n. Intestines, bowels, guts; mind, heart, affections; of the heart or mind; mood, temper, feelings. Fig., child. Cf. naʻau aliʻi, naʻau ʻino, naʻaupō. Helu naʻau (name of an arithmetic book), mental counting. Pōkole ka naʻau, short-tempered, cross. Hoʻopaʻanaʻau, to memorize. Naʻau pōkole, short-tempered; lit., short intestine. (PPN ngaakau.)

Yum! Intestines, bowels, guts! Hawaiians eat naʻau. It has been a long time since I have seen any at a pāʻina, but I remember helping my tūtū prepare. Not everyone would help her. Can be a little smelly. But I have a high tolerance, I suppose.

Naʻau also refers to ones feelings or temper, as Hawaiian believe that we feel not in our hearts (Western thinking) but in our guts. You know, like that knot you get in your stomach? The kind that can even make you double over in pain? Yeah. There. Or those butterflies you feel when you are really nervous? Or in love? Yeah. There. Pehea kou naʻau? What do you think/feel? How does it feel to you? It is from the naʻau that we feel the pangs of love, hatred, anger, hurt. ʻEha ka naʻau – the feelings/the naʻau hurt. That intuition, too. Your naʻau speaks to you. Below are some common uses of naʻau:

  • naʻau aliʻi – kind, thoughtful, forgiving, loving (having the insides of a ruler)
  • naʻauao – enlightened. “Ao” actually refers to daylight, so literally naʻauao means “lighted guts/innards.” to ʻimi naʻauao is to search for enlightenment. The opposite of naʻauao is…
  • naʻaupō – ignorance. Pō is the opposite of ao. Pō is night or darkness so if you are naʻaupō you have dark insides. You are ignorant.
  • naʻau ʻino – literally, evil insides. Malicious. Malevolent.
  • naʻau pono – righteous insides. Everything that comes from you is good and just.
  • hoʻopaʻanaʻau – to memorize. To make it paʻa or firm in the naʻau.

Here is a great ʻōlelo noʻeau (wise saying) using naʻau:

Nāu ke keiki, kūkae a naʻau – The child belongs to you, excreta and intestines. (This is said of a child given as hānai to another couple. The child was given wholeheartedly, with no thought of taking him back. The adoptive parents should accept this child, the good and the bad.)

Kuʻia ka hele a ka naʻau haʻahaʻa – Hesitant walks the humble hearted. (A humble person walks carefully so he will not hurt those about him.)

Pōkole ka naʻau – The intestine is short. (Said of a short-tempered person.)


2015 – Liana Iaea Honda. All rights reserved. All versions of He Momi e Lei ai”, in its entirety, past and present, is the property of L. K. I. Honda. Reproduction and use of any kind other than the sharing of this website is prohibited. Alteration to the original content in any form is prohibited in every and any instance, and use in any other variant is prohibited without written consent of the author. Adress inquiries to: hemomi [at] Definitions and wise sayings are from: Hawaiian Dictionary by Pukui and Elbert, 1986. ʻŌlelo Noʻeau – Hawaiian Proberbs & Poetical Sayings by Mary Kawena Pukui, 1983.

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