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A Guide to Proper English

(translations from Singlish expressions)

No. Singlish Expression Proper English


1. Act blur Pretend to be ignorant, feign ignorance
To pinpoint or pick on; To assign someone to an unwanted
2. Arrow
duty. "Why he arrow me to do this?"
3. Blur English. Clueless. In a daze. Unaware of what is going on.

4. Chope Reserve. "Don't take this seat, I choped it already."

5. Double confirm Confirm and reconfirm. Used to emphasis the confirmation

Pidgin English. Go backwards / Reverse. This actually


6. Gostan
originates from the nautical phrase "go astern".
an aggressive, instigatory challenge. Or an expression of
7. Got problem is it? annoyance when someone is disturbed. 'Do you have a
problem?'
Hokkien. Oh dear! Lit. "sapping strength". Used to describe
Jia Lat
8. a terrible situation. "Ah! You broke your leg!? Jia lat ah!
How you play soccer later?"
9. Kay poh busybody

Kiah su / kiasu (literally "scared to lose/of loss") somebody who fears


10.
losing out

11. Kena / kana to be afflicted with, to suffer (from)

My England not
12. My English is not powerful / good
powderful!
Hokkien exclamation denoting satisfaction, or enthusiastic
endorsement.
13. Ho Say
Beng: "Eh, I belanja you makan tonight, okay?" Seng: "Ho
say, ah!"
Most basic and famous of Singlish expressions. Tagged as
Lah! an exclamation usually (but not in questions). "Good lah!" /
14.
"Go home lah!" / "Ok lah!" / "Eat lah!" / "Cannot do it like
this lah!"
15. Liddat oso can! something can be done like that or in a certain manner
The Singlish equivalent to "As if!" or "Yeah, right." An
16. Like real
expression of incredulity and disbelief.
Malay term literally meaning "hole". It means "tip" or
17. Lobang
"opening" or "contacts".
Hokkien for 'cat'. Describes someone who is very
18. Ngeow
malicious, nitpicky or tries to find fault.

1
Orbit / Obiang Someone or something that is gaudy or overly flamboyant
19.
in taste / out of fashion

20. Pantang bad luck, being superstitious, superstitions

21. Return back To give back. Direct translation from the Chinese phrase

Sian Hokkien. Bored, tired, or sick of something. "I am so sian!


22.
Nothing to do, man!"

23. Solid sia simply great, superb!

24. stoned to daze out

Suaku Hokkien. Not well informed or backward; a country


25.
bumpkin. Lit. "mountain tortoise".
Talking nonsense / senselessly. Probably originated from
Talk cock / tok kok
26. the English expression "cock and bull story". "Don't tok
kok lah! Where got like that one?"
Ulu Malay. Used to describe a rural or remote area. Commonly
27.
found in road names around Singapore as well.
inexplicably, 'very'. Usually employed with a clearly
sarcastic tone.
28. Very the
Eg. "Wah lau eh, he ah, his armpit very the smelly, you
know!"
Used to describe undergoing extreme difficulty, intense
suffering or great irritation. "Vomit" is often pronounced
29. Vomit blood "womit".
Ah Beng: "Yesterday, hor, I teach my son Maths, teach
until vomit blood."
30. Ya ya papaya An arrogant person.