4. num. To be much, many; very many, numerous; four hundred. Cf. kini, mano. hoʻo.lau To make numerous; to assemble, as of numerous persons or animals; numerous. (PPN rau.)
Yesterday we learned about lau, as in leaf. Today, lau refers to a number. No number in particular (although 400 seems to be one of its numbers). The word lau refers to many, numerous. There are several other Hawaiian words that refer to many/numerous, including kini (40,000), mano (4,000), lehu (400,000).
If you are familiar with the word laulima, as in many hands, this is the lau we are talking about.
Here are some other examples:
kinolau – many bodies, referring to the various forms that the gods could take (example: Lono takes the form of kukui or candlenut, a pig, the humuhumunukunukuapuaʻa to name a few).
Ahe lau makani – gentle winds.
Lau a lau nā hōkū o ka lani – hundreds and hundreds of stars in the heaven.
Lau lena ka pua o ka māmane – the māmane is yellow with blossoms.
Hana a lau a lau ke aho, a laila loaʻa ka iʻa kāpapa o ka moana – Make four hundred times four hundred fish lines before planning to go after the fighting fish of the sea (be well prepared for a big project).