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Wiki. Don’t you? But have you ever wondered what wiki means?

WikiLeaks has been in the news lately because it released a document that encompasses over 91,000 reports covering the war in Afghanistan. Wikileaks is a site that obtains and publishes sensitive material and is designed to protect whistleblowers, journalists, and activists. 

Wiki is the abbreviation of WikiWikiWeb, which was the first wiki software. It’s actually a Hawaiianword that means “fast.”

As a noun, wiki means a collaborative website that can be directly edited using only a web browser. (And yes, this definition comes straight off of Wikipedia.) It is also used as a verb. If you wiki, you are either researching a topic on a wiki or contributing one.

The word has been translated into a number of languages. In Estonian it is viki; in Welsh it is wici.

Are you a wikiholic? If you are, you probably already know what the word means. A wikiholic devotes a vast amount of time to wiki-based projects.

A word from one language that enters another is called a loanword. Wiki is not the only word on loan from Hawaiian. Aloha, which means “hello,” “love,” and “good-bye,” is used frequently by English speakers. (Although, it is likely that no Hawaiian word is as widely used as wiki.) And there is another tech company with a Hawaiian name, Mahalo, which means “thank you.” Let’s not forget, luau, hula, and kahuna, among others.

Incidentally, avocado is a loanword too, and the Aztecs called it the “fertility fruit.” Here’s why.

There are some Hawaiian words that for one reason or another will probably never be adopted by the English language. An example would be humuhumunukunukuapuaa. Tell us what you think the word means, or what it sounds like it should mean, and we will add the most creative offering to the blog post later (as well as the actual definition.)

Thank you for all the fun play-definitions of humuhumunukunukuapuaa, which is of course “either of two triggerfishes.”  Our pick for the most creative comes from Mark: “A small, carniverous marsupial that lurks in trees and drops down onto prey. The straight Translation means ‘Furred Domination in the skies.’” Lucky for us, the actual creature is far more benign.

54 Comments

  1. Tim -  November 19, 2013 - 7:22 pm

    Humuhumunukunukuapuaa is the state fish of Hawaii. I know this is not a very creative answer, but it’s the correct answer. I should know, I live in Hawaii.

    Reply
  2. sixtus -  October 11, 2013 - 3:40 pm

    humunuhumunukunukuapuaa has no meaning

    Reply
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