In Hawaiʻi, "mahalo" might officially mean "thank you"

Raymond Chen

In Hawaiʻi, you see the word Mahalo on signs everywhere. In theory, the word means Thank you, but my friend Joe Beda pointed out that in practice the word has a completely different meaning. Here are some examples:

  • We do not accept coupons at this location. Mahalo.
  • No refills. Mahalo.
  • This counter is closed. Mahalo.
  • Elevator is out of order. Please use stairs. Mahalo.
  • Rest rooms for customers only. Mahalo.

In practice, the word mahalo means You’re screwed.

Obligatory clarification: This was a joke, an attempt at observational humor.


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