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20 More Slangs Only A True Blue Singaporean Will Know

A Guide to Singlish Part II


A big thank you to all our readers who submitted suggestions in our earlier guide – 20 Slangs Only A True Blue Singaporean Will Know. By popular request, we’ve decided to come up with a second part to our guide. We’ve also provided explanation to these terms, so our non-Singaporean friends would have a better understanding of our culture and lifestyle.

This is dedicated to all Singaporeans and their loved ones, both home and abroad.

1. Wake Up Your Idea

What it means: “Wake up your idea” is a phrase told to a person who needs to pull up his/her socks or get a grip on his/herself for whatever reason.

The Everyday Singaporean:

Recruit: Sergeant!! I… I… My girlfriend broke up with me yesterday. I emo. Today can ATT B (army lingo for reporting sick)?



2. Heng

What it means: “Heng” is a Hokkien word which means lucky  or fortunate.


The Everyday Singaporean:

Harry: Hey Emma, I’ve got something that I’ve been wanting to tell you all along…



Harry: Oh err.. erm.. on second thoughts.. n..n..nevermind..

Emma: *thinks to herself* Wah, for a moment I thought he was gonna confess.


3. Sabo

What it means: “Sabo” comes from the word “Sabotage”, and it is used when someone intentionally plays a prank or does an act that causes harm, inconvenience or leads to the other party being punished.


The Everyday Singaporean: 

A: *shoots rubber band at teacher’s butt*


Teacher: WHO DID THAT?

B: Cher cher, him! I saw! *points to A*



4. Tahan

What it means: A Malay word that means stand or uphold, “Tahan” is mostly used in the Singaporean context to mean endure or holding out.


The Everyday Singaporean: 

A: Eh bro, have you seen Miranda Kerr’s latest photo shoot for GQ’s magazine?

B: No not yet, show me lei!

A: *flips over laptop screen* SEE THIS!




5. Nehmind

What it means: A short form for nevermind, “nehmind” is the cool Singaporean way of shrugging off conversations you no longer have an interest in continuing or to downplay the significance of something.

The Everyday Singaporean:

A: Oi, yesterday you borrow Charlie’s pen never return?!

B: Nehmind one lah, pen only.

A: Orh, liddat one ah… Later I borrow your girlfriend k 😉


6. Siam

What it means: “Siam” is a Hokkien word which means to avoid or get out of the way. It is usually used as an impolite exclamation to tell others to get lost or go away.


The Everyday Singaporean:

Son: *Watching soccer on TV*

Mom: *Takes a mop and starts mopping in front of the TV*

Son: OI MA, Siam Leh! I’m watching TV!

Mom: WAH, 没大没小(No big no small i.e. No respect for elders)!


7. Chope

What it means: Rumoured to originate from the word “Chop”, “Chope” is used to mean to reserve or to hold for someone; most often used to signify the reservation of seats.


The Everyday Singaporean:

Office Lady A: Wah thankfully got seats, this stupid lunch place so crowded.. *seats herself down*

Office Lady B: *returns to seat with food* EH EXCUSE ME YOU BLIND OR WHAT, CANNOT SEE I PUT THIS AH?


8. Gostun

What it means: Originally from the nautical term “Go Astern” which means to go backwards, “Gostun” is the Singlish-fied term to mean reversing a vehicle (usually a car).

The Everyday Singaporean:







P.S. You guys don’t really need to see a car gostan-ing do you? Ok maybe you do.


9. Kena

What it means: “Kena” is a Malay term which denotes that something has happened to someone or something.

The Everyday Singaporean:

A: Eh park here lah, got space and so ulu nobody will check.

B: You park here later kena summon how?

A: Ai yah, don’t think he will come today. Let’s go makan, hungry already sia!

-15 Minutes Later-


10. Stomp

What it means: A website started by Singapore Press Holdings to promote citizen-journalism, the term “STOMP” or Straits Times Online Mobile Print has evolved into a term used by locals to denote the un-welcomed act of having a photograph taken and published online @ STOMP. 


The Everyday Singaporean:



11. Kiasu/Kiasi

What it means: “Kiasu” is a Hokkien term which means afraid to lose. “Kiasi” is a Hokkien term which means afraid to die. Both terms are used interchangeably in relation to the Singaporean’s mentality of having to be the best in everything.


The Everyday Singaporean:



12. Kin

What it means: A Hokkien term meaning hurry or to make haste.

The Everyday Singaporean:

Guy: Eh kin lei! We already late for the wedding dinner liao.

Girl: Okay okay, wait lah, I putting make up on! Almost done almost done!





13. Shag

What it means: “Shag” has different meanings all around the world. In the Singaporean context, “Shag” is used to signify tirednessexhaustion or fatigue.


The Everyday Singaporean:

A: Eh, I’m damn shag today.

B: Why? Last night party till late ah? Or exams study till shag?

A: No lah, siao. More like:



14. Or Bi Good

What it means: A term of unknown origin and more often used by the older generation, “Or Bi Good” is a phrase used when a person has gotten what he or she deserves.


The Everyday Singaporean:

Boy: Maaaaaaaaaaaaaa, today I fall down cause I chased a girl. Super pain see.. I’m bleeding 🙁

Mum: Ai yoh, you poor thing…



15. Shiok 

What it means: “Shiok” means pleasing, enjoyable or pleasurable. “Shiok” is a term that is used when a person is enjoying him/herself. 


The Everyday Singaporean:

A: Bro, how much is your starting pay?

B: About $4k, you?

A: Not much, only about $2.5k.

B: Liddat shiok meh?!

A: Ofc shiok lah, I’m keeping the world safe everyday!



16. Sekali / Sakali

What it means: Pronounced Scar-lee, “Sekali” or “Sakali” is a Malay word that is used to mean what if or lest.

The Everyday Singaporean:

Girl A: Eh, you club so often, then your boyfriend like also steady with you coming. Sekali you see him here with some other girl, how ah?

Girl B: Ai yah, I trust him lah, he won’t cheat on me one.

-5 seconds later in the club-

Girl A’s Boyfriend:


Girl A & B:


17. Machiam (Macam)

What it means: Originating from the Malay word “Macam” which means likesimilar to or resemble. “Machiam”, pronounced Ma-Chee-Yum, is used in similar fashion to Macam, albeit in a Singaporean pronunciation.

The Everyday Singaporean:

A: Sigh, I have no idea how to win her heart. She seems to be playing hard to get all the time. I’m confused.

B: Bro, you need to have the moves. Be confident, tell her she’s gorgeous. Let her know you’ll be there for her. Read some tips on basic pick-up. Be the man. Write her poems, sing her a love song. Make her feel like a woman. Don’t worry man, I’ve got your back, so does C. We are here for you, no matter what!

A & C:


18. Abuden

What it means: Famously originating from Phua Chu Kang, “Abuden” is used when a question asking the obvious is used. The Singaporean way of saying, “Duh!” 



The Everyday Singaporean (See the full video of the above image here!):



19. Salah

What it means: A Malay word that means wrong or incorrect, “Salah” is used when someone has done or said something wrongly.


The Everyday Singaporean:

A: So I spent 3 hours re-adjusting the financial projections for Singtel, and I think I finally got it right already..



20. Cheem

What it means: A Hokkien word that when translated means profound or deep. “Cheem” is used as a comment or response to something said or an action done in a complex/difficult to comprehend manner and makes you go:


The Everyday Singaporean:

Guy: Hey there QT3.14!

Girl: Huh?!

Guy: Cutie Pie! Anyway, my love for you is like the derivative of a concave up function because it is always increasing. We’re going to assume this concave up function resembles x^2 so that slope is actually increasing.



Got any more Singlish to share?

I hope you’ve had fun reading this!

We’ve tried to include most of the popular Singapore Slangs but I’m sure we’ve missed a few. Is there any others you want to see included? Let us know in the comments below!