning. Let’s learn about this powerful word and the many ways it’s used throughout the islands. 

Where You’ll Hear Aloha Today

Aloha is often promised to tourists, but it’s also a way of life here in Hawaii. You’ll hear locals greeting and bidding farewell with the endearing word, or using it as a character trait. Someone who has “plenty aloha” is kindhearted and loving. 

You’ll hear aloha in all kinds of local songs. And for many local companies (including us!), it’s part of their brand name. Back in the day of phone books, businesses starting with the word “aloha” took up more than three pages of listings. Even Hawaii’s official nickname is the Aloha State – it’ll appear on the license plate of your rental car. 

But what is the aloha meaning that matters most?

The True Aloha Meaning

Aloha has a more literal definition of love, compassion, peace, and affection. Alo means “in the presence of,” and “ha” is “the breath of life.” It’s most often a way to say hello and goodbye, but even more so, it’s also a way of living in Hawaii. 

We saw it especially during the good ‘ole days when our grandparents spent their time making lei or playing Hawaiian music. So much Aloha was woven into their every step. Today, we still carry on such cultural traditions, but sadly, not all of us do it regularly. It’s become more a hobby that we often fit into our busy lives.

Seeing Aloha in Action

Still, we sometimes get to see the Aloha meaning at its finest, taking on the true spirit of hospitality and kindness. 

Many keiki (kids) in Hawaii still participate in hoike, a celebration with hula and a Hawaiian greeting that involves touching faces and sharing breath. They’ll also make lei, learn traditional Hawaiian values, and prioritize respect for elders. 

Adults do much of the same, and you’ll see the Aloha spirit alive when communities in Hawaii come together in the face of hardships. 

Aloha: It’s the Law

As if these many definitions and practices of aloha weren’t enough, we’ve got even bigger news to share about this five-letter word. In Hawaii, Aloha is a law. In 1986, lawmakers put it in the Hawaii Revised Statutes that “each person must think and emote good feelings to others.”

They also outline the following aloha meaning to make it even easier to remember how to follow this essential law:

A “Akahai,” meaning kindness to be expressed with tenderness;

L “Lōkahi,” meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;

O “ʻOluʻolu,” meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;

H “Haʻahaʻa,” meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;

A “Ahonui,” meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.

How You Can Practice the True Aloha Meaning

If you visit Hawaii, you’ll likely receive aloha from helpful professionals and tour guides, or from friendly locals who chat with you on the beach. But you can also give aloha while you’re here. Remember to act in kindness, be patient as you explore “on island time,” and be a responsible vacationer. Mind all kapu (keep out) signs, pay fairly for the services you receive, and remember you’re vacationing in someone’s home. 

You may be surprised that the more you offer aloha throughout your travels, the more you’ll feel it all around you – in Hawaii and beyond. 

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