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20 words that mean something completely different to Singaporeans

Words that mean something else to Singaporeans



We Singaporeans love Singlish. But just like how Singlish borrows words like chee ko pek from Hokkien and teruk from Malay, we also borrow from English and make these words our own. Here is a list of 20 English terms that have been affectionately made Singaporean!

Show your angmoh friends this list so they won’t get confused when someone says they have to fly aeroplane.


1. Hoot



English: Closely associated with owls.
Singlish: Closely associated with ah bengs.

“Wah this pole must hoot liao”


2. Arrow



English: Used with a bow, typically as a weapon of war.
Singlish: Used with authority, typically starting office wars.

“eh I kena arrow, must OT liao.”


3. Basket



English: Typically brought for picnics at Gardens by the Bay.
Singlish: Typically used when you see advertisements like these filmed at Gardens by the Bay.

“Basket who pay for this advert siah”


4. Blur



English: Something that cannot be seen clearly.
Singlish: Someone that cannot think clearly.

“Oi don’t be so blur can or not?”


5. Can



English: A container.
Singlish: Another word for yes.

“Oi don’t be so blur can or not?”


6. Champion



English: A winner that people look up to.
Singlish: A winner that people “look up to”.

“Wah win bet again. Andy’s Dad champion liao”


7. Die-die



English: To die.
Singlish: To die trying.

“Ok la next time I die die bet Germany too”


8. Cock



English: A bird.
Singlish: A birdbrain.

“Don’t be so cock can? Win one time don’t mean win all the time.”


9. Eye Power



English: The more you have it, the lesser your need for spectacles.
Singlish: The more you have it, the less need you have to do work. 

“Eh you all standing there doing what? Eye power izzit?”


10. Fly Aeroplane



English: The adventure begins.
Singlish: The adventure does not start.

“She say wanna watch movie but she fly me aeroplane again”


11. Lightbulb



English: Without one, would mean a heated date.
Singlish: With one, there would be no heat.

“When she finally came out her friend joined us. Damn lightbulb leh”


12. On



English: The opposite of off.
Singlish: The opposite of no.

“Wanna go Zouk before it closes forever?”


13. Steam



English: Some water getting hot.
Singlish: Someone getting hot (and bothered).

“Wah steam liao.”


14. Sotong



English: A creature found in the sea.
Singlish: A person always lost at sea.

“Don’t be so sotong plz.”


15. Tactical




English: Considered and deliberate movements on the battlefield.
Singlish: Considered and deliberate movements to avoid saikang.

“eh bro, the way you siam the extra very tactical sia


16. Toot



English: Sound from a horn.
Singlish: Thinks like a horn.

“Don’t be such a toot plz”


17. N.A.T.O.


Irish-stereotypes-the-gift-of-gab.gifEnglish: North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Singlish: No Action, Talk Only

“As usual la, he say only. Sure NATO.”


18. Shake Leg



English: To boogie-woogie
Singlish: To siam all responsibility

“Eh I pay you to shake leg ah? Back to work!”


19. White Horse



English: Most Singaporeans have never seen one
Singlish: Most Singaporeans know one. 

“Wah this guy treated so special, sure White Horse.”


20. Your Head



English: Produces thought.
Singlish: Disagrees with thought.

“Singapore so boring. There are no things to do in Singapore.”
“Your head la!”


Know any other Singlish words taken from English?


Let us know in the comments below!