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Stefan Sandberg wrote:
As far as I know, 'lua' became slang for restroom in hawaii after portuguese explorers used it to ask for the bathroom,
hinting at the carving of a crescent moon often decorating the door.

No idea where the origins of the martial art comes from though, but I doubt it's related, no :)

[Sorry in advance if this is getting to OT]

In the old days, outhouses are huts that have a hole in the ground. Hole == lua. Why would anyone carve a crescent moon on the door of an outhouse? Mythology around the Pacific had a lot to say about 'princesses on the moon' kind of myths, so it is highly unlikely one would do something so negative as to associate a crescent moon with an outhouse. Also there is no intuitive match in meaning from crescent moon to outhouse.

Are you sure someone wasn't pulling your leg? :-) Some independent confirmation of the story would be a good thing.

Roberto Ierusalimschy wrote:
I was reading this Pacific Mythology book and bumped into something that may help further clarify (or confuse) the issue of the meaning of Lua in Hawaiian.

Search Google for "hawaiian dictionary lua", and click on the link that has the Hawaiian-English Google Book. It shows more clearly the meanings of Lua.

'Toilet' seems to be modern usage, and hole/cave thing seems to be the original meaning. [...]

If we search for "hawaiian lua" (without "dictionary") we get lots of
stuff about a martial art called Lua. Do you (or someone else) know how
this other meaning fits in? (They do not seem to worry about fighting a
style called "toilet" ;)

-- Roberto

Kein-Hong Man (esq.)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia