[ muh-kahy ]
/ məˈkaɪ /
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adverb Hawaii.
toward or by the sea; seaward: He agreed to purchase the land makai of Diamond Head Road.
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Compare mauka.

Origin of makai

<Hawaiian, equivalent to ma directional particle + kai ocean
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does makai mean?

Makai means toward the sea.

Makai is a common term in Hawaiian that has been adopted into English. It describes the location of something in terms of being near or at the ocean, or seaward.

Related to makai is mauka, meaning “toward the mountains or inland.” People in Hawaii often give directions in terms of whether something is toward the ocean (makai) or the mountains (mauka), especially in boating and sea travel.

Example: The hiking trail makai of the reservation has lovely ocean views.

Where does makai come from?

The first records of the term makai in English come from around the 1870s.

It is a Hawaiian term that combines ma, meaning “beside, at, on, or toward,” and kai, meaning “ocean.”

In English, makai is almost exclusively used in Hawaii and by people from Hawaii. For example, when a ship is parallel with the coast, one side is makai, that is, facing the ocean, while the side is mauka, facing inland.

Due to makai’s association with Hawaiian culture, it is sometimes used as the name for products, companies, services, or businesses with a Hawaiian theme or that are located in the state.

Did you know … ?

What are some synonyms for makai?

What are some words that share a root or word element with makai

What are some words that often get used in discussing makai?

How is makai used in real life?

Makai is most commonly used by people living in Hawaii or from Hawaii.


Try using makai!

True or False?

Makai means toward the mountains.

How to use makai in a sentence