Common lexicalizations

An important part of toki pona philosophy is that the speaker must think about what something is at its core before they can talk about it. Fixed phrases for specific things (also known as lexicalizations) are frowned upon, as they sidestep that aspect, while also forcing other speakers to memorize such combinations and making it difficult to use them to refer to other things. Nonetheless, some lexicalizations do creep into common usage. This page aims to catalog them and provide ideas for alternatives (which doesn't mean you shouldn't try to think of your own).

Featured in puEdit

Phrase Meaning Alternatives
toki pona[1] the language of good by Sonja Lang toki ni, toki pi jan Sonja, toki lili, toki pi nimi lili
tomo tawa[2] car ilo tawa, poki tawa, soweli ilo
telo nasa alcoholic drink telo pan, telo ike, telo pona
jan pona friend jan poka, jan olin (for close friends), jan mi
jan lili child jan kili (if as in offspring), jan sin (if as in young)
  1. Same goes for sitelen pona and such.
  2. Funnily enough, pu uses this as part of a call not to lexicalize, proposing ilo tawa from the perspective of a driver and kiwen tawa for a near-hit pedestrian.

Time phrasesEdit

Phrase Meaning Alternatives
tenpo [suno/esun/mun/sike] day/week/month/year sike [], []
tenpo pini past tenpo majuna, tenpo tan, tenpo weka, tenpo kiwen, tenpo mama
tenpo ni present tenpo lon, tenpo mi, tenpo pi toki ni
tenpo kama future tenpo sin, tenpo tawa, tenpo pi sona ala, tenpo ken, tenpo kili


Phrase Meaning Alternatives
ma pona the Discord server ma pona pi toki pona ma ni, ma pi suli nanpa wan, ma pi akesi Jan
jan sin newbie, especially in a toki pona context jan pi kama sona, jan pi sona lili
nimi sin word created after pu/ku[1] nimi namako, nimi pi [pu/ku] ala, nimi nasa
kasi nasa marijuana and its derivatives such as edibles, vapes moku nasa, moku pi lawa weka, kasi pi pilin nasa, kasi pi wile moku
pana sona to teach, teaching, education mi pana e sona, sina kama sona tan mi
soweli tomo pet soweli pona, soweli poka, soweli mi, soweli jan
ken la maybe ni li ken
supa lape bed ilo lape, supa ko
kalama musi music musi kalama, kalama nasin, kulupu kalama, kalama pona
  1. Or worse: any word not in a given official set, including ones created before it.