Posted in Language at 10:18 am by Mithridates

I have been getting a lot of searches for the definition of the Hawaiian word heluhelu (when I say a lot, I mean about 10). It had been mentioned in my post about Hawaiian language revival classes. Using this very nice online Hawaiian dictionary, the definition is:


1. v. To read, count. (2 Nal. 23.2.) Mea heluhelu, reader (either a book, or a person who reads). Poʻe heluhelu, reader (person). Aʻo heluhelu, reader (book); to learn to read.

2. Redup. of helu 4; to scratch.

As an aside, the University of Hawai’i will be offering a Master’s Degree program in Hawaiian studies (via Languistics):

The College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature will offer a Masters of Arts in Hawaiian as an effort to revive the Hawaiian language, emphasize the study of Hawaiian literature and improve teacher-training in schools.


  1. Cathy said,

    May 24, 2005 at 3:10 pm

    Scholastic Book Company is doing a summer reading promotion and is using a purple rubber band bracelet that says read on one side and heluhelu on the other! That may be one reason for all of the interest.

  2. patricia said,

    June 5, 2005 at 6:06 pm

    MY child got a rubber bracelet from their school librarian that reads: READ on one side and HELUHELU on the other, now I know what it means, thanks

  3. Sualeh Fatehi said,

    June 7, 2005 at 7:51 pm

    Thanks! This helped my daughter and me. She got a purple bracelet from Scholastic, which says “Read” and “Heluhelu”.

  4. Darren O'Connor said,

    July 6, 2005 at 12:55 am

    My son came home with a purple bracelet that says heluhelu/read. We are having troubles finding out how to pronounce the word. Are the “U”s pronounced like an “A” or a “U”? Thanks in advance for any information you might have.

  5. melissa marks said,

    September 16, 2005 at 9:04 pm

    My daughter came home from school with a purple bracelet that said heluheu and read as well… I guess she gets that Snickers bar from her teacher on Monday since we found out it is Hawaiian language…lol..thanks!

  6. Carter said,

    October 28, 2005 at 8:00 pm

    I frequently surf in Hawai’i (3 months a year), and I also teach 5th grade in Oklahoma. Last year, my students were given this infamous purple bracelet through a reading program. Everyone was asking me how to pronounce the word heluhelu, and I pronounced the u with a long /oo/ sound (say lu as in Lucy). ha’ee’lu is how I say it, then again I am not native so I could be wrong.

  7. Gwendolyn said,

    December 3, 2005 at 11:05 am

    My daughter bought the very same bracelet from a book fair in her school. She too was curious about heluhelu. Thanks for the interpretation!

  8. Selina said,

    December 6, 2005 at 1:40 pm

    I believe it would be said Hay Loo Hay Loo, if I remember correctly from when I had a quick language lesson in Hawaii. Thank you for this, I got one of the purple bracelets for my daughter too when she joined the library summer reading club.

  9. Tee said,

    December 7, 2005 at 1:34 pm

    Hee hee… I’m here for the same reason - this infamous purple bracelet. My son came home from school with one from the librarian yesterday for some reading challenge he won. I have no idea why I was so curious that I absolutly had to search for it but I did. Now I know. Thank you! I like heluhelu! :)

  10. Ann said,

    December 23, 2005 at 5:37 pm

    Thanks for illuminating! Love Hawaii and hope the culture is preserved forever.

  11. Anonymous said,

    May 25, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    sweet…i got one of those wristbands, too. i was a little scared, wearing something that I didn’t know what it said. thanks for dissipating my fear.

  12. Anonymous said,

    June 9, 2006 at 3:22 pm


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