Gossiping - Lady with hand over mouth

Trini Phrase: Maco

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

In Trinidad and Tobago, the term “maco” is widely recognized and refers to someone who is excessively curious and always meddling in other people’s affairs. As a result, it has become a cultural symbol representing both positive and negative aspects of Trinidadian society. This post delves into the term’s origin, its common usage, and the rich language of Trinidad.

The History of the Word “Maco”

“Maco, macco, mako, makko, and marko” are verbs that describe gossiping or peeping at something that is meant to be private. It refers to someone who is overly curious about other people’s affairs. This term may have originated from the French word “ma commère” (ma.ko.mè patios), which means “pimp.” Another possible derivation is from the Hindi word “jhānkanā” (झांकना), which means to peep at or look at something secretly.

Kaiso by The Mighty Sparrow about Maccos

During the 18th century, Trinidad was still under British colonial rule when the term “maco” was first used. It referred to a person who acted as a go-between or pimp, facilitating the sale of goods or services between the British colonizers and the locals. As time passed, the meaning of the word changed and “maco” evolved into a term used to describe someone who was excessively curious and meddled in the affairs of others.

Do you macco?

Example Uses of “Maco”

In Trinidad and Tobago, the term “maco” is commonly used to negatively label someone overly curious or meddling in other people’s affairs. For instance, a nosy neighbour who frequently inquires about personal matters or tries to snoop around in others’ homes might be called a “maco.” Likewise, someone who engages in gossip or spreads rumours may also be called a “maco.”

Nevertheless, “maco” does not always have a negative connotation. Sometimes, it may denote someone who takes an interest in the world around them. For example, a genuinely curious about their friend’s life and enjoys keeping up with current events may be called a “friendly maco” or a “harmless maco.”

The Vibrancy of the Trinidadian Language

Trinidadian English is a fascinating language known for its vibrancy, diversity, and unique expressions. The language reflects Trinidad and Tobago’s cultural melting pot, blending elements of African, European, and East Indian languages to create a colourful tapestry of words and phrases. For instance, “maco” is just one of the many unique expressions in Trinidadian English.

The language heavily draws its influence from the African and East Indian languages spoken by the island’s enslaved and indentured labourers during the colonial era. As a result, Trinidadian English is a vibrant and expressive Creole language full of colourful expressions and idioms, reflecting the island’s diverse cultural heritage. Words like “liming” (hanging out with friends) and “bacchanal” (a noisy or chaotic situation) are just a few examples of the language’s rich cultural history.

Macoing Guide

The number one rule for being a good maco is to not get caught!

Under Maco – Caribbean Usage

“Maco” is a term used in the Caribbean to describe someone who gossips and causes trouble. It’s commonly used in Dominica, Grenada, Belize, and St. Lucia. In Trinidad, it’s modified into adjectives like “macocious” and “maccocious.”

There is a maxim in Trinidad that your macometer may be huge if you have an interest in gossip all the time.

Trini macometer: A cerebral mechanism, especially unique to Trinis that permits for the detection, retention and repetition of other people’s business. (Source: http://www.skettel.com).


The language spoken in Trinidad, known as Trinidadian English, reflects the island’s rich cultural background. It incorporates elements of African, European, and East Indian languages resulting in a dynamic assortment of words and expressions. As a result, “Maco” is an important part of Trinidadian dialect, despite its negative meaning. It’s fascinating to observe how language transforms and mirrors the distinctive cultural identity of a location.


Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad & Tobago by Lise Winer

Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage by Richard Allsopp

The Theory and Practice of Creole Grammar by Thomas, J. J. (John Jacob)

Featured Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay


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