31 English Words That Mean Something Totally Different In Singapore

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1) Grandfather Road
To act as though it is your “grandfather’s road” is to behave with a sense o entitlement as though you own the place. “Anyhow throw your things everywhere, think what? Grandfather road issit?!”


2) Can
It works as a one-word sentence to say that something is possible (Can!) and not a problem (drawn out: Caaaaaan) or as a question enquiring “is this possible?” (Can or not?)
It is also used to emphasise emotion in an annoying, ah lian way as in “I’m damn tired, can?”

3) Sabo
Sorry Thomas, this ain’t no charm bracelet. If someone sabo you in Singapore you’ve been sabotaged.


4) Action
“Eh he action action only lah” To be full of hot air, as in , all talk no action.

5) Bang
Kena bang in the face! Similar to the modern-day “you got burned” when someone has proven you wrong, in a funny or demeaning way.

6) King
If someone is the “arrow King” they are the very very best at arrowing. Often used sarcastic to described a negative quality.

7) Concuss
To pass out into a deep sleep and not wake up. “I go home then concuss man”


8) Catch no ball
“I haven’t the foggiest what you’re on about”

9) Die-die
No matter what, or at all costs. “Die die I must go see Beyonce concert.”

10) Cartoon
Adjective to describe someone who’s silly or foolish. “Aiyo that girl damn cartoon la”

11) Your head

As if! To imply the other person is wrong, and stupidly so.
“Brazil team sure win tonight.”
“Your head ah!”

12) Whack
To eat heartily, and quickly. “Wah the durian damn shiok, I whack man.”

13) Vomit blood
To do something that is extremely difficult, so much so that it is almost as if you regurgitate bodily fluids.


14) Summon
A parking ticket. Pronounced “saman”.

15) Shack
Tired, exhausted. “After the 10k run, damn shack sia.” Unfortuantely often misspelled as “shag” the British slang for “to have intercourse with”. Spell correctly can or not?

16) Solid
Very, very good. “Did you hear him sing? Solid sia!”

17) Standard
If something “got standard” that means it is pretty good.

18) Steady
To be impressive. Eg “Wah you can draw? Steady la”
A synonym for a girlfriend or boyfriend, as in go steady. Often shortened to “stead”

19) Blur
A verb to describe a person who is vague, easily confused or not very quick on the uptake. At their worst, “blur like sotong”.

20) Anyhow
Randomly and without basis. “Jakarta is in Malaysia? You anyhow say only la!”

21) On
To be excited and enthusiastic. Or to confirm plans. Eg “Thursday 5pm, on!”

22) Orbit
A little weird, garish or uncool. “Her hello kitty bag is so orbit!”


23) Mambo
Now- defunct Wednesday night party at Zouk nightclub. It was known for music from the 80s and choreographed dance moves. Suffix: Jambo. “Remember when we used to go Mambo?”

24) Cannot Make It
Nothing to do with a missed appointment. This refers to something or someone that is really, really bad, hopeless and embarrassing. “The new MP, cannot make it sia”. Often contracted to CMI.

25) Jude
Sexy, or attractive, referring only to women.

26) Tension
Stress. As in “Jangan tension”, or don’t worry.

27) Havoc
Wild, and unruly. Usually referring to teenagers. Eg “Girls from that school all damn havoc.”

28) Happening
Cool, exciting, somewhere you want to be. “Want to go Mambo ah? Happening or not?”

29) Arrow

As in “kena”. An army favourite, meaning to be singled out to do an unpleasant task that nobody wants.

30) Fetch
To drive someone somewhere.

31) Lamppost
The third wheel – intruding on a couple’s privacy.





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Are we really a miserable bunch of unhappy people?

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