Lae

  1. Forehead, brow. 2. Cape, headland, point, promontory. 3. Wisdom; mental or emotional qualities. 4. An insulting term, followed by qualifiers, referring to kauä, outcasts.

Do you know that the original name for Diamond Head is actually Laeʻahi, or Lēʻahi (shortened form) meaning “brow of the ʻahi (yellowfin tuna) fish”. And when you look at an ʻahi and then at Lēʻahi, it looks exactly like that. Too bad its more contemporary name is more prominent today (as one of the most photographed sites in the world). I say we make an attempt to only refer to it by its original name, Lēʻahi/Laeʻahi.

There are other place names with the word lae in it, such as Ka Lae, otherwise known at South Point on Hawaiʻi Island, the southernmost point in all the fifty states. There is also Kalaeloa (the long point), more commonly known as Barbers Point, on Oʻahu. There is Laehala (Hala Point) in Keaukaha, Hawaiʻi, and Kalaemilo (the twirling point) at Kalaupapa, Molokaʻi.

Lae is one of those words whose meanings can contradict each other. On one hand, lae refers to one with wisdom, and on the other hand, it is an insult, making reference to the kauā class, the outcasts whose foreheads were tattooed to distinguish them from the makaʻāinana (commoners) and aliʻi (ruling class).

Some interesting lae words are listed below:

Lae oʻo – an expert (literally: mature brow)

Lae ʻula – A well-trained, clever person (literally: red brow [red being the sacred color]

Lae paʻa – hard headed, obstinate, stubborn, closed in mind and hostile to new ideas (literally: hard brow)

Lae kiko – dotted forehead (kauā ).

 

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