ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi / Hawaiian Language

Hawaiian Word of the Day for Feb. 6: Holoholona

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The “Hawaiian Word of the Day” for Feb. 6 is “holoholona,” which means animal. It’s generally applied to domestic “four-footed beasts.”

In 2011 the Cornell (University) Hawaiʻi Club in a Facebook post explained the word this way: “Holo” means to run or go – when you go “holoholo” you go cruise. So a good way to remember the Hawaiian word for animal is to think of an animal as something that goes or moves.

Photo Courtesy: Kauaʻi Humane Society

Here are a few examples of holoholona used in combination with other words:

  • holoholona lōhiu: wildlife
  • holoholona hānaiahuhu: pet
  • holoholona hānai: livestock
  • na holoholona maoli: native animals
  • A hoʻomalu holoholona lōhiu: state wildlife official
  • A loea holoholona lōhiu: wildlife expert
  • ʻĀina Hoʻomalu Holoholona Lōhiu o Hawaiʻi: Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge
  • ʻAhahui Makaʻala Holoholona: Humane Society
  • ʻOihana Iʻa me ka Holoholona Lōhiu o ʻAmelika: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

On the Big Island, Hui Pono Holoholona is a nonprofit in Mountain View that spays and neuters pets and feral animals. The organizations stated this on its Facebook page: “A sterilization lasts 20 minutes, the suffering of an abandoned animal lasts his lifetime.”


The word holoholona is part of the title of several children’s books.

Part of the keiki’s first books series is “Say It in Hawaiian: Nā Holoholona Maioli (Native Animals)” by Wren and Maile. It’s available at thriftbooks.com and amazon.com.

Another children’s book is “Nā Waiho’olu’u a me Holoholona: The Colors & Animals in ‘Ōlelo Hawaiʻi.” The bright and beautifully illustrated photo book of well-known farm animals and their colors was published in August 2022 by Makanui Kitahara.


And if you like to cook, there is Holoholona Spice Bundle or “Meat Lovers Bundle” for $44.95 on bellalicious.com.

“This Meat Lovers Bundle is dedicated to all the carnivores out there, whether you prefer beef, pork, lamb or poultry. It is perfect to spice up your next BBQ with interesting flavors and light up your dinner guests. Our Holoholona Spice Bundle offers you 3 characteristic flavors of classic favorites meat dishes with a bellalicious twist: create the best Hawaiian meats dishes on your BBQ, oven or stove.”

And in 2016, designer Bri O’Neal of Lynchburg, Va. created a line of clothing and accessories called “Holoholona.”

The “Holoholona” line by designer Bri O’Neal of Lynchburg, Va.

“I gained inspiration for this project after I went on an amazing trip to Hawai’i,” she wrote on her website. “The title, Holoholona, means animal in Hawaiian and each illustrated pattern is based off of the tribal tattoos that many of the natives have. I went with an overall bright and eye catching color scheme because the nature in Hawaiʻi is full of color and life, with brilliant flowers and bright greens everywhere.” 

Editor’s Note: Each day in February, we have a new “Hawaiian Word of the Day” during Mahina ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, Hawaiian Language Month. Check out the other words of the day on the Big Island website by clicking here.


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