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A "hapa" is an individual of mixed Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, East Asian and/or Southeast Asian heritage. The term is a loanword, based on the English word half, as hāfu is, but, unlike hāfu, the term does not imply an individual is 50%, or half, of a certain race or ethnicity, only that they are mixed race. It is a Hawaiian term, used by English and Hawaiian speakers in Hawaii and California.

Derived from the English word 'half', Native Hawaiians used this word to describe someone who was 'half Hawaiian'. In colonial times, it was often combined with the word 'haole' which meant stranger, foreigner, or white person. As time passed, 'hapa' was used on the Continental United States by Japanese Americans and other Asian to describe a person of partial Asian ancestry. Many Nisei (second generation Japanese Americans) considered the term to be derogatory. Today, 'Hapa' is simply accepted as a way to describe a person of partial Asian ancestry.

Hapa term history