When you travel to Singapore, Singlish sentences seem hard to understand sometimes. How to use Singapore slang words? What are their meanings? Please check some cases below for a better trip to Singapore like a local.
– How to use “Angmoh” in a situation?
A: Oh my gosh, did you see that angmoh? He’s so handsome!
B: Which one?
– What does Angmoh mean? Describing Westerners, who typically have a fairer complexion.
While there are many ethnicities in the Western word, angmoh generally covers any fairer skinned individuals and is generally not meant to be offensive.
– How to use Lah/Leh/Mah in a situation?
A: Hi, excuse me, how do I get to Orchard Road?
B: Just turn left here and walk straight. Not that difficult lah, just follow the signs.
– What does Lah/Leh/Mah mean? – Nothing
Singaporeans like to add these words as a suffix to their sentence as a way to add emphasis. They can be used interchangeably, and really do not translate to English! Don’t forget this when you travel to Singapore!
Wah lau/Wah piang
– How to use Lau/Wah piang in a situation?
A: I had to rush to the airport, so I booked an Uber even though it had a surge pricing of 2.0x. It came up to S$70 when I finally reached my destination.
B: Wah lau! So expensive!
– What does Lah/Wah piang mean? Oh my gosh!
While it doesn’t literally translate to “Oh my gosh!”, it’s used more of an expression of shock. You can use both expressions as they have the same meaning.
– How to use Makan in a situation?
A: Have you makan yet?
B: No, I was waiting for you so we can have lunch together.
– What does Makan mean? Eat
This Malay word is used very commonly in Singlish.
– How to use Siao in a situation?
A: Last night, I was so hungry that I ate three bowls of rice and a McDonald’s meal.
B: You siao ah?
– What does Siao mean? Crazy/Insane.
This is usually used as a sarcastic reply when someone proclaims they’re going to attempt an impossible task or does something stupid.
– How to use Chope in a situation?
A: Have you got a table in Maxwell Food Center?
B: I’ve choped (past tense) the table with my tissue packet, so we can order our food now.
(Yes, slangs incorporate tenses too!)
– What does Chope mean? Reserve.
Commonly used in a setting such as an eatery, chope is also the action of placing tissue packets on tables in hawker centers as an informal reservation.
– How to use Shiok in a situation?
A: Have you tried Katong laksa?
B: Yeah, it was so shiok!
– What does Shiok mean? Delightful.
Used typically to describe dishes, this Malay slang word can also be used to describe one’s feelings of excitement, or of anything that pleases them.
– How to use it in a situation?
A: The queue for the taxi is so long! So sian!
B: Why don’t we take the bus?
A: Yes, please!
– What does Sian mean? Bored, or fed up.
Here’s another word that has two meanings, and really comes in handy for situations where you’re really bored and fed up—like when you’re waiting for your flight that has been delayed.
– How to use Kena in a situation?
A: How was your trip?
B: I didn’t see much. On my first day there, I kena the flu.
– What does Kena mean? Affected by, got hit by.
This word has a negative connotation and is usually used when one is complaining about something that happened to them.
– How to use Blur in a situation?
A: Is Marina Bay Sands a hotel or a casino?
B: Wah lau, why you so blur? It’s a hotel and casino! Everyone also knows lah.
– What does Blur mean? Characteristic of a person who is confused or slow to catch on
Blur is one of the Singlish words that have more than one meaning. It can also be used in phrases, such as “act blur” and “blur like sotong”.
– What does Kiasu mean? Afraid to lose
This word is not used exclusively in competition-type settings, but in every context imaginable, whether it’s queueing to enter the train (the MRT) or getting to a destination on time. Singaporeans do consider themselves (and others think we are, too) to be a kiasu bunch.
– How to use Kiasu in a situation?
A: Our coach departs at 9:00 a.m,, so I suggest that we should leave the house at 6:00 a.m.
B: 6:00 a.m.! The coach is 15 minutes away! Don’t be so kiasu lah!
More Tips and Advice for using Singapore slang words
When you are enjoying your Singapore trip, don’t be surprised when a sentence seems muddled up. Sometimes Singlish sentences are a literal translation from another language by using Singapore slang words. A good example is, “You eat already?” This actually means, “Have you eaten?”.
Using Singapore slang words is also about cutting down on sentences by using short-form. Here’s a conversation where this can happen:
A: The movie that day good ah? (Translation: Did you like the movie we watched the other day?)
B: Yeah, good hor? (Translation: I know right? I loved it!)
Some English words sound very different when used in Singlish context. For example, the word “already” is pronounced “oh-ready”.