October 1, 2022
  • Menu
  • Menu

Useful Fijian Words and Phrases

Home » Fijian Culture 101 » Fijian Language » Useful Fijian Words and Phrases

Editor’s Note: Vinaka to the late Dr. Albert Schutz for offering visitors this primer on useful Fijian words and phrases. Schutz is the author of the best selling Say it in Fijian and Fijian Reference Grammar

Useful Words, Phrases and concepts for the Visitor

  • yes – io
  • no – sega                        Reminder: G here represents the ng in sing.
  • work – cakacaka           Reminder: C here represents the th in then, not thin.
  • bad – cā                         This is an example of a long vowel.
  • beer – bia                      Don’t forget the m in front of the b: mb.
  • big, many – levu
  • bird – manumanu vuka    The v-sound is close to the English v, but made with both lips.
  • boy, male – tagane
  • cassava, tapioca – tavioka
  • child – gone
  • comb – i-seru
  • cup – bilo
  • eat – kana
  • fish – ika
  • food – kākana              Note the long vowel. This word has two accents.
  • girl, female – yalewa
  • handsome, beautiful – totoka – (toe-toe-kah)
  • happy, satisfied – mārau
  • house – vale
  • kava – yaqona              Reminder: the q is pronounced as the ng in finger.
  • kava bowl – tānoa
  • man – tagane
  • man – tūraga
  • matches – māsese
  • money – ilavo
  • pot – kuro
  • sleeping house – bure
  • small – lailai
  • smart – mātai
  • stone – vatu
  • stupid or crazy – lialia
  • taro – dalo
  • tobacco – tavako
  • today – nikua
  • toilet – vale lailai
  • tomorrow – ni mataka
  • tree – vū ni kau
  • village – koro
  • whale’s tooth – tabua
  • woman – marama
  • yesterday – nanoa

Some Useful Concepts

  • killing time, fooling around – moku siga
  • wandering around – gade
  • go slowly, take your time – vaka malua
  • eat heartily – kana vaka levu
  • taboo, forbidden – tabu
  • exclamation of regret or joy– isa, isa lei
  • ashamed, shy – maduā
  • go ahead and try – tovolea mada
  • a request – kerekere

Some Useful Phrases

  • Where are you going? (Interestingly enough there are no literal equivalents for ‘How are you?’ Instead, Fijians might ask a friend they see on the street this, which is as much a greeting as it is a question.) – O sā lako i vei?
  • Good day (a polite greeting and one of the first Fijian phrases you will hear). – Nī bula.
  • A less formal greeting (literally ‘health’ and ‘life’). – Bula.
  • Good morning. – Nī sā yadra.
  • Goodbye/Good night (literally, ‘sleep’). – Nī sā moce.
  • Come here. – Lako mai ekē.
  • Good/Thank you. – Vinaka.
  • Thank you very much. – Vinaka vaka-levu.
  • Where do you come from? – O nī lako mai vei?
  • I come from New Zealand. – Au lako mai Niu Siladi.
  • What’s this? A cava oqō?
  • It’s a _____. – E dua na _____.

Top photo of Mr Roko Nubutautau courtesy of Rob Rickman

©2022 Dr. Albert J. Schütz

Skip to toolbar