Monument Features

Cultural Feature: Hawaiian names for wind, clouds and rain

Hawaiians have many specific names for sky conditions and cloud formations. Some of these names are specific to certain areas, and many are quite descriptive, illustrating their deep connection to physical surroundings and natural processes. Here are a few Hawaiian names for clouds, rain and wind:

  • ao puaʻa - cumulus clouds of various sizes piled together, like a mother pig with piglets clustered around her. The Kona coast is famous for ao puaʻa, a sign of good weather and no impending storms.
  • ao pehupehu - continually growing cumulus typical of summer. Drifting with the tradewinds, these clouds pick up moisture and darken at their base, finally releasing their rain on the windward mountain cliffs.
  • hoʻomalumalu - sheltering cloud
  • hoʻoweliweli - threatening cloud
  • ānuenue - rainbow, a favorable omen
  • ua loa - extended rainstorm
  • ua poko - short rain spell
  • Kūkalahale – name of a rain and wind famous at Honolulu.
  • kili hau – ice-cold shower, or cold drizzle.
  • makani - general term for wind. The prevailing northeast trade winds of Hawaiʻi are called moaʻe, aʻe, aʻe loa, Moaʻe Lehua, or moaʻe pehu. A leeward wind is a Kona wind.
  • Kaiāulu – name of a gentle trade-wind breeze famous in song at Waiʻanae, Oʻahu.
  • ʻōlauniu – name of a wind on Hawaiʻi. A figurative translation means promiscuous, and a literal translation means coconut-leaf piercing.
Ānuenue - rainbow, a favorable omen.
Ānuenue - rainbow, a favorable omen. Photo Credit: James Watt

Sources: Pukui/Elbert, "Hawaiian Dictionary."

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