1. nvt. To braid or plait, as a lei or candlenuts; a braid, plaiting, string. See lei hili. Ka hili ʻana i ka lauoho (1 Pet. 3.3), the plaiting of the hair. (PPN firi.)

2. vi. To turn aside, deviate, miss the way, wander, stray. Cf. hilikau, pūhili. Mea hili i hope, straggler. Ua pā hili, rain blown by wind in various directions. Mai hili ʻiʻo paha au inā ʻaʻole kēia kamaʻāina, I might have gone quite astray had it not been for this native of the place. hoʻo.hili Caus/sim.; to lead astray. (PPN fili.)

3. nvt. To whip, smite, thrash, switch, bat; batter, as in baseball; stroke, as in fighting. Mea hili kinipōpō, batter. hoʻo.hili Caus/sim.; to pretend to whip, to whip gently.

4. n. Bark used in dyeing, as hili kukui, hili kōlea, hili noni; the dark-brown dye made from this bark; a tapa dyed with hili; to dye with hili.

Okay, talking about childhood games…(remember marbles from yesterday?)…

Did any of you play sky-hili? We are having a bit of a debate with some Oʻahu friends…is it skyhili? Skyhini? Skahili? I have tried to reason that the game is sky-hili because hili is the word for hit or bat. Remember this game? You lay a stick on the ground (like a broom handle). Someone rolls the baseball towards the stick (like a pitcher), it hits the stick, pops into the air (sky) and if you catch it, you win. Now exactly what or how you win if you catch it, seems to escape my  memory. It must be that all the glory was in just catching that fly ball.

Kinipōpō hili is the common word for baseball, and pōhili is the word for baseball, as in the game.

Pono au e hopu i ke kinipōpō hili – I have to catch the baseball.

E pāʻani kākou i ka pōhili – Let’s play baseball.

Besides hili meaning hit or bat, hili also refers to a method of lei making in which one material is braided, such as palapalai ferns. If you braid hair you also hili lauoho. If you add a second material to the braid (hair or lei) it is no longer known as hili, but rather haku, a term that is commonly used today for lei that are fashioned together in any method other than kui (sewn). But haku is braiding with two or more materials.


I anxiously await the sky-hili stories.


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 Proverbs & Poetical Sayings by Mary Kawena Pukui, 1983.

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