Interj. Syllables repeated in chants, usually at ends of verses, similar to ēhē; a taunting singsong teasing phrase, used especially by children, meaning “Oh! Oh! Aha! Shame on you! You are going to catch it!” As a verb, to tease. See ex., lei 1, ʻuhene. Also ahana and ahana kōkō lele, both meaningless. 

Mahalo to a hoaaloha (friend) who asked me about a particular phrase we all used in small kid time. Remember “Hana kokolele!” And then we would add on more lines to the taunting.

“Hana kokolele, peanut bata jele, I going tell your mada…” and so on. I am sure many of you have other verses to the tune.

So when my friend asked me what hana kokolele meant, I was dumbfounded. I mean, we don’t always know what we are saying, right? We just said it because someone else said it so we did too! Haha. Monkey see, monkey do mentality. So I looked high and low for answers at various places in the dictionary and eventually found it under ahahana.

Remember the song, “ʻŪlili ē? The lines go: ʻŪlili ē, ahahana, ʻūlili ehehene.” Same.

The taunting part comes when ahahana is used when someone does something they are not supposed to do. The immediate response by children around is: “Ahahana!” Or as we also used to say “halala” or “ahana” or “hana kokolele.” Any of these will do. They all plant fear in the mind of the wrongdoer, or confirm his intended outcome.

Mai ahahana ʻoe i kou pōkiʻi – Don’t tease your young brother.


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] gmail.com. 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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1 Response to Ahahana

  1. Byron says:

    I rmember this phrase very well when ….small keed!!…………………….b

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