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Singlish 101: Kiasu


After 3 years here, I still don’t think I am qualified just yet to write about Singlish, the peculiar brand of english being spoken here. The definition varies from “place”: to “place”: , but you know one when you hear one.

It is fun sometimes to listen to them, some even go so far as saying it is charming. Personally I can’t stand a full day of it 😛 I’m not saying it’s bad. It is a culture, and it can only be different, not good nor bad. It’s just the high pitches.. The vocabulary are actually hilarious.

One of the first singlish word you would learn here is ‘kiasu’, which means afraid to lose, in a sense. The A to Z of kiasu philosophy should explain the expression in full. This word is especially used a lot now, with the Great Singapore Sales going on.

Kiasu (adj)

Pronounced ‘kee-a-soo’.
Derived from the Hokkien dialect meaning afraid to lose out to others or not to lose face.

Example: He sent his family to line up in different queues for the same item, so kiasu.

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