Aloha Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

You may have heard the term aloha before, but what does it mean? We’ll tell you the meaning of aloha, its origin, synonyms, and more!

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You’ve likely heard the term aloha said in passing, but do you know what it means? Most folks think it’s a word that translates to both “hello” and “goodbye,” but the true meaning of aloha runs much deeper than that.

Interested in learning more? We can help! Read on as we explore the term aloha to uncover its definition, origin, and more.   

What is the Definition of Aloha?

To truly understand the meaning of a word like aloha, it can be helpful to review multiple definitions from various trusted dictionaries:

  • Used as an exclamation, the Cambridge Dictionary defines aloha as a Hawaiian word used to welcome someone or say goodbye. 
  • The Oxford English Dictionary says aloha is a Hawaiian word used when greeting or parting from someone. However, when applying Hawaiian language grammatical rules, the term “aloha” is translated as “the joyous sharing of life energy in the present” or “joyfully sharing life.” 

After reviewing the definitions listed above, we can conclude that “aloha” is a Hawaiian word or acknowledgment that is often used as a greeting— with aloha, there is mutual regard and affection.  

That said, you don’t necessarily need to turn to a dictionary to find the definition — we can find the meaning within the root words that make up aloha:

Alo-: sharing; in the present 

-oha:  joyous affection; joy 

-ha:  life energy; life; breath

The direct translation from Hawaiian to English is the presence of divine breath. 

What Is the Origin of Aloha?

The origin of aloha is not crystal-clear. Some language experts believe the word comes from the Proto-Polynesian root qarofa and is related to similar words in other Polynesian languages, such as aroha in New Zealand;s Maori and alofa in the Samoan language. 

Although these similar terms practically have the same meaning, the word aloha has achieved worldwide familiarity and usage. 

What Are Synonyms and Antonyms of Aloha?

To further your understanding of the word aloha, let’s look at a few synonyms. Synonyms are words with the same or nearly the same meaning as another word in certain contexts. 


  • Hello
  • Greeting
  • Salutation
  • Goodbye
  • Sympathy
  • Cheers
  • Compassion
  • Good morning
  • Good afternoon
  • Positive energy
  • Pity
  • Farewell
  • Affection
  • Love
  • Mercy

In addition to learning the synonyms of aloha, discovering the antonyms of aloha can also help strengthen your knowledge of the term. An antonym is a word opposite in meaning to another.


  • Dislike
  • Animosity
  • Hate
  • Unacknowledged
  • Rejection
  • Standstill 

Examples of Aloha in a Sentence

Now that you understand the definition of aloha, it’s time to practice using the term in a sentence. Below, you’ll find several usage examples to get you started:

Rather than getting greeted with Aloha, the island met us with a swarm of mosquitos.

They cut the buttons on your aloha shirt from a coconut shell.

We call the authentic hospitality found here in Hawaii the aloha spirit!

The chief justice greeted the tribe with a big aloha before leaving the event to speak with the lieutenant governor.

As we left Maui, the Hawaiian singers waved and said aloha.

Dubbed the Aloha state, Hawaii is known for its warm greetings and spirit of harmony.

He had no obligation to say aloha, but he did.

Did you know that aloha kakahiaka means good morning?​​

Aloha to you and your ohana!

Good grief, just say aloha and leave already!

My uncle is an old soul from Hawaii and commonly greets me by saying aloha.

Did you know that the literal meaning of aloha is the presence of the breath?

Regardless of its popularity, the spirit behind aloha is alive and well.

What Is the Aloha Spirit? 

Considered a state “law,” the Aloha Spirit was written by the late Aunty Pilahi Paki because she foresaw a future in deep strife that would look to Hawaii for healing — aloha would be its remedy. 

The law’s main purpose is to serve as a gentle reminder to government officials while they perform their duties to treat people with the utmost care and respect, just as their ancestors did. 

Considered more of a lesson than a law, the Aloha Spirit is the coordination of mind and heart — it brings each person to the Self. Each individual must think and emote good feelings to others. 

In the contemplation and presence of the way of life “Aloha,” use the following unuhi laulâ loa:

  • Akahai: kindness to be expressed with tenderness 
  • Lokahi: unity to be expressed with harmony 
  • Oluolu: agreeable to be expressed with pleasantness 
  • Haahaa: humility to be expressed with modesty 
  • Ahonui: patience to be expressed with perseverance

These traits of character express the warmth, charm, love, and sincerity of the Aloha State’s people. It was the working philosophy of the Native Hawaiian people and was presented as an ever-lasting gift to the future generations that call Hawaii home. 

A Final Word

Derived from Proto-Polynesia sometime around the early 1800s, the word aloha translates to [Alo] meaning ‘presence’ and [Hā] meaning ‘breath.’ Together, these words translate to ‘The presence of breath’ or ‘breath of life.’

So, in short, the word aloha is something that you experience, your interaction with life, joy, passion — something that’s present within you. But at the same time, it’s something that you share with those around you — sharing that joy and happy energy within you. 

The meaning of aloha really depends on how you use this beautiful word and in what context. You can use it as a word of greeting or in conversation when discussing the Aloha Spirit law. 


  1. ALOHA | definition | Cambridge English Dictionary
  2. Aloha Definition & Meaning |
  3. Sharing Aloha | Acacia Creek