How to Say Grandfather in Hawaiian

Aloha! If you’re curious about how to say “grandfather” in Hawaiian, you’ve come to the right place. The Hawaiian language, known as ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, is a beautiful and unique Polynesian language with its own set of vocabulary and expressions. In this guide, we will explore both formal and informal ways to refer to a grandfather in Hawaiian, providing useful tips and examples along the way. Let’s delve into the world of Hawaiian language and culture!

Formal Ways to Say Grandfather in Hawaiian

In formal Hawaiian language, the term for grandfather can vary depending on the context and the specific family relationship. Here are some of the commonly used terms:

1. Kūkū (Koo-koo)

The most common formal way to say “grandfather” in Hawaiian is “kūkū.” This term is derived from the Proto-Polynesian word “tūtū,” which means grandparent. It is often used by both grandchildren and adults when referring to their biological grandfather or any respected older male. Here’s an example:

Ke aloha nui e ku’u kūkū i ka la nui o kona hānau.
(Much love to my grandfather on his birthday.)

2. Kumu Kūkū

For some families or cultural contexts, the term “kumu kūkū” might be used. “Kumu” means source or origin, and adding it before “kūkū” adds a layer of ancestral and cultural significance. Here’s an example:

Ke ʻoluʻolu ʻia mai nei koʻu kumu kūkū.
(Blessed by the presence of my ancestor-grandfather.)

3. ʻŌpio Kupuna

Another possible term for a formal reference to a grandfather is “ʻōpio kupuna.” This phrase is used specifically when addressing an older male who is respected and considered a grandparent figure. Here’s an example:

Mahalo nui iā ʻoe, e kuʻu ʻōpio kupuna, no kou aloha a me kou naʻauao.
(Thank you, my dear grandparent figure, for your love and wisdom.)

Informal Ways to Say Grandfather in Hawaiian

Hawaiian language also offers several informal and affectionate ways to refer to a grandfather:

1. Pōpō (Poh-poh)

The most commonly used informal term for grandfather is “pōpō.” It is an intimate, endearing term used amongst family and close friends when addressing a beloved grandfather. Here’s an example:

Aloha pōpō, e nani kou wāwae hoʻokipa.
(Hello grandfather, your welcoming feet are beautiful.)

2. Pili Koko (Pee-lee koh-koh)

“Pili koko” is a colloquial term that can refer to a grandfather figure in informal settings. It has a playful and affectionate undertone, often used among grandchildren. Here’s an example:

Eia ke kahi noho pili koko noʻu i ka waiwai nui o ka ʻohana.
(Here is a special place close to my heart, the great treasure of the family.)

Regional Variations

While Hawaiian is the official language of Hawaii, regional variations in the language exist. These differences might be influenced by local dialects, preferences, or generational nuances. However, they are less common when referring to family relationships. It’s important to note that some variation might occur in specific communities or cultural contexts.


Learning how to say “grandfather” in Hawaiian provides us with deeper insights into the language, culture, and familial values of the islands. Whether you choose to use a formal term like “kūkū” or an informal and affectionate term like “pōpō,” remember that the Hawaiian language is rich in meaning and heritage. Embracing these words not only connects us to our loved ones but also honors the beautiful Hawaiian culture. E kūlia i ka nuʻu, strive for excellence, and may the spirit of aloha always guide your journey.

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