nvs. Vanity, foolishness, worthlessness; worthless, mischievous, of no value; wretch, scoundrel. See ex., niho mole. Lapuwale o nā lapuwale, vanity of vanities.

The fact that I know this word from “small kid time” could be viewed as a blow to the self esteem. For the life of me I cannot recall whether I was referred to as a lapuwale or just heard it used to refer to others. I prefer to think the latter is true! And I bet you seven to one (seven is a lucky number, right?) that as you read the definition you began to think of people who qualify as lapuwale material. Am I right? Pay up!

It doesn’t matter whether you pronounce the “w” with a soft “w” sound as in water or a “v” sound. Usually the w can go either way in Hawaiian words. Whichever is most comfortable for you is the correct way. Just like Hawaiʻi. W or V is fine. But take a word like ʻEwa. You don’t hear people say the w with the v sound. Why is that? Give it a try. It just doesn’t feel right to the mouth right? Too cumbersome. That is why just about EVERYBODY pronounces ʻewa with a hard v sound. Now say Kawaihae (as in the place on Hawaiʻi Island). It is much easier to say it with a soft w sound. The mouth feels better when you do it that way. There is no hard and fast rule on the sound of the w.

Interesting to note that lapu by itself is a ghost, apparition, phantom. It also means haunted or to act as a ghost. And wale refers to slime, mucus, or phlegm. This gives the connotation of someone who is lapuwale as being nothing but a slimy ghost or phantom.

He iʻa lapuwale, he pāpaʻi niho mole – A worthless sea creature, a crab with a missing claw.

Auē, ʻo kēlā ʻano kanaka lapuwale! – Geez, that kind good for nothing person!

He hana lapuwale nō hoʻī kēia – This is definitely worthless work.


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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