variants or Haka
plural hakas or Hakas
: a traditional Maori dance that is typically performed in a group and involves rhythmic usually vigorous movements (such as foot stamping, body slapping, and swaying), intimidating postures and facial expressions, and loud chanting and that is expressive especially of pride, strength, and unity
… the Maoris fall in with 200 other shirtless men and begin the haka. They shout, roll their eyes, stick out their tongues as far as they will stretch and make threatening gestures at an unseen foe.Ben Machell
In New Zealand, groups have performed the Haka, an ancient Maori war dance of forceful pride and unity.Sarah L. Kaufman
One of the ordeals any [rugby] team playing New Zealand must face is enduring the haka. … It is as menacing a spectacle as any in sport, 15 black-clad, muscular warriors all chanting together in perfect time, gesturing with fist, flexing their arms, grimacing, and issuing a final bloodcurdling shout as they leap high into the air.Huw Richards

Examples of haka in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Regardless, both incidents are part of a complex history of the haka’s place in professional sports. Greg McKenna,, 1 Aug. 2023 During the 2007 Rugby World Cup, France was fined for famously coming within inches of New Zealand players during the haka. Greg McKenna,, 1 Aug. 2023 New Zealand national teams are known for performing a haka, a ceremonial Maori war challenge, before matches; its men’s rugby team has been doing so for over a century. Rachel Pannett, Washington Post, 20 July 2023 The haka is loud and impressive, but while it is meant to intimidate, today's haka seems to have the opposite effect on the Americans. Eliza Strickland, Discover Magazine, 23 Mar. 2010 Each battalion in the New Zealand Army has its own haka, with its own words that the soldiers hiss and bellow. Luke Mogelson, The New Yorker, 26 Dec. 2022 At their Tokyo Olympics medal ceremony, Team New Zealand performed a traditional haka dance in unison. Lindsay Kimble,, 31 July 2021 The haka is a ceremonial dance with roots in the Maori history of New Zealand, and the bellowing roars and powerful moves are traditionally used to display strength and unity. Lindsay Kimble,, 31 July 2021 When New Zealand soldiers are killed overseas, their units welcome home their caskets with a haka—the ceremonial Maori dance. Luke Mogelson, The New Yorker, 26 Dec. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'haka.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Maori

First Known Use

1828, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of haka was in 1828

Dictionary Entries Near haka

Cite this Entry

“Haka.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

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