wahine

noun

wa·​hi·​ne wä-ˈhē-nē How to pronounce wahine (audio)
-(ˌ)nā
1
: a Polynesian woman
2
: a female surfer

Did you know?

The word wahine came into English in the late 18th century from Maori, the language of a Polynesian people native to New Zealand; it was originally used for a Maori woman, especially a wife. The word is also used for a woman in Hawaiian and Tahitian, though spelled "vahine" in the latter. Enormous waves, which are perfect for surfing, are an attraction of the Polynesian islands. As the surfing culture solidified in the mid-20th century, and as more and more girls and women grabbed their boards, "wahine" took on the new meaning of "female surfer."

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Which American wahine is the first surfer in history to win Olympic and world titles in the same year? San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 June 2022

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wahine.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Maori & Hawaiian, woman

First Known Use

1773, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of wahine was in 1773

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near wahine

Cite this Entry

“Wahine.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wahine. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

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