Bold, impertinent, impudent, insolent, nervy, cheeky, rude, forward, presumptuous, saucy, brazen.

Anyone who has heard this word before knows it’s not a good thing. While boldness may be appreciated by some, it goes against the grain of acceptable behavior.  Mahaʻoi literally means “sharp temple” or in other words, you’re sticking your head out, in a place it doesn’t belong.

Being self-assertive and aggressive is mahaʻoi.   Some examples of being mahaʻoi would be dominating a conversation, volunteering to do something in an attention seeking way (this is one reason why you don’t see a lot of Hawaiians volunteering to do things, I think. Seriously. As a teacher I know this to be true. But approach them directly asking them to help and they will be there!), going through someone’s house, inspecting their rooms and possessions. These are all VERY mahaʻoi. Anytime you feel the urge to say “Mind your own business” it’s because someone is being mahaʻoi. It is one of the reasons for the clash Hawaiian culture with Western culture. Not being mahaʻoi, at times, can leave you in the dust.   Sometimes it’s a difficult thing for us to weigh…should I be more forward, which goes against my grai, and push my way to the front of the line and make myself heard, which feels uncomfortable? The struggle is real!

Mahaʻoi is a verb.

Keu nō ho‘i ‘oe he keiki maha‘oi – My goodness you are such a rude child.

Mai maha‘oi mai – Don’t be so forward to me.

Ua nui kona mahaʻoi – She was super nosey.

Copyright: 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 Proverbs & Poetical Sayings by Mary Kawena Pukui, 1983.

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