[poi, poh-ee]
a Hawaiian dish made of the root of the taro baked, pounded, moistened, and fermented.

1815–25; < Hawaiian

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World English Dictionary
poi1 (pɔɪ, ˈpəʊɪ)
a Hawaiian dish made of the root of the taro baked, pounded to a paste, and fermented
[C19: from Hawaiian]

poi2 (pɔɪ)
(NZ) a ball of woven flax swung rhythmically in poi dances

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1823, from Hawaiian poi "food made from taro root."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


starchy Polynesian food paste made from the taro root. In Samoa and other Pacific islands, poi is a thick paste of pounded bananas or pineapples mixed with coconut cream; the word originally denoted the action of pounding the food to a pulp. In Hawaii, where poi is a staple of local cuisine, taro root is used almost exclusively for its preparation. The peeled roots are cooked, pounded, mixed with water to the desired consistency, and strained to remove fibres. The resultant bland, bluish gray paste is eaten fresh or allowed to ferment for up to a week to develop a tangy taste. Hawaiians traditionally did not use eating utensils, and poi is still characterized as one-, two-, or three-finger, according to the technique necessary to scoop up a mouthful. The luau (q.v.), a Hawaiian banquet, is sometimes called a poi supper.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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