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[tee-kee] /ˈti ki/
(initial capital letter) (in Polynesian mythology) the first man on earth.
(in Polynesian cultures) a carved image, as of a god or ancestor, sometimes worn as a pendant around the neck.
Origin of tiki
1875-80; < Maori and Marquesan Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for tiki
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • tiki was the first man, and when he died, ruled the entrance of the under-world.

    Evolution in Art Alfred C. Haddon
  • As he had made man in his own likeness he called him tiki-ahua or tiki's likeness.

    Darwin and Modern Science A.C. Seward and Others
  • To the Marquesan these are all tiki, or charms, which have superseded their own.

  • I have never looked upon Brutus as anything of an original genius, but tiki Whenua most certainly was.

    Old New Zealand Earl of Pembroke.
  • Man was made by tiki, who took red clay, and kneaded it with his own blood, or with the red water of swamps.

  • Go, my son, and with that gain an entrance into the palace of tiki, and do not come to this world again to disturb or alarm us.

    Curiosities of Superstition

    W. H. Davenport Adams
  • I have never looked upon Brutus as anything of an original genius; but tiki Whenua most certainly was.

    Old New Zealand: 'A Pakeha Maori' [Frederick Edwa [Maning]
  • Each ghost on his arrival had to make an offering to the warder tiki, who, thus propitiated, admitted him to the house.

British Dictionary definitions for tiki


an amulet or figurine in the form of a carved representation of an ancestor, worn in some Māori cultures
(intransitive) (NZ) to take a scenic tour around an area
Word Origin
from Māori
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tiki



"large wooden image of the creator-ancestor of Maoris and Polynesians," 1777, from Eastern Polynesian tiki "image." Tiki torch is first recorded 1973.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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