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Shibai (pronounced like: "she buy," with a slight vocal inflection on the second syllable) is a popular term commonly used in the state of Hawaii. Its general meaning refers to someone who is viewed as being "pretentious" or overtly "hypocritical."

The term is used mostly regarding social interactions. It can be heard being used in reference to the political system in general, or applied to political actions, policies, even individual politicians that are deemed untrustworthy, shady or disingenuous.

The word "shibai" entered into the common local vocabulary of Hawaii by way of introduction from Japanese immigrants. The original Japanese language word, 芝居, literally translates as "a play" or "a dramatic performance," but is also used to describe a situation when someone is merely pretending or being insincere, as if performing a stage role: e.g., 芝居だよ! - "...(s)he is only playacting!" or, "'s all just an act!"

As a result of becoming popular in informal conversation, "shibai" can also be used even in what would be considered more "formal" venues, such as the local daily newspapers[1] and even on local televised news broadcasts throughout Hawaii, especially during an election season.


  1. ^ David Shapiro. What reform? It's all shibai Honolulu Advertiser. Wednesday, May 5, 2004