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The Coxford Singlish Dictionary

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Search for keyword:
...or View the Pow-Ka-Leow Index
(78 entries out of 817)

(kay eye vee)
"Keep In View". An acronym from colonial bureaucracy to stand for items, documents or papers that should be kept around for later consideration. This label is found on trays, cabinets and shelves. Essentially used as a verb, in the sense of "to shelve" or "put on the backburner" or "to procrastinate".
1. "I'm busy now, can I KIV it and get back to you?"
2. "If in doubt, just KIV and think about it later."

Acronym for "Kwai Lan Kia", Hokkien for "troublemaking child".
"I hate going to Ngee Ann City. A lot of K.L.K.s like to go there to K.L.K.K.
See also: K.L.K.K.  Kwai Lan  

Acronym for "kia lai kia ker" - Hokkien for "to walk about" or "stroll".
"Eh, let's go Orchard Road and K.L.K.K."

Of Malay origin, the term means to "bother" or "disturb".
"My exam coming, I must study! You all don't come and kachau me, okay?"

KAI KAI  (Contributed by SinnerLee)
Hokkien phrase literally translated as "walk-walk".  Means to go out for a jaunt.
"Come, let's go Far East and kai kai."
See also: K.L.K.K  

KAKI/KAKI-LANG  (Contributed by trashkore)
A word of hybrid origin. "Kaki" in Malay means "legs", while "Kaki" in local Hokkien means "mine" or "my own" ("lang" means persons). Somehow, the Malay and Hokkien words have blurred into a single phrase meaning "buddies" or "close companions".
1. "Next week I'm throwing a party. Call all our usual kaki, lah."
2. John : Eh, Mary, my kaki-lang all not free to go out tomorrow, leh. Can I go out with you or not?
Mary : OK, lor.

(kah-lang kah-bote/ker-lum kah-bote)
A colloquial Malay phrase which describes a chaotic panic or to rush into things in a disorganized and foolhardy manner. "Kalang" means 'group' and 'kelam' means murky, while 'kabut' means 'fog'. The image is of a herd of people stumbling through a dense fog.
1. "Eh, do this sort of thing must be careful, lah. Don't anyhow kalang kabut."
2. "When my boss told me of the new deadline, straightaway I kelam kabut."

See also: Gabra  

Hokkien term meaning "fuck" or "screw".
See examples in: Hong Kan and Kan Ni Na
See also: Lood  Hong Kan  Kan Ni Na  

(kahn chee-ong)
A Cantonese and Hokkien term meaning nervous, harried or uptight.
"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?"

Terms used to describe someone who's kan cheong. "Pi sai" is Hokkien for "nose booger". Can be abbreviated to omit the "kan".
1. "Aiyah, ask him to do this for what? You know he's a bloody kan cheong spider."
2. "Eh, relac can or not? You so kan cheong pi sai for what?"
3. "Wah lau, hurry, hurry, hurry for what? Super cheong spider."

One of the rudest phrases in the lexicon. It means either "fuck you" or "fucking" depending on the context, and amongst hard core Bengs, is used almostlike a punctuation mark.
"Wah kah ee ka ni nah kong, mai aneh kuan!" (I fucking told him not to be like that!)

The rudest phrase of all. Use only if you wish to be beaten up or want other people to think you were raised in a longkang. Literally: "Fuck your mother/Fuck your mother's smelly cunt."
See also: Tiu  

The Hokkien translation of "fuck spider".
See also: Fuck Spider  

KANA LAN NEH  (Contributed by Hikki Takki)
Insulting Hokkien phrase meaning "just like a penis".
"See his face, kana lan neh, like that."

Hokkien corruption meaning, "like shit." Not to be confused with "Kena Sai".
"You listen to him karaoke. His voice kana sai lai dat."

(kahng kohr)
A Hokkien term meaning "troublesome" or "uncomfortable".
1. "This kind of easy work, why you do until so kang kor like that?"
2. "I ask you to do this small thing, so kang kor meh?"

See also: Leceh  Mah fan  

A Hokkien term which is similar to "lobang", but may also be used in the sense of a "secret work technique".
"Don't scared, Uncle here got kang tau one. I show you how to do OK?"
See also: Lobang  

KAPO/KAPOH  (Contributed by Daniel Hong)
Of uncertain origin, this means to steal or pilfer.
"Eh, next time they give out coupons, can kapo one for me?"

To woo and pursue the opposite sex.
"Eh, she damn jude, why not go and kau her, leh?"
See also: Buaya  

(kau pay kau boo)
Hokkien term meaning "to make a lot of noise". Literally: "cry to the father and cry to the mother". Means either to bellyache or nag or cause a hullabaloo. Sometimes all three at the same time. Sometimes shortened to just "kau peh".
"I know I screwed up oreddy! Don't kau peh kau bu, lah!"

KAY  (Contributed by Half-Cocked)
Hokkien for "very" or "additionally". Placed in front of any  number of words for emphasis.
1. "Wah, kay heng man, managed to escape the arrow just now!"
2. "This fella is kay stupid, can,"

KAY KIANG  (Contributed by pklorius)
Hokkien phrase which translates as "acting smart". It is usually used to describe someone as biting off more than one can chew - to be acting smarter than one actually is.
"Eh, this sort of thing better not kay kiang. Wait you sure kena sai."

A busybody or nosey parker. Can also be used as an adjective or verb. If you're Eurasian, you can shorten it to "kayps".
1. "Ah Beng is such a kaypoh."
2. "Don'ch be so kaypoh, can or not?"
3. "Why you go and kaypoh their business?"
4. "You know, that Cedric de Rosario is such a kayps, mane."

Malay for "wood". Used to suggest stupidity.
"Referee kayu!"

A request to keep something a secret. An abbreviation of the English phrase "please keep this to yourself".
"Eh, Ah Lian went to pierce her neh neh pok, you keep to yourself, okay?"

To actively control one's sphincter muscles in order to prevent shit. Often used as a euphemism for self-censorship or self-restriction.
"Aiyah, what to do? I cannot say anything bad about him, so I just kek sai, lor."

KELONG  (Contributed by Raphael Lee)
Originally, a kelong is a wooden structure built above the sea by driving wooden "piles" (made from the trunks of coconut trees, for example) into the seabed and used for commercial fishing. Colloquially, it is a term used to describe any form of cheating or corruption in any competition e.g. soccer.
Heartlander version: "Wah lao, Yishun United goalie normally damn tzai, but this match perform like cock and lose 5-0! Confirm must be kelong one!"
Atas version: "Wah lao, Queen Astrid Park Rangers normally damn cock, but this match somehow can win 5-0! Confirm must be kelong one!"

Malay term which denotes that something has happened. Closest English approximation is "to get".
1. "He kena scolded by the teacher." (He was scolded by the teacher.)
2. "He kena whack by Ah Beng." (He got hit by Ah Beng.)

KENA ... UPSIDE DOWN  (Contributed by Hume)
Denotes having received especially harsh treatment.  Fill in your own verb between 'kena' and 'upside down'.
1. "Wah lau, today I kena screwed upside down by my boss."
2. "Piang, yesterday our football team kena thrash upside down."

KENA JACK  (Contributed by jianhui)
A term originating with the Mats, it means to be trumped, tricked or taken advantage of by someone. Possibly derived from "hijack"
"The score is 1-0... our team all kena jack siah!"

KENA QIE  (Contributed by Melvin Lam)
A hybrid Malay-Mandarin phrase, it is derived from the Malay word 'kena' (meaning 'to be afflicted with') and the Mandarin word 'qie' (meaning "slice").  It is used to describe undergoing something difficult or onerous, such as losing a game.
1."Wah lau! Yesterday's maths exam, kena qie!"
2."Yesterday, I kena qie by Ah Beng in snooker."

A happy marriage of Malay and Chinese meaning to get into trouble. Literally, "got hit by shit."
"He didn't do his homework, so kena sai from the teacher."

Hokkien term meaning "to malinger" or feign sickness.
1. "He got flu, my foot! He's only keng-ing!" (I don't believe he has influenza. He's faking it.)
2. "He's a big keng king!" (He's a habitual malingerer.)

See also: Chiak Tsua  Pontang  Siam  Tsao  Tuang  

(keng tjio kia'h)
Literally: "banana child". A Chinese person who takes on western affectations, i.e. yellow on the outside and white on the inside.
"He go Engrand study come back oreddy act like keng chio kia"
See also: Chiak Kantang  

KETUK  (Contributed by SinnerLee)
Malay for "knock" or "strike".  It is also often used to denote being taken advantage of.
1. "Adoi! You ketuk my head for what? Pain, you know!"
2. "You paid $300 for this piece of junk? Alamak, you really kena ketuk, man."

(kee-ah see lahng)
A Hokkien term which could be translated as either "to scare even the dead" or "to scare people to death". Either way, it is used when one has been given a fright.
"Why your make up like that one? Kia si lang!"

(kee-am chai)
Salted vegetables. A term often used to describe papers or books that are in a crumpled or messy condition.
"Why your textbook so kiam chye one?"

(kee-am ay)
A generic name used to address a stingy person.
"Eh, Kiam Eh! Why you donate only 10 cents?"
See also: Kiam Siap  

KIAM PAH  (Contributed by Minglun)
(kee-um pah)
Hokkien phrase literally meaning "owe a beating". It's used to describe someone who's asking to be beaten up.
"Aiyah, he everyday also talk this sort of cock. Kiam pah one."

(kee-am see-up)
A Hokkien term used to describe someone as stingy and mean.
"Why you give me such a small piece of meat? So kiam siap one!"
See also: Kiam Eh  

KIAO KAH YO LUM PAR/K.K.Y.L.P.  (Contributed by Jason)
Hokkien phrase which literally means to raise one's legs and shake one's genitals. It describes being extremely idle.
1. Sergeant: "Chao recruit! I ask you to go and do area cleaning and instead I find you here kiao kah yolum par!"
2. Ah Beng: "Ho say ah! Tomorrow got public holiday, I just want to stay at home and KKYLP."

Hokkien term literally meaning, "afraid of death". Used to admonish someone for being cowardly.
"Raining only, cannot go out, meh? Why you so kiasi one?"

Hokkien adjective literally meaning, "afraid of losing". A highly pejorative description beloved of Singaporeans. Possibly our defining national characteristic. The nearest English equivalent is "dog in a manger", though even that is pretty mild.
"You went to get a handicapped sticker just to chope a parking space? How kiasu can you get?"

Malay term meaning "polished", "smooth", or "shining". Used to denote someone or something that is suave or impressively refined.
"That CEO damn kilat one, no wonder he can smoke all the ang-moh."

Teochew and Hokkien phrase to describe someone who is very rich or opulently dressed. Literally, "dripping with gold"
"That Mrs.Lee, dressed like a christmas tree, chin kim tang tang man."

Hokkien idiom which literally translates as, "fast hand, fast leg", and which means to be pro-active.

KING  (Contributed by Adrian Eng)
Someone who’s an extremely good example of something. Often used together with other adjectives to describe a person who’s superlative at something, usually unsavoury.
1. “Eh, you want to contest Tanjong Pagar in the General Election, ah? Damn king, ah, you!”
2. "Wah piang, that guy is sotong king man... small thing also can cock up!"
3. "That bobo king... target so big also he cannot kena!"
4. “Every PE lesson only, he got MC. Damn keng king!”

See also: ster  

A Mat-ism which signifies that something is the best and most authentic in its class. Note that "Jame" is the singular of "James".
"Listen to that solid guitar solo, sial. King jame version!"

KIO TIO  (Contributed by Terry How)
Literally meaning "to have grabbed it", this means stumbling upon good fortune. The opposite of "Kio tio goo lan"
"Today in school I find $10 on the floor, damn kio tio man!"
See also: Kio tio goo lan  

The Hokkien equivalent of receiving the booby prize. Literally: "to grasp the bull's testicles". No doubt an act accompanied by a very angry bull.
"He din'ch know and went to buaya the dai kor dai's char bor. Talk about kio tio goo lan." (He flirted with the chief gangster's girlfriend unknowingly. Now he's in for it.)

(kee-oo kee-oo kee-yo)
Hokkien for "make a lot of noise". In Mandarin, it's "gua gua jiao".
"Aiyah, you told me how many times oreddy! I'll do it! Just don't kiu kiu kio anymore, can or not?"

KNOCK IT DOWN  (Contributed by UMC-Nazzster)
A phrase employed in the Army, ordering soldiers to do push-ups.
Sergeant: "Whole lot knock it down thirty!"

Malay for 'frog'. Often used in the same sense as 'goondu'.
See also: Goondu  

(kong chee-ow oo-eh)
Hokkien phrase literally meaning "to speak bird language". Probably derived from "talk cock".
See also: Talk Cock  

Hokkien for literally, "Talk three talk four", to engage in idle talk or gossip
See also: Talk 3 Talk 4  

(kong see mee)
Hokkien for "What are you saying?". More emphatic variants, directly proportional to the level of absurdity it addresses, include "Kong Si Mi Lan Chiao" or "Kong Si Mi Lum Par", literally, "Say what penis" or "Say what testicles".
See also: Talk Cock  

Hokkien for 'share'.
"This football, me and my brother kongsi one."

(koo bai)
A (very) marginally more polite variant of "Chee Bye".
See also: Chee Bye  

Hokkien for "to sleep".
1. "I was on duty for 36 hours. I really need to koon now."
2. "He was kooning right through the football match."

KOPE  (Contributed by Kok Leong)
(as in 'cope')
To steal, usually something trifling. Similar in meaning to "stun".
“Wah, where you kope all this stuff from?”
See also: Stun  

Hokkien for "coffee boy", meaning the waiter at a kopi tiam, dressed in the archetypal singlet (or t-shirt advertising either Guinness Stout or Tiger Beer), shorts, slippers and ABC waistpouch.
Often used by Singaporean parents as a warning."You don't study hard, you sure become kopi kia one!"

Hokkien for "coffee shop". Describes the local coffee shop with hawker stalls in it, not Starbucks.

KOTEK  (Contributed by MC)
Colloquial Malay for "penis", similar to "dick" or "prick". Often used to scold someone for being stupid.
"You stupid kotek! Of course go Malaysia must bring passport, what! Ah-then!?"
See also: Cock  Cockanaden  

A Malay word meaning "spoilt" or "broken".
"The microwave is oreddy koyak. Don't use."

A Malay word meaning "quack medicine", and used to describe goods of dubious quality. The English equivalent would be "snake oil".
"Don't buy from him, his things all koyok one."

(koo-koo chee-ow)
An affectionate Hokkien term for the penis, mostly used when speaking to children. Our equivalent of "little pee pee".

Cantonese and Hokkien for "well behaved" or "innocent", doubled for emphasis, and usually applied with sarcasm.
"You don't pretend to be so kuai kuai, I know you been smoking in the toilet"

Malay for courageous or brave, in a manly sort of way. In Singlish, the meaning has been extended to include "impressive" or "powerful".
"Eh, don't see him small, okay! He study very kuat one! Got 6 air-level!"

See also: Powderful  Saht  

(koo-ching koo-rahp)
Of Malay origin, this expression means that something or someone is insignificant and half-baked, or incompetent.
"Aiyah, you think such a kucing kurap party can win the elections, meh?"
See also: Half Past Six  Chap Sar Tiam  

KUM GONG  (Contributed by Jonathan Ng)
Hokkien phrase meaning "stupid and blur".
"Why you so kum gong, one? He talking cock only, you go and believe!"

Hokkien for "blow job". Describes being placed in a humiliating position.
"Piang eh, ask me to come all the way here just to clean her toilet, damn kum lan, man."

KUM LAN (2)  (Contributed by Jonathan Ng)
A ruder version of "Kum Gong"
See also: Kum Gong  

The Hokkien equivalent of "like hell!" or "as if!"
"You think he does what I tell him to do? Kum pooi!"

KUPOON  (Contributed by Varerie)
The proper pronunciation of "coupon", you know that thing you always ask for from the other fellow parking his car nearby.
"Eskew me, can I buy a ninety sen ku poon from you, preeease?"

KWA HEE  (Contributed by Bernard Loo)
Hokkien for "watch movie".
"Eh, tonight let's go and kwa hee."

KWA MEENITE  (Contributed by Bernard Loo)
Hokkien for "watching the midnight movie".
"Don't ask me to go and kwa meenite. I sure fall asleep one."

(kwah-yee lahn)
A Hokkien term used to describe someone who is malicious or an irritant, often someone who manages to stir up trouble over trifling matters.
"So many times I told him not to do this sort of thing, but he's just kwai lan."

Hokkien for "chicken".  Like in the West, "kway" is also used as a common term for prostitutes. It is not clear who first used the word "chicken" to describe the world's oldest profession first, though the editors suspect it may have been the Westerners, as one might go to a "chicken" to get "laid"...
1. "Eh, let's go to Margaret Drive and eat kway png!" (Hey, let's go to Margaret Drive and eat chicken rice!")
2. "Piang eh, you every weekend go Geylang and find kway, ah?" (Goodness! You go kerb-crawling in Geylang every weekend?")

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