Discovering Singlish: 67 Unique Words and Phrases from Singapore's Colorful Dialect

November 7, 2023

Singapore, a vibrant and multicultural city-state, is known for its diverse linguistic landscape. One of the most fascinating aspects of Singapore's linguistic tapestry is "Singlish." Singlish is a unique and colloquial variety of English spoken in Singapore, influenced by various languages and cultures, including Malay, Chinese, Tamil, and more. In this blog, we'll explore 100 Singlish words and phrases, each with its own distinctive meaning, adding a touch of humor, warmth, and local flavor to daily communication.

1. Lah: "Lah" is a ubiquitous Singlish particle used to add emphasis or soften requests. For example, "Don't be late, lah" adds a hint of urgency to a simple request.

2. Siao: When someone or something is considered crazy or insane, you might hear Singlish speakers say, "You must be siao to do that."

3. Chope: In Singlish, "chope" means to reserve or save a seat or place. It's not uncommon to see someone "chope" a table with a tissue before ordering at a food court.

4. Shiok: If something is delightful or satisfying, it's often described as "shiok." For instance, "This food is shiok!" expresses sheer enjoyment.

5. Kiasu: "Kiasu" is a Singlish term for someone who is afraid of losing out or being overly competitive. It's common to hear, "He's so kiasu, always trying to be first."

6. Blur: When someone seems confused or unaware, you might hear, "He's a bit blur about the meeting time."

7. Jialat: "Jialat" is used to describe something terrible or disastrous. For instance, "That exam was jialat" conveys a sense of difficulty.

8. Sian: "Sian" is an expression of boredom or fed-upness. You might hear someone say, "I'm feeling so sian right now."

9. Bo Jio: If you were left out or not invited to an event, you might say, "You went to the party? Bo jio!" to express your surprise.

10. Can or Not: When Singlish speakers want to check if something is possible, they ask, "Can you help me, can or not?"

11. Aunty and Uncle: In Singapore, it's customary to use respectful terms like "aunty" and "uncle" when addressing older people. It's a sign of politeness.

12. Kena: To be affected by something, often negatively. For example, "I kena scolded by the boss" means you received a reprimand from your superior.

13. Ang Moh: "Ang moh" is a term used to describe a person of Caucasian descent. It's a casual way to refer to someone from Europe or America.

14. Kope: To steal or take something without permission. "Did you kope my pen?" implies that someone took your pen without asking.

15. Steady: If something is impressive or well done, Singlish speakers often say, "Your performance was steady," to offer a compliment.

16. Onz: When someone is ready or prepared for a task, they might say, "I'm onz for the competition" to convey their readiness.

17. Sabo: To sabotage or harm someone, often in a playful manner. "He sabo me during the game" means he played a trick on me during the game.

18. Paiseh: If someone feels embarrassed or ashamed, they might say, "Don't be paiseh, just ask for help," encouraging another person to overcome their shyness.

19. Kopitiam: A "kopitiam" is a traditional Singaporean coffee shop or food court, where locals gather for food and conversation.

20. Jalan: In Singlish, "jalan" simply means to walk or go. For example, "I'm jalan-jalan" means you're going for a leisurely walk.

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