The Meaning of Mahalo: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of mahalo? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word mahalo, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word mahalo mean?

According to Travel and Leisure, the word mahalo is a Hawaiian word used in all parts of Hawaii by Hawaiians to mean thank you and express gratitude. This word is often used as a greeting to express esteem, praise or admiration, or as a compliment with sincerity in every day life. You might say mahalo in return for delicious food if the good food really stuck you.  The word mahalo is three syllables – mah-hah-loh . Mahalo nui loa means thank you very much.

The word mahalo is more than just a thank you in Hawaiian thinking, It is a divine blessing on a spiritual level with a deeper meaning. This is used in everyday life and also on special occasions like the birthday of an elder or for sacredness like prayers or single-word blessings. Use this word respectfully.

There are many different languages that also use words that mean mahalo. You may notice that many of these words look similar to one another. This is likely because they have a common origin. Often, languages that have a common language of origin, like Latin or Greek, will contain many cognates, which are words that look, sound, and mean similar things. This list of translations for the word mahalo is provided by Word Sense

  • Tlingit: gunalchéesh‎
  •  Turkmen: sag boluň‎, spasiba‎
  •  Ume Sami: gijtuov‎
  •  Võro: aiteh‎
  •  Livonian: tienū‎
  •  Sanskrit: अनुगृहीतोऽस्मि‎, धन्यवादः‎
  •  Yiddish: אַ דאַנק‎, אַ דאַנק דיר‎
  •  Abkhaz: иҭабуп‎
  •  Zulu: ngiyabonga‎
  •  Urdu: دھنیہ واد‎ (dhanya-vād), شکریہ‎ (śukriyā), نوازش‎ (nevāziś)
  •  Swahili: asante‎, shukrani‎
  •  Cyrillic: тəшəккүр‎, сағ ол‎, тəшəккүр едирəм‎, чох разыjам‎
  •  South Azerbaijani: تشکر ادرم‎ (tesekkur edirem)
  •  Kiowa: áho‎
  •  Ojibwe: miigwech‎, chi-miigwech‎, gichi-miigwech‎
  •  Svan: ივასუ ხარი‎
  •  Malayalam: നന്‌റി‎
  •  Chamicuro: osolopaki‎
  •  Nahuatl: tlazohcamati‎
  •  Slovak: ďakujem‎ (I thank you), ďakujeme‎ (we thank you)
  •  Khanty: пумасипа‎
  •  Hindi: धन्यवाद‎, शुक्रिया‎, थैंक्यू‎ (colloquial), थैंक्स‎
  •  Chechen: баркал‎
  •  Thai: ขอบคุณ‎ (kɔ̀ɔp kun)
  •  Turkish: sağ olun‎, sağ ol‎, teşekkür ederim‎, teşekkürler‎, mersi‎
  •  Fijian: vinaka‎
  •  Bhojpuri: धन्यवाद‎ (dhanyavad)
  •  Ngarrindjeri: anu nginti‎
  •  Palauan: sulang‎
  •  Macedonian: благо́дарам‎, (colloquial) фа́ла‎
  •  Swedish: tack‎
  •  Welsh: diolch‎
  •  Zazaki: teşekur kenam‎
  •  Northern Sami: giitu‎
  •  Icelandic: takk‎, þakka‎
  •  Tatar: рәхмәт‎
  •  Northern Thai:
  •  Lithuanian: ačiū‎
  •  Armenian: շնորհակալություն‎, շնորհակալ եմ‎, մերսի‎ (colloquial)
  •  Tuvan: улуг өөрдүм‎, четтирдим‎
  •  Ludian: spassibo‎
  •  Samoan: fa’afetai‎
  •  Danish: tak‎
  •  Cebuano: salamat‎
  •  Udmurt: тау‎
  •  Isan: ขอบใจ‎ (kɔ̀ɔp jai)
  •  Karachay-Balkar: сау бол‎
  •  Pashto: مہربانی‎ (mehrbani)
  •  Marathi: धन्यवाद‎
  •  Assamese: ধনাবাদ‎ (dhanybaada)
  •  Russian: спаси́бо‎, благодарить‎, мерси́‎ (colloquial)
  •  Amharic: ኣመሰገናልሎ‎ (ʾamäsägnaləlo), አመሰግናለሁ‎
  •  Catalan: gràcies‎, moltes gràcies‎, mercès‎
  •  Kurdish: spas‎, سوپاس‎
  •  Nootka: ƛ̕eeko‎

What is the origin of the word mahalo?

According to Aloha Shirt Shop, along with the Pukui and Elbert Hawaiian dictionary, the word mahalo is derived from the Proto-Polynesian word mahalo. The exact origin of the word is unclear but this is thought to be the root words of these words. The early visitors and tourists to Hawaii noticed that Hawaiians practiced a grateful and admiring culture, but these grateful people had no word for thank you. Later, following their contact with the westerners, Hawaiians invented the common Hawaiian phrase mahalo.

What are synonyms of mahalo?

There are many different words that one can use in place of the word mahalo. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are very useful English grammatical devices to know because they can help you to avoid repeating yourself as well as to expand your vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word mahalo is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •   thank you very much
  •   thanks very much
  •   gramercy
  •   ta muchly
  •   give thanks
  •   nice one
  •   it is hard to find words to express my gratitude
  •   i am all gratitude
  •   respectfully yours with sincere gratitude
  •   many thanks
  •   thanks
  •   gracias
  •   merci
  •   thank you for helping me
  •   you have my gratitude
  •   thanky
  •   thankee
  •   you are a lifesaver
  •   thanks a lot
  •   show appreciation
  •   i thank you most warmly
  •   i thank you from the bottom of my heart
  •   of course
  •   thank you kindly
  •   with kindest personal regards
  •   danke
  •   it was so awesome of you
  •   thanks a bunch
  •   ta
  •   i am grateful
  •   much obliged
  •   i thank you
  •   i humbly thank you
  •   with gratitude
  •   i appreciate that
  •   i am very grateful
  •   thank you so much
  •   appreciate it
  •   i wanted to thank you as soon as possible
  •   accord a thank
  •   accept my endless gratitude
  •   i wish to thank everyone who pitched in
  •   much thanks
  •   your generosity overwhelms me
  •   thanks a million
  •   thanks so much
  •   i will never forget what you have done
  •   cheers
  •   by all means

What are other Hawaiian terms and phrases you might hear?

According to Trafalgar and Ambassador Waikiki, there are many different Hawaiian phrases that you might hear when traveling to islands like the Big Island, Maui, and more. 

  •  Kama’aina
  •  Ohana
  •  Pau hana
  •  Haole
  •  Lanai
  •  Mana – Spiritual or divine power, pronounced mah’ nah.
  •  No ka ‘oi
  •  E hele kāua i ke kahakai
  •  A hui hou – See you soon 
  •  ‘Aina
  •  Mauka
  •  Makai
  •  Aloha wau iā ‘oe
  •  Pono – righteousness, harmony, excellence, balance, positivity, and living a life full of these ideals, life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.
  •  A ‘o ia! – There you have it! Used to cheer people on doing a hula, pronounced ah-oy-yah.
  •  Poke
  •  A’ ole palikir – You’re welcome, or no problem, pronounced ah-oh-leh pee-lee-kee-yah
  •  Heiau
  •  Howzit?
  •  Shaka
  •  Aloha – Hello – Aloha kakahiaka – ‘good morning’, Aloha ‘auinalā – ‘good afternoon’ and Aloha ahiahi – ‘good evening’
  •  Malasada
  •  Pupu
  •  Auntie
  •  Uncle
  •  Honu – Green sea turtle
  •  Braddah – brother
  •  Da kine – whatchamacallit

Overall, the word mahalo means thank you. This Hawaiian word is used frequently in Hawaii. 


  1. What Does Mahalo Mean? | Aloha Shirt Shop 
  2. 10 Hawaiian phrases to learn before your next trip to Hawaii | Trafalgar 
  3. 15 Basic Hawaiian Words and Phrases for Your Trip to the Aloha State | Travel and Leisure 
  4. Thank You synonyms – 206 Words and Phrases for Thank You | Power Thesaurus 
  5. thank you: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense