When you think of Easter Island, you probably think of the big stone moai (see Wikipedia), not of the island’s linguistic content. But think again!

Recently, I came to learn of the word tingo (from Rapa Nui – also known as Rapanui, Pascuan, or Pascuense). Its short 5-letter appearance and 2-syllable sound belie a much more insidious meaning: to borrow things from a friend’s house, one object at a time, until there is nothing left.

I don’t know very much about Easter Island culture, but it seems a tad strange that there should be a word to describe this type of behavior. However, maybe it’s only a matter of time until this word is adopted into our respective languages. Now that I think about it, I feel like I’ve probably come across a few tingoers in my lifetime. 😛

Want to read more about other uncommon words? 🙂 See the Interesting Words page.

World Wide Words