• synonyms


[pah-hoh-ey-hoh-ey, puh-hoh-ee-hoh-ee]
  1. basaltic lava having a smooth or billowy surface.
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Compare aa.

Origin of pahoehoe

First recorded in 1855–60, pahoehoe is from the Hawaiian word pāhoehoe
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pahoehoe

Historical Examples

  • She will fill up your fishing grounds with the pahoehoe (lava), and you will starve.

    The Book of Missionary Heroes

    Basil Mathews

  • Pahoehoe: The sterile, flintlike lava as distinguished from aa, the friable and highly fertile lava.

    Legends of Wailuku

    Charlotte Hapai

  • Ke-au-miki stood looking for a path, but could only see what seemed to be pahoehoe lava.

    Legends of Gods and Ghosts (Hawaiian Mythology)

    W. D. (William Drake) Westervelt

Word Origin and History for pahoehoe


"ropy lava," 1859, from Hawaiian.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pahoehoe in Science


  1. A type of lava having a smooth, swirled surface. It is highly fluid and spreads out in shiny sheets. Compare aa.
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Word History: The islands that make up Hawaii were born and bred from volcanoes that rose up over thousands of years from the sea floor. Volcanoes are such an important part of the Hawaiian landscape and environment that the people who originally settled Hawaii, the Polynesians, worshiped a special volcano goddess, Pele. Not surprisingly, two words have entered English from Hawaiian that are used by scientists in naming different kinds of lava flows. One, pahoehoe, refers to lava with a smooth, shiny, or swirled surface and comes from the Hawaiian verb hoe, “to paddle” (since paddles make swirls in the water). The other, aa, refers to lava having a rough surface and comes from the Hawaiian word meaning “to burn.”
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.