Terms that every Singaporean should know

Singaporeans are an interesting lot.

Having a country as a melting pot of different types of race and cultures, would eventually create an interesting dish of a custom. Sometimes it’s so intertwined that it’s even hard to tell, which is an Indian, Chinese or a Malay custom.

The way we talk also is an amalgam of the different languages that we’ve come to call it affectionately – Singlish.

For example :

“Aiyo! Why lidat? Eber-itaim arrow and sabo me. Heng ah!”

Foreigners might scratch their heads trying to catch heads and tails of what a native would say here – but let me try to make it easier for you to understand :

Here is a list of phrases commonly said by a Singaporean

Lah:

Commonly used as an expression at the end of some sentences.

1.”Why are you so like that lah?”
2. “I dont know, lah!”

With “lah”, it gives a boost to a statement. Rather than just saying, “I don’t know”, adding a lah at the end will make an emphasis that the speaker really doesn’t know.

Wah lau:

An expression of “oh my goodness” or “wow” or “damn” depending on the tone of voice used.

1. “Wah lau. Simple like this also you cock up.”
2. “How can you do this to me? Wah lau”

Take note that in Singlish, semantics and grammar are not important and sentences are usually shortened as much as possible.

Abothen:

An equivalent of “of couse!” “duh!” A sarcastic response to an obvious statement or question

1.”Wah, see you got wear so swee-swee… confirm you tonight go pak tor, lor!”

Buat bodoh:

To feign ignorance or to play dumb

Buaya :

Malay for crocodile. Used to describe a wolf or a sleazy pick up artist.

Dao :

Arrogant and haughty

Gerek:

Malay, used to describe a situation that is cool or groovy.

1. “Did you see Ahmad’s new motorcycle? So gerek!

Jambu:

Used to describe a beautiful woman. Derived from a name of a local juicy fruit

1. “Check out that minah! Jambu!”

Kan Cheong:

A Cantonese and Hokkien term meaning nervous, harried or uptight.

1.”Your exam in June, now only March, you kan-cheong for what?”

The exam’s in June and now it’s only March. What are you getting so nervous about? Kan cheong can be further boosted by saying, “Kan Cheong Spider”

Kepo / Kaypoh:

A busybody or nosey parker. Can also be used as an adjective or verb.

1. 1A is so kepo! Everything also want to see.

Translated as : 1A is such a busybody! He wants to poke his nose into everything he sees!

Mafan:

Mandarin for “bother” or “bothersome”; used either as a verb or adjective.

Shack:

To be extremely tired

1. “After taking care of all the monkeys in the zoo today, I feel so shack man”

Shiok:

Originally a Malay exclamation, but now a universal Singaporean expression denoting extreme pleasure or the highest quality.

1. This Hor Fun is so delicious man! Eat the noodle until shiok!

Siam:

Hokkien term for “get out of the way”. You can use this word by itself to shoo people away, or in the sense of making oneself scarce or dodging a task.

Sian:

A wonderfully concise Hokkien adjective which conveys boredom, weariness, frustration and emptiness.

Siao:

Hokkien for “mad” or “crazy”

Some kids from 1A were reading my blog today. I’ve *no* idea how they chanced to my address. Its’ a good thing that I never put in anything really secretive!

By the way, to all the 1A students reading this, you’re ALL going to detention. I’ve got all your IP addresses!

I’m watching you!

12 thoughts on “Terms that every Singaporean should know”

  1. Sorry, I dont know of any androgenous student in 1A by the name of krysss, who has white wings and in love with amazon.com 😛

    Maybe if I was living in the Yew-Ess-of-Aye might help *chuckles*

  2. Metalise,

    Young lady, I will have a word with your parents soon. In the meantime, please see the discipline master.

    Thank you

    *strangles metalise*

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