Pelehū of Paʻauilo

1. Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo). Lit., swollen swelling. 

Since this is the week that many people in Hawaiʻi celebrate Thanksgiving,  I thought I would provide some useful words for you to actually USE when you are preparing and partaking in your feast. Pelehū – turkey. Literally, the word pelehū means swollen or swelling. Pelehū actually do look like they are a bit swollen, either in the wild or on the table.

There is also another word for turkey, more commonly used in Niʻihau and probably Kauaʻi (because of their close proximity to one another). It is pōkeokeo. Interesting enough, pōkeokeo also means plump. So in that way it is similar to swollen for pelehū. Pōkeokeo also refers to the gobble a turkey makes.

Now, I listen to pelehū a lot in the uplands in Paʻauilo. In fact, as I am typing this, I can hear them gobbling on the hill above our house and it is still dark outside. They run wild (faster in November, haha), lay their eggs in my pasture, come walking up the driveway and I don’t think it sounds like pōkeokeo or gobble gobble for that matter. But I guess if you use your imagination, it might work.  Another word for their gobble is kolokolo, which DOES sound a lot like the real turkey sound. I should know this, too, because in my household I hold the title of best turkey gobbler.

Emi ka pelehū i ka pule o ka lā hoʻomaikaʻi – Turkeys are cheap during the week of Thanksgiving day.

Wahine hulu pelehū – turkey feathered woman (said of women with mercenary interest in white men).


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