The unique slang, Singlish has made its rounds all over the world in the last couple of years. Besides getting lots of Singlish words included in the Oxford English Dictionary, the Singlish slang is also discussed by linguists in at least 7 Universities from Italy to Japan. However, there has never been a complete or updated list (Singlish Dictionary is obsolete) of all Singlish terms, Singlish phrases or Singlish words published anywhere on the net. Not to mention Singlish examples to accurately illustrate the meaning of what we Singaporeans mean.
Today, we compile a list, not Singlish dictionary, of 125 colloquial and uniquely Singaporean terms for your research, reference or mere entertainment. Know any more Singlish words and phrases to add on to the list? Let us know, and we will update and maintain this Singlish list on a regular basis (confirm not so swee 125 only one).
125 Singlish Words And Phrases That Define Singapore (Singlish Vocabulary)
Explanation: When someone did not invite you to hang out together.
David – Yesterday, Jerry and I went to watch Wonderwoman.
Kenny – Wa Bojio! I had no plans yesterday.
Explanation: To spend time walking/loitering around aimlessly.
Example: My friends and I like to lepak at JEM after school.
3. Buay tahan
Explanation: Cannot stand it anymore.
Example: Wa the weather so hot really buay tahan!
Explanation 1: Embarrassed.
Example 1: Just now I fall down walking on flat ground, damn paiseh sia.
Explanation 2: To make an apology.
Example 2: Paiseh, just now bathing can’t reply your message.
Explanation: Used when something bad is going to happen.
Example: Wa GG, they say this year economy very bad, firing a lot of people.
6. Heck it
Explanation: Singlish phrase to show that you do not care anymore.
Example: Heck it la! I’m just going to confess to Sarah after our date tonight.
7. Tau pok
Explantion: The situation when guys lie on top of one another to crush a person, mostly for fun.
Example: Ivan – Today his birthday let’s tau pok him!
All – TAU POK!!!
8. Buay pai
Explantion: To describe something or someone who is exceptional.
Example: That girl at 9 o’clock buay pai sia!
Source: Noel Vasquez
Explanation: Used when something bad happens to someone.
Example: Jerry kena scolded by teacher for failing his test.
Explanation: More severe version of kena. Translate to get into deep sh*t. Also used to express frustration.
Example: He kenasai by boss for not meeting his KPI again.
11. Anything lor
Explanation: Singlish phrase used when you don’t really have an opinion.
Example: Jerry – Darling, what you want to eat?
Sarah – Anything lor
Jerry – *facepalm* Shit also can?
Explanation: Used to express dissatisfaction and discontent.
Example: Walao eh! The MRT aircon why so hot one?
Explanation: Used when you are disgusted by something. “Eeeeee” is a short form of eeeeyer.
Example: Eeeeeeyer, the table so dirty
14. Sia la
Explanation: Means Oh My God. (OMG)
Example: Sia la! His father just bought him a Lamborghini for his 21st birthday!
15. Come I clap for you
Explanation: Used sarcastically to act like you are impressed with something.
Example: Adam – Eh, yesterday I was the top scorer when I was playing football with Ahmad they all.
Alex – Wa! Come I clap for you…
16. Hong gan
Explanation: Used when you or someone is in deep trouble.
Example: Hong gan liao. I just got into a traffic accident.
17. Die already
Explanation: Another phrase to use when you or someone is in trouble.
Example: This time he confirm die already. He go tell his CO to go f*ck himself.
18. Simi sai
Explanation: Means What The Sh*t.
Example: Simi said, he passed his driving in less than two months.
19. Chao turtle
Explanation: Used to express frustration and dissatisfaction.
Example: Chao turtle, that auntie didn’t even say excuse me.
Explanation: A vegetable salad dish found mainly in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. More often used when everything is mixed or very messy.
Example: My workplace really like rojak. Got people from a lot of countries.
21. No link
Explanation: When something is unrelated to whatever you were saying.
Example: Jerry – Jordan just bought a PS4 yesterday!
Jenn – I like to eat steak!
Jerry – Huh? No link leh.
22. Buay sai
Example: This Friday I buay sai, need to study for Finals.
23. Zhun bo
Explantion: Translates to are you sure?
Example: They say government is giving money again, zhun bo?
Explanation: Short form for never mind.
Example: You don’t want to help me nehmind, I can just ask someone else.
25. Last time policemen wear shorts
Explanation: Used when you are discouraging someone from being nostalgic
Example: Jason – Last time in school a lot of girls come talk to me one hor!
Farah – Last time policemen wear shorts also.
26. What time already
Explanation: Usually used on someone who is late. You are not really asking for the time.
Example: Eh what time already? Why haven’t fall in! Whole lot knock it down!
27. Last warning
Explanation: Used on someone who annoys you so much that you feel like beating them up.
Example: Eh last warning hor! Don’t disturb me. I want to study.
Explanation: What if?
Example: Eh later we take cab can? Sekali that MRT breakdown again how?
29. Siam lah
Explanation: Singlish way to tell people to f*ck off
Example: Siam lah, stop blocking the way.
30. Chope seats
Explanation: Usually used in coffee shop and hawkers before eating. It means to reserve seats. Putting a pack of tissue on the table is a common way to do so.
Example: Now lunch time faster chope seats or else later GG.
Source: ST FILE PHOTO
Explanation: Translate to fear of losing. Used to describe aggressive and competitive behavior.
Example: Wa parents nowadays so kiasu. Their children five years old start going for tuition already.
Explanation: Used to show tiredness.
Example: Shag, today need to OT again.
Explanation: Used to express great satisfaction.
Example: Wa shiok! This month got 4 long weekends!
Explanation: Used to compare describe things that feel or look similar.
Example: Her eye bag so big machiam some panda.
Explanation: Used to describe something is difficult or complicated.
Example: Don’t talk until so chim leh. Can simplify it and explain to me again?
36. Can also can, cannot also can
Explanation: Used typically in a scenario when you have no choice but to say yes. Less used by Singaporeans nowadays as it often leads to extreme confusion.
Example: Jerry: Uncle can add milk to my Ice Kachang
Uncle: Can also can, cannot also can!
Explanation: Simply means yes.
Example: Jerry: This Saturday we go MBS eat want or not?
James: Steady la bro!
Explanation: Used to describe a bad situation.
Example: Wa jialat. It looks like it’s going to rain, but I never bring my umbrella.
Explanation: Used when someone who does not turn up for meet ups or outings with friends.
Example: This Alex pangseh us again. Go out with his gf then don’t want come LAN with us.
Explanation: Used when you are unhappy, bored or tired.
Example: Sian, tomorrow need to work again.
Explanation: Short form for like that.
Example: Dun liddat la. We go drink beer cheer up ok?
Explanation: Used to express shock or surprise often in a bad way.
Example: Alamak, I thought the meeting was today. No wonder no one else was there.
43. Dunno leh
Explanation: Used when you are uncertain of something.
Example: Sarah – Baby, you think the red or black dress better?
James – Dunno leh, I think both also excellent.
44. Always like that one
Explanation: Used to describe someone’s bad habit.
Example: He always liddat one. Buy so much food but can’t finish.
45. Sia Suay
Explanation: Used to describe something embarrassing.
Example: Haha he banged into the wall just now damn sia suay!
46. Lao kui
Explanation: An alternate word to describe something embarrassing.
Example: I lost an arm wrestling challenge to a girl, damn lao kui.
Explanation: Malay word for eating.
Example: What you want to makan for dinner?
Explanation: Used as a cry for help.
Example: Tolong la. I will pay you back the money in 3 days.
Explanation: Malay word for shy. To embarrass or humiliate.
Example: Wa just now our performance damn malu sia!
50. Lan lan suck thumb
Explanation: Used when you have no choice but to do something that you dislike or hate. Commonly used during National Service.
Example: Desmond – Eh you tomorrow got SOC again ah? It’s your 5th time le leh!
Mark – Lan lan suck thumb lorh… if not complain to MINDEF meh?
51. You ask me I ask who?
Explanation: When you are clearly not the right guy to answer a particular question.
Example: Benny – Why are we waiting so long?
Jet – You ask me I ask who?
52. You say leh
Explanation: Usually used when the answer is self-evident.
Example: Adam – Darling, can I go clubbing not to try they all this Saturday?
Rachel – You say leh?
Explanation: Used to describe someone nosy.
Example: This Henry damn kaypoh, keep asking what I do with my girlfriend.
Source: Google Maps
Explanation: Used to ask if someone is agreeable with a plan.
Example: This Saturday we go to the beach, onz?
55. Ang moh pai
Explanation: Someone who acts like a westerner.
Example: This Jess damn ang moh pai one. She cannot even speak basic Chinese.
56. Gong gong
Explanation: Hokkien for talk talk. Usually used to describe something as bullsh*t.
Example: He gong gong only la. He doesn’t have the balls to confess one.
57. Blur sotong/cock
Explanation: Used to describe someone who is always confused.
Example: This blur sotong. Ask him to buy chicken for me he buy fish.
58. ORD LO
Explanation: Favourite phrase of NSF. Chanted when one has completed his NS or is very near to it.
Example: Instagram – Uploading photo with pink IC… ORD LO
Source: Hock Gift Shop
59. Chao geng/Chao Keng
Explanation: Used to describe someone who malingers.
Example: This chao geng kia everyday go see MO one.
Explanation: Similarly to lah and sia, siol is an expression used at the end of a sentence. Some Singaporeans tend to add ~ right after siol in text messages.
Example: Wa, golden bayonet siol~
61. Ups/up there lah
Explanation: To praise someone who is a high achiever.
Example: GPA 5.0?! Up there lah!
Explanation: Short form of sabotage. Means to create trouble or cause harm.
Example: Eh later don’t sabo ah. We just keep quiet can already.
63. No choice leh
Explanation: Used when you are left with no other options.
Example: Jones – Wa working so hard ah!
Larry – No choice leh, got a family to feed.
Explanation: Used to describe an unfortunate situation.
Example: Wa damn suay. Kena bird sh*t on my head.
Explanation: Means to take away food.
Example: Eh help me dabao. I am very lazy today.
66. Mai lai
Explanation: Don’t try/Don’t give me that.
Example: Last week you say need take care of brother. This week you say got family outing. Mai lai!
67. Talk cock
Explanation: When you are talking about random stuff or bullshit.
Example: Me and Xaver like to talk cock.
68. Hao lian
Explanation: Describes someone who likes to show off. Hao lian bo la liang, is a longer form of this phrase.
Example: Got full marks for Math now come hao lian la!
69. Hum ji
Explanation: Describes someone who is timid.
Example: Don’t hum ji lah! Want to fight then come lah!
Explanation: Singaporean/Singlish version of “you don’t say”
Example: Sally – 313 at Somerset hor?
Josh – Abuden! If not at Woodlands arh?
Explanation 1: Short form for cannot make it. Can be used for you are not able to turn up for something.
Example 1: This Friday I CMI, got a wedding to attend.
Explanation 2: Can be used to describe a person as well.
Example 2: The girl you like CMI la, personality and looks both bad.
Example: Mother – Remember to lock the door later ah!
Xavier – Orh.
73. Orh hor
Explanation: Used when trouble is incoming.
Example: Louisa – This Ms Lim damn guai lan sia. No wonder so old already not married.
*Ms Lim walks past and overheard the conversation*
Peter – Orh horwealthy GG. You die already!
74. Ah Gua/Gu Niang
Explanation: Gay. More often used to describe someone who acts feminine.
Example: This Keith damn gu niang. Stand for 5 minutes tired already.
75. Act blur
Explanation: Describes someone who plays the ignorance card.
Example: Oi cb don’t act blur! Where you hide my phone?
Explanation: Used to express disappointment or when something unpleasant happens.
Example: Aiya, computer kena virus again.
Explanation: Can be used when you are disappointed, surprised, annoyed or in pain.
Example (Disappointed): Aiyo, computer kena virus again.
Example (Surprised): Aiyooo! Gabriel going out on a date sia!
Example (Annoyed): Aiyo! Somebody is kicking my leg.
Example (In Pain): Aiyoo, hammer drop on my leg.
78. Bo liao
Explanation: Used to show boredom or describe someone who is lame.
Example: He damn bo liao. Message me to ask me stupid questions.
79. Bo chup
Explanation: Used to describe someone who does not care.
Example: He bo chup one. Go everywhere also wear singlet, shorts and slippers.
80. Chao mugger
Explanation: Someone who studies a lot.
Example: This Kelly is a chao mugger. Everyday at the library studying.
Example: Faster chiong to the canteen, if not later long queue.
82. Chiong sua
Explanation: Used to describe an SAF unit/soldier that is tough and has gone through intensive training.
Example: Wa he posted to NDU, everyday chiong sua.
83. Don’t play play
Explanation: Used to tell someone not to fool around or to take a matter seriously. This Singlish phrase was used repeatedly by Phua Chu Kang.
Example: Don’t play play hor! He black belt in Taekwondo one.
84. Geh geh
Explanation: To describe someone who is putting up an act
Example: He get get one la. One look you know he is lying already.
Explanation: Used to describe a pleasant situation. Can also be used sarcastically in unpleasant situations.
Example: Hosei la! Just won a 52-inch 3D OLED TV from lucky draw!
Example (Sacarsm): Hosei liao la! Tom just call boss a fat pig! He confirm hong gan!
86. Confirm plus chop / Double confirm
Explanation: Singlish term for being very confident or sure about something.
Example: I confirm plus chop you cannot find a lower price outside of this store.
87. Chop chop
Explanation: Singlish term used to hurry people.
Example: Eh chop chop finish your work so we can go home early.
Explanation: Hokkien word for coffee.
Example: Ah boy, want go lim kopi with ah gong tomorrow morning?
Explanation: Refers to a coffeeshop in the past. Nowadays, it mostly refers to the food court chain.
Example: Want to eat at kopitiam for lunch?
Explanation: Singlish word for lucky.
Example: Wa tyco sia! Posted as a clerk at HQ.
Explanation: Used when you are broke.
Example: This month keep eating good food, pokkai liao.
Explanation: Short form for owe money pay money. Mostly painted or sprayed by loan sharks near lift lobbies.
Example: #03-03 O$P$ 91234567
Explanation: Can be used to substitute only. Occasionally has a slightly condescending tone to it.
Example: He every month earn $3000 nia. How to buy a car?
Explanation: To skip an activity. Short form for ponteng.
Example: I going to pon school today.
Explanation: Singlish word used when someone is getting teased, often in a sarcastic way.
Example: Don’t suan me la. I know you confirm score higher than me one.
Explanation: Someone who is not well informed, or a country bumpkin.
Example: I very swaku one, never go USS before.
Explanation: Used to tell someone to shut up. In army, you are not allowed to move when you are ordered to diam.
Example: Eh diam la! Talk talk talk, your mouth not tired one meh?
Explanation: Some place which is not easily accessible.
Example: This restaurant damn ulu but the food is good!
99. Uncle / Auntie
Explanation: A friendly way to address middle age and above men (uncle) or women (auntie). Can also be used for relatives.
Example: That chicken uncle very nice! Give me extra rice!
Explanation: A beautiful girl.
Example: I wish that chiobu is my gf sia… haha.
101. Your head
Explanation: Singlish term usually used when someone is spouting nonsense to shut them up.
Example: Terry – Eh Mike you like Helen right!
Mike – I like your head la!
Example: Wa he damn zai, read one time can memorise everything already.
Explanation: Means very.
Example: Today got Barcelona vs Real Madrid match! Sibeh excited.
104. Yaya papapya
Explanation: Someone who is arrogant or show off.
Example: This guy damn yaya papaya. Everyday drive different car come to work.
105. White horse
Explanation: Someone who is the child of an influential/powerful/wealthy person.
Example: Their bmt company got white horse no wonder life so good.
Explanation: When someone delegates a task to you.
Example: Wa cb kena arrow by Kelvin again.
107. Eye power
Explanation: Someone who only crowds around and looks but does not help in any way.
Example: Oi don’t eye power leh! Give me a hand and move the boxes!
Explanation: Someone who puts up a show to suck up to his or her superiors.
Example: This Julian like some wayang king. Superiors around he then act like he is working. Once they zao he slack already.
Explanation: Singlish word for perfect!
Example: I prepare everything swee swee for you already. Don’t screw it up hor!
110. See first
Explanation: Used when you are still considering or do not have an answer yet. Also, a nice way to reject an invitation subtly.
Example: Justin – Friday want to Zouk?
Mabel – I see first.
111. Orbi good
Explanation: Used when you do not feel sorry for someone and feels that he or she deserves to be punished.
Example: Orbi good la! Tell you so many times already don’t want to listen.
Explanation: Tips, life hacks, and deals.
Example: Got any lobang to earn money?
113. Ah bu neh neh/ah neh
Explanation: Crude Hokkien phrase referring to Indians.
Example: You cry some more! Later I call ah bu neh neh come and catch you!
114. Geh kiang
Explanation: Someone who makes a rash decision and ends up getting into trouble.
Example: He geh kiang volunteer to be the leader. Now everyday a lot of work to do.
Explanation: To describe a person of a high social status or an expensive place.
Example: My dream is to eat an A5 Wagyu steak at an atas restaurant with Joseph.
Explanation: Refers to reversing in driving.
Example: Remember to check safety when you gostun!
Vulgar Singlish Slangs & Singlish Swear Words
In any case, you should not try to overuse these Singlish words in your daily conversations. It is often viewed as crude/low SES/Ah Beng etc.
Explanation: Short form for Kanina, which translates to f**k your mum. Used as a swear word/profanity.
Example: Knn, ERP increase again!
Explanation: Short form for Chee Bai, which translates to the v*gina. Used as a swear word.
Example: That CB kia come and annoy me again.
Explanation: Short form for kao pei kao bu, which translates to cry father cry mother. Used when someone makes a big deal about something.
Example: James KPKB me for drinking one sip of his drink.
120. Guai Lan
Explanation: Used to describe an annoying person or someone who is very troublesome.
Example: Wa this Henry damn guai lan, everything also tell me cannot.
Explanation: Short form for simi lan jiao, which translates to what cock. Swear word for an unpleasant situation.
Example: SMLJ! The clothes I bought 2 days ago now got discount!
Explanation: Used when you are annoyed and outraged.
Example: Stop stealing my food, later I dulan ah!
123. Gu gu bird/Gu gu
Example: His gu gu bird damn small.
124. Neh neh pok/Neh Neh
Example: Her looks not bad but her neh neh pok damn small.
125. Lao jiao
Explanation: Someone who is experienced.
Example: Don’t know anything ask Timothy. He is a lao jiao.
Before we end our compilation of Singlish Words & Phrases…
Singlish is a wonderful encrypted form of colloquial English that has mixed at least 6 different languages and dialects. The interesting thing is that none of us was given formal education on how to speak or understand this language (we just somehow know it by heart). The accent, as well as, the ability to mash up various words from different ethnic groups is just fascinating! Here is a video to sum it all up!
Singlish Examples (Pronunciation)
And a funny video accurately portraying the differences between English and Singaporean pronunciation.
Interestingly, there is a dictionary of Singlish and Singapore English which was launched in 2004. It is comprehensive, but it has never been updated since 2016. Do note that the retro-themed dictionary contains many obsolete words that are rarely used or have “evolved” over time. We are unsure if anyone is maintaining it to today’s standards.