As an uneducated mainland American, I've always assumed that the word aloha just means "hello" or "goodbye" in Hawaiian, but I recently found out that it's much more significant than only that. Apparently, it can also mean "love", "affection", "peace", "mercy", and "compassion", and represents an entire way of life for the native Hawaiian people. Originally, though, it meant "love", and there are several cognates across Polynesian languages: aroha in Maori, aropa in Anuta, arofa in Tahitian, alofa in Samoan, and more. It's reconstructed to the Proto-Polynesian word qarofa, which also meant "love" and might sound more like "adofa" to English speakers.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.