Speak like a Singaporian

English is widely spoken in Singapore but you may find it hard to understand some of what’s being said!   Many Singaporeans speak what has been dubbed ‘Singlish’ which borrows from the many different languages spoken in Singapore.  Here's a collection of 'Singlish' terms which you might find handy on your Singapore holiday...

1. Action
Derived from the English language meaning to show off.  For example - ‘he always likes to action in front of the ladies’.

2. Boh-chup
Derived from the Hokkien dialect meaning couldn't care less.

3. Chope (reserve)
A handy phrase if you want to reserve seats in a restaurant.

4. Kayu
Derived from the Malay language meaning dumb or stupid.

5. Lah
You’ll hear this one a lot as it’s the most famous of Singaporean expressions!  It’s used at the end of sentences for emphasis, for example ‘very funny, lah!'

6. Shiok (fantastic)
Derived from the Malay language, this is a handy one to describe a tasty dish.  For example ‘that prawn mee soup was shiok!’

7. Kiasu (afraid to lose out to others or not to lose face)
Derived from the Hokkien dialect, kaisu is something the Singaporeans endeavour to avoid!  For example ‘he sent his family to line up in different queues for the same item, so kiasu’.

8. Terok (troublesome or difficult)
Derived from the Malay language, you might hear this word if you’re being a difficult customer!

9. Ulu (rural)
Derived from the Malay language meaning rural or a deserted place.  For example ‘this place is so ulu, you hardly see a single soul around even on weekends’.

10. Ya ya (boastful or arrogant)
He's so ya ya, lah!

*The Small Print

We’ve tried to make this destination guide as accurate as possible but please double check the essentials like visas, health and safety, airport information etc with the relevant authorities before you travel.  STA Travel takes no responsibility for loss, injury or inconvenience caused as a result of this guide.  All prices listed are in the currency of the destination, unless otherwise stated.

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