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© Jack Tsen-Ta Lee
Last updated on 18 May 2016 (139 headwords). No reproduction without permission.

ka ki nang /kah ki nahng, kɑ ki nɑŋ/ n. phr. [Teo. 自己 ka ki one’s own (ka self, oneself; one’s own + ki oneself; one’s own; personal) + nang people; Mand. zìjǐ rén]  One’s kin or relatives; one’s circle of friends or acquaintances.
Sonny Yap The Straits Times, 4 May, H10 There is no place like home and no sound like the cadences of homespun words which evoke that feeling of affinity among us. The Teochews say it best: we are all ka ki nang (we are all of the same kind).  2003 Dexter Lee Streats, 24 November, 25 Unlike most international carriers, Australian Airlines offered a level of service that shouts ‘ka ki nang’, loosely translated from Teochew as ‘family’. The cabin crew, with both men and women in casual shirts and pants, were especially warm and friendly.  2004 The Straits Times, 11 August, H3 And stories he [Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong] has told of himself as a young shipping greenhorn, scrambling to pick up thye cigar-chomping and wine-sipping habits of his European clients, only endear him to the regular Joe, who sees him as a kaki lang (Hokkien for ‘one of us’).  2012 Wong Kim Hoh (quoting Kathleen Tan) The Sunday Times, 11 March, 39 We spoke in Hokkien and I told him we were ka ki nang (Hokkien for kin).

kacang /kah-chang, ˈkɑtʃɑŋ/ n. [Mal.] Also formerly kachang.  A bean, a nut, a pea.


Ice Kacang

kacang pool /puul, pul/ n. [Mal. kacang pol green peas (Winstedt); kacang pul a bean of unidentified species (Wilkinson); pol, pul is prob. < Arab. (فول (مضامّس  fūl (midammis) cooked broad beans with oil (the national dish in Egypt) (Wehr); baked beans (generally eaten for breakfast by the natives) (Spiro): fūl bean(s); broad bean(s), horse beans(s) (Wehr); a kind of bean (when dry), a vetch (Johnson) + poss. mudammis one who makes any thing (esp. a bed) smooth and soft (Johnson)]  A Malay porridge-like dish of Middle-Eastern origin made with broad beans (Faba vulgaris) or kidney beans (Phaseolus vulgaris): see quot. 2003.
2003 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times, 5 October, L39 Kacang pool.. This Middle Eastern dish is commonly eaten in Malay households but rarely sold in stalls. Resembling porridge, it is made with kidney beans, which are first boiled, then ground into chunky bits and cooked with curry powder and spices. While there are many versions, this one by owner Ayob Rahman, 46, is served with bread, chilli, lime and onions.  2011 Eddino Abdul Hadi (quoting Benyamin Nuss) The Straits Times (Life!), 11 August, C8 Every morning, we go down to the hawker centre to eat mee rebus and kacang pool (a broad bean gravy)..

kacang putih /puu-teı, pʊˈtɛ/ n. [Mal. kacang putih the green or garden pea (Pisum sativum) (Wilkinson, Winstedt): putih, puteh white]  Also formerly kachang puteh.  Roasted and salted or sweetened peas, peanuts and other beans or nuts eaten as snacks, traditionally sold wrapped in paper cones.
1981 Eugene Yap Giau Cheng Parliamentary Debates: Official Report, 25 March, vol. 40, col. 1171 It was a pleasing sight to watch these school children lining up to buy their favourite packet of kachang puteh. But the kachang puteh seller was merrily using his hands to fill up the packets with kachang puteh, thereby, breaking the food handling regulations. 
2001 Arti Mulchand The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 25 February, P7 From the cardboard cut-outs proclaiming the Next Change on the outside, the kachang putih stalls, and the makeshift food stalls that skirted the building, Rex [Cinema] has etched itself as a monument of a nostalgic era in many minds.  2006 Moses Lim Weekend Today, 16–17 December, 38 If you know Malay, you’ll know that kachang puteh literally means “white beans”. And you’ll have noticed the incongruity of the name given to the assorted, colourful nuts we’re so familiar with. .. [D]oesn’t kachang puteh bring to mind Indian vendors who sell them in paper cones? When I was young, I used to see kachang puteh vendors in cinemas selling all sorts of nuts. But the most popular type had to be the white sugar-coated peanut. Maybe this was why the term “kachang puteh” was coined. Other than in cinemas, kachang puteh sellers could also be seen setting up shop by the street together with other street hawkers. Then, there were the Indian vendors who’d balance a wooden rack that was filled with kachang puteh on their heads, as they set about hawking the little delights. Perhaps the most interesting part about kachang puteh is how the nuts were presented – in paper cones made from pages of old magazines, which one was prone to read when he was done with the colourful, tasty nuts.

kacau /kah-chahu, kɑˈtʃaʊ/ v. [Mal., jumbled up, mixed indiscriminately (Wilkinson); compare mengachau create confusion, interfere (Winstedt)] Also formerly kachau.  Disturb, bother, be a nuisance.
2002 Michelle Ho (quoting Chieu Shuey Fook) The Straits Times (Life!), 15 June, L12 She [my cat] seems to understand when I’m busy and keeps quiet, and knows when I’m more relaxed and will come and ‘kacau’ (disturb) me.

kachang var. of Kacang.

kachau var. of Kacau.

kai lan /gı lun, ɡʌɪ lʌn/ n. [Cant., a sort of coarse cabbage (like Brassica): 芥 kái Sinapis japonica + 兰 lán fragrant plants; orchidaceous plants; epidendrum (Eitel); Mand., cabbage mustard, 芥兰 or 芥蓝 gàilán: gài mustard + lán orchid or blue; indigo plant (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] Also kai-lan, kailan.  Brassica alboglabra (or Brassica oleracea var. albiflora), a perennial plant with oval leaves and fleshy leaf-stalks which is eaten as a vegetable; cabbage mustard, Chinese kale.
1991 Kok Poh Tin et. al. A Guide to Common Vegetables 32–33 Brassica alboglabra Bailey (Cruciferae) (B. oleracea var. albiflora O. Kunze) Chinese kale.. kai-lan.. A perennial with dull or glossy thick bluish-green, oval, often glaucous leaves and elongated fleshy inflorescences. It is cut for the market from the young plants or before the first flower buds begin to open. In recent years, small plants grown in crowded conditions have been harvested for sale in the markets. .. Some authorities regard this as a variety of B. oleracea but it is quite unlike any kale grown in Europe or England. It is widely cultivated in South-East Asia like Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, etc. .. This plant is high in calcium and iron content and vitamin A precursors. It can be cooked in a variety of ways.  2006 Wong Ah Yoke
The Straits Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 9 July. [T]here are the veggies: mushrooms, spinach, kailan, baby corn, beansprouts and eggplant, among others.  2006 Neil Humphreys Final Notes from a Great Island 119 Lettuce, spinach, kailan and cai xin. Got most kinds of local vegetable here.  2006 Cheong Suk-Wai The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 1 October. When he started out on 3ha in 1998, he planted only four types of vegetables – chye sim, kai lan, xiao bai chai and Chinese cabbage.  2008 Huang Lijie The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 23 November, 24 [T]he verdant bed of thinly shredded kailan leaves, fried to crisp perfection and accompanied by the vegetable’s jade green stalks..  2010 Rebecca Lynne Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 25 July, 21 Famous [Foochow] dishes: .. deep-fried liver with kai lan..

kaki /kah-kee, ˈkɑkiː/ n. [Mal., foot (of a person, hill); leg (of a person, chair, table), pedestal (Winstedt); kaki tangan (kerajaan) legs and arms, limbs = helpers, henchmen (Wilkinson); accomplices, servants (Winstedt): tangan hand; hand and forearm (Wilkinson, Winstedt); kerajaan var. of raja king, queen; any prince or princess (Winstedt)]

[1995 Joan Margaret Marbeck Ungua Adanza 193 kaki  leg, regular players of a card game/close friends]

1 A friend.  2 A fellow participant in a joint enterprise; spec. a partner in a game: golf kaki, mahjong kaki, makan kaki.
1  1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 kaki – Malay for good friend.  2000 Dennis Wee with Sylvia Fong Making Luck with Your Hands 24 I brought my kakis to attend the sessions.  28 I would zoom out of the house and head for Kasbah where my kakis hung out.  2000 Cheong Suk-Wai The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 3 September, 3 A mob of diehard kakis2000 Boey Kim Cheng The Straits Times (Life! Books), 9 October, 4 Longing to be admitted and to listen to the table talk of Nizam and his kakis2 2000 Dennis Wee with Sylvia Fong Making Luck with Your Hands 59 My usual mahjong kaki2000 Yeow Kai Chai The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 2 July, 5 He has his posse of stylist-kakis2000 Cheong Suk-Wai The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 13 July, 6 A party of eight boisterous ang moh lunch kakis.

kalang kabok var. of Kalang Kabut.

kalang kabut /kah-lahng kah-boot, ˈkɑlɑŋ ˈkɑbʊt̚/ v. & a. [Mal., gloomy, dark, mentally befogged; in a commotion (Winstedt); darkness that hides; very obscure or involved (Wilkinson): kalang lying across the way; crossbar; impediment (Wilkinson); a round transverse support; = kelam (Winstedt) + kabut anything that blurs or renders indistinct (Wilkinson); mist, fog (Winstedt)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 1, 488 kělam k. [kabut], kalang k. (darkness that hides).. 498 Kalang-kabut: very obscure or involved; Si Jamin [Si-Djamin dan Si Djohan (2nd ed.), (Batavia: Balai Poestaka)] 60, = kělam kabut.  1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged Malay–English Dictionary 146 kělam (or kalang J. [Johor Malay]) k. [kabut] (1) gloomy, dark, mentally befogged, (2) in a commotion..]

Also kelam kabut, (erron.) kalang kabokA v. Make a mess of, panic.  B a. Confused, chaotic.
B 2000
Dennis Wee with Sylvia Fong Making Luck with Your Hands 16 I made a clumsy drummer. I was the kelang kabok type, one who simply couldn’t get his rhythm right!

kali pok /kah-lee pok, ˈkɑliː pɒk̚/ n. [mispron. of Eng. curry puff] Also currypok1 A curry puff.  2 A quiff hairstyle thought to resemble a curry puff.
2 [2013 Cheryl Faith Wee & Soh Gill
The Sunday Times (SundayLife), 31 March, 4 Watch out, the “quiff” is back. The classic combed-back hairdo – or the “currypok” in local lingo – sported by stars such as Elvis Presley and John Travolta has been spotted on young men here. .. [R]eferring to what his friends call his “Curry Puff” hair..]

kampong var. of Kampung.

kampung /kam-pong, ˈkɑmpɒŋ/ n. & a. [Mal., assembling, grouping; a cluster of houses, a hamlet; the buildings (with outhouses, etc.) making up a dwelling] Also formerly campong, kampong.  A n. A hamlet or village, esp. in a rural area.  B a. Of or relating to a kampung.
A 1865 John Cameron Our Tropical Possessions in Malayan India 68–69 The portion of the town which stands on the western side of the river covers probably an area of 128 acres; but though it is the busiest it is by no means the largest. On the eastern side are the various campongs, or districts, bordering one on the other, and which together occupy an area of 333 acres. These campongs are chiefly composed of dwelling-houses used by the natives, of similar construction to those already described, and they scarcely merit any particular notice. There is a Campong Bencoolen, Campong Rochore, Campong Kapor, a Campong Java, a Campong Bugis, and Campong Glam, – the first part of the island sold, and where the European merchants originally had their residences, but which has now passed chiefly into the occupation of the natives. Though the Campongs Java, Bugis, &c., were probably first occupied by the races whose name they bear, no such distinction appears now to exist.  1894 N.B. Dennys A Descriptive Dictionary of British Malaya 174 Kampong. – An enclosure, collection of houses, village. It forms the prefix to the names of many places in the Peninsula, such as Kampong Bharu, Kampong Rawa, &c.  1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 67 Lek Moh says he enjoys living in his kampung in the rural area and would hate to stay in a [sic] HDB flat in an urban setting. His most pleasant childhood memories are involved with his play in the little woods around his kampung, picking fruits, etc.  2001 Jason Leow The Straits Times, 6 January, H1 Kampung spirit lives on in HDB homes [title] The nearest bus-stop was an hour on foot from Colin Ang’s kampung when his extended family lived in Boh Suan Tian, now Seletar Reservoir, for over two decades.  2005 Natalie Soh The Straits Times (National Day Special), 9 August, 102–103. Last kampung standing [title] Kampong Lorong Buang Kok is one of the last kampungs left on the mainland. It was nicknamed Kampung Selak Kain, Malay for the “kampung of hitched-up sarongs” – people had to hitch up their gear all the time because of constant flooding. Back in the 1960s, there were 40 families which called it home, but now there are little over 20 left.  B 2000 Suhaila Sulaiman The Straits Times (Life!), 27 December, L6 Urban life just does not allow the luxury of time that one had back in the kampung days.  2001 Cat Ong (quoting Bernie Chan) The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 14 January, P19 I was scrawnier than any kampung chicken.  2001 Arthur Sim (quoting Danny Ong) The Straits Times (Life!), 27 January, L6 Missing the old days, he remembers fondly how ‘doors were always open’ in his kampung neighbourhood.


Balek Kampung

kampung chicken n. [Eng.]  A chicken that is reared in a kampung; a free-range chicken.
2001 Cat Ong (quoting Bernie Chan) The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 14 January, P19 I was scrawnier than any kampung chicken.  2005 Mak Mun San The Straits Times (Life!), 9 February, 4 Unlike normal chickens which are commercially bred on a large scale, kampong chickens are not kept in a cage but allowed to roam freely. They are also called free range chickens. They are said to be tougher, leaner and healthier than normal chickens.  2006 Peter Khoo The Straits Times (Life!), 4 January, 6 I also canned the big dinner plan, choosing there and then to cook. My only purchase that day was a fresh kampung chicken for $4.50 and potatoes, which would serve as our Christmas dinner.  2006 Wong Ah Yoke The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 26 November. [T]he restaurant uses only kampung chicken from Malaysia, which is more tasty than their battery-farm cousins. That also explains why there is so little meat on the bones.

kan cheong /kahn cheong, kɑn tʃiːɒŋ/ a. [Cant. kan urgent, in haste, pressing, important + cheung to bend a bow; to extend, to stretch; to open (Eitel); Mand. jĭnzhāng nervous, keyed up; tense, intense, strained: jĭn urgent, pressing, tense + zhāng open, spread, stretch; magnify, exaggerate (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] Also kancheong.  1 Nervous, keyed up.  2 Tense, intense, strained.
1 2002 Michelle Ho (quoting Diana Liaw) The Straits Times (Life!), 13 August, L8 I was so ‘kancheong’ (Cantonese for worried) about his tests that I woke him up at 5:30 am to remind him not to make mistakes.  2004 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 3 October, L16 [T]he Wife was unusually late one night coming home from class, and I was getting increasingly kan cheong..  2006 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 1 January, L12 Of course, when we mentioned to Singaporean friends and relatives that we were planning on doing this, they got all kan cheong.  2008 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 2 November, 14 I wasn’t always this kan cheong about elections.  2013 Elena Chong The Straits Times, 27 March, A2 The duo face a joint charge of mischief by affixing a round sticker with the words “So Kancheong For What” on Robinson Road some time after midnight on May 17 last year – kancheong being the Cantonese term for nervous.

Comb.: kan cheong spider n. & a. [Eng.]  A n. A person with a nervous disposition, one who is easily flustered.  B a. Kan cheong.
2003 Jane Lee (quoting Seto Lek Keong) The Straits Times (Home), 20 October, H4 ‘My platoon mates call me “kan cheong spider”,’ – a term used to describe someone who is nervous – he says, grinning as he relates his daily fumbling at roll call that inspired the Singlish monicker.  B 2000 Tan Shzr Eee (quoting Huang Lie Chuan) The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 10 December, P2 ‘Before that, I was using Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee [for my mobile telephone ringing tone] – my friends called it the kancheong spider tune. ..’ Kancheong is Cantonese for anxious.

kan ni na /kahn ni nah, kɑn ni nɑ/ int. [Hk., fuck your mother: kan to offend against modesty and propriety; wanton, lascivious; clandestine, false + neéng you, thou (Medhurst); Mand. jiān illicit sexual relations + you (second person singular) (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] highly vulg. & offensive  Used as a term of abuse.
2006 Neil Humphreys Final Notes from a Great Island 72 Then I heard a cough and the distinct phrase “kan ni na.” That was an extremely unpleasant Hokkien vulgarity, I thought.

Phrase: kan ni na bu chao chee bye /boo chow chee bı, bʊ tʃaʊ tʃiː bʌɪ/ [Hk., fuck your mother’s stinking cunt; see Chao Chee Bye] highly vulg. & offensive  Used as a term of abuse.
1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 25 Very xiong! K– n– n– b– c– c– b–.  137 k– n– n– b– c– c– b–. Extended remix version of an indiscreet vulgarity too unspeakable to pass through censorship.  [2001 Magistrate Adam Nakhoda (quoting Chee Han Choon) Public Prosecutor v. Pek Eng Hua, 28 December, Magistrate’s Appeal No. 254 of 2001, [2001] SGMC 44, para. 30, Magistrate’s Court (Singapore). Mr. Chee remarked that the accused had not asked him to arrange the site survey. Mr. Chee being displeased about this additional requirement of a site survey then scolded the accused in Hokkien saying “Kanna na bu chee bye tap pai la kuah choa qu tai chi” which means “Fuck you [sic] mother’s vagina, every time you survey there is trouble”.]  2002 District Judge Suriakumari d/o Sidambaram Silver Packiam s/o Nurusamy v. Public Prosecutor, District Arrest Case Nos. 59174–59179, 59639–59641 of 2001 and No. 6473 of 2002, and Magistrate’s Arrest Case Nos. 12077–12080 of 2002, [2002] SGDC 169, para. 2, District Court (Singapore). You, Silver Packiam s/o Nurusamy, are charged that you.. did use abusive words to one Police Corporal, Jimmy Foo Tze Jui, a public servant, to wit, by scolding the officer.. ‘ka ni na bu chee bye’ in Hokkien language meaning ‘fuck you mother vagina’ [sic], during the execution of his duty as such public servant, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 13(D)(1)(a) of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act, Chapter 184.

kana /kah-nah, ˈkɑnɑ/ n. [Hk. 橄榄 kna na an olive (Medhurst); Mand. gǎnlǎn Chinese olive (Canarium album), the fruit of the canary tree; olive (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]

[2006 William Gwee Thian Hock A Baba Malay Dictionary 96 kana [橄欖] preserved olives; general term for preserved fruits]

1 Olives that have been dried and preserved using salt and sugar, eaten as a snack.  2 transf.  A general term for preserved fruits.

kancheong var. of Kan Cheong.

kang he kia /kahng huur kiah, kɑŋ həː kɪɑ/ n. [Hk., ‘small river fish’: Ikan Bilis: kang a river, a large stream + hê fish + na (colloq.) a son, a child (Medhurst); Mand. jiāng river + fish + zǐ young, tender, small (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] mil. slang  A stripe or chevron worn on the sleeves of uniforms of lance corporals, corporals, sergeants, etc., to indicate rank.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 308 kang hi kia. Very small fish: Hokkien. Used to describe chevrons worn by Other Ranks. Ikan bilis in Malay.  1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 44 Kang he kia (Hokkien). Small fish; ikan bilis. Derogatory reference to lance corporal’s stripes.

kangkong /kahng-kong, ˈkɑŋkɒŋ/ n. [Mal.]  Ipomoea aquatica, a perennial semi-aquatic plant of the genus Convolvulus producing long shoots with white or pink flowers, arrow-shaped leaves and hollow stems, which is eaten as a vegetable; water spinach.

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 1, 506 kangkong.. A flowering convolvulus; Ipomoea aquatica, I. reptans. Eaten as a spinach (Mal. Annals [Malay Annals] 106, 107).]

¶ Known in Cant. as ung choi, in Hk. as eng chye, and in Mand. as 蕹菜 wèngcài (see quot. 1991).
1991 Kok Poh Tin et. al. A Guide to Common Vegetables 28 Kangkong.. At least two varieties are cultivated. The aquatic form planted by Malays in the rice fields, provides a succulent leaf vegetable called ‘water kangkong’ (水蕹菜 [Mand. shuǐ wèngcài]) which is a major ingredient in a popular Malaysian dish: cuttlefish-kangkong (鱿鱼蕹菜 [Mand. yóuyǘ wèngcài]). It also occurs wild. The other variety is the dryland form, known as kangkong puteh, grown from seeds as are other vegetables except it requires plenty of water. It is of more slender habit and considered more superior.  2004 Chai Hung Yin The Straits Times (Mind Your Body), 29 December, 14 According to the Chinese community, eating kangkong is associated with getting cramp in the legs. .. The belief could be based on the concept of the cooling and heaty properties of vegetables, as well as how ‘cool’ or ‘heaty’ a person already is.. It’s not easy to determine which foods are in either category, but kangkong may be considered so [cooling] because it grows in water.  2006 Low Shi Ping Weekend Today, 9–10 December, 29 One of my favourite vegetables is kangkong, and the version served here did not disappoint. Its chilli kangkong ($7) is wok-fried with prawn paste, dried shrimp and chilli. Neither too oily nor spicy, the vegetables were skilfully cooked to retain their crunchiness.  2008 Huang Lijie The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 23 November, 24 [D]ishes such as.. sambal kangkong..

kang tao /kahng tow, kɑŋ taʊ/ n. [Hk. (?) k’hang, k’háng a hole + t’haôu (colloq.) the head (Medhurst); Mand. (?) kǒng hole, opening, aperture + tóu head; top, end; chief, head; first, leading (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  1 One’s contacts or connections.  2 football betting  a hot tip.
1 1994 C S Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 78 A regular who easily outclassed.. in terms of age, experience and that all all-important asset in a unit: kang tao. .. He would surely lose out in terms of the vital kang tao in any attempt to run the department if he had minimum cooperation from the platoon sergeant.  137 kang tao. Connections.  2004Mr Brown’ (Lee Kin Mun) Today, 28 May, 35 You know you have sunk to a new low when you have to ask your friends in the media industry if they have any lobang or kangtow to get tickets to the sold-out live show, Barney’s Big Surprise2006 Chong Chee Kin (quoting Steve Chia) The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 7 May. My priority now is to find a good job, so if you have any kang tao (opening in Hokkien), let me know..  2 2006 Chan Yi Shen The Sunday Times, 20 August, 34 Singapore’s EPL [English Premier League] lingo [title].. Kang tau: hot tip

kantang var. of Kentang.

kao peh kao bu /kow bay kow buu, kaʊ beɪ kaʊ bʊ/ v. [Hk., quarrel with one’s father and mother: keaòu to call, to bawl, to cry out + pāy (colloq.) father + mother (Medhurst); Mand. cáo quarrel, wrangle, squabble, father, mother (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] Also kao pei kao bu.  Complain or grumble, esp. frequently or incessantly.
2000 Gates Chong 8 Days (TV Guide) No. 494 (Mar 25 – Apr 1) 34 The belligerent kao-pei, kao-bu (Hokkien for kicking up a big fuss) posturings he’s perfected.  2005 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 27 February, L12 [T]his year’s Oscar host, the acerbic comedian Chris Rock, has proclaimed award shows as “idiotic”, sparking a round of kao peh kao bu-ing from the Academy about biting the hand that feeds.  2006 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 4 June. This topic arose at a recent group coffee-cum-complaints (or ‘kopi-cum-kau peh kau bu’, as we prefer to call it) session at a hawker centre.

kapok var. of Kapuk.

kapuk /kah-puuk, ˈkɑpʊk̚/ v. [poss. < Mal. kapuk hug, embrace; compare Penang & Perak Mal. berkapuk clasp a person from behind (Winstedt)] Also formerly kapok.  Remove, steal, take without permission.

karang guni /kah-rahng goo-nee, ˈkɑrɑŋ ˈɡuniː/ var. of karung guni.

karung guni /kah-rung goo-nee, ˈkɑrʊŋ ˈɡuniː/ n. [Mal., Ind. karong, karung coarse matting sack, bag, bale (Horne) + Ind. guni (Echols & Shadily, Ind.–Eng.), Jav. goni, guni  gunny sack, jute (Horne); or Hind. & Mahratti गोन् gōn, गोनी gōnī < Skt. गोनी gōnī a sack, torn or ragged clothes (Monier-Williams); > Eng. gunny a coarse material used chiefly for sacking and made from the fibres of jute or (in some parts) from sunn-hemp; a sack of this material]  Also karang guni.  Junk, trash, rag-and-bone items.  Also attrib.
2000 Alfred Siew The Straits Times (Computer Times), 12 April, 33 The karang guni or rag-and-bone items incur my mother’s wrath.  2006 Tan Choon Ming The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 27 March. Singapore’s karung guni folk are the unsung heroes [title].. The sight of an old lady struggling to push her load of recyclable material elicits sympathy among passers-by. .. I see the old lady as a karung guni or rag-and-bone trader. She plies a trade that many shun. She and her karung guni trade perform some important functions in society. .. The karung guni folk fill an environmental niche. Since the early days, they have been the country’s recycling backbone. Without their backbreaking toil to balance an increasingly affluent throwaway society, we would be incinerating and land-filling a lot more rubbish. Our karung guni folk work not for the sake of recycling. Their motivation is to earn a decent living by selling the recyclables. The work is very hard and the income can be irregular, but the buying and selling of used products afford the worker a livelihood. Many younger Singaporeans squirm at the thought of picking up other peoples’ discards and pushing a trolley load through a busy street. The karung guni is therefore an unrecognised group of steely entrepreneurs. As society develops and its people lead increasingly structured lives, the karung guni may one day become just another old story. Informal recycling by the rag-and-bone folk is progressively replaced by institutionalised recycling programmes. Although the aim of resource conservation remains unchanged, which is good, I am deeply saddened by the absence of the economic and social significance epitomised by our karung guni men and women.


karung guni man n.  A rag-and-bone man.
2000 Chua Chin Hon The Straits Times, 6 August, 29 The karung-guni men who collect old newspapers for recycling.  2000 Josephine James The Straits Times, 27 October, 48 Recycling for charity is bringing in dollars for the needy but it spells trouble for the karang guni man, who traditionally picked up old newspapers.

katek var. of Katik.

kati /ke-ti, ˈkɛtɪ/ n. [Mal. & Jav. kātī, katī; > Eng. catty]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 1, 516 kati. .. «catty»; a measure of weight of sixteen tahil or about one and one-third lb. avoirdupois.]

hist.  A unit of weight equal to 16 Tahils, that is, about 1⅓ lb. avoirdupois or 625 grammes (more accurately, 0.604790 kilogramme).
1894 N.B. Dennys A Descriptive Dictionary of British Malaya 177 Kati. – Frequently written “Catty,” a weight of 1⅓ pounds avoirdupois; the kati contains 16 taels, and 100 katis make a pikul, or picul, literally “a load.” The tael, the kati, and the pikul are native words, but the weights they express are Chinese.  1947 Richard Olaf Winstedt The Malays, ch. 6, 112 Soon after the founding of Malacca Chinese annals under 1416 record.. that, ‘tin.. is cast into small blocks weighing 1 kati 8 tahil or 1 kati 4 tahil official weight... They use these pieces of tin instead of money.’  1970 Metrication Act 1970 (No. 52 of 1970), s. 5(b). Conversion of imperial standard units to metric system units. The values expressed in terms of .. the local customary system of weights and measures, may be converted into the values expressed in terms of the International System of Units in accordance with Schedule C. .. Schedule C .. Conversion of Local Customary Units to Equivalent SI Units .. 1 kati = 0.604790 kilogramme approximately  1972 The Straits Times, 25 November, 15 col. 1 The gold bars, weighing 15 katis seven tahils.  2011 Janel Ang The Straits Times (Saturday), 29 October, D5 Grandfather owned three weighing scales. The smallest one.. can weigh up to 20 katis, or about 12kg, of charcoal. He used to sell five katis of the fuel for $2.

katik /kah-tik, ˈkɑtɪk/ a. [Mal., of a person or rooster: dwarf, stunted] Formerly katek.  Of a person: short.
2004 Philip Lee Streats, 12 November, 18 I am too ‘katik’ (Malay for short) to attract women as a potential mate. They look at a short man and say to themselves: No I don’t want short children.  2005 Ng Hui Hui (quoting Jeffrey Chung) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 23 October. She’s very katek (Malay for short), only 1.63m. But I groomed her and she made it to the top 10 in the Princess Model Of The World 2004 contest in Hong Kong.

Comb.: katik ayam /ı-yuum, ˈʌɪjʌm/ n. [Mal. ayam chicken]  A very short person.

kau choi /gow choy, ɡaʊ tʃɔɪ/ n. [Cant. kau leek; onions + ts‘oi edible plants, vegetables (Eitel); Mand. jiǔcài: jiǔ fragrant-flowered garlic, (Chinese) chives + cài vegetable, greens (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  Allium tuberosum, a plant related to garlic and leek with long, grass-like leaves that grows in clumps, which is used as a vegatable; Chinese chive.
¶ Known in Hk. as kéw ch’haè scallions, a kind of leeks: kéw an aromatic vegetable + ch’haè
1991 Kok Poh Tin et. al. A Guide to Common Vegetables 112 Allium tuberosum Rottler ex Sprengel (Liliaceae) Chinese chives.. kur-choi (C[antonese]).. A lowland vegetable, the plant produces dense clumps of long, grass-like leaves about 5 mm wide, flat and solid. The young leaves are erect but the mature leaves bend gracefully down. The blades of the leaves are not folded lengthwise as are those of garlic and leek. Chives may be cultivated for its flowers which are plucked together with the stalks before the buds emerging from the sheath, or grown for its edible leaves which have a special flavour considered fragrant by some people. .. Both leaves and flowering culms are eaten as vegetables, the latter being one of the most expensive vegetables sold.  2006 Tom Norrington-Davies The Daily Telegraph (Weekend), 8 April, 7 Wild garlic is abundant at this time of year, but chives or spring onions will work in its place. The slender garlic chive (kow choi) from an oriental supermarket would be even better.

kau kay /gow gay, ɡaʊ ɡeɪ/ n. [Cant. 枸杞 kau Lycium Chinense (Eitel); Mand. gǒuqǐ fruit of the Chinese wolfberry (Lycium chinense) (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] Also kau kay tzee.  The small, red fruit of the Chinese boxthorn or Chinese wolfberry (Lycium chinense), often dried, which is used in Chinese dishes and soups and in traditional Chinese medicine; goji berry.
1991 Kok Poh Tin et. al. A Guide to Common Vegetables 134 Lycium chinense Mill. (Solanaceae) Chinese boxthorn.. kou-kay-choi, (C[antonese]). .. This shrub.. bears reddish purple flowers followed by orange-red berries. The thick stem on which the flowers grow is often called “the walking stick of the immortals” (仙人杖 [Mand. xiānrén zhàng: xiānrén celestial being, immortal (xiān celestial being, immortal + rén human being, man, person, people) + zhàng cane, stick]). Locally, the plant is imported from Cameron Highlands and is seldom found on sale except at the right season. .. The small dried red berries sold as a tonic in medical halls are very rich in carotene and are, [sic] thus good for the eyes.

kau kay choi /choy, tʃɔɪ/ n. [Cant. ts‘oi edible plants, vegetables (Eitel); Mand. cài vegetable, greens (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  The soft, oval, dark green, slightly bitter leaves of the Chinese boxthorn (Lycium chinense) which are used as a vegetable in Chinese dishes and soups.
1991 Kok Poh Tin et. al. A Guide to Common Vegetables 134 Lycium chinense Mill. (Solanaceae) Chinese boxthorn.. kou-kay-choi, (C[antonese]). .. This shrub has long, recurved, thorny branches. Leaves are dark green, ovate, about 3 cm long. .. The soft slightly bitter leaves are cooked with pork or used in soups.

kau kay tzee /tzee, tziː/ n. [Cant. tsz a child; a son; posterity, descendants; tsz tsz small seeds (Eitel); Mand. seed (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)Kau Kay.

kay kay /kay kay, k̚eɪ k̚eɪ/ v. [Hk. káy false, not true (Medhurst); Mand. jiă false, fake, sham, phoney, artificial (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)Act Blur, pretend.

kay kiang /kay kiahng, keɪ kiɑŋ/ v. [Hk., pretend, feign: káy false, not true + (?) () k’hëang (teaôu) hollow vain orientation (teaôu to unite, to amalgamate, to accord, to harmonize) (Medhurst); Mand. jiǎ false, fake, sham, phoney, artificial + (?) qiāng tune, pitch; accent; speech (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  Pretend to be clever, be a smart-aleck.
1987 Toh Paik Choo On the Buses 17 Don’t keh kiang2005 Philip Lee The New Paper (from The Electric New Paper), 10 December. [O]ne never knows how such unsolicited advice might be taken. The owner might just ask me not to be too ‘keh khiang’ (clever by half) and to mind my own business, just as he was so successfully minding his.

kaya /-yah, ˈkʌɪjɑ/ n. [< Mal. seri)kaya: seri charm; quintessence; splendour, glory (Wilkinson); charm (of a face, country); cynosure (something that attracts attention by its brilliancy or beauty; a centre of attraction, interest, or admiration) (Winstedt) < Skt. सार sāra essence, substance; the substantial or essential part of anything; the best or choicest part; the quintessence; the heart; cream, curds, nectar; strength, power, vigour, force, courage, prowess, valour, heroism, firmness, hardness; worth, excellence, highest degree of perfection; wealth, goods, riches; compare Skt. सवऀ sarva all, every; whole, entire, universal, complete < Skt. सृ sṛi to go, move, proceed; to approach; to go fast, run; to flow; to blow (as the wind) (apparently involving in some of its derivatives a meaning ‘to be strong, to be whole or entire’) (Monier-Williams) + Mal. kaya great, powerful; rich, wealthy (Winstedt) < Skt. काय kāya relating or devoted to the god Ka or Prajāpati < Skt. ka the Who?, the Inexplicable, the Unknown: applied as a name to any chief god or object of worship; wealth, property; compare Skt. गय gaya a house, household, family, goods and chattels, the contents of a house, property, wealth (Monier-Williams)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 920 p. [pulut] serikaya: crushed p. and coconut with a spiced syrup of coconut and egg.  1086–1087 sěri kaya. .. Name of a sweetmeat; Ht. Bugis [Silasilah Melayu dan Bugis (Singapore, a.h. 1329 [1911])] 144.  1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged Malay–English Dictionary 328 sěrikaya, .. sweetmeat (steamed) of egg, sugar and coconut-milk.  1995 Joan Margaret Marbeck Ungua Adanza 209 serikaya  coconut-egg-jam]

A sauce, usu. green or orange in colour, made chiefly of coconut, eggs and sugar which is often eaten with bread, used as a filling in pastries, etc.
Joshua Lye The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 13 February, 4 I’d be willing to eat kaya bread for lunch for a good long while, for the chance to take the cheapest flight possible..  2000 Cheong Suk-Wai The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 22 June, 11 Housewives had learnt to improvise by stirring eggs, coconut cream, sugar and pandan leaves vigorously over a well-controlled flame to form.. kaya, or egg jam. Kaya, is Malay for ‘rich’, which is exactly how this luscious condiment tastes on the tongue.  2000 Chua Lee Hong The Straits Times, 20 December, H15 He knows where to find good fried carrot cake (in Ang Mo Kio), kaya bread (Killiney Road) and chicken rice (River Valley).  2007 Chris Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 13 May. Hainanese and Thai renditions of kaya are stirred over low, steady heat until the mixture thickens to a glossy paste. Nonya cooks also do this in a double boiler, but also typically go on to steam the kaya undisturbed over low heat for another couple of hours at least, until it sets to a sliceable firmness.  2010 Tan Hsueh Yun The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 13 May, 24 [W]e all had very set ideas about what an ideal kaya should look like. R had made various versions of the egg jam. They came in different hues, some were smooth and runny, others smooth and thick, yet others, a little lumpy. Someone who got a green-coloured kaya baulked, saying that brown was the only way to go. My reaction to the smooth versions was: “But my mother’s kaya is always a little curdled.” There were also some who insisted that kaya is kaya only if it is steamed until sturdy enough to be sliced. The spread is made with simple ingredients – eggs, sugar, coconut cream and pandan, but who knew these four ingredients could be combined in so many ways to please so many people?

Comb.: kaya toast n. [Eng.]  Toast spread with kaya and, usu., pieces of butter.
2000 Jessica Tan (quoting Vincent Ng) The Straits Times (Life!), 22 July, 28 He talks about kaya toast with ferocious passion.  2003 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times, 5 October, L39 Ya Kun’s signature kaya toast – brown bread toasted till crispy then sliced into two thin halves and spread with kaya and a slab of butter – is a must-try for a taste of days gone by.  2005 Lee Tee Jong The Sunday Times, 15 Since the Ya Kun Kaya Toast franchise outlet opened for business [in Seoul] late last month, a stream of South Koreans have been tucking into kaya toast with half-boiled eggs and finishing it off with kopi-o (coffee without sugar). No efforts are spared in creating the all-too-familiar coffee-shop atmosphere. Brown bread is made with ingredients imported from Singapore. It is toasted carefully over charcoal until it turns a crispy shade of black, before a generous spread of green kaya paste is added. Coffee or tea is placed in a porcelain cup upon a saucer, while the toast is placed on a little red plate with a tiny metal fork next to it. .. For undergraduate Hwang En Bi, 22, it was a novelty to pour out the half-boiled egg onto the saucer, add a tinge of dark soya sauce and pepper before stirring the contents.  2006 Boey Meihan The Straits Times (National Day Supplement), 9 August, 16 Just $1.80 buys me a breakfast of rich kopi, kaya toast with chunks of butter and two half-boiled eggs speckled with soya sauce and pepper. The kaya toast tastes both salty and sweet, that’s why it’s so shiok.

kaypoh /gay-poh, ˈɡeɪpəʊ/ n. & a. [Hk. (?) () () old people + (?) the epithet of an old woman (Medhurst); Mand. (?) over sixty years of age, very old + (?) old woman (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] Also kay poh, kay-pohA. n. One who is nosy or prying; one who meddles in others’ affairs; a nosy-parker.  B. a. Nosy, prying.
A 2006 Lim Boon Hee Today, 25 July, 19 Vigilantism can cut both ways: Fine line between kindliness, kaypoh-ness [title].. [T]oo much vigilantism will result in a self-righteousness society where kaypohs pick on everything they don’t approve of in the name of creating more civil living.  2015 Ignatius Low The Sunday Times (Life), 26 July, C8 When I was growing up, the No. 1 rule drilled into my sister and me by my parents was “don’t be a kaypoh”, meaning, don’t go poking your nose into someone else’s affairs.  B 1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 72 Your every move is monitored by umpteen pairs of kay-poh eyes.  1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 kay poh – nosy.  2000 Angelena Lim The Straits Times (Computer Times), 26 January, 23 According to legend, beautiful but ‘kaypoh’ Pandora is given a box by the gods and told not to open it.  2000 Suzanne Sng The Straits Times (Life!), 2 May, 18 His questions stop short of being too kaypoh2001 Neil Humphreys Notes from an Even Smaller Island 114–115 Ironically, the only thing that does seem to bring HDB neighbours together is a good old-fashioned crime. As soon as a police siren is heard screaming outside your block, doors and front grilles are opened and before you can say ‘kaypoh’, the corridor is brimming with eagle-eyed neighbours.  2001 Suzanne Sng The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 1 February, 3 The Chinese New Year is almost over. .. The kaypoh relatives have stopped commenting on how tall you’ve grown.

Comb.: kaypoh chee /chee, tʃiː/ n. [Hk. ché (colloq.), choó a son, a child; anything diminutive (Medhurst); Mand. son, child; person (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  A kaypoh person.

kayu /kah-yoo, ˈkɑjuː/ a. [Mal., wood, wooden]  Dull, stupid, block-headed.
2000 Tay Cheng Khoon The Straits Times, 8 February, 33 ‘Notice,’ he said, ‘not a single “referee kayu” yet.’  2001 Neil Humphreys Notes from an Even Smaller Island 153 I have always believed that a good testing ground for a community’s sense of humour is on the terraces of its local football club. Needless to say, I was delighted to discover that Singaporean football fans also share the piss-taking wit of the terraces. Every time a referee makes a perceived error, one half of the stadium will instantly cry, ‘Referee kayu, referee kayu.’ After asking around, I learnt that kayu means ‘wood’ in Malay. In this context, then, the referee is ‘dead wood’ or a ‘plank’.  2004 Karl Ho The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 13 June, L6 Kayu. Malay word meaning ‘wood’, used here to mean ‘useless’. Usage: ‘Referee, kayu lah!  How can he red-card Zidane like that?’  2006 Neil Humphreys Final Notes from a Great Island 172 In Malay, kayu means “wood”. But in recent years, and particularly since the Malaysia Cup era, the word kayu has taken on negative connotations. “Referee kayu”, for instance, means that the man in black is wooden or dim-witted.

kebelakang pusing /kə-blah-kahng puu-sing, kəˈblɑkɑŋ pʊˈsɪŋ/ v. phr. [Mal., drill command for turning around and marching in the direction that one came from: kebelakang backwards < ke, ka towards  + belakang back, behind, rear + pusing rotate, turn around] mil. slang  Escape, flee, run away.
2005 Hong Xinyi The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 19 June. Ke belakang pusing. Army use: A parade square command in Malay (literally ‘go to the back and turn around’), meaning to turn around and march in the opposite direction. Civilian use: Running away or escaping from a situation. Example: When I discovered the girl I was dating was a control freak, I ke belakang pusing immediately.

kee chang /kee chahng, kiː tʃɑŋ/ n. [Hk. kee + chàng a kind of confectionery, made of millet, folded up with sharp corners, and used on the fifth day of the fifth moon (Medhurst); Mand. jiǎn alkali + zòng a pyramid-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves (eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival) (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  A tetrahedral glutinous rice dumpling similar in appearance to a Bak Chang with a distinctive yellow tinge due to the use of alkaline water (a solution of sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate, and sometimes sodium phosphate). It is either made entirely of rice (and eaten with golden syrup or honey), or stuffed with a sweet filling such as Lin Yoong (lotus seed paste), Red Bean paste, etc.
The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 15 October. In the Asian kitchen, alkaline water has few and specific uses. The characteristic springiness of Hong Kong-style mee is due to gan sui, which is added to noodle dough to firm up its texture, and give it a yellow tint. It does the same for glutinous rice in kee chang (yellow alkaline glutinous rice dumplings)..  2009 Huang Lijie The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 3 May, 24 The women make 12 types, including Nonya dumplings, Hokkien dumplings and kee chang (yellow rice dumplings filled with bean paste).  2015 Chris Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 7 June, 23 Used in noodles and kueh to obtain firm, springy and slippery textures, kansui also gives kee chang.. its yellow hue and alkaline aroma..

kelam kabut /-lahm kah-boot, ˈkəlɑm ˈkɑbuːt̚/ v. & a. [Mal. kelam murk, obscurity: not extreme darkness, only such darkness as makes vision difficult (Wilkinson); dull, overcast; dim (of sight); matt (of colour); befogged of thought (fikiran pun kelam) (Winstedt)] var. of Kalang Kabut.

kelong /kay-long, ˈkeɪlɒŋ/ n. & v. [Mal., large marine fish-trap with three or more compartments into which fish are hustled from the outer into the inmost and smallest, where the entrance is closed and the fish are caught; or poss. < Perak Mal. tikam kelong (of an elephant) to turn on its keeper (Winstedt): tikam stabbing, spearing, (of thorns) piercing. Dennys (see 1894 quot. below) suggests the word is of Chi. origin; if so, it is poss. related to Mand. lóng cage, coop; or lǒng envelop, cover]

[1894 N.B. Dennys A Descriptive Dictionary of British Malaya 135 Fishing Stakes.– Biat or Jermal in Malay. The Chinese word kelang has also passed into the vernacular. These consist of rattan screens arranged in such a way that the fish are driven into its enclosures, from which they cannot escape. Each enclosure is arrow-shaped, the last being the narrowest.]

A n. Cheating, fraud, unfair dealing, spec. the fixing or rigging of a sports event (esp. a soccer match).  B v. 1 Manipulate or fix the result of a sports event (esp. a soccer match), rig a competition.  2 Deliberately lose a game, etc.
A 2001 Jeffrey Low The Straits Times, 9 April, S4 Were two blackouts in the same night mere coincidence, or were we seeing shades of ‘kelong’ (match-fixing)?  2004 Karl Ho The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 13 June, L6 Kelong. Malay word to describe a hut on stilts in the sea used by fishermen. Generally refers to cheating or corruption in a game. The analogy goes that just as fish escape a broken net, so will a bribed goalkeeper concede goals. Usage: ‘Oi, how can France lose 10-0 to Latvia? Confirm kelong one!’  L7 Of course there’s kelong (cheating). Wherever there’s multi-million dollars involved, there’ll always be kelong2006 Faith Teo The Electric New Paper, 11 June. Tune in to RTM1.. today and you will see a shaky, grainy picture with a crawler apologising for the distortion.. The shaky pictures are from Radio Television Malaysia 1 (RTM 1). This started happening just three days before the start of the World Cup last night. .. Singapore viewers cried foul, complaining on Internet forums of ‘kelong’. They felt they were being robbed of watching World Cup matches for free.  2007 Tan Yo-Hinn Today (from, 4 January. The price of kelong? $200, allegedly [title].. Goalkeeper Zulkifli Zainolabidin said in court yesterday that former Malaysia national football coach Chow Kwai Lam.. had offered him between $200 and $300 – on top of an undisclosed bonus – to let in two or three goals in an S-League match in 2005.  B 1 2002 Philip Allen (quoting R Vengadasalam) The Straits Times, 2 March, S4 He said the team was kelong, swore at me and then punched me twice – on the head then in the face.  2004 Marc Lim (quoting John Dykes) The Straits Times, 24 April, A18 We don’t look at a lop-sided game and go, ‘Wah, sure kelong’. We analyse the match, look at what went wrong.  2 2005 Marc Lim The Straits Times (Life!), 7 February, 6 “[K]elonging” (Singlish for deliberately losing) at my family’s Chinese New Year black jack sessions, especially when playing against my younger cousins.

kena /-nah, ˈɡənɑ/ v. [Mal., bring down upon, get or suffer something, affected by, forced to]  Befall, experience, happen to, occur to, esp. be selected for an undesired or unpleasant task or responsibility.
¶ Opposite of
Keoh Teoh.
1982Paik-Choo’ (Toh Paik Choo) Eh, Goondu! 20 Kena Played So A asked B for a date and B said fine, but could she also tag C along and the well-lettered trio go on the town with A picking up all the tabs. Eventually A hears that B and C are “together.” In this lesson on geometry was C the lamppost? No, but A was “kena played.” “Kena” is Malay for catching something bad. “Played” here as in “played-out.” 
1987 Toh Paik Choo On the Buses 67 I sure kena goreng.  1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 kena – caught out (eg kena die).  1994 C S Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 90 If I kena whack, I’ll still rely on your Shaolin wushu to help me.  94 Alamak, medic kena whack!  137 kena. To be awarded or saddled with something bad.  2000 Leong Liew Geok “Forever Singlish” in Women without Men 130 .. like when the secretary say / You hold on arh, he’s on another line; / So you wait for him to finish – wah piang, talk / So long, boey tahan, some more I kena / Scolding from boss for wasting time.  2000 Kelvin Tong The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 23 November, 9 As if Singapore got a lot of roads. Basket, drive 10 m, kenna hump already.  2003 Peh Shing Huei (quoting Mervyn Koh) The Sunday Times, 12 October, 32 [J]ust because their friend kena, they wanted to revolt.  2003 Teo Hwee Nak & Lee Ching Wern (quoting Low Thia Khiang) Today, 17 October, 2 We have also been through training and we all kena tekan (were bullied)..  2003 Tracy Quek & Irena Joseob The Sunday Times, 19 October, 14 [title] ‘Kena tekan.. but survival training must be rough and tough, say NSmen’.. What they remember of POW training was that it tested them physically and mentally. Some soldiers might say they kena tekan (were put under mental and physical pressure), but all of them agreed it was essential.  2005 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 9 October. I myself have kena hantam in online forums when I started writing this column.  2008 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 2 November, 14 As a Singaporean, I’ve never voted in a General Election because (1) my constituency always kena walkover, and (2) like the outcome’s ever in doubt, meh?

kena sai /sı, sʌɪ/ v. phr. [Hk. be hit by excrement: sai [...]; Mand. shǐ excrement, faeces, dung, droppings (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  Caused trouble by someone or something else.
2006 Jeanine Tan & Grace Yap (quoting Gurmit Singh),
Today, 12 December, 41 The show ran the risk of being too short at first, which led some of the presenters suddenly being cued to prolong their time on stage. .. But towards the end of the show, those on stage were cued to hurry up again when the show ran the risk of running longer than its stipulated three hours. Gurmit Singh.. summed up the confusion when he joked in his acceptance speech: “I thought we were under-running? Just now they talk so long, now I cannot talk so long? Kana sai!”  2009 Colin Goh & Woo Yen Yen (eds.) The Coxford Singlish Dictionary (2nd ed.) 109 kena sai  A happy marriage of Malay and Hokkien, meaning to get into trouble. Literally, “got hit by shit”. .. “He didn’t pass up his homework, so kena sai from the teacher.

keng /keng, ɡɛŋ/ v. [Hk. keng (not found in Medhurst)] Also geng 1 Evade work, a task, etc.; skive off.  See also Chia Chua, Snake, Take Cover, Tuang2 Pretend to be ill, malinger.
1 1994 C S Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 46 He thought only of the ways he could keng out during the various technical streaming tests.  79 There were rebels in my batch of signallers who wanted both greater equality with the corporals and the freedom to keng a little more.  2012 William Cheong The Sunday Times, 5 November, 43 [V]iewers are treated to the usual stereotypes – .. the slacker or “geng king”.  2 1994 C S Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 130 I was thrown in for exercise in Jurong, just because someone decided to keng and report sick.  2004 Terence Lim Eu Seng Today, 6 May, 10 [T]he first reaction of many officers tends to be that their subordinates must be trying to geng (pretend to be ill)..


chao keng /chow, tʃaʊ/ v. [Hk. Chao]  Pretend to be busy or unaware.
2009 Irene Tham
The Straits Times (Digital Life), 29 April, 2 If there is an award for everyday tech ingenuity, the honour, or rather dishonour, must go to the men I meet during my daily commute. .. Once on their seats they snag from a jostling crowd on the train, they whip out their BlackBerry phones, music players or Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) gaming consoles.. The behinds of these self-absorbed men stay unashamedly planted in their seats, even the priority ones reserved for needy passengers. Together, they bring a high-tech twist to the Hokkien phrase “chao keng”, which means pretending to be busy, or ignorant, for selfish reasons.

keng king n. [Eng. king]  A person who kengs frequently.  See King.
1994 C S Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 43 The fifth guy reported sick early on the morning of that blooming important day: I wanted to lash out at this sabo king, this keng king.  137 keng king. Nickname for those who choose to avoid allotted tasks.

Phrases: keng ka liau /kah leeow, ɡɑ lɪaʊ/ [Hk. kaòu (colloq.) to arrive at, to reach, to come to one + leáou finished, done; determined; fully comprehended (Medhurst); Mand. dào until + liăo ended, finished, settled, disposed of (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  Keng all the way, keng constantly.

kengster /keng-stə(r), ˈɡɛŋstə(r)/ n. [Hk. keng + Eng. –ster]  One who Kengs.
2005 Hong Xinyi The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 19 June. Kengsters. Army use: People who feign illness to evade tasks, keng being Hokkien for skiving. They are also prime targets for a blanket party.. Civilian use: People who avoid doing their jobs by giving lame excuses. Example: He said he had diarrhoea and couldn’t hand in the report on time. But I saw him eating laksa with a lot of cockles for lunch. What a kengster.

kentang /kən-tahng, ˈkəntɑŋ/ n. & a. [Mal., in full ubi kentang potato (Solanum tuberosum) (Wilkinson)] Also kantang.  A n. A Caucasian, a white person. See also Ang Moh, Mat Salleh B a. Of a non-Caucasian: behaving or speaking like a Caucasian or a white person; westernized.
B 2001 Samuel Lee The Straits Times (Life!), 28 May, L4 It is a pleasure seeing how kentang (Anglicised) home-girl Chen can become.  2004 Hong Xinyi (quoting Steph Song) The Straits Times (Life!), 22 November, 5 ‘Adrian became the reason why the rest of us kantang people had no excuse for not picking up Mandarin. They would say, if Adrian Pang can do it, so can you.’ Kantang – a mangled Malay word for ‘potato’ – is Singlish for Western-educated Singaporeans.  2009 Phin Wong Today, 10–11 January, 30 My friends and I have thrown an annual Christmas party for years. Turkey, shepherd’s pie, cocktails and the Muppets singing the 12 Days of Christmas. It’s about as kentang as can be (don’t judge us – we do steamboat for Chinese New Year, okay?).

Comb.: chia kentang /chiah, tʃɪɑ/ v. phr. [Hk. chia eat; Mand. chī]  Of a non-Caucasian: behave like a Caucasian, adopt a Caucasian lifestyle.
2004 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 12 December, L14 I was your quintessential Anglo-Chinese School Chiak Kantang Kengchio Kia (potato-eating banana child)..

keoh teoh /kioh dioh, kɪəʊ dɪəʊ/ v. phr. [Hk. (?) k’hëŏh (colloq.) to take up, to pick up, to gather up + tò to arrive at, to come to, to attain; to reach, unto (Medhurst); Mand. (?) shí pick up (from the ground), collect + dào arrive, reach (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  Be fortunate in gaining something.
¶ Opposite of
1994 C S Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 61 As for Signals, they said it was ‘the most switch-off place around besides being a clerk – kheo teoh, man!’  74 Everyone was going ‘All right, man! Kheo teoh!’ and hand-slapping each other.  86 One of those kheo teoh assignments that involved travelling round the whole island and parking in scenic people-watching spots in a radio-equipped landrover.  137 keoh teoh. A fortunate gain.

keropok /kə-roh-poh(k), kəroˈpo(k̚)/ n. [Mal., a composition of tapioca flour and dried prawns or fish fried as a crisp biscuit to eat with curry (Winstedt); preservation by cooking, drying and salting; anything so preserved (Wilkinson)]  1 A deep-fried prawn- or fish-flavoured cracker.  2 transf. A prank in which a person, often celebrating his or her birthday, is slapped on the back repeatedly by others.
2008 Huang Lijie The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 23 November, 24 [T]he deep-fried fish skin with achar (pickled vegetable).. could fit right in on the appetiser menu of a progressive Chinese restaurant as a quirky interpretation of spicy seafood keropok.  2008 Zubaidah Nazeer & Mohd Ishak Samon The New Paper, 27 January, 12 Gendut loved his keropok. He even won a keropok eating contest. Gendut or “chubby” is now known all over the world as US president Barack Obama.  2 2004 Renee Tan & Ng Mei Yan The Sunday Times, 23 January, 37 Keropok, the Malay name for crispy prawn or fish crackers, is the name of yet another ritual because the sharp slapping sounds made when the boys rain blows on their friend’s back sound like the snap and crackle of someone biting into a keropok. Although it sounds painful, those who engage in it say it is a friendly gesture towards a birthday boy. Undergraduate Nicholas, who was “keropok-ed” in secondary school, said: “It’s quite painful but the pain fades really fast and there’s no trace of it after a while.”

ketok /-tohk, ˈkəto/ v. [Mal. (imit.), to rap, to make the sound ‘tok’ (Wilkinson); compare berketok make a rapping noise; mengetok rap (with the fingers, a gavel, a small hammer on a door, board, table, etc. (Winstedt)] joc.  Coax or trick someone into paying for a meal, etc.

ketupat /-too-paht, ˈkətʊpɑt̚/ n. [Mal., rice cooked in a packet or container made of woven coconut leaves (Ridhwan)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 1, 590 kětupat.. Square or polygonal packet of cooked glutinous rice. Taken, like our sandwiches, for food on a journey. .. These rice-packets are common offerings to evil spirits to get them away from a place. .. The usual k. [ketupat] is four-sided, the wrapper being of palm-leaf; less common are k. bawang (seven-sided) and k. pasar or k. tělur (eight-sided).] 

A traditional Malay food item consisting of glutinous rice pressed into a square or polygonal packet made of woven strips of banana leaf or palm leaf and cooked, often served with Satay.
2000 Arlina Arshad The Straits Times, 27 December, H8 Ketupat, or rice cakes, satay, lontong, rendang (meat), sambal goreng (mixed vegetables) and serunding (spiced grated coconut) are typical dishes served on this day [Hari Raya Puasa].  2006 Sukri Kadola Today (from, 21 September. Every Ramadan, he and I would fold the ketupat (rice cake) using young coconut leaves. He always inventively wove a couple of super-sized ones shaped like an elongated isosceles triangle. He strove to add a personal touch to everything he did..  2008 The Straits Times (Home), 29 September, B2 Three thousand ketupat, or traditional Malay rice cakes, were yesterday given out to needy families and underprivileged children, ahead of Hari Raya Puasa on Wednesday. .. General manager of the Malay Heritage Foundation Eddy Noor Hassan, describing the ketupat as a heritage item, said its distribution was symbolic of the beauty of Malay culture.

Khek /ke(k), (k̚)/ n. [Teo. kêh4 visitor, guest, outsider; opp. of ‘host’; that which is outside one’s door; (dial.) relating to the Hakka (Chaozhou Dict.); Mand. visitor; guest (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  A n. 1 A Hakka: a member of a people now dwelling in parts of southern China, especially in 广东 Guǎngdōng (Kwangtung or Canton) Province, and in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, etc., or a descendant thereof living in another part of the world. The ancestors of the Hakka or Khek are said to have originated from around 河南 Hénán and 山西 Shānxī Provinces in northern China, and to have moved southwards in several waves of migration starting more than 2,700 years ago.  2 The Chinese dialect of the Hakka or Khek people, which is widely spoken in Singapore.  B a. Of or pertaining to the Hakka or Khek and their culture.
¶ For the etymology of the term Hakka, see Hakka Yong Tau Fu.

A 1
1895 Geographical Journal, no. 3, 290 The Chinese [in Singapore] are principally Tinchus or Taichus..; other clans or provinces are represented in the following order: Hokkiens, Kehs, and Macaos.  2007 Surekha Yadav Today (from, 19 January. [T]he nurse on duty told schoolteacher John Siow and his wife that a child of their dialect group Khek was up for adoption.  2 1894 N.B. Dennys A Descriptive Dictionary of British Malaya 191 Of foreign languages, Chinese, of course, is spoken by the great majority, i.e., using the word “Chinese” as we should use “European,” each so-called “dialect” being in reality a distinct language. These “dialects” are Cantonese (Macao), Teochew, Hokien, Hylam, and Hakka or Keh. Of these there are several sub-divisions, being true dialects.  B 2006 Leong Weng Kam (quoting Ho Lam Kwong) The Straits Times, 27 July, H6 Clansmen from the Khek community here have been lobbying to have the 187-year-old temple their ancestors built preserved as a national monument. Lying at the foot of the former Mount Palmer off Shenton Way, the Fook Tet Soo Khek Temple, better known as the Wang Hai Da Bo Gong Miao, has existed since Sir Stamford Raffles landed in Singapore in 1819, making it the oldest Taoist temple here. .. “The temple is possibly Singapore’s oldest Chinese temple and its preservation is important not only to the Khek community but also to Singapore’s heritage and history..”

khia-khia /kiah kiah, ɡɪɑ ɡɪɑ/ a. [Hk. na (colloq.) to fear, to be afraid, to be terrified at (Medhurst); Mand. fear, dread, be afraid of (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  Afraid, worried; nervous.
1994 C S Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 65 I fit his idea of the khia-khia little-exposure-to-life bookworm.  137 khia-khia. Looking scared and unsteady.

khoon var. of Koon.

kiam chye /giahm chı, ɡiɑm tʃʌɪ/ n. [Hk. kiam salted, salty + chye vegetable; Mand. xiáncài]  1 A type of Chinese salted vegetable.  2 fig. Something badly creased or crumpled.  3 fig. A mess, a disaster.
1 1994 C S Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 137 kiam chye. Pickled salted vegetable.  2001 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 28 January, P16 Crave after kiam-chye-laden bowls of Teochew porridge.  2011 Thng Lay Teen The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 31 July, 23 Do try the crunchy kiam chye (salted vegetable, 50 cents or $1), which is not salty at all but is tasty.  3 1994 C S Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 14 Whatcha think of this new life? I feel kiam chye right now. Wonderful, ain’t it?  74 Was life going to be really kiam chye all the way?

kiao kar /kiow kah, kɪaʊ kɑ/ v. phr. [Hk. kiao shake + kar leg; Mand. yáo jiăo]  Be idle, while away the time.  Also transl. into Eng. as shake legs.
2000 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Dasmond Koh) The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 3 December, P26 People think we just play songs, kiao kar (shake legs), and enjoy the air-con.

Phrase: kiao kar yo lum pa /yoh lum pah, jo lʌm pɑ/ v. phr. [Hk. yo + lum pa testicles, balls; Mand. yáo shake, wave, rock, turn (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  Kiao Kar.
2006 Neil Humphreys Final Notes from a Great Island 133 [T]here is the bizarrely sexual Hokkien rebuke often used by a superior officer to berate an idle subordinate. He might say something like, “Recruit, I told you to make your bed, but you just kiao kah yo lum par.” For non-National Servicemen, kiao kar yo lum par roughly translates into “raise your legs and wiggle your balls”. Now, I find it a mite peculiar that an officer orders a soldier to jiggle his genitals, but there you go.

kiasi /kiah-see, ˈkɪɑ̃ˈsiː/ [Hk. kia fear + si death; Mand. pàsĭA n. One who is afraid of taking risks; an over-cautious person.  B a. Afraid of taking risks; over-cautious.
A 2001 Angela Wu The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend) 1 March, 3 Required reading for the kiasus and kiasis2003 Frederick Lim Today, 28 May, 22 Apart from the kiasis and kiasus, there are also Singaporeans at the other end of the scale – the healthcare workers who put their lives at risk.  2006 Tan Chek Wee Today, 5 July, 18 The kiasi (those afraid to die) who insist on seeing a doctor for the most minor complaint such as “my baby sneezed this morning leh”.  B 1988Pro Bono Puntero” [pseudonym] The Straits Times, 11 December, 35 The kia-si/kia-su (“afraid to die/afraid to lose”) attitude of the Totalisator Boards in Malaysia and Singapore is deplorable.  2000 Leong Liew Geok “Forever Singlish” in Women without Men 130 No lubang, so teruk. Kiasu cannot lose, / Kiasi cannot die; machiam machiam words / We also try. Proper English? So lecheh, / So correct, so actsy for what? ..  2000 Kelvin Tong The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 9 April, 30 But while kiasu is in, kiasi (scared to die) is out. The new economy is an arena of risk-takers and anyone who balks at scaling great heights will stay at the bottom of the heap.  2001 Ang Mong Seng Parliamentary Debates, Official Report, 14 March, vol. 73, col. 1000 .. [T]wo things happen when shops are tendered: (a) The “kiasu” tender where the bid is extremely high, for fear of failure to secure the place; and (b) The “kiasi” or “afraid to die” tender where the bid is very low for fear that the capital cannot be recouped and the business will die.  2001 Arlina Arshad The Straits Times, 2 October, H1 ‘I know we seem very kiasu and kiasi, but it’s better to play it safe.’ Kiasu means ‘afraid to lose’ in Hokkien, while kiasi means ‘afraid to die’, also in Hokkien.  2005 ‘Mr Brown’ (Lee Kin Mun) Today, 18 March, 36 We would have saved even more had we eaten from the roadside hawkers, but because we were kiasi (Hokkien for “afraid of dying”) Singaporeans with delicate digestive systems, we decided to stick to the air-con places.

kiasi-ism n. [Hk. Kiasi + Eng. -ism]  The state of being kiasi.
2004 Patrick Tan Siong Kuan The Straits Times, 25 September, 37 [W]hy is there a need for signs to warn members of the public that they are entering at their own risk? SLA [Singapore Land Authority] may view this as a way to protect the Government, in case anyone gets hurt. But I see this as another act of kiasi-ism.

kiasu /kiah-soo, ˈkɪɑ̃ˈsuː/ n. & a. [Hk. kia fear + su loss; Mand. pàshū]  Also kia suA n. One who is afraid to lose out to someone else, often to the point of selfishness; an over-cautious person.  B a. Afraid of losing out to someone else, and therefore often behaving selfishly and disregarding others.  kiasu(-)ness n.
A 1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 44 Kia su (Hokkien) One who’s scared of failing. Describes the breed which will not dare do anything for fear of getting into trouble; or one who is over cautious. E.g., Kia su soldiers wishing to pass their eye test usually memorise the entire eye chart the night before.  2003 Frederick Lim Today, 28 May, 22 Apart from the kiasis and kiasus, there are also Singaporeans at the other end of the scale – the healthcare workers who put their lives at risk.  B 1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 308 kian [sic: kiah] su. It means ‘play safe’: Hokkien. Used to describe a person, commonly a government official, who is rigidly over-cautious and unprepared to take any risk, however unlikely. A distinguishing characteristic of civil servants both within and outside the defence set-up.  1983 Leong Chan Teik The Straits Times, 14 July, 19 “Kiah-su” in our context is used mildly contemptuously to describe a student whose nose is forever buried in his books.  1987 Toh Paik Choo On the Buses 43 Some mothers are more kia su. They hop on the bus with the child..  1990 Lee Siew-Choh Parliamentary Debates, Official Report, 14 March, vol. 55, col. 181 I wish that the Government Ministers do not become infected with the same kiasu syndrome that they themselves have advised other people against.  1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 kiasu – afraid of failure.  2000 Leong Liew Geok “Forever Singlish” in Women without Men 130 No lubang, so teruk. Kiasu cannot lose, / Kiasi cannot die; machiam machiam words / We also try. Proper English? So lecheh, / So correct, so actsy for what? ..  2000 Susan Long The Straits Times, 9 January, 32 The once-derogatory kiasu has become a national term of endearment of sorts these days. When you accuse people of being kiasu, they are very proud of it. ‘They will tell you: “You have to be to achieve something, get that headstart, get what you want”,’ she says.  47 Our own kiasu spirit is rooted in our humble past.  2000 Kelvin Tong The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 9 April, 30 Singaporeans’ kiasu (scared to lose) mentality will ensure that they are first in line when it comes to queueing for innovation.  2001 Neil Humphreys Notes from an Even Smaller Island 91 In Hokkien, kiasu means ‘to be scared to fail’. To a certain extent, it can be a positive characteristic in certain spheres of society. .. But it never stops at the healthy level. Many Singaporeans like immediate, positive results. They cannot wait for things; they must have them now and they must be the first to have them.  2005 Jane Ng The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 20 August. A veteran educator blames the kiasu Singapore parent for the cramming that goes on even in pre-school classes.  2006 Brendan Lee Aik Jin Straits Times Interactive, 10 October. As long as a child is not lazy and tries his best, parents should be contented. They should get rid of the kiasu, overly competitive mindset.  2011 Teo Xuanwei (quoting Wong Chin Chin) Today on Sunday, 11 September, 3 The police cannot be everywhere, so I do what I can. Like if I see a bag lying around, I’ll raise an alarm. Kiasu a bit never mind, lah..

kiasuism n. [Kiasu + Eng. –ism]  The state of being kiasu; Kiasu-ness.
2000 Susan Long The Straits Times, 19 January, 47 The American equivalent of kiasuism is paranoia. .. My concern is that our kiasuism is driven by fear.  2001 Neil Humphreys Notes from an Even Smaller Island 91 Having now lived in Singapore for over five years, I experience some form of kiasuism every day. To me, it is the city-state’s most negative (and most visible) feature.  2002 The Straits Times (National Day Special 2002), 9 August, 16 A city where kiasuism – being the first or best at the expense of others – is the order of the day.  2004 Philip Lee Streats, 23 April, 22 [L]et us not scoff so superciliously at our national trait – kiasuism. ..  Kiasuism is the paranoia that impels so many of us to try harder, think deeper, be more creative, lest we fail. And because we do that, many of us succeed.  2005 Sim Kay Wee & Ron Kaufman The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 21 October. End of kiasu era [title] In the early days of Singapore there was a scarcity of resources. Kiasuism evolved as a natural response: risk as little as you can, and get as much as you can. But today, Singapore is in abundance – with an educated workforce, political stability and many opportunities for education, recreation and housing.  2006 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 22 October. Maybe we Singaporeans, because we’re such great shopaholics, have also acquired a tremendous ability to induce buyer’s remorse. Is this something we can simply shrug off as being just another manifestation of ‘kiasu-ism’, our national quirk, or something a bit more poisonous?

kiasu-ness n. [Kiasu + Eng. –ness]  The state of being kiasu; Kiasuism.
1989 David Tan The Straits Times, 26 April, 26 But I am of the opinion that the problem lies in the attitude of Singaporeans. That attitude which has unabashedly gained us international attention – “kia-suness”. 2006 Peh Shing Huei The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 12 May. [Y]ears of sniggers, whispers and innuendoes about unfairness and kiasu-ness.

kilat /kee-laht, ˈkiːlɑt̚/ a. [Mal., lightning, flash; berkilat flashing, shiny (of surface, metal), dazzling (of lights) (Winstedt)]  Good, impressive, well-done.
2006 Leong Chan Teik (quoting Amolat Singh) The Sunday Times, 30 July, 18–19 I pay only $30 a month in subscription fees [for the Temasek Club]. With such a low fee, some people wonder if the facilities work – I tell you they are quite kilat (Malay slang for wonderful).

kin /keen, kin/ v. [Hk.; Mand. jĭn]  Hurry, make haste.
1994 C S Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 16 Debus, debus, debus! Oi! Kinleh! Kinleh! KINLEH!  138 kinleh. Quickly! The leh is added to convey urgency.

king suffix [Eng.]  Used to express that someone or something is the greatest or the epitome: Blur King, Gabra King, Sabo King.
2003 Peh Shing Huei (quoting Gwyn Tan) The Sunday Times, 12 October, 32 Maybe they should recall Alan Shearer for England. .. His elbow’s bloody power man. He is EPL’s [English Premier League’s] elbow king.  2012 William Cheong The Sunday Times, 5 November, 43 [V]iewers are treated to the usual stereotypes – .. the business-minded “lobang” king and the slacker or “geng king”.

kitchi /kit-chee, ˈkɪtʃɪ/ a. [poss. a corruption of Eng. titchy]  Insignificantly small, diminutive, tiny.
2006 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 4 June. [W]e get a really kitchi (small) local release on one or two screens.

KIV /kay ı vee, keɪ aɪ viː/ v. [Eng., abbrev. of k(eep i(n v(iew, a categorization applied to documents and files]  Set aside for further consideration in the future; postpone, take a rain check on.
2011 Akshita Nanda The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 13 November, 39 [P]erhaps you will KIV it – keep it in view – for later.

Kiwi n. & v. [< the Kiwi brand of boot polish, invented in 1906 by William Ramsay, bearing the picture of a kiwi on its container (the brand is owned by the Sara Lee Corp.) < Maori kiwi the apteryx, a bird about the size of a goose with rudimentary wings and no tail which is the national emblem of New Zealand] mil. slang  A n. (A proprietary name for) boot polish, esp. black boot polish.  B v. Polish one’s boots or shoes, esp. using black boot polish.

[2005 Kiwi website ( In 1906, William Ramsay had developed an unusually fine boot polish to which he gave the name ‘KIWI’. The choice of the name KIWI as a trademark was a tribute to William’s wife who was a native of New Zealand, home of the KIWI bird and New Zealand’s national emblem. During Ramsay’s visit to New Zealand he had noticed the quaint, wingless birds with their crisp, glossy plumage. The kiwi bird design looked good on the small round tin, and the name was easy to see and attractive to look at.]

A 2002 Koh Boon Pin & Lee Geok Boi (quoting Tay Boon Hwa) Shoulder to Shoulder 43 The smell of Kiwi reminds me of BMT [Basic Military Training].

Kling /kling, klɪŋ/ n. [< Mal. Keling name formerly applied to all immigrants from the Coromandel coast, but sometimes limited to Muslim immigrants from that coast; orang Keling a Tamil or Telugu < Tam. காளிங்க Kāḷiṅka < Skt. किळङ Kalinga the name applied by the sacred works known as the Purānas to several places in India but especially a district on the Coromandel coast, extending from below Cuttack (Kạtoka) to the vicinity of Madras, the people of which are said to owe their origin to Kalinga, the son of Dīrghatamas and Sudeshṇā (Monier-Williams): see also quot. 1894] derog.  A person of Indian origin, esp. a Tamil, Telugu or other southern Indian.

[1894 N.B. Dennys A Descriptive Dictionary of British Malaya 182 Kling.– The name given by the Malays (J.I.A. [Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia], Vol. II., p. 10) to the Telinga nation of Southern India, and which appears to be a corruption or abbreviation of the genuine name of the country of this people – Kalinga. So many have settled in Malaya that they form an appreciable portion of the population. Being the only Indian nation familiarly known to the nations of the Archipelago, the word is used by them as a general term for all the people of Hindustan, and for the country itself. .. In Singapore, .. the Telingas form about one-tenth of the population.. It was this people that, in all probability, introduced the Hindu religion, and they seem also to have contributed materially to the spread of Mohammedanism, the majority of the settlers being at present of this persuasion. .. When I first heard the name Kling, I considered it a misnomer, but have changed my opinion for the following reasons:– (1.) The people we speak of as Klings cannot properly be called Hindus, as the majority in the Straits will, I believe, be found to be Mahommedans. This disposes of the religious name. (2.) They cannot be called Tamils, as very many, if not most of them, are Telugus (Telingana); thus language fails to meet the difficulty. (3.) Coromandels might be used, but this word is only known as a geographical expression by the Europeans. Natives of India do not use it, that I am aware of. (4.) Dravidians might meet the want of a common name (one in common I mean), but philologists would be horror-struck at the desecration of one of their pet words. Nor is it a word in common use among natives of India. We are thus compelled to fall back upon the despised word Kling, which, I think, may be satisfactorily accounted for on the following suppositions:– (1.) Penang was originally a part of the Bengal Presidency, or rather was ruled from Bengal. (2.) Officials from Bengal must have brought Bengali servants with them. (3.) These, when the first importations of natives of the south-east coast of India were brought over, would class them as Kaling; that is, as people coming from the districts known to them as Kaling, south of Bengal. (4.) The next step would be easy – Kaling has a short “a”; omit it altogether (there are many similar instances in philology), the result is Kling, applied to all natives south of Bengal. The above appears to me the probable derivation of the name as used here.  1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 1, 542 Keling.. Southern Indian; «Kling». Etym., «native of Kalinga» (a Telugu district, the Northern Circars); now used rather of Tamils. Originally a famous name; referred to in Asoka’s edicts, in the Singhalese Mahawansa, and even in Pliny (Hist. Nat. VI 18, 20; VII 2, – quoted by Yule). At present it is regarded rather as a term of abuse. Abdullah (a man of Indian descent) uses it of his own people, see Ht. Abd. [Hikayat Abdullah] 3, 14, 22; and speaks of the most learned man in Malacca as a pěranakan K. (Ht. Abd. 31). But even in the Malay Annals there are indications that the word had dubious associations: cheh Kěling tiada tahu bahasa (for shame, you mannerless Kling; Mal. Annals [Malay Annals]). Cf. also the passage where the captured king of Pahang describes scornfully as «this old Kling» the Dato’ Nara Diraja, the Indian founder of the great family from which the Sultans of Lingga, Singapore, Trengganu, Pahang and Johore claimed direct descent; Mal. Annals.]

¶ In Cant., persons of Indian origin are sometimes referred to as kiling yun, Kling persons.
1606 Edmund Scott Exact Discourse of the .. East Indians, signature F, 4 If it were not for the Sabyndar, the Admirall, and one or twoe more, which are Clyn men borne, there were noe liuing for a Christian amongst them.  1625 Samuel Purchas Purchas his Pilgrimes I. IV. ch. 2, 385 The fifteenth of Iune, heere arriued Nockhoda Tingall a Cling-man from Banda, in a Iaua Iuncke.  1839 Thomas John Newbold Political and Statistical Account of the British Settlements in the Straits of Malacca, vol. I, ch. 1, 8 The Chinese, and the natives from India (Chuliahs and Klings,) are by far the most useful class.  1865 John Cameron Our Tropical Possessions in Malayan India
51–52 The street leading from the landing-place to Commercial Square, the great business centre of the town, is a rather narrow one, with a constant stream of Chinese, Malays, Klings, Parsees, and Mussulmen, pouring one way and the other. Their costumes are as varied as their nationalities. From the simple white rag of the nearly naked Kling, to the heavy flowing dress of the Mahommedan Hadjee, almost every shade of colour, and every variety of habit which it is possible to imagine, are here mingled together.  147 Next in the population tables of the Straits come the natives of India, chiefly Klings from Madras and the Coromandel coast, and Bengalese from Calcutta. The Klings are by far the most numerous, and are a conspicuous element in the population. .. The occupations sought by these people are numerous, and some of them distinct. They are traders, shopkeepers, cooks, boatmen, common labourers, hack-carriage runners, and washermen; the two latter occupations are almost entirely monopolized by them.  1869 Alfred Russel Wallace The Malay Archipelago, vol. 1, ch. 2, 31 The Klings of Western India are a numerous body of Mahometans, and, with many Arabs, are petty merchants and shopkeepers.  1890 Rudyard Kipling Barrack-Room Ballads (1892) 135 The frigate-bird shall carry my word to the Kling and the Orang-Laut.  1894 N.B. Dennys A Descriptive Dictionary of British Malaya 154 The annual immigration of Indian (Kling) coolies into the Straits Settlements and Native States is estimated at about 10,000.  159 The wealthy Babas, born in the Straits, the respectable traders, their wives and daughters, the petty shopkeeper and the coolie who works by the day, Klings and Malays, women and children, all alike are unable to resist the temptation to gamble.  1915 Malaysia Message, May, 64 The same thing holds true with regard to the word ‘Kling’ which is often used in a contemptuous way. Consequently, no sensible man who knows anything about the way the word is commonly used, would think of using it when addressing an audience of Tamils or Indians.  1968 Encyclopædia Britannica, vol. 13, 400, col. 1 In Malay usage ‘Kling’ carried associations of disparagement from the start. It.. was replaced by ‘Tamil’ early in the 20th century.  2000 Peter K.G. Dunlop Street Names of Singapore 53 The word ‘Kling’ was widely used in Singapore and Malaysia as a generic name for Indians, especially those from southern India. It comes from Kalinga, the powerful 14th century kingdom on India’s eastern coast, which was the first part of the sub-continent to export its culture to the Malay world.  2003 Earnest Lau Methodist Message, September, 4 ‘A Chinese Christian’ in the May 1915 Malaysia Message drew attention to the racial epithets used by certain missionaries, questioning the appropriateness of ‘Chinaman’ and ‘Kling’ to refer to Chinese and Tamils.  2003 Victor R. Savage & Brenda S.A. Yeoh, Toponymics 6–7 Kling Street (now Chulia Street): already extant on the earliest comprehensive plan of the town drawn from an actual survey, Kling Street was named after southern Indians known in Singapore as “Klings”, a Malay/Javanese corruption of Kalinga, the ancient empire of southern India which had trading connections of great antiquity with the Malay Archipelago. In nineteenth-century Singapore, “Orang Kling” was a bazaar Malay term which embraced southern Hindu Indians of all classes. After World War I, however, the leaders of the Indian community, and its English-educated members in particular, felt that the street-name Kling Street had taken on a degrading connotation which it had not had in the past, since the only class of people referred to as “Klings” after the war were the lowly Indian coolies (Peet, 1985:110). In 1918, Rev J.A.B. Coah wrote to the municipal commissioners suggesting that the name Kling Street be changed as it was “a cause of irritation to Indians” but the commissioners saw no reason to discard what they felt was an historical name. The commissioners, however, yielded to increasing pressure to comply with the feelings of the Indian community three years later, and Kling Street was rechristened Chulia Street, on the motion of Dr H.S. Moonshi, one of the Indian members of the Board.  91 Chulia Street was formerly known as Kling Street because of the concentration of Indians from southern India, who were known as “men from Kalinga” or in Malay, orang kling. Kling Street was one of the early streets of Singapore, developed probably in the early 1820s, and appears in Coleman’s 1836 Map of Singapore. It is the only spatial reference to the presence of this Indian community on the modern landscape. When Indian convicts were transported to Singapore, Kling had a derogatory association and hence the name Kling was dropped and replaced with Chulia, a reference no doubt to the Chulias from India who were concentrated in this area (the North Indian term for the Kalinga kingdom is Chulia).  2005 Janadas Devan The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 12 June. .. Chulia Street, called Kling Street once because Indians from southern India, known as ‘men from Kalinga’, or orang kling in Malay, lived there. Kalinga, an ancient southern Indian state, was corrupted into kling long before Indians arrived in Malaya. By 1918, however, kling had become derogatory, so Kling Street was changed to Chulia Street, with nobody seeming to mind that Chulia was just the northern Indian term for Kalinga.

kon lo meen /gon, gɒn/ n. [Cant. kon parched, dry + to fish up, to dredge + mín wheat-flour; flour vermicelli (Eitel); Mand. gān dry + lāo dredge, scoop + miàn noodles (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  A Chinese dish consisting of Dry noodles tossed in sauce and served with ingredients such as shredded chicken, vegetables, etc.
2006 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 17 September. [T]ry the stall’s other dishes, such as Penang laksa ($2.50), Penang prawn noodle soup ($2.50) and kon low mee (dry tossed noodles, $2).

kong bak pau /kong bahk pow, kɒŋ bɑk̚ paʊ/ n. [Hk. ( k’hòng(chòng fat, corpulent + băh flesh + paou to include, to inclose; paou to bundle up (Medhurst); Mand. kǎngròubāo: kǎng(zāng literary language fat, corpulent + ròu meat, flesh + bāo bundle, package, pack, packet, parcel (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  A Chinese dish consisting of slices of braised fatty pork served sandwiched in white semi-circular buns.
2004 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Moses Lim) The Sunday Times, 6 June, L31 Hokkien kong bak pau (fatty pork in buns) and suckling pig.  2005 Peh Shing Huei The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 13 October. [F]amiliar local fare like .. Hokkien kong bak pao (braised pork bun) .. will be available.  2006 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 4 June. Packed even on weekdays, the eatery also does very good kong bak pau..  2010 Rebecca Lynne Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 25 July, 20 Kong bak pau, which is sliced braised pork belly served in a steamed bun..

koo niang var. of Gu Niang.

koon /koon, kuːn/ v. [Hk., sleep; compare Mand. kùn tired] Also khoon.  Sleep, take a nap.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 309 kun. To sleep: Hokkien. A popular and well sought after activity or non-activity, especially among combat trainees who find their programme tight and strenuous.  1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 45 Khoon (Hokkien) Sleep.  1994 C S Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 58 Tried to call you for a chat or a movie so many times and every time someone tells me you’re kooning.  115 So, when’s your koon-time?  138 kooning. Sleeping.  2000 Dennis Wee with Sylvia Fong Making Luck with Your Hands 26 During the course, I was khooning most of the time.  119 Khooning in the army.

      Comb.: koon king n. [Eng.]  A person who is fond of napping or sleeping or who frequently naps or sleeps.
1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 45 Khoon king (Hokkien). Mr Dunlopillo.

kopi /koh-pee, ˈkopiː/ n. [Mal. < Eng. coffee]  Coffee, esp. with milk and sugar, or sweetened condensed milk.
2000 Jessica Tan (quoting Vincent Ng) The Straits Times (Life!), 22 July, 28 Brewing the perfect cup of kopi.  2002 The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 12 April, L22 Plain old kopi refers to coffee with condensed milk. .. I often see ah peks at kopitiams shaking their legs while enjoying their kopi.  2004 ‘Mr Brown’ (Lee Kin Mun) Today, 14 May, 46 Can! Wait I finish my kopi first.  2006 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 4 June. We all stirred our kopi morosely.  2012 Ashleigh Sim The Straits Times (Home), 9 August, B30 Kopi – coffee with condensed milk


kopi kah tai /kah tı, kɑ tʌɪ/ n. [Hk. kah + tai; Mand. jiā add, plus; increase, augment; put in, add, append (Chi.–Eng. Dict.) + (?)]  Coffee with more sugar.
[2012 Ashleigh Sim
The Straits Times (Home), 9 August, B30 How to order coffee or tea, Singapore-style .. You can also request less or more sugar by adding “siew dai” or “ka dai”, respectively.]

kopi kau /gow, gaʊ/ n. [Hk. kau (of liquids) thick, viscous; Mand. hòu]  Coffee that has been made thicker.
2000 Cheong Suk-Wai The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 13 July, 7 While their folks sip their kopi kau 2000 Jessica Tan (quoting Florence Tan) The Straits Times (Life!), 22 July, 28 Others want kopi gao gao (thick thick).  2012 Ashleigh Sim The Straits Times (Home), 9 August, B30 Kopi-o gau [title] .. Kopi gau – extra thick coffee

kopi kia /giah, ɡiɑ/ n. [Hk. kia child; Mand. ]  A person (perh. originally a young boy) who serves coffee and other food and beverages to patrons of a Coffee Shop.
2000 Dennis Wee with Sylvia Fong Making Luck with Your Hands 23 I was now the kopi-kia, now the counter-boy.  2000 Jessica Tan (quoting Florence Tan) The Straits Times (Life!), 22 July, 28 His role as a kopi kia (coffee boy).  2002 The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 12 April, L23 Remember to duck when you hear the cry of sio! (Hokkien for ‘hot!’) or a butter-fingered kopi kia (coffee boy) may send hot tea splashing on your scalp.  2012 Wong Kim Hoh The Sunday Times, 20 May, 43 From kopi kia to master chef [title] .. After completing Primary 6 at 14, he became a kopi kia (Hokkien for coffee boy) at Kim Leng, a Hainanese coffee shop in Seah Street, near Raffles Hotel.  2013 Toh Yong Chuan & Sue-ann Tan The Straits Times, 27 March, A8 Goodbye to ‘kopi kia’ in coffee shops? [title] .. the traditional kopi kia – Hokkien for coffee boys – who take orders and serve the drinks to customers. They are also known as “runners” in the coffee shop trade. .. Mr K.F. Seetoh of Makansutra said that the kopi kia is a key part of Singapore’s food culture.

kopi kosong /ko-song, ˈkɒsɒŋ/ n. [Mal. Kosong]  Unsweetened coffee with milk.  See kosong 2.

[2008 Anwar Ridhwan (ed.) Kamus Daya 836 teh [kosong] tea without sugar and milk.]

2006 Philip Soh Yeok Khoon The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 1 March. One can see that more health-con[s]cious Singaporeans are drinking ‘teh-o-kosong’ or ‘kopi-o-kosong’ (without sugar).

kopi licence n. [Eng. licence]  A driving licence obtained by paying a small bribe to the examiner enough for him or her to buy coffee with: often used humorously to refer to a person who is a bad driver.

kopi money n. [Eng. money]  A small bribe paid to a public servant such as a police officer, ostensibly enough for him or her to buy coffee with.
2010 Christopher Tan (quoting Christopher Quek)
The Straits Times (Home), 1 June, B1 ‘Kopi money’ risk [title] .. Mr Christopher Quek.. advises motorists to accept the speeding summonses and not offer “kopi money”. “You never know, even if they take your ‘coffee money’, your offence may still be recorded in the system,” he said, adding that it is best to settle traffic fines at the Johor Bahru police station.

kopi peng /peng, pɛŋ/ n. [Hk. peng ice; Mand. bīng]  Iced coffee.
2005 Eric J Brooks The Sunday Times, 10 April, 36 [A] Toa Payoh coffee shop demanded $1 for a “kopi-c ping” that was advertised for 80 cents, ice included.

kopi po /poh, p˺əʊ/ n. [Hk. po ; Mand. báo weak, light (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  Coffee that has been made thinner.
2012 Ashleigh Sim
The Straits Times (Home), 9 August, B30 Kopi po – diluted coffee

kopi siew tai /siuu tı, sɪuː tʌɪ/ n. [Hk. siew + tai; Mand. shǎo few, little, less + (?) (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  Coffee with less sugar.
2006 Serene Luo
The Straits Times (Digital Life), 8 August, 3 I know the difference between teh, teh-O, teh-C, teh-peng, teh-O-peng, kopi-gau, kopi-siew-tai, kopi-chino, milo-dinosaur, milo-godzilla, ta-chiu, and I have drunk and loved them all.  2009 Frankie Chee The Straits Times (Life!), 13 March, D9 Seetoh ordered Duke a kopi tarik siew dai, the coffee version of the popular milk tea, but with less sugar, which the American liked.  [2012 Ashleigh Sim The Straits Times (Home), 9 August, B30 How to order coffee or tea, Singapore-style .. You can also request less or more sugar by adding “siew dai” or “ka dai”, respectively.]

kopi susu /su-su, ˈsʊsʊ/ n. [Mal. susu breast, udder; (loosely) milk (Wilkinson)]  Coffee with milk.
2005 Peh Shing Huei (quoting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong)
The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 11 February. Although the different races here have grown closer over time, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong does not think Singapore will ever become a kopi susu nation. As with the world, there are different races and religions here, so people must not pretend they are not there, he said. Mr Lee was replying to a grassroots leader who had asked if, in the future, the fault lines of race and religion could be blurred. It is a goal which Singapore is working towards, ‘but one country completely homogenised, served together like kopi susu, I don’t think that’s going to happen,’ he said to laughter during a dialogue, referring to the local term for coffee with milk.

kopi-C /see, siː/ n. [< the initial letter of the Eng. word C(arnation, a proprietary name for a brand of evaporated milk first sold by American grocer E.A. Stuart in the late 19th or early 20th century and now manufactured by the Nestlé company: see quot. 2005 below]

[2005 Carnation website ( The History of CARNATION – More than a Century of CARNATION. Over one hundred years ago, on September 6, 1899, grocer E.A. Stuart and a fellow business partner founded the Pacific Coast Condensed Milk Company in Kent, Washington. It was based solely on the little-understood, relatively new process of evaporation. In 1901 his partner sold out, leaving Stuart the company and $105,000 in debt. Unshaken in the belief that he was marketing a product of the utmost quality, Stuart pressed on. He believed that there was value in sanitary milk at a time when fresh milk was neither universally available nor always drinkable. He believed that his product would soon join other staples on the grocer’s shelves, such as salt and sugar. As sales began to grow, E.A. Stuart searched for the perfect name for his product. He literally stumbled across the solution while walking in downtown Seattle. Stuart passed a tobacconist’s window with cigars on display around a sign proclaiming their name – CARNATION. Stuart thought it was an absurd name for a cigar, but perfect for his new milk product. Thus began America’s affiliation with this familiar name and the red and white label.]

Coffee made with evaporated milk rather than sweetened condensed milk.
2002 The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 12 April, L22 C in kopi-C stands for evaporated milk. 2005 Eric J. Brooks The Sunday Times, 10 April, 36 [A] Toa Payoh coffee shop demanded $1 for a “kopi-c ping” that was advertised for 80 cents, ice included.  2011 Ng Kai Ling (quoting Hong Poh Hin) The Straits Times (Home), 15 December, B1 The price of kopi-c (coffee with evaporated milk), for example, can therefore range from 90 cents to $1.20..  2012 Ashleigh Sim The Straits Times (Home), 9 August, B30 Kopi-si – coffee with evaporated milk

kopi-chino /-cheenoh, -tʃino/ n. [Eng. cappu)ccino]  Local coffee topped with frothed milk like a cappuccino.  Compare Miloccino, Tehccino.
2006 Serene Luo
The Straits Times (Digital Life), 8 August, 3 I know the difference between teh, teh-O, teh-C, teh-peng, teh-O-peng, kopi-gau, kopi-siew-tai, kopi-chino, milo-dinosaur, milo-godzilla, ta-chiu, and I have drunk and loved them all.

kopi-o /or, ɒr/ n. [Hk. or black, dark; Mand. ] Also kopi-oh.  Sweetened coffee without milk.
2000 Jessica Tan (quoting Florence Tan) The Straits Times (Life!), 22 July, 28 Some want egg, some want bread, some want kopi o2002 The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 12 April, L22 Kopi-O is black coffee, O being the Hokkien homonym for ‘black’.  2005Mr Brown’ (Lee Kin Mun) Today, 22 April, 30 [C]rying over your kopi-oh in the coffee shop.  2008 Peter Goh The Straits Times, 17 October, A34 I can still dine on a bowl of fish or chicken porridge for $2 and pay only 50 cents for a glass of kopi-O (black coffee with sugar).

kopi-o kosong /ko-song, ˈkɒsɒŋ/ n. [Mal. Kosong]  Coffee without milk or sugar; black coffee. Compare Kopi Kosong.
2006 Philip Soh Yeok Khoon The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 1 March. One can see that more health-con[s]cious Singaporeans are drinking ‘teh-o-kosong’ or ‘kopi-o-kosong’ (without sugar).

kopitiam n. /koh-pee-tiəm, ˈkopiːtɪʌm/ [Mal. kopi coffee + Hk. tiam shop; Mand. diàn] Also kopi tiam.  An old-fashioned coffee shop or restaurant.  Also transl. into Eng. as coffee shop.
1998 The Straits Times (Life!), 25 July, 4 Have you been to your neighbourhood kopitiam recently?  2000 The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 20 February, 3 We felt that the Artist’s Cafe, which revives the kopitiams of old, was a more meaningful alternative to having a modern, westernised café.  2000 Jessica Tan (quoting Florence Tan) The Straits Times (Life!), 22 July, 28 The kopi tiam is always crowded and there are a lot of different orders to remember at the same time.  2002 The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 12 April, L22  I often see ah peks at kopitiams shaking their legs while enjoying their kopi.  2002 Michelle Ho & Ruby Pan (quoting Thomas Lim) The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 12 April, L26 The kopitiam is a powerful medium, a location where we can relate our thoughts and share our feelings about life.  2005 Tay Yek Keak The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 7 August. I love our kopi-tiams. I don’t know about you but there’s something about turning your head left, right, centre and upside-down and seeing coffee shops everywhere. It gives me an indescribably wonderful feeling to know that food is so near, so much and so cheap at any time, any day of the week, every day of the year.  2006 Paul Jacob The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 15 April. If we are to believe and accept all the loose talk that swirls around the Internet and at watering holes and kopitiam come election time, then we truly deserve to be labelled gullible.

korban, Korban /kor-bahn, ˈkɔrbɑn/ n. [Mal. < Arab. قربان qurbān sacrifice, offering, immolation, oblation (Wehr)]  The Muslim ritual slaughtering of sheep or goats held during the Hari Raya Haji season.
2004 Arlina Arshad The Straits Times, 18 January, 6 The slaughtering of sheep, or korban, is carried out to remind Muslims of the need to give their wealth to Allah and to reinforce the practice of sharing what one has with the less fortunate.  2004 Tan Hui Yee & Alexis Hooi The Straits Times, 22 January, 2 While many mosques here had to postpone the Hari Raya Haji ritual of slaughtering sheep or goats yesterday, Omar Kampong Melaka Mosque was able to carry out the Korban as it had made its own arrangements to bring in animals to be sacrificed. The oldest mosque in Singapore was one of eight with their own suppliers. The other 39 here which conduct the ritual, ordered sheep through the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis). .. Bad weather and refuelling problems held up their delivery. .. [Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim] stressed that performing the Korban tomorrow does not violate Islamic principles, as the ritual can be conducted within four days from Hari Raya Haji morning. According to Islamic beliefs, Prophet Ibrahim was about to obey God’s commandment to sacrifice his son Ismail when God substituted a ram at the last moment. The Korban is performed annually to commemorate this event.  2006 Arlina Arshad The Straits Times, 7 January, H4 Korban, the slaughtering of sheep, is carried out to remind Muslims of the need to distribute their wealth in the name of God and to reinforce the practice of sharing one’s possessions with the less fortunate. The sacrifice is typically carried out on Hari Raya Aidiladha, also known as the Great Day of the Haj, which marks the end of the pilgrimage season to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. .. The ritual commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, in obedience to God. In recognition of Abraham’s faith, Ishmael was spared when a ram appeared to take his place. Korban is carried out in many mosques throughout the world. In Singapore, it is carried out at some mosques and designated places. Although it is not compulsory to for Muslims to offer a sheep in sacrifice, those who can afford it are encouraged to do so. The sheep, which were shipped here from Australia, will be delivered to the mosques in trucks. Volunteers and professional butchers recite prayers as the sheep are slaughtered. The meat is then packed and distributed to Muslims who bought the sheep and to the poor and needy.  2006 Lim Wei Chean & Lee Hui Chieh
(quoting Ilan Ben-Dove) The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 11 January. ‘The process of creating the halal meat is very similar, practically the same for kosher meat in the Jewish religion,’ he said. ‘As a matter of fact, the word korban, we use it in the Hebrew language too.’  2006 Shaik Kadir Shaik Maideen The Straits Times, 30 December, S10 The special feature of Eid ul-Adha, commonly called Hari Raya Haji in Malay, is the korban. As well as sheep, cattle and camels can also be slaughtered for their meat. Korban is not compulsory on either haj pilgrims or other Muslims. It is merely a recommended voluntary act of piety for those who can afford it. The Quran says: “It is not (the animal’s) flesh or blood that reaches God. It is your piety that reaches Him.” Korban activities in Singapore are undertaken by Muslim organisations and mosques. Muslims who wish to offer korban would have to have placed their order a couple of months ago. The sheep, mostly from Australia, arrive at least a couple of days before Hari Raya Haji. They are slaughtered according to Islamic law, without inflicting any cruelty on them. The korban ritual has a twofold objective. First, it is an act of piety as the meat is distributed to the poor. .. Second, korban services enable Muslim organisations and mosques to raise funds for their upkeep and educational programmes.

koro /koh-roh, ˈkoro/ n. [origin unkn., poss. Mal. kura-kura tortoise, esp. Cyclemys spp. (Wilkinson); box-turtle (Cuora amboinensis) (Winstedt); Ind. kura-kura turtle (Echols & Shadily, Ind.–Eng.); Jav. kura a certain land tortoise (Horne), f. the fact that it can retract its head into its shell; or < Mal. kurus thin, attenuated, esp. of a person being lean or skinny; more loosely, of reduction generally, e.g., of lessening the fertility of the soil (Wilkinson); thin (of persons), emaciated; poor (of soil) (Winstedt); compare Ind. kurus thin; barren, infertile (land) (Echols & Shadily, Ind.–Eng.); Jav. kuru thin, undernourished (Horne). The Mal. word kuru meaning ‘shake’ (see quot. 1963) has not been found.]  A supposedly fatal disease affecting mostly Chinese males, characterized by the retraction of the penis into the abdomen, often said to be brought on by the consumption of pork from pigs inoculated with anti-swine-fever vaccine. Physicians believe it to be an acute hysterical panic reaction.
¶ Known in Mand. as 缩阳 suōyáng: suō contract, shrink + yáng the male genitals (Chi.–Eng. Dict.).
1963 Gwee Ah Leng Singapore Medical Journal, September, vol. 4 no. 3, 119 Koro – A cultural disease [title] 119, col. 1 It has been known for quite a long time that a strange disease occurred amongst the Chinese, especially in those who originated from Southern China. Those afflicted presented with a picture of having experienced a sudden feeling of retraction of the penis, and were beset with a great fear that should the retraction be permitted to proceed, the penis would eventually be drawn into the abdomen with a fatal outcome. In their anxiety to prevent such a mishap, they held on to their penis either manually or with instrumental aid. In some instances, relatives took turn to hold on to the penis to curb its supposed “wanderings”, in others, a clamp, a cloth peg, a loop of string, or even a safety pin was employed to restrain the recalcitrant member. .. In spite of the fears, however, a fatal outcome was unknown, although many instances of trauma to the penis, in some cases quite severe, had been seen. It is also generally accepted that this is a form of neurosis although the psychodynamics are not clearly known and the natural history of the complaint has not been worked out.  120, col. 1 Koro may be derived from the Malay word “Kuru” meaning to shake, but the real origin was not ascertainable locally from Malay scholars. On the other hand, the Chinese terms “Shook Yang”, “Shook Jong” have been in use for some time, and in a book known as New Collection of remedies of value (驗方新篇) [footnote deleted] allusion is made to the term “縮陽” (Shook Yang), also referred to as Yin type of cold affliction (陰症傷寒).  120, col. 2 In Singapore and Malaya, cases of this nature are frequently seen practically all in the Chinese, and a patient may have one attack only, or several recurring ones. No fatality has been observed, although instances of sudden death during intercourse were frequently cited as being due to the complaint. .. From the three cases reported above, and the information gleaned locally, it seems reasonable to assume that Koro or “Shook Yang” is an acute hysterical panic reaction arising as a result of a deluded belief which has been current in folklore. The patient learns through hearsay that the retraction of the penis can result in death; and under circumstances favourable to the development of the condition, the slightest subjective feeling in the genitalia sets in motion the fear that this particular complaint is afoot! Thereupon, he grasp [sic] his penis and summons aid, and the mounting anxiety together with a sympathetic crowd of relatives sharing a common belief does the rest.  1969 Koro Study Team (chairman: Gwee Ah Leng) Singapore Medical Journal, December, vol. 10, no. 4, 234 The Koro “epidemic” in Singapore [title] Koro, a disease characterised by the sudden delusion of penis retracting, was a well-known entity and has been previously reported in Singapore (Gwee, 1963). Its occurrence was sporadic, and mostly in association with sexual activity. It was known to the Chinese as Shook yang and it had been pointed out that this had been recorded as an entity in one of the oldest medical literature in Chinese medicine (Gwee, 1968). In Singapore, it is seen to affect Chinese men more than others, and it has been suggested that the entity arose first of all from the association of fatal illnesses with penile retraction, a phenomenon not uncommonly seen at death, and then from the cultural belief of the importance of the genitalia in relation to life, the systematisation was made that the penile retraction in fact was the cause and not the effect of death (Gwee, 1963). The result is then a delusion of penile retraction followed by a fear of imminent death resulting in acute anxiety amounting to panic, and remedial measures adopted sometimes resulted in trauma to the genitalia. Other views of the entity ranged from sexual neurosis to depersonalisation syndrome.. On 29th October 1967, Koro first gained attention by a newspaper report where in it was stated that some people, as a result of eating the flesh of pigs inoculated with anti-swine-fever vaccine, developed Koro, and had to be treated by doctors or other home remedies. The report was elaborated within a few days with further embellishments alleging that a pig after inoculation had died with penile retraction. Rumour was rife that the flesh of pigs inoculated with vaccine was unwholesome, and when consumed would cause Koro, which could be a killing disease. The pork sales began to go down, and further reports in the news carried increasing incidence of cases treated by doctors and Chinese physicians, and also accounts were published of at least one doctor and several Chinese physicians regarding the disease, chiefly emphasising that it should be treated quickly, and effectively with injections, acupuncture and other measures.  240 Previously, it was suggested that Koro was a panic state arising out of a delusory belief based on cultural indoctrination (Gwee, 1963). The indoctrination provided the belief that it was possible to get a shrinking of the genitals with fatal results, and given the right stimulus, in this particular instance the eating of pork from inoculated pigs, the belief culminated in a panic syndrome. The present epidemic therefore would seem to substantiate this postulate. The ease with which the epidemic was suppressed with published authoritative pronouncements and the effectiveness of cure in individual cases would also suggest that what is at work here is not infection but a mental state caused by rumours.

kosong /ko-song, ˈkɒsɒŋ/ a. [Mal., empty, hollow (Winstedt); zero, nought; vacant, empty, devoid of content (Ridhwan)]  1 Of certain items of food: plain, without fillings or toppings: prata kosong2 Of coffee, tea or other beverages: without sugar: Kopi Kosong, Teh Kosong.
1 2006
Mah Lan See
The Straits Times (National Day Supplement), 9 August, 17 I usually order the plain prata or roti prata kosong. I tell the vendor to use less oil to fry the prata and he gladly obliges. Dipping the prata into the curry and chewing on it is really shiok!  2006 Anthony Bourdain New York Times Magazine (from, 24 September. I sampled roti prata kosong (plain Indian flatbread) and roti prata telur (stuffed with egg).  2 2006 Philip Soh Yeok Khoon The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 1 March. One can see that more health-con[s]cious Singaporeans are drinking ‘teh-o-kosong’ or ‘kopi-o-kosong’ (without sugar).

kotek /koh-te(k), koˈtɛ(k̚)/ int. [Mal., a child’s penis] vulg.  An exclamation expr. derision, frustration, etc.

koyak /koh-yahk, koˈjɑk̚/ a. [Mal., torn (esp. of cloth or papers), tearing up, tearing a hole in (Wilkinson); tattered, ragged]  1 Damaged, broken.  2 Disordered, untidy.  3 Incorrect.

kuachi /kooah-chee, ˈkʊɑtʃiː/ n. [Hk. kua melon, gourd + chi seed; Mand. guāzǐ]

[2002 Leong Pik Yin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 3 February, P13 Food and Chinese New Year go hand in hand. From the types of food you eat to the way they are served, food is full of meaning and connotation to the Chinese, especially during this festive season. .. Melon seeds (gua zhi). Believed to represent: Happiness and laughter. An open melon seed resembles the open mouth of a person laughing.]

Dried melon seeds eaten as a snack.
2005 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 14 August. T.B. seemed quite content, sitting by himself eating kuachi (melon seeds) and watching the drama unfold.

kuah lang /kuuah lahng, kʊɑ lɑŋ/ v. phr. [Hk. k’hwnà to see (Medhurst) + lang person; Mand. kàn see, look at, watch + rén human being, man, person, people (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  See quot. 2003.
2003 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 9 November, L18 Our culture is kiasu, because it’s also very kuah lang (a handy Hokkien term meaning ‘to assess people and categorise them by social status’).

kuah midnight /kuuah, kʊɑ/ v. phr. [Hk. k’hwnà to see (Medhurst); Mand. kàn see, look at, watch (Chi.–Eng. Dict.) + Eng. midnight]  See a midnight movie.
1982Paik-Choo’ (Toh Paik Choo) Eh, Goondu! 17 Meh Nite Hokien/English for midnight with special reference to the midnight movie at the cinemas. “Kwah meh nite?” is a suggestion to go to a midnight movie. 
1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 kuah midnight – go see the midnight show (eg Go kuah midnight?).

kuai lan /kuuı lun, ɡʊʌɪ lʌn/ n. & a. [Hk., bastard, scoundrel, bad egg: kuai bad + lan egg; Mand. huàidànA n. A scoundrel, a gangster, one who treats others badly.  B a. Like a scoundrel or gangster: bad, evil, thuggish.

kucing kurap /koo-ching koo-rup, ˈkʊtʃɪŋ ˈkʊrʌp̚/ a. [Mal., stray cat: kucing cat + kurap ringworm]  1 Insignificant, unimportant, small.  2 Useless, worthless.
1 1994 C S Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 88 [Of a coconut] Small one only, so kuchi kurat, not sweet enough, lah! Right or not? 138 kuching kurap, meaning small, insignificant.  2 [2002 R Ravindran Parliamentary Debates, Official Report, 16 May, vol. 74 col. 1347 Sir, I am heartened to see that there are many lions in his House, just like there are many other lions out there who will stand and show that there are many varieties of cats. Do not always think that this is a kucing kurap. This is Singapura and, if you try to skin the wrong cat, you may end up getting into a lot of trouble.]  2002 “Skin the Singapore cat? Forget it” The Straits Times, 17 May, H1 ‘Kucing kurap’, literally ‘stray cat’, is also used to denigrate something as ‘useless’ or ‘scum’.

kueh /kuay, ɡʊeɪ/ n. [Mal., prob. < Hk. 粿 köéy pastry, confectionery (Medhurst) (Wilkinson attributes to A.W. Hamilton the derivation of the word from Chi.); Mand. guǒ (literary language) powder made from rice or wheat (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] Also kuih.  A generic name for cakes and puddings, esp. of Malay and Peranakan origin.
2000 Susan Long The Sunday Times, 26 November, 37 He homes in on a Malay kueh stall, fishes out a worn-looking wallet, and picks out $10 of kueh, rempeh, and tapioca cakes.  2001 Raelene Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 14 January, P12 The delicious cakes and biscuits, or kueh, that are the hallmark of Peranakan society make grand appearances during festive occasions.  2006 Wong Ah Yoke The Straits Times (Life!) (from Straits Times Interactive), 6 March. Those with a sweet tooth can home in on the dessert counter where a variety of nonya kueh as well as Western pastries like black forest cake and hazelnut royaltine await.


Ang Ku Kueh

Chwee Kueh

kueh ambon /ahm-bon, ˈɑmbɒn/ n. [poss. < Ambon Island, one of the Maluku Islands (formerly Moluccan or Spice Islands) in Indonesia]  A Malay cake with a spongy texture made with, among other things, tapioca flour (or glutinous rice flour or sago flour, or a mixture of these types of flour) and coconut milk, and flavoured with pandan leaves.
2005 Li Xueying The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 18 August. .. [W]ithin five minutes, came hot milky tea and two plates of nonya delicacies bought from a favourite shop in Joo Chiat. One had kueh wajik – squares of sticky rice infused with gula melaka. The other held kueh ambon – slices of honeycombed pandan cake. ‘After knowing him for so many years, I know what his [President S.R. Nathan’s] favourite is,’ said Mrs Nathan.  2010 Chris Tan (quoting Shirley Lee)
The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 24 January, 25 Q. I have been making kueh ambon without success. .. I end up with sour-tasting solid kueh instead of the honeycomb texture. .. A. I’ve spent years puzzling over kueh ambon recipes that are enigmatically short on detail. After a lot of deduction, I think I have cracked their code. By weight, most recipes seem to hover around four parts eggs (usually comprising more yolks than whites), seven parts liquid (coconut milk plus water), three to four parts flour, and four to five parts sugar. The flour could be tapioca flour, glutinous rice flour or sago flour. These respectively contribute light and chewy, sticky, and firm textural nuances. Many recipes blend two or more types of flour. Use ½ to ⅔ tsp of active dried yeast for one part of flour.

kueh bangkit /bahng-kit, ˈbɑŋkɪt̚/ n. [Mal. bangkit rise (of pastry) (Winstedt); kueh bangkit a cake of sago-meal cooked with dripping (Wilkinson); or < Du. banket (almond) pastry, confectionery (Martin & Tops)]  White crumbly biscuits, often shaped like flowers or animals such as butterflies or fish, that are made of tapioca flour, coconut milk and eggs and flavoured with pandan leaves and sugar.
2003 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 18 January, L24 I probably miss Nonya New Year cookies the most – kueh bangkit, kueh baulu, cashew nut cookies, and of course, pineapple tarts, especially my mother’s.  2014 Eunice Quek The Sunday Times (SundayLife!), 26 January, 24 She makes everything from pineapple tarts to love letters to peanut cookies and also melt-in-your-mouth kueh bangkit.. for family and friends. .. [S]he has a special cookie cutter from baking supply chain Phoon Huat which cuts four flower-shaped cookies at a go. She also uses a pair of small plastic tongs with jagged ends to pinch the kueh bangkit dough, which forms the traditional pattern on the cookie.

kueh baulu /bow-loo, ˈbaʊluː/ n. [Mal., also known as kueh bolu, buah ulu (Wilkinson) < Port. bolo cake (Michaelis)] Also kueh bahulu.  A small, firm, crumbly cake.
2003 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 18 January, L24 I probably miss Nonya New Year cookies the most – kueh bangkit, kueh baulu, cashew nut cookies, and of course, pineapple tarts, especially my mother’s.  2012 Thng Lay Teen The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 11 March, 30 The texture of bahulu is different from say, sponge cake as it uses only flour, sugar and eggs, she explains. With no oil such as butter, the bahulu is rougher and a little drier – and that is how it should taste. .. Ms Zainab says the kueh bahulu can usually be kept for a couple of weeks if stored properly.  2014 Rebecca Lynne Tan & Eunice Quek The Sunday Times (SundayLife!), 26 January, 26 In the lead up to Chinese New Year, the confectionery also sells more than 10 different types of festive snacks including kueh bahulu (airy Nonya sponge cakes); walnut cookies; thin cookies topped with almonds and sunflower and pumpkin seeds; and pineapple tarts in three different shapes – open, spherical with a clove stalk and in the shape of a pillow.

kueh bingka /bing-kah, ˈbɪŋkɑ/ n. [Mal. bingka a kind of Malay traditional cake (Ridhwan)] In full kueh bingka ubi: a type of kueh made with tapioca.
2012 Eunice Quek
(quoting Mohamed Noor Sarman) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 18 March, 21 I remember going for religious classes at my neighbour’s house and after class, we got to eat kueh bingka, a type of tapioca kueh. It was extremely fragrant and a treat I always looked forward to.

kueh dadar /dah-dahr, ˈdɑdɑr/ n. [Mal., light fritter, pancake (Wilkinson)]  A Malay dessert consisting of a green pancake made with coconut milk and flavoured with pandan leaves which is filled with grated coconut and rolled.
2015 Rebecca Lynne Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 1 November, C20 The stall also sells mee siam, nasi lemak, nasi padang, kueh such as kueh dadar (fried coconut in pandan pancakes), and lupis and pulut udang (glutinous rice rolls filled with dried shrimp).

kueh dodol n. [Johor & Penang Mal.]  Dodol.

kueh jongkong /jong-kong, ˈdʒɒŋkɒŋ/ n. [Mal. jongkong dugout canoe (Wilkinson); Johore Mal., undecked dinghy with no built-up ends; a model canoe (a plaything); Trengganu Mal., a canoe carried on a perahu-payang for the diver (Winstedt)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 1, 478 kueh j. [jongkong]: ricemeal and sugar cooked in a leaf.]

A Malay cake made with flour, coconut milk and brown sugar.
2005 Zul Othman Today (from, 15 October. These Hari Raya treats
which include traditional Malay cakes such as kueh jongkong (made with flour, coconut milk and brown sugar).. are usually available during the fasting month of Ramadan.

kueh kapit /kah-pit, ˈkɑpɪt̚/ n. [Mal. kapit support from each side < apit wedging between two surfaces; compare mengapit to press between two surfaces]  Love Letter.
2005 The Straits Times, 22 February, 11 Malaysia has produced its longest line of kueh kapit (love letters) – all of 309.5m long. .. Nine hundred and fifty-seven participants prepared pieces of the traditional Chinese New Year cookie while seated in front of a 500m-long makeshift stove.

kueh koci, kueh kochi /koh-chee, ˈkotʃiː/ n. [poss. < Mal. Kochi Cochin-China, formerly a country in the southern region of what is now Vietnam; also Kuchi, Kuching (Wilkinson)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 1, 605 kueh kochi: a cake (ingredients not known).]

A pyramid-shaped Malay cake made of glutinous rice flour filled with a sweet peanut paste.

kueh kosui /koh-swee, koˈsʊɪ/ n. [unkn.]  A small, sticky, usu. brown Peranakan cake which is made of rice-flour dough flavoured with Gula Melaka and pandan leaves, and sprinkled with grated coconut. It is roughly shaped like a hemisphere as it is steamed in small bowls or cup-shaped moulds.
The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 15 October. Steamed rice-flour dough, for example, in Nyonya kuih kosui and ang koo kuih skin, can also be given a firmer consistency by carefully measured amounts of alkaline water.  2011 Chris Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 25 December, 22 Many kueh need to cool slowly to set or attain their final texture. .. unmoulding a try of hot kueh kosui may make its edges sag and spread out.

kueh lapis /lah-pis, ˈlɑpɪs/ n. [Mal. lapis layer, stratum]  1 A rich Indonesian cake flavoured with various spices, including several of allspice, aniseed, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and vanilla, with alternating dark and light layers that are gradually laid down during the baking process; the cake is known in Indonesia as lapis legit [Johor Mal., Ind. legit sweet, nice (Winstedt, Echols & Shadily, Ind.–Eng.); or Batavia Ind. < Balinese Ind., sticky and soft (Wilkinson)] and originates from the Dutch spekkoek [Du., lard cake: spek, spekken fat, lard + koek cake (Martin & Tops)].  Also known as cake lapis2 A soft, sticky Peranakan steamed cake flavoured with coconut that is oblong in shape and consists of several brightly-coloured layers.
1 2001 Raelene Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 14 January, P12 Chinese New Year would not be complete without these – kueh lapis or layer cake, signifying “rising up”..  2001
David Kraal The Straits Times (Life!), 20 February, L6 A kueh lapis of stunning taste and texture.   2008 Huang Lijie The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 23 November, 28 The only mishap she recalls was her initial attempt at baking kueh lapis, a multi-layer cake.  2008 Chris Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 28 December, 25 Kuih lapis, also known as lapis legit or kuih spekkoek, is distinguished by its regular, even layers of golden buttery crumb and grilled brown crust.

kueh lopes /low-pes, ˈlopɛs/ n. [Mal. lopes, lopés a kind of cake made of glutinous rice and eaten with grated coconut and syrup (Ridhwan)]  A Malay dessert consisting of steamed pulut (glutinous rice), often in a triangular shape, served in a Gula Melaka sauce and sprinkled with grated coconut (Wilkinson).
David Kraal The Straits Times (Life!), 20 February, L6 Some prune cakes, kueh lopez and Portuguese tarts spread out for more eating.  2006 The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 15 October. In the Asian kitchen, alkaline water has few and specific uses. The characteristic springiness of Hong Kong-style mee is due to gan sui, which is added to noodle dough to firm up its texture, and give it a yellow tint. It does the same for glutinous rice in kee chang (yellow alkaline glutinous rice dumplings) and in their Malay cousin, kuih lopes.

kueh pie tee /pı tee, pʌɪ tiː/ n. [unkn.]  A Peranakan dish consisting of small fluted cup-shaped deep-fried pastry shells filled with shredded bamboo shoots and turnip, and shrimp.
2006 Lucy Tan
The Straits Times (National Day Supplement), 9 August, 16 The shop also sells kueh pie tee, which is a must-try.

kueh salat /sah-laht, ˈsɑlɑt/ n. [See Putri Salat] Also putri salat Serimuka.
2001 Raelene Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 14 January, P12 Chinese New Year would not be complete without these – .. rich tasting kueh salat and shrimp roll tidbits.  2011 Chris Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 25 December, 22 Many kueh need to cool slowly to set or attain their final texture. Try lifting a freshly steamed kueh salat from the pan and you will likely get a crumbly edged mess..

kueh talam /tah-lahm, ˈt̚ɑlɑm/ n. [Mal. talam platter, tray (without pedestal) (Wilkinson) < Tam. தட்டம் taṭṭam, தட்டு taṭṭu porringer, eating plate, salver; தட்டி taṭṭi salver, tray (Tam. Lex.); compare Telugu తటట taṭṭa a flat thing of any sort; a metal plate used as an ornament; a flat hamper for drying grain; a basket (Brown); tray, salver, plate, platter, small flat basket (Burrow & Emeneau); Telugu తటటి taṭṭi a metal platter (Brown); a small metal plate, turned up at the rim, out of which the Hindoos eat their victuals (Percival, Tel. Dict.)]  An oblong Malay cake with two layers, one a white-coloured layer of rice flour and coconut milk, the other a green-coloured layer of Green Bean flour and pandan leaves.

kueh tutu /too-too, ˈtuːtuː/ n. [imit.: f. the sounds emitted by traditional charcoal-heated steamers used to prepare them (see quot. 2003), or f. the sound made by horns with rubber bulbs used by itinerant vendors to attract customers (NMS)]  Small, flat, white steamed cakes filled with orange-coloured sweetened shredded coconut or other ingredients, made using a mould with a scalloped pattern.
2003 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times, 5 October, L39 Kueh tutu..  The owner makes deliciously moist steamed cakes with peanut or coconut filling. .. The snack was originally eaten plain in China. But filling was added when it was reproduced here. Its name ‘tutu’ was given to mimic the noise that came from traditional charcoal-heated steamers.

kueh wajik /wa-jik, ˈwɑdʒɪk̚/ n. [Mal. wajik, wajek a soft, sticky rice cake]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1277 wajek.. A sweetmeat; pulut-rice steamed till the grains form a compact mass, then served up with a sauce of coconut-milk and sugar, Ch. Jen. [Cherita Jenaka] 47. Also kueh w. [wajek], pěnganan w. and (Min. [Minangkabau]) ajek-ajek. Usually in diamond shape.. Also kueh kachau, pulut kachau.]

A small, usu. diamond-shaped Malay cake made of pulut (glutinous rice) and served with a sauce of coconut milk and Gula Melaka.
2005 Li Xueying The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 18 August. .. [W]ithin five minutes, came hot milky tea and two plates of nonya delicacies bought from a favourite shop in Joo Chiat. One had kueh wajik – squares of sticky rice infused with gula melaka. The other held kueh ambon – slices of honeycombed pandan cake. ‘After knowing him for so many years, I know what his [President S.R. Nathan’s] favourite is,’ said Mrs Nathan.

Peach Kueh

Perng Kueh

Soon Kueh

kuih var. of Kueh.
2006 The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 15 October. Steamed rice-flour dough, for example, in Nyonya kuih kosui and ang koo kuih skin, can also be given a firmer consistency by carefully measured amounts of alkaline water.

kuti /kuu-tee, ˈkʊtiː/ n. [poss. < Baba Mal., to flick, to fillip (Winstedt attributes this to W.G. Shellabear’s Malay–English Dictionary – this could either be Shellabear, Malay–English Vocabulary (1912 or 1925) or Hendershot & Shellabear, A Dictionary of Standard Malay (1945), but neither work contains this exact definition: see quots. below); or < Minangkabau Mal. kuti, menguti to tear into small pieces; Mal. kutip picking up (something light that is below one, e.g., a coin off the ground) (Wilkinson), Penang Mal. kutip, mengutip pick up (things) (Winstedt); Mal. sa-kotes a pinch, a very small quantity (Wilkinson); Mal. sa-kutil a very small piece (picked out), a crumb of (Wilkinson), Mal. sa-kotil, sa-kutil a tiny piece (Winstedt); compare Ind. kutik, berkutik to pick; Ind. kutip, mengutip to pick up small bits (rice, grain, etc.); Ind. se-kutil a nibble, little bit, tiny piece (Echols & Shadily, Ind.–Eng.)]

[1912 W.G. Shellabear Malay–English Vocabulary 71 ku′tip, m-ngu′tip, to pick up, gather up.  1945 Edward Hendershot & W.G. Shellabear A Dictionary of Standard Malay 106 kutip, měngutip, to pick up, gather up, collect (as fruits, rent)..]

1 A small plastic toy in the shape of an animal or fruit.  2 Pl. kuti-kuti: a game played using kuti-kuti in which one player attempts to capture another’s kuti by flicking his or her kuti over the other’s.
1 2004
Noelle Perera (quoting Goh Eck Kheng), The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 12 December, L35 [A] tree festooned with old-fashioned toys such as chaptek, ice-kachang-coloured paper balls, bola for the hantam and strings of kuti-kuti2
2014 Lee Jian Xuan (quoting Gina Foo) The Sunday Times, 12 January, 18 They also told us about the games they used to play, like tabletop soccer and token-flipping games like ‘kuti kuti’.

kway chap /kuay tzup, ɡʊeɪ tzʌp̚/ n. [Hk. 粿 köéy pastry, confectionery (Medhurst) + chap juice; Mand. guǒ (literary language) powder made from rice or wheat + zhī juice (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  1 A Chinese dish consisting of broad flat rice noodles in a savoury brown soup served with stewed pig’s offal, hard-boiled egg, beancurd, salted vegetable (Kiam Chye), etc2 The noodles used in the dish.
1 2000 Kelvin Tong The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 28 December, 8 He.. ordered 100 bowls of kway chap2005 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 31 July. After arching over his chopping board for half a century, 67-year-old Koh Ah Soon is now hunchbacked. He started selling kway chap with his father when he was just 12, in the now non-existent Garden Street in the Beach Road area. .. Many have tried, but few have achieved, his cleaning and stewing techniques. Pork innards are stripped of their offensive odour and coaxed into a super smooth and tender consistency. He took a short hiatus in 2002 and re-opened in Serangoon Gardens food centre in 2003.  2006 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Wong Hon Mun) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 30 July, L28 What’s your favourite hawker food? / Kway chap. I grew up eating porridge with innards like intestines, liver, spleen and all that. So kway chap is carried on from that. My favourite item is the small intestine.  2011 Thng Lay Teen The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 31 July, 23 I enjoyed the kway chap at the Dunman hawker centre a while ago and I could not forget how good it tasted. Last week, I went back. It was as good as I had remembered. This time, I made it a point not to order just the standard set ($3.50). This comprises pork or intestines, hard-boiled egg, fish cake, taupok and skin with either kway chap or rice.  2 2011 Thng Lay Teen The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 31 July, 23 What complements everything nicely is the bowl of smooth kway chap.. in a light herbal soup. The latter is made from duck bones simmered for about two hours with wolfberries and dang gui (Chinese angelica).

kway teow /kuay tiow, ɡʊeɪ tɪaʊ/ n. [Hk. 粿 köéy pastry, confectionery (Medhurst) + teow long narrow piece, strip; Mand. guǒ (literary language) powder made from rice or wheat + tiáo slip, strip (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  Broad, flat rice noodles used in Chinese cooking.
2002 Magdalene Lum (quoting Elisa Chew) The Straits Times (Life!), 2 April, L6 The kway teow soup has softer noodles and is prepared differently.  2006 Wong Ah Yoke The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 9 July. [T]here is kway teow, beehoon, yellow noodles as well as a choice of white rice and wild rice.

Comb.: Char Kway Teow

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