Definition of tiki in US English:



  • A large wooden or small greenstone image of a human figure.

    • ‘Tipi wore a greenstone tiki around her neck that had been passed down through many generations.’
    • ‘When we see people wearing greenstone tiki or bones around their necks, we can laugh, but that is a way of giving the culture a status that means that it will actually survive.’
    • ‘No, what he felt for was the little smooth object sewn at the back of his silver fern, a greenstone tiki presented by the Maori people of Hawera.’
    • ‘A throwback to the Polynesian craze that swept North America in the '50s and '60s, the restaurant is full of Eastern Island statuettes, wooden tikis and a Hawaiian ukulele soundtrack.’


Maori, literally ‘image’. tiki (sense 2 of the noun) represents an independent development, which first became widespread in the mid 20th century in the US tourist industry.