Singlish For Expats!

Many expats move to Singapore thinking that life will be easy because everyone speaks English. Then you walk around the hawker centres and just think ??? What is everyone talking about?! Don’t fear, here is a mini Singlish dictionary for expats- impress your local friends and make them say, “Wah! This Angmoh speak Singlish leh?!”

Can lah-

Your most commonly used Singlish phrase. A phrase used to affirm a statement or question.

Example: “Are your free for lunch at 2pm?”

“Can lah!”

Shiok-

A term of general approval, showing that something is very pleasing.

Example:

“These chicken wings damn shiok!”

Makan-

Malay word meaning ‘to eat’.

Example:

“You want go makan or not?”

Lepak –

To rest or to chill.

Example:

You want to go Seletar Bridge to lepak?

Correct-

Another word of affirmation. Simply means ‘yes’. Top tip, drop the sound of the ‘t’ at the end.

Example:

“You don’t have NS in UK is it?”

“Correc”

Confirm one-

Even more affirmation than ‘correct’. Adding ‘one’ on the end of your sentence adds emphasis one.

Example:

“You speak Singlish meh?”

“Confirm one.”

Kena-

A word with negative connotations that means ‘to be affected by’.

Example:

“How was that restaurant?”

“Not shiok. I kena food poisoning.”

Kaisu-

A Hokkien word denoting a fear of missing out, pushy and somewhat selfish attitude. Often used to describe Tiger Moms.

Example:

“She puts her kids in so many enrichments. She’s so Kaisu.”

Kaypoh-

Another Hokkien word, this one often describing someone who is nosey, not minding their own business.

Example:

“Stop looking across at that table, you’re so kaypoh!”

Sien-

Bored, fed up, sick of it.

Example:

“Everyday I go office, come home. I’m so sien lor.”

Wah lao eh-

Singlish version of OMG! Usually used when something frustrating or annoying has happened.

Example:

“I spilt my kopi on my shirt, wah lao eh!”

Singlish may seem confusing and tricky at first, but the more you hear it the more you get used to it. Try some of these on your local friends!

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