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© Jack Tsen-Ta Lee
Last updated on 14 November 2015 (69 headwords). No reproduction without permission.

ma lai kou /mah lı kou, mɑː lʌɪ ɡəʊ/ n. [Cant., Malay cake: ma [...] + lai [...] + kou [...]; Mand. 马来( mǎlái(rén Malay [person] + gāo cake, pudding, pastry (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  A light, spongy steamed cake.
2006 The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 15 October. Alkaline water is sometimes used as a rising agent in the same way that baking soda is. For instance, it is stirred into ma lai kou batter, where it reacts with acids in the brown sugar to produce bubbles that yield a light, fluffy steamed cake.

ma si sa ko /mah see sah kor, mɑ si sɑ kɔ/ phr. [Hk. 嘛是三块 ma si sa ko obviously it is only three dollars: ma int. expressing that a statement is obvious + si be, is + sa three + kor basic unit of money; Mand. ma shì sānkuàimil. slang  Used by soldiers to expr. that they need not work too hard as they will be paid the same salary whether exert themselves or not, or as a criticism of soldiers who are perceived to be too hardworking.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 309 ma si sa ko. Literally, ‘also $3’: Hokkien. Usually expressed by recruits when performing a particularly strenuous task. The implication is that no matter how hard you work you will get paid $3 a day. Sometimes, this is a comment made by passers-by when they see a soldier working too hard. This together with slang like bo peng yau si or than chiah peng may reflect certain attitudes in work ethics.

mabok /mah-boh(k), mɑˈbo(k̚)/ a. [Mal.]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 717 mabok. Intoxication. Properly of anything that «turns one’s head».. But if no other cause is mentioned m. [mabok] means «drunk»; bapa’ pěmabok ěmak pěmadat (the father a drunkard, the mother addicted to opium), Si Jamin [Si-Djamin dan Si Djohan (2nd ed.) (Batavia: Balai Poestaka)] 13.]

Intoxicated, drunk.

2004 Neil Humphreys Weekend Today, 19–20 June, 6 If this mabok (drunk) ang moh cause problem, can kick him out. Cannot tahan if he vomit in my car.

mah /mah, / int. [Mand. ma]  Used to expr. that something is apparent, obvious or self-evident.
2003 Tan Shzr Ee (quoting Anthony Teo) The Sunday Times, 5 October, L2 Must stick to tradition mah, keep the flavour of the place.  2004 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 22 August, L14 ‘Tcheh,’ groused the Mother-in-Law, wiping the patina of dust off the Father-in-Law’s [columbarium] cubicle and grimacing at the gaping hole above him. ‘Move out should also clean up after yourself mah.’  2005 Wong Kim Hoh (quoting Bryan Wong) The Sunday Times, 18 December, 41 Q: You love cars and you love your hair. Would you rather always have a great set of wheels or a great head of hair? Why? A: Of course hair lah! If no wheels, never mind – my friends all have mah!

mah jie /mah tse, mɑ tsɛ/ n. [Cant. an old woman; a mother; a nurse + tsé an elder sister; a term of respect for a young lady (Eitel); Mand. mājiě: mother + jiě elder sister (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  See quot. 2003.
2003 Tan Shzr Ee The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 14 December, L2 In the old days, Samsui women regarded themselves as different from the genteel Mah Jie from Shunde in China. These were indentured female domestic help who spent an entire lifetime serving one single family. .. Madam Wong [a Samsui woman] concedes: ‘I suppose we did have benefits over them. Mah Jies had to be on call 24 hours with a family, while we got to go home. And Samsui women are allowed to get married.’  2004 Clarissa Oon The Straits Times (Life!), 20 August, L3 Abolished by law in 1961, these grisly shophouses were where ah ma jies, samsui women and other single immigrants with no families went to die. The Cantonese called that stretch Sei Yan Kai, or ‘Dead Man’s Street’.  2006 Krist Boo The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 22 June. Marina Bay.. had a morbid past. There, Mah Jies were locked in cages and drowned by other maids of the sisterhood in the 1800s for sins like breaking their vows of celibacy.  2006 Tan Dawn Wei The Straits Times (Life!) (from Straits Times Interactive), 11 September. [A] majie (housekeeper) in the family’s employ put her in a dress and took her to a nearby provision shop.

mah mee /mah mee, mɑ miː/ n. [origin of mah uncertain; compare Mal. mami, bami, derived from Chi. (Wilkinson, Winstedt) + Mee]  A Chinese dish consisting of vermicelli with pork, prawns or shredded fish, and cress.
1947 P.C.B. Newington (foreword by A.J.H. Dempster, Assistant Food Controller of Perak) Good Food 1 And here I would like to add a request that in the next edition Mr Newington includes recipes for the ever-popular mahmee and “Gula Malacca” in the preparation of which most Europeans are quite ignorant.

maintain balan /ba-lən, ˈbalən/ int. [Eng. < maintain balance] Mal. slang  Relax, don’t panic, stay cool.
1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 maintain balan – stay cool (..balance is plural, so balan is singular).

makan /mah-kahn, ˈmɑkɑn/ n. & v. [Mal. makan food, a meal; eat, consume]  A n. Food, a meal.  B v. Eat, have a meal.
A 1990 Mickey Chiang Fighting Fit: The Singapore Armed Forces 150 The victuals, the makan, on board its longer range ships is in the hands of a well-trained chief cook.  2001 Neil Humphreys Notes from an Even Smaller Island 186 Hallo, what you want, ah? No lah, cannot. I’m watching movie one. No, cannot what. Show damn good. Yeah, after show, can. We go for makan. Can, no problem.  2001 The Straits Times, 4 November, 13 As far as Singaporeans are concerned, even voting will not stand in the way of a good makan.  2006 Jeremy Au Yong The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 4 June. Makan Queen to whip up giant feast. Violet Oon to oversee meals for IMF-World Bank meeting, with creations like ginseng tea jelly [title]  B 1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 makan – to eat (direct translation from the Malay).  2000 Yeow Kai Chai (quoting David Gan) The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 2 July, 5 We talk about where to makan, where got nice food, just joke-joke. 2000 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Dasmond Koh) The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 3 December, P26 When I go out to makan (eat), sometimes I get extra fishball or prawns lah.  2003 Chua Mui Hoong, The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 16 November, L16 I made lifelong friends, including a bunch of us who still meet to makan, celebrate birthdays and share sorrows.  2005 Kwen Ow Today, 7 March, 32 [A] hot makan spot for diners who value the opportunity to enjoy robust Singaporean flavours in a lavish and comfortable setting.  2006 Stephanie Yap The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 3 September. ‘He would take us to eat at a different place every day. Sometimes, we would drive 5km just to try a new place. Then he would order a lot of different dishes and tell everyone, ‘makan, makan’,’ said Mr Teo. ‘Makan’ means ‘eat’ in Malay.


cari makan, chari makan /chah-ree, ˈtʃɑriː/ v. phr. [Mal. cari, chari hunt for (person, thing); seek a livelihood (Winstedt) < Skt. चर् ćar to move one’s self, go, walk, move, stir, drive (in a carriage, etc.), roam about, walk about, wander (in these senses applied to men, animals, water, ships, stars, etc.); to graze; to spread, be diffused; to be active; move or travel through, pervade, go along follow; to behave; conduct one’s self; to live, be, remain in any position, act, to be engaged in, occupied with, busy one’s self with; to undertake, set about, undergo, observe, practice, do or act in general (Monier-Williams) (?)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 190 chari. To look for; to go in search of; to try to find. .. Often with special reference to the quest of a livelihood.]

Work to feed oneself, work for the sole purpose of making a living.
1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 cari makan – to find food, in Malay. The reason one gives as to why they work if they don’t quite like the job (eg How’s work? Cari makan, lah).  2008 Hui Yew-Foong The Straits Times, 3 September, A23 [T]hey arrived in Sabah to cari makan, as the saying goes, or to eke out a living. .. Sabahans do not begrudge them the right to cari makan. Rather, their fear is that the foreigners will usurp their political birthright.

makan session n. [Eng. session]  A gathering at which food is served, a communal meal.

makcik /mahk-chik, ˈmɑk̚tʃɪk̚/ n. [Mal., maternal aunt; the younger of two aunts (Wilkinson); aunt younger than one’s father or mother (Winstedt): mak, ma’ mother; aunt or elderly lady treated as a mother by informal adoption (Wilkinson) + chik, chi’ = kechik, kechil minor, junior, lesser] Mal.  (A polite term of address for) a middle-aged or elderly Malay woman who may or may not be a relative; a Malay ‘Auntie’.  Compare Pakcik.

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 1, 225 chik. Minor; junior; lesser. In expressions like ma’chik (younger of two aunts).. Also chi’. Short for kěchil or kěchik1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 715 ma’. Mother. Also mak and ěmak. More familiar than ibu or bonda; used also to aunts and old ladies treated as mothers by informal adoption. .. maternal aunt (.. ma’chi’..)  1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged Malay–English Dictionary 224 m. [mak] tua, m. (su)long aunt older than one’s father or mother; m. muda, m. ()chik aunt younger..]

2005 Tan Chek Wee Today, 9 December, 47 It could be the ah pek, ah soh, ah chek, or even the pakcik or makcik – this syndrome [of] seat-patting spans all the major races in Singapore (well, all right, I have yet to see an ang moh doing so), transcending sex, educational level and age.  2006 Juliana June Rasul Today, 25 July, 30 Don’t let the glamour shots fool you. Sheila Majid is a makcik (auntie) on the phone. A conversation with her is peppered with aiyohs and lahs, which quickly undermine any expectations of diva-like behaviour.  2006 Chua Mui Hoong The Straits Times (Life!) (from Straits Times Interactive), 29 September. [A] fair number of endearing makciks in tudung (head-scarves).  2006 Wong Ah Yoke The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 26 November. By being located in the Orchard area and boasting an elegant white and bright interior, the restaurant has a certain hipness but the fare is still good, old home cooking. Both tai tais and makciks will feel at home here.  2009 Imran Jalal (quoting Zack Zainal) The Straits Times (Urban), 3 July, 14 My 13-year-old son, Benjamin, once commented that my fans are usually makcik (aunties) and pakcik (uncles).  2013 Yip Wai Yee (quoting Siti Khalijah Zainal) The Straits Times (Life!), 14 December, E26 She says she will “very likely” be playing at least two new characters: One of a “Malay makcik (aunty)”.. “The makcik character will be very loud and talks a lot. She’s very noisy and knows everything. ..”

malau /mah-low, ˈmɑlaʊ/ n. & a. [origin unkn., poss. < Cant. ma lao monkey (?); or 玛瑙 má nò agate, cornelian (Eitel); Mand. mǎnǎo agate, common in Taiwan] derog. mil. slang  A n. A native of Taiwan, a Taiwanese person.  B a. Of Taiwan, Taiwanese in origin.

Comb.: malau peng n. [Hk. peng soldier; Mand. bīng] mil. slang  A Taiwanese soldier.

malu /mah-loo, ˈmɑluː/ v. & a. [Mal. malu modest, bashful]  A v. Embarrass, humiliate. Pa. t. & pple. maluatedB a. Embarrassing, humiliating.  Also maluating.
A 1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 malu – Malay for embarrassed, may be conjugated like an English verb (eg I was really malu-ated).  B 2004 Yong Shu Chiang (quoting Ong Su Choo) Today, 13 May, 32 They remark that I’m still here after so many years.. It makes me feel so malu (embarrassed) also.  2006 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 26 February. .. I learnt that my spam filter had hidden from me notifications that the website I started,, had won an award. Very malu for a so-called webmaster.  2006 Goh Chin Lian (quoting Khaw Boon Wan) The Sunday Times, 23 July, 11 I’ve asked some Singaporeans why they don’t have this habit [of wearing masks when they have the flu]. They say ‘Oh, very shy, malu..’..

mama, mamak /mah-mah(k), ˈmɑmɑ(k)/ n. [Mal. mamak maternal uncle; (loosely) any uncle (Wilkinson); Minangkabau & Negri Sembilan Mal., maternal uncle; a polite form of address to half-Indian half-Malay elders (Winstedt) < Tam. மாமா māmā, மாமன் māman, மாமான் māmān mother’s brother, maternal uncle, father-in-law, father’s sister’s husband; மாமகன் māmakan maternal uncle (Burrow & Emeneau, Tam. Lex.) < Skt. मामक māmaka my, mine; maternal uncle < Skt. माम māma my, mine; mother, uncle (Monier-Williams)] derog.  An Indian person.
2005 Colin Chee The Electric New Paper, 12 July. We were comfortable calling each other names. Our Punjabi friends became ‘Ba-ees’. Our Indian pals were ‘Mamaks’, our Malay friends were ‘Oi-Ahmad’, and our Eurasian friends were ‘Gragos’. And they would all call us ‘Chinks’ or ‘Paleface’.

mama shop, mamak shop /mah-mah, mah-mah(k), ˈmɑmɑ, ˈmɑmɑ(k)/ n. phr. [See Mama, Mamak] Also mama stall, mamak stall.  A sundry shop or general provision shop, traditionally operated by Indians.
2000 Boey Kim Cheng The Straits Times (Life! Books), 9 October, 4 Entranced by the mama stall which, besides the usual provisions, had a wide selection of condoms with very luridly suggestive pictures. 2000 Tay Shi’an The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 23 November, 10 Located next to each other, the two mama (‘mama’ means uncle in Tamil) shops have co-existed for over 20 years.  2006 Sandra Leong (quoting Abdul Bashir Saidek) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 11 June. You can’t be an old-fashioned ‘mama’ (Indian) shop anymore.

mangali /mahng-gah-lee, mɑŋˈɡɑli/ n. [Chi. mispron. of Eng. Bengali] derog.  An Indian person.

manja /mahn-jah, ˈmɑndʒɑ/ v. & a. [Mal., special fondness; (Brunei & Sarawak Mal.) to coax, to wheedle (Wilkinson); (Johor & Penang Mal.) spoilt (of child, girl); manjakan spoil, coddle (Winstedt)]  A v. Adore, coddle, spoil.  B a. Easily affected emotionally, sensitive.
A 2008 Tan Chek Wee Today, 15 August, 40. To manja something, in colloquial Singlish, is to adore it.  B 2006 Clara Chow (quoting Ovidia Yu)
The Straits Times (Life!), 18 December, 4 She [Eleanor Wong] can be quite manja and think that people don’t like her plays.

market n. [Eng.] football betting  Betting odds.
2006 Chan Yi Shen
The Sunday Times, 20 August, 34 Singapore’s EPL [English Premier League] lingo [title].. Market: betting odds

masak-masak /mah-sahk, ˈmɑsɑk̚/ n. [Mal. masak cooked (of food); masakan food; style of cooking; memasak to cook (Winstedt)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 745 masak. .. cooked (of food).. Měmasak: to be engaged in cooking. Masak is not used of boiling the rice to be eaten with the dinner proper; m. [masak] nasi means to cook the dinner, tanak nasi is to boil the rice for it. M. is used rather of preparing the «curry».. Masak-masakan are cooked dishes served up with rice..]

nursery  A children’s pastime in which they pretend to cook using toy utensils; transf. a task involving the use of equipment.
1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 69 Our masak masak turned out to be a minature Telecoms.  138 masak masak. Reference to the favourite children’s pastime of play-cooking.  2006 Leong Su-lin The Straits Times (Life!) (from Straits Times Interactive), 3 April. As a child, he played with toy cars as well as ‘masak masak’ with his sisters.  2007 Tan Hui Leng (quoting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong) Today (from, 17 March. Biomed drive isn’t masak-masak: PM [title] .. “This is not just masak-masak (playing house), this is serious business and serious work, internationally recognised,” said Mr Lee, who noted that the Government had given careful thought before investing public funds in research and development.

mass orgy see Orgy.

Mat /maht, mɑt̚/ n. [Mal., a proper name, short for Muhammad or Ahmad < Arab. محمّد  Muhammad highly praised, praiseworthy (Johnson); Arab. احمد  Ahmad much commended (Wilkinson)] Mal. slang, poss. derog.  A Malay man; spec., a Mat Roker.  Also attrib.
2008 Wong Kim Hoh
The Sunday Times, 14 December. My friend Jon was gobsmacked. A young woman had just accused him of being condescending and racist at a party. And it was all because he described his neighbour’s penchant for Bon Jovi and Guns N’ Roses as ‘very Mat’. The term Mat Rok is loosely used to refer to young Malay men who sport long hair, leather jackets, torn jeans and love heavy metal.  2008 Mark Wong The Sunday Times, 21 December, 26 .. “Mat”, mentioned in the article, is still a touchy term that even I would avoid using in public, though it would be interesting to see how this could change in the next few years.


Mat Rok /rok, rɒk̚/ n. & a. [< Eng. rock, rocker]  Also Mat Rock. Mal. slang  A n. Rock or heavy metal music and the lifestyle associated with it as adapted by young Malay men.  B a. Of or relating to Mat Rok.  Mat Roker, Mat Rocker n.
A 1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 Mat Rok talk [title] The young Malay boys with leather jackets, ripped jeans, sunglasses, and long hair, have their own kind of talk that has begun to grab attention.  2002 Paul Zach The Straits Times (Life!), 12 April, L11 Dispelling Mat Rock myths [title] It makes for a poignant start to Reflections of The Misunderstood Mat Rockers, one of another great crop of offerings at the 15th Singapore International Film Festival in which music plays a leading role.  2008 Wong Kim Hoh The Sunday Times, 14 December. The term Mat Rok is loosely used to refer to young Malay men who sport long hair, leather jackets, torn jeans and love heavy metal.  B 2002 Paul Zach The Straits Times (Life!), 12 April, L11 The Mat Rock culture – the rock music and its lifestyle of the West, as adapted by young Malay men since the 1970s. .. Adi’s 56-minute documentary is interspersed with snippets of Mat Rock bands performing to head-banging crowds of mostly young men like themselves. .. The movie could benefit by building up to a full-on Mat Rock experience.

Mat Salleh /sah-lay, ˈsɑleɪ/ n. [Mal., poss. < Eng. mad sailor]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 747 M. [Mat] Salleh: nickname for a European.  1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged Malay–English Dictionary 229 Mat Salleh a nickname for Englishmen.]

A male Caucasian, a male white person.  See also Ang Moh, Kentang.
¶ The derivation of the term from Datu Paduka Muhammad Salleh, known as ‘Mat Salleh’ (see the quot. from The New Straits Times below) is doubtful: it is unlikely that the name of a 19th-century North Borneo freedom fighter who opposed British rule would come to be used to refer to his enemies. The suggestion in the 2004 Straits Times quotation that Mat Salleh had American descendants appears to be a misreading of text on the Knowledge Jihad website (, accessed on 13 August 2005).

[2000 Joseph Binkasan & Paskalis Alban Akim The New Straits Times, 9 March, 2. Remembering Mat Salleh. A permanent tribute to one of Sabah’s earliest freedom fighters. Tucked away in the middle of a paddy field at Kampung Tibabar in Tambunan, about 70km from Kota Kinabalu, is a concrete structure in memory of Datu Paduka Mat Salleh. Better known as Mat Salleh, he initiated nationalistic fervour and opposition to foreign rule. Between 1881 and 1941, Sabah, then known as North Borneo, was under the London-based British North Borneo Chartered Company's administration. The locals were unhappy due to alleged exploitation and one man that stood up and led a rebellion against British rule was Datu Paduka Muhammad Salleh better known as Mat Salleh. To the British, he was a rebel but to locals, he was a warrior. He was killed in a gun battle with the British police on Feb 1, 1900. Appropriately, in recognition of Mat Salleh as one of Sabah’s earliest freedom fighters, the State Government built a permanent memorial fort in a garden at the exact site where he was killed at Kampung Tibabar in Tambunan. .. Outside the memorial, a monument with a bronze plaque with a citation reads: “This plaque marks the site of Mat Salleh’s Fort which was captured by the North Borneo Armed Constabulary on the 1st February 1900. During this engagement, Mat Salleh, who for six years led a rebellion against the British Chartered Company administration, met his death.” Sabah Museum director Joseph Pounis Guntavid said the British had put up the monument in remembrance of their success in ending the reign of Mat Salleh’s rebellion to their rule. “But a search and study on Mat Salleh’s actions strongly indicated that he was not a rebel but a warrior who went against foreign rule, fighting for North Borneo’s self-government,” he said. He said it was for this reason that the State Government opened the permanent memorial on Sept 20, last year.]

2000 Dennis Wee with Sylvia Fong Making Luck with Your Hands 40 Really nasty Mat Salleh supervisors who treated us no better than animals.  2004 Ong Soh Chin The Straits Times (Life!), 30 October, 4 I asked a few Malay friends if they knew the origins of the term ‘mat salleh’, which is also used to describe a Caucasian. Nobody knew. One Malay friend thought it was a variation of ‘sailor’. Another thought it was merely a generic name given to Caucasians in the early days because it was hard to remember foreign names. .. An Internet search produced results which said that Mat Salleh was actually a freedom fighter in old Sabah who battled the colonials. Other reports said his descendants eventually settled in other parts of the world, with one going to the United States and marrying a Caucasian woman. I know. Your guess is as good as mine. 2004 Bruce Lockhart The Straits Times (Life!), 12 November, 11 [W]e are quite confortable being called ‘ang moh’ or ‘Mat Salleh’ to our faces.

mata kuching n. /mah-tah kuu-ching, ˈmɑtɑ ˈkʊtʃɪŋ/ [Mal., cat’s eye: mata eye + kuching cat]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 748 m. [mata] kuching (cat’s eye; fruit, Nephelium maingayi..)..  1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged Malay–English Dictionary 188 mata k. [kuching] (Nephelium malaiense, a fruit popular with Malays.]

The plant Nephelium malayense; the edible fruit of this plant which resembles the Longan.
1865 John Cameron Our Tropical Possessions in Malayan India 397 Appendix I. LIST OF THE FRUITS TO BE FOUND IN THE BAZAARS OF THE STRAITS SETTLEMENTS [compiled by Dr. Ward].  401 Mata kuching .. (Not ascertained) .. A small fruit growing in thick bunches, consisting of a rough brownish-coloured round shell, containing a deep purple-coloured seed, surrounded by a whitish, opalescent looking pulp like a cat’s eye, hence its Malay name; much prized.  1894 N.B. Dennys A Descriptive Dictionary of British Malaya 137 Fruits. – A total list of some 63 “fruits” has been compiled as indigenous to the Malay Peninsula. Some of these, however, are repugnant to Europeans and seldom touched by Malays. The following catalogue will be found to include all which are likely to come under the notice of the ordinary resident or visitor:– .. Mata kuding.. 
1976 Planting and Maintenance of Fruit Trees 8 Such grafted trees like Mango, Durian, Mata Kuching, would fruit much later, say at least 5 to 7 years from planting.

mati /mah-tee, ˈmɑti/ int. [Mal., death; extinction; to perish (Wilkinson); dead (of living things, water, wind) (Winstedt); poss. < Arab. مات māta, مت maut to die, to perish, to lose life, to become dead (Wehr)]  An exclamation expr. that some thing or situation cannot be rectified or undone, or that someone is sure to get into trouble for doing something wrong.  See also Gone Case, Habis.
1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 mati – finished, die.

MC /em-see, ˈɛmsiː/ n. [Eng., abbrev. for m(edical c(ertificate]  A medical certificate: a certificate issued by a doctor excusing a person from work or duties.
2004 Teo Cheng Wee The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 8 February, L13 Civil servant M.J. Zhang knows a thing or two about how to fake an illness to get an MC. That was how he laid hands on more than 15 medical certificates during his army days..  2006 Leong Hon Chiew Straits Times Interactive, 4 July. Medical certificates (MCs) issued by dentists are indeed valid in so far as they certify that in the dentist’s opinion a person is unfit for work or school for the period of time stated in the MC because of a dental problem.  2006 Tan Chek Wee Today (from, 5 July. The “MC takers”, genuine and fake. The former have no choice because their bosses only recognise MCs from a polyclinic – aware, probably, that their employees would have had to waste half a day waiting.

Comb.: MC king n. [Eng.]  A person who frequently obtains MCs, a malingerer.  See King.
2004 Teo Cheng Wee The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 8 February, L13 MC Kings may have many fake illnesses up their sleeves, but doctors also have their ways to verify them.

mee /mee, miː/ n. [Hk. meēng (colloq.) flour, wheaten flour (Medhurst); Mand. miàn noodles (Chi.–Eng. Dict.); poss. through Mal. mi flat strips of dough eaten as macaroni (Wilkinson)]  Noodles made from wheat flour, usu. yellow in colour.


bak chor mee see entry under Bak.

Hay Mee

Hokkien mee, Hokkien fried mee see entry under Hokkien.

Lor Mee

Mah Mee

mee goreng /gor-reng, ˈɡɔːrɛŋ/ n. [Mal. goreng fry in a pan]  Noodles fried in a Malay style, which are flavoured with chilli sauce and tomato ketchup.
Arlina Arshad (quoting Nur Sarah) The Straits Times, 27 December, H8 I have been looking forward to this day very much, spending time with the family and eating traditional food, like mee goreng and rice.  2006 Sandra Leong The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 11 June. .. Muslim favourites like prata and mee goreng..  2006 Tan Hsueh Yun The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 26 November. One forkful of the mee goreng and my dining companion and I were trying to figure out what gives the dish such a wonderful kick. Turns out, it’s a very solid sambal belacan. The dish isn’t overly sweet and the chef doesn’t go crazy with the ketchup.  2012 Thng Lay Teen The Sunday Times (SundayLife!), 7 October, 30 But it was the mee goreng ($4 for one or $6 for two persons) which caught my friend’s eye and I was glad I changed my order. Every strand of noodle was evenly coated in a lovely gravy mix of homemade chilli, chilli sauce and ketchup, with a most pleasing result.

Ponggol mee goreng /pong-gol, ˈpɒŋɡɒl/ n. [Mal. Ponggol, Punggol a Singapore place-name]  See quot. 2003.
2003 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times, 5 October, L41 Ponggol mee goreng.. [Ponggol Choon Seng Seafood] claims to have created Chinese-style mee goreng in 1956, which is more moist and uses more seafood ingredients than the Malay and Indian versions.

mee kia /giah, ɡiɑ/ n. [Hk. kia child; Mand. 1 Fine noodles made with wheat flour.  2 A Chinese dish containing mee kia, Fishballs, Fishcake, minced pork, etc., either dry or in soup.
1 2006 Sandra Leong The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 8 January, L4 [M]ee pok is typical Teochew hawker fare where flat yellow noodles are drowned in chilli sauce and served with fishballs, prawns, fish cake slices, minced pork, pork slices, herkeow (minced pork in fish skin) and sinful cubes of pork lard. .. the noodles can also come in the form of kway teow (flat white noodles) and mee kia (skinny yellow noodles).  2009 Tan Hsueh Yun The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 11 January, 27 For such a humble dish, minced pork noodles can really get people worked up. .. I always ask for mee kia or skinny wheat noodles, chilli and extra vinegar.  2 2006 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Soh Gim Teik)
The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 12 March. What local dish, if it ceases to exist, would dramatically lower the quality of your life? / Dry mee pok or mee kia. As it is, you can’t find it anywhere else in the world. Malaysia has something similar but not exactly the same as Singapore’s.

mee pok /pok, pɒk/ n. [Hk. pok flat, thin; Mand. báo1 A kind of flat noodle made with wheat flour, resembling fettuccine.  2 A dish containing mee pok, Fishballs, Fishcake, minced pork, etc., either dry or in soup. The dry version is Mee Pok Tah.
1 2008 Foong Woei Wan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 12 October, 32 [T]he ingredients [of bak chor mee] are cooked to the right degree, from the mee pok (springy) to the liver (still red-rimmed and rich-tasting).  2 2001
Angela Ee The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 25 February, P11 I first learnt to appreciate the multi-cultural richness of Singapore through fish-head curry, satay, mee pok, dhosai and a hundred other dishes.  2006 Sandra Leong The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 8 January, L4 [M]ee pok is typical Teochew hawker fare where flat yellow noodles are drowned in chilli sauce and served with fishballs, prawns, fish cake slices, minced pork, pork slices, herkeow (minced pork in fish skin) and sinful cubes of pork lard. .. the noodles can also come in the form of kway teow (flat white noodles) and mee kia (skinny yellow noodles).  2006 Wong Ah Yoke The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 8 January, L4 The magic of good mee pok, a dish probably unique to Singapore, lies in its various ingredients. The Teochew dish is made with flat egg noodles and beansprouts which are blanched and then tossed in lard and chilli sauce. Some hawkers add a splash of black vinegar to lift up the taste. Toppings usually comprise fishballs, fishcake, lean pork, minced pork and herkeow, a piece of fish paste with a minced-pork filling.  2006 Charlie Tan The Straits Times (National Day Supplement), 9 August, 17 Mee pok, dry.. I have it for breakfast regularly. When I was a boy, my mother would buy us mee pok for 20 cents a bowl from a roadside stall. Chilli and lard are the two essential ingredients that make this mee pok shiok. When I eat it and feel the springiness of the noodles and the crunch of half-cooked bean sprouts, I’m happy.  2006 Pang Kok Keong The Straits Times (National Day Supplement), 9 August, 17 Fresh mee pok soup with lots of freshly cut chilli padi and vinegar from my mother’s noodle stall in Jurong. There’s a bite to the egg noodles while the soup is light yet full of flavour. And the fishballs have great texture. It’s my ultimate comfort food.

mee pok tah /ta, / n. [Hk. tah dry; Mand. gān (?)]  The dry version of mee pok 2.
2005 Tay Yek Keak The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 7 August. I actually had no idea how contagious this feeling of happy hunger was until I saw the movie Charlie And The Chocolate Factory recently. The way Johnny Depp’s eyes (he plays a choc nut) widened when he saw his river of chocolate is the same way mine react when I see my bowl of mee pok tah. 
2011 Sandra Leong The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 12 June, 13 My boyfriend has envisioned that we will run towards each other in slow-motion like long-lost sisters or at least bond over a common craving for mee pok tar.

mee rebus /rə-buus, rəˈbʊs/ [Mal. rebus boiling in and with water (as distinct from boiling by immersion in boiling water)]  A Malay dish consisting of noodles served with a thick brown gravy and other ingredients such as bean sprouts, Lontong, etc.
2003 Elisabeth Gwee The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 19 October, L14 Laksa, mee rebus, nasi lemak or vegetarian bee hoon.  2015 Thng Lay Teen The Sunday Times (SundayLife!), 22 February, 21 What I also like here is the delectable mee rebus ($3). The gravy was thick enough to coat every strand of the yellow noodles and the generous serving of beansprouts added to the crunch.

mee siam /seeum, siːʌm/ n. [Mal. < Thai เลียม Siẽm Siam, the Siamese (Pallegoix); according to McFarland < Khmer Siěm Siam, Thailand (Headley)]  A Malay dish consisting of Beehoon in a savoury, sour and spicy sauce served with hard-boiled egg, dried beancurd, bean sprouts and a wedge of lime.
2005 Theresa Tan The Straits Times (Mind Your Body), 28 December, 13 I always thought mee siam was a Malay dish, until I did this review. Originally a Thai invention (Siam is the old name for Thailand), the dish has become a Nonya speciality cooked by Malays, Indians and Chinese hawkers here. Mr Chew Keok Lye is a Chinese hawker who learnt how to make this dish from one of his Malay friends two decades ago and continues to improvise the recipe till this day. His version is light, tasty and, best of all, not oily at all. This is because Mr Chew boils the vermicelli, instead of frying it like most hawkers do. The piquant gravy is made from a blend of dried shrimps, tamarind juice, bean paste, ginger, garlic, onions and lemongrass. The first three items are a must, says Mr Chew, to get the unique sweet, sour and salty taste. .. It is served with the usual dried beancurd, beansprouts and egg.  2011 Lee Hui Chieh
The Straits Times (Mind Your Body), 21 July, 22 Brown rice vermicelli had been drenched in a tangy gravy and topped with half a hard-boiled egg, cubes of fried tau kwa (firm soya bean curd), spring onion and a generous dollop of sambal chilli, to make the mee siam. The dish created by the Peranakans – descendants of Chinese and Indian immigrants in Penang, Malacca and Singapore who melded Malay culture with their own – is commonly made with white rice vermicelli. ... The orange gravy was also flavourful – simultaneously spicy, sweet and sour..

mee soto /soh-toh, ˈsoto/ n. [Ind. soto a kind of meat soup or stew (Echols & Shadily, Ind.–Eng.); Jav. saoto, soto a soup or stew made with bean sprouts, cabbage, chicken and soy sauce (Horne)]  A Malay or Indonesian dish consisting of shredded chicken, bean sprouts and noodles in a curry-flavoured soup.  Compare Soto Ayam.
2011 Lee Hui Chieh
The Straits Times (Mind Your Body), 21 July, 22 [T]he mee soto had been whipped up using thick wholegrain noodles rather than the noodles made of egg and refined wheat flour that are typically used in the Malay dish. The blanched noodles were soaked in spicy chicken soup and sprinkled with shreds of steamed chicken, bean sprouts, spring onions and of course, sambal chilli. .. After slurping up most of the brown soup and yellow noodles, I felt satisfied but also guilty.  2015 Rebecca Lynne Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 1 November, C20 [T]he mee soto ($3 for yellow noodles in chicken soup) I order.. is better than I remember when I had it earlier this year. .. The hot soup has many layers of flavours and a perfect balance of spices – not one outshines the others. .. The dollop of piquant chilli also makes the broth a joy to slurp up. The chilli complements the flavourful broth very well. I also like that the noodles here are blanced before boiling soup is added to it, which ensures that it is as hot as it can be.

mee soup n. [Eng. soup]  Noodles in soup.
2006 Wong Ah Yoke
The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 26 February. The prawn mee soup ($12) was good, too, with its robust stock. The bright-red prawns laid on top of the yellow noodles also looked very attractive, although I would have preferred them to be shelled.

mee sua /suuah, sʊɑ/ n. [Hk. 线 sua string, thread; Mand. xiàn1 White wheat vermicelli which is softer in texture then Beehoon when cooked.  2 A dish which has mee sua as its main ingredient.
2001 Sylvia Lim The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 4 February, P7 A mound of soft white wheat vermicelli called mee sua2006 Wong Ah Yoke The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 1 October. Another noodle dish, Oriental crabmeat fried mee sua.., is a bit of a misnomer. The noodles are not mee sua but deep-fried egg noodles (sheng mian). And they come in a soupy gravy.  2008 The Straits Times (Life!), 31 October, C17 [M]ee suah, a Chinese noodle that the Hokkiens eat at celebrations such as birthdays, weddings and Chinese New Year..  2011 Lee Hui Chieh The Straits Times (Mind Your Body), 23 June, 22 [M]ee sua (wheat vermicelli)..  2 2012 Cheryl Faith Wee (quoting Ruth Anne Keh) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 11 March, 4 Red rice wine chicken mee sua is a special dish that my family usually eats for birthdays, special occasions and whenever we feel like it. The mee sua, or longevity noodles, is accompanied by small pieces of chicken and a hard-boiled egg. .. My grandmother still makes the rice wine needed for this dish. She mixes red yeast with rice and ferments it in what she calls an urn but which looks to me like a large vase, which is about 1m tall. It is left in a dark room for about three months. After it is ready, she puts the wine and some residue from the mixture into glass bottles and gives some to my mum. It does not need to be refrigerated.

mee tai bak /tı bahk, tʌɪ bɑk/ [Teo. tai bak (?)] Also mee tai mak.  Lo Shee Fun.
2000 Susan Long The Sunday Times, 26 November, 36 Istana butler J Kathiravan serves up a mee tai bak breakfast.  2006 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Wong Hon Mun) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 30 July, L28 I would have mee tai mak (short, thick noodles), either in soup or dry, with fishballs, pork balls or yong tau foo at this noodles shop near my house. It’s very good.  2006 Christopher Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 6 August, L26 Bee tai mak are stubby, thick white noodles made of rice flour (typically mixed with other starches too, such as tapioca flour), whose tapered ends make them look like giant headless beansprouts. In Malaysia, they are known as lo shee fun, or “rat noodles” – an apt description. .. A common option at fishball noodle stalls, bee tai mak can also be used in any dish calling for fresh rice noodles, such as laksa, beef noodles and Vietnamese noodle soups. There’s no logical reason you couldn't also eat them in mee siam, curry mee or with kway chap gravy, say, though bear in mind that they are more rustic than delicate in texture.  2008 Huang Lijie The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 12 October, 31 It may be short, stubby, and until recently, enjoyed mostly by children, but the noodle mee tai mak is making a gastronomic comeback. Once a staple in Teochew minced meat noodles and fishball noodles, it is winning new fans with its multiple reincarnations in laksa, XO sauce noodles and even the Peranakan meatball soup, bakwan kepiting. According to Mr Ho Nyi Sing, 60, owner of Eng Heng Noodle Factory, which manufactures mee tai mak, the noodle’s name in Teochew refers to the sieve-like basket that was used in the past to make it. The noodle also goes by its Cantonese monicker [sic], lo shi fun, or literally, rat noodles, because its cylindrical shape with pointed ends is said to resemble the rodent’s tail. Mr Raymond Tan, 36, director of Tan Seng Kee Foods, a noodle manufacturer here which has been making mee tai mak for more than 70 years, says the noodle enjoyed a brief surge of popularity in the early 1980s. He says: “There were many Malaysians working here then, so hawkers sold stir-fried mee tai mak in dark sauce, which was a popular dish in Malaysia.”

meehoon var. of Beehoon.

wantan mee see entry under Wantan.

meh /mair, mɛː/ int. [Cant. the bleating of a sheep; a final interrogative particle (Eitel); Mand. miē the bleating of sheep (Giles); compare Cant. 係咩 hai mé [Mand. xì miē] is it?; 噉样嘅咩 kòm yéung ké mé [Mand. dàn yàng kài miē] is it thus? (Eitel)] interrog.  An exclamation used at the end of a question expr. disbelief, surprise, etc.
2000 Tee Hun Ching The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 2 April, 14 What’s wrong with this? Not suitable, meh? It’s not the Oscars, what! 2000 Yeow Kai Chai (quoting David Gan) The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 2 July, 5 I am so powerful meh!  2003 Colin Goh The Sunday Times, 12 October, L18 [title] Our English so bad, meh?  2005 Cornelius Kan Wai-Chung Today, 18 November, 40 I explained my theory to my Japanese and Taiwanese friends. “You see,” I began, “the Chinese language has a phrase ‘you mei you gau cuo?’ which means ‘did you make a mistake?’. .. In Cantonese, it’s translated ‘yau mo gau cor?’ and then simply ‘yao mo?’. So when Singaporeans took this and transferred it into English, it literally became ‘got (have) meh?’.” And thus, “got meh?” was born.  2008 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 2 November, 14 [L]ike the outcome’s ever in doubt, meh?  2010 Fiona Chan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 22 August, 13 You got send [e-mail] meh? I never receive leh.  2013 Tee Hun Ching The Sunday Times (SundayLife!), 7 October, 12 “Nice meh?” I would think sourly.

mei cai /may chı, meɪ tsʰaɪ/ n. [Hanyu Pinyin transcription of Mand. 酶 méi enzyme; ferment + cài vegetable, greens (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  A type of salted, preserved vegetable used in Chinese cooking. Known in Cantonese as Mui Choy.
2008 Thng Lay Teen The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 16 November, 27 The mei cai (preserved vegetables, 70 cents) was also done well. It is soaked in water for a few hours to get rid of the excess saltiness, then fried and put in boiling water. The water is then discarded, fresh water and several ingredients are added to simmer the vegetable till it becomes soft and nice. .. With fish soup, pig trotters and mei cai, I could not ask for a more satisfying lunch.

mei cai kou rou /koh roh, kʰou˞ rou˞/ n. [Mand. 扣肉 kòuròu a Chinese dish of richly seasoned steamed pork: kòu knot, buckle; button + ròu meat, flesh (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  A Hakka dish consisting of fatty pork braised with mei cai.
2009 Alessa Pang The Straits Times (Saturday), 24 January, B6 As descendants of Hakka immigrants from Meixian, a county in the north-eastern part of Guangdong province in China, they prepare traditional dishes such as luo bo wan (steamed radish balls), dong jiang yan gu ji (salt-baked chicken), ji jiu (chicken in wine), as well as mei cai kou rou (braised pork slices with preserved vegetables) for the reunion dinner each year.

merlion, Merlion /mər--ən, ˈməːˌlʌɪən/ n. & v. [Eng. mer- comb. form forming nouns denoting imaginary beings of the mermaid kind, or persons or animals distinguished by their affinity for water (OED) + lion]  A n. 1 A mythical creature with the head and trunk of a lion and the tail of a fish.
¶ The merlion is represented on a celebrated monument that spouts water from its mouth that was first installed on a promontory at the mouth of the Singapore River on 15 September 1972.
2 transf. One who vomits after excessive drinking.  B v. Vomit after excessive drinking.
A 1 c. 1973 Singapore 1973 (Ministry of Culture, Singapore) Prelim. Matter: Illustr. (caption) The Merlion, a 26-foot structure erected on a promontory at the mouth of the Singapore River.  1979 Edwin Thumboo Ulysses by the Merlion Ulysses by the merlion.. But this lion of the sea / Salt-maned, scaly, wondrous of tail, / Touched with power, insistent / On this brief promontory... / Puzzles. .. The lion of the sea, / This image of themselves.  2004 The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 9 May. When Singapore craftsman Lim Nang Seng was commissioned by then Singapore Tourist Promotion Board to construct the Merlion statue in 1972, he roped in all eight of his children to help. .. The family took three months to complete the 8.6m-tall, 70-tonne cement Merlion statue, working till late into the night using kerosene lamps for light before returning to their three-room flat in Bukit Merah. There was no proper scaffolding built and both brothers [Lim’s sons] recall being very frightened when they were working on the Merlion’s head. .. As the Merlion was located at the mouth of the Singapore River, Mr Lim had to run to the Satay Club constantly on the opposite side of the river, or hire a bumboat to go out into the mouth of the river, to check his work. The Merlion statue was Mr Lim’s pride. ‘Even after completion, my father would visit the Merlion almost every day,’ says Peter. ‘When the Merlion couldn’t spurt water properly, he would be the first to call the authorities,’ adds Albert. Mr Lim even considered the Merlion his ninth child.  2005 Singapore Tourism Board website <>. At the end of the 4th century A.D., Temasek was destroyed by the Siamese, according to some historians, but by the Javanese according to others. As recorded in the legend in the Malay Annals, Prince Nila Utama of the Sri Vijaya empire rediscovered the island later in the 11th century A.D. On seeing a strange beast (which he later learnt was a lion) upon his landing he named the island Singapura which is a Sanskrit word for Lion (Singa) City (Pura). The Merlion, with its fish-like body riding the waves of the sea, is symbolic of the ancient city of Temasek. At the same time, its majestic head recalls the legend of the discovery of Singapore by Prince Nila Utama in the 11th century, when Singapore received its present name. .. The Merlion was first built as an eight-metre tall sculpture in 1972 and was located at the mouth of the Singapore River to “welcome all visitors to Singapore”. Built by a local craftsman, Lim Nang Seng, who won several prizes in the Singapore Handicraft and Design competition organised by the Singapore Tourism Board (then known as the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board) in 1970, it was commissioned for approximately $165,000 in 1971, and formally installed on 15 September 1972 by Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the then Prime Minister. The Merlion, a symbol to welcome all visitors to Singapore, has since moved. On 15 September 2002, it settled into its new home at Merlion Park, located next to One Fullerton, overlooking scenic Marina Bay, with the park opened by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.  2006 Kate Smith Today (from, 20 June. I would chain myself to the Merlion until I was given permanent residence.  2006 Neil Humphreys Final Notes from a Great Island 51 How could I leave Sentosa without watching its light-and-laser show, with musical fountains, dancing fountains, and a fiery Merlion shooting green beams out into the night?  2 2005 Hong Xinyi The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 19 June. Merlion. Army use: People who spew vomit after drinking copious amounts of alcohol to celebrate the end of their national service. Civilian use: People who spew vomit.  B 2005 Hong Xinyi The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 19 June. After drinking 20 tequila shots in half an hour, he Merlioned.  2005 Lorraine Lim Today, 3 September. When it comes to cultural icons, Singapore can boast many contenders. Yet, instead of inspiring pride, many Singaporeans appear to have a love-hate relationship with some of these symbols. The Merlion, for example, is already well established in the local vernacular: It means “to vomit”. That suggests how much respect there is for the nation’s No 1 tourism symbol.

Mid-Autumn Festival n. [Eng. transl. of Mand. 中秋节 Zhōngqīu Jié: zhōng middle, mid + qīu autumn + jié festival]  A Chinese festival held on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month (usu. in mid- to late-September of the Gregorian calendar) around the date when the moon is at its fullest in the year. Traditions associated with the festival include appreciating the beauty of the moon [Mand. 赏月 shǎngyuè: shǎng admire, enjoy, appreciate + yuè the moon] in the open air; the preparation, giving and eating of Mooncakes and pomelos; and the carrying of lanterns by children.  Also known as the Lantern Festival 2.
¶ The festival may have originated from mid-autumn harvest celebrations, or from ancient ceremonies held in honour of the moon or the moon goddess, Cháng’é 嫦娥. It appears that the latter custom can be traced as far back as the ancient Xia Dynasty [Mand. 夏朝 Xìa Cháo] (c.2070
1600 b.c.) and Shang Dynasty [Mand. 商朝 Shāng Cháo] (c.16001046 b.c.). There are varying accounts of the Chinese legend of Chang’e, but one version known at least since the Period of the Warring States [Mand. 战国 Zhàn Guó] (475221 b.c.) is that Chang’e and Houyi were immortals in heaven. The ten sons of the Jade Emperor [Mand. 玉皇大帝 Yǜ Huáng Dà Dì], the ruler of heaven, transformed themselves into ten suns, scorching the earth. Having failed to stop his sons from destroying the earth, the Jade Emperor summoned Houyi for help. Houyi, using his archery skills, shot down nine of the suns, becoming a hero. This aroused the jealousy of some immortals, who slandered Houyi before the Jade Emperor. The Jade Emperor thus banished Houyi and Chang’e to live as mortals on earth.
This version of the legend goes on to state that Houyi, sorry that Chang’e had to lead a mortal’s life for his sake, went on a long and perilous journey to obtain a pill of immortality the Queen Mother of the West [Mand. 西王母 Xī Wáng Mǔ], the ruler of the western paradise and the goddess of immortality, so that he and Chang’e would be able to live together for eternity. The Queen Mother warned him that each of them would only need half of the pill to become immortal. Houyi asked Chang’e not to open the case in which the pill was kept. One day, when Houyi was not at home, Chang’e’s curiosity overcame her. She opened the case and found the pill just as Houyi was returning home. Afraid that Houyi would catch her discovering the contents of the case, she swallowed the whole pill. This caused her to float into the sky until she landed on the moon, whereupon she became the moon goddess. According to another version of the legend, Houyi became a tyrannical leader and obtained an elixir of immortality for himself. Chang’e, not wishing the people to suffer under Houyi’s rule for eternity, drank the elixir herself and floated to the moon.
     The Mid-Autumn Festival increased in popularity during the Ming Dynasty [Mand. 明朝 Míng Cháo] (1368
1644) and Qing Dynasty [Mand. 清朝 Qīng Cháo] (16441911), possibly because of the success of a plan by Liu Powen, a military advisor to rebel army leader Chu Yuanchang, to use mooncakes to smuggle messages in uprisings to overthrow the Mongol rulers of the Yuan Dynasty [Mand. 元朝 Yuán Cháo] (12711368).
2005 Lu Gong Ming The Straits Times reprinted from the China Press (Malaysia) (from Straits Times Interactive), 13 August. August, a month that is a prelude to the Chinese mid-autumn festival, can also be said to be a month of national day celebrations. Malaysia’s National Day is on Aug 31, while that of Singapore falls on Aug 9.  2006 Clarissa Oon (quoting Lu Jichun) The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 10 June. [Chinese] [o]fficials and experts have suggested raising the status of traditional Chinese festivals like the Dragon Boat and Mid-Autumn, putting them on a par with the Spring Festival and Chinese New Year. .. ‘When children today think of the Dragon Boat Festival, all they can think of is eating zongzi. For the Mid-Autumn Festival, they can only think of eating mooncakes.’

Milo dinosaur /-loh, ˈmʌɪləʊ/ n. [Eng. Milo proprietary name for a chocolate malt powdered milk additive invented by a team of Australian scientists led by Thomas Mayne in 1934 and produced by the Nestlé company < Gk. Μίλων Milon athlete and pupil of Pythagoras, born in the Greek city of Kroton in southern Italy, famous for extraordinary bodily strength and the victor in wrestling six times at the Olympic Games, the first time in 540 b.c. + dinosaur, poss. < the fact that the brown Milo powder resembles earth]  An iced milk-based beverage of Milo topped with Milo powder sprinkled on the surface.

[2005 Nestlé website ( Milo is a delicious low-fat chocolate malt energy drink packed with essential vitamins and rich in flavor. .. Milo is available both as a powdered milk additive and in convenient Ready to Drink cans. .. The number one chocolate malt beverage brand in the world, Milo is manufactured at the Nestle plant in Australia at Smithtown, near Kempsey on the Macleay River. .. Around 18 million cups of Milo are consumed worldwide per day, that is 6.5 billion cups a year. .. The name Milo comes from a Roman athlete in Greek mythology named Milon who was famous for his feats of strength. Legend has it that he once carried a four-year-old bullock through the stadium in Olympia, Greece!  2005 Nestlé Australia website ( .. Your parents probably drank MILO when they were children too, as MILO has been around since 1934. For some time Nestle had been trying to develop a chocolate energy drink, but had been having problems creating a fully dry product. It was a research team, headed by Thomas Mayne, who finally hit on the idea of using the latest vacuum shelf drying technology. The following year, MILO was launched at the Sydney Royal Easter Show to instant acclaim and popularity.]

2006 The Straits Times (National Day Supplement), 9 August, 19 [advertisement] Our best times spent are at “sarabat stalls” where we’ll gleefully “attack” a tall ice-cold MILO DINOSAUR – a miraculous product of the 90s.

Milo godzilla /god-zi-lə, gɒdˈzɪlə/ n. [prob. a fanciful elaboration of Milo Dinosaur; Eng. Milo (see Milo Dinosaur) + Eng. Godzilla, a fictional gigantic dinosaur-like monster with the body and tail of a tyrannosaurus covered in rough grey scales, the long arms of an iguanodon and the dorsal fins of a stegosaurus; the name was first used in the U.S. film Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956) directed by Inoshiro Honda (1911–1993) and was an alteration of Jap. ゴジラ Gojira, the name of the monster in the original 1954 Jap. film of that name, said to be f. Jap. ゴリラ go(rira < Eng. gorilla + Jap. , くじら ku)jira whale, app. adopted from the nickname of a burly film-set employee (Wikipedia, OED) > Eng. Godzilla a large or strong example of its type; a person or thing of monstrous proportions or strength (OED)]  An iced milk-based beverage of Milo topped with ice-cream or whipped cream.
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.

Miloccino /-cheenoh, -tʃino/ n. [Eng. cappu)ccino]  Milo (see Milo Dinosaur) topped with frothed milk like a cappuccino.  Compare Kopi-chino, Tehccino.
2006 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 10 September. [A]t many late-night supper spots, the suffix ‘-ccino’ is added to a bewildering array of frothy beverages, from the ‘Tehccino’ to the ‘Miloccino’. I once even heard someone ask the waiter: ‘I want Horlicks. Can make it ccino, one?’

Minah /mee-nah, ˈmiːnɑ/ n. [Mal. < Aminah a common Malay female name < Arab. Aminah]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 1, 25 Aminah. Ar. A proper name for women; shortened commonly to Minah or Nah. It was the name of the Prophet’s mother.  vol. 2, 775 Minah. Ar. A feminine proper name; short for Aminah..]

Also minah. Mal. slang  A Malay woman, esp. one who is physically attractive.
1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 Minah – chick (Minah is short for Aminah, a common Malay name. Here it means girl, preferably pretty).  2013 Yip Wai Yee (quoting Siti Khalijah Zainal) The Straits Times (Life!), 14 December, E26 She says she will “very likely” be playing at least two new characters: .. a young “minah” character, which is a stereotype of a rambunctious Malay girl. “.. The minah character will be one who wants to shed her minah image by being all ghetto and talking like a black person. ..”

ming jiang kueh /ming jiahng kuay, mɪŋ ʤɪɑŋ kʊeɪ/ n. [Teo. ming7 powder made from ground grain + ziang1 cook food in a small amount of hot oil + 粿 guê2 a steamed foodstuff, with or without a filling, made from rice flour and water kneaded together into soft pieces that are impressed into various shapes using moulds (Chaozhou Dict.); Mand. miàn wheat flour + jiān fry in shallow oil + guǒ (literary language) powder made from rice or wheat (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  A Chinese dessert consisting of a thick folded pancake filled with sweetened crushed peanuts or, more recently, other fillings.
2005 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 3 April, L26 Ming jiang kueh, the peanut-filled pancake from the days of our grandparents, has been enjoying a revival of late. .. Widely known to have originated from China’s Guangdong province, the snack was brought by Chinese immigrants to places like Singapore, Sabah, Penang and Jakarta from the turn of the 20th century. Translated literally, ming jiang kueh is Teochew for “flour pan-fried cake”. It is pronounced as mang chang kueh in Hokkien. .. [H]ow does the new breed of ming jiang kueh actually taste? Done the old-fashioned way, the new chains cook their pancakes fresh on the spot using big, round iron pans. Then, they spread on the peanut and sugar filling, flip half of the pancake over, and cut in into slices.  2006 Hannah Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 4 June. Competition is giving a new fillip to traditional snack ming chiang kueh (pancakes).. The pancake has evolved beyond simple red bean and peanut versions to tuna, chilli shrimp and chicken floss types.  2007 Arlina Arshad
The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 9 February. [T]he cafe did not materialise because the operator ‘wanted to sell sugarcane, ming chiang kuay (pancakes) and tau huay chwee (soya bean drink)’, which went against the mall’s ‘hip and trendy’ image.

mood n. & v. [Eng.]  A n. ROD Mood.   B v. Be in an ROD mood.

mooncake n. [Eng. transl. of Mand. 月饼 yuèbǐng: yuè moon + bǐng round, flat cake]  A round Chinese cake traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival consisting of pastry impressed with a patterned mould and filled with Lin Yoong (lotus seed paste), hard-boiled duck egg yolks, etc.
¶ The custom of exchanging mooncakes as gifts during the Mid-Autumn Festival appears to have originated during the Southern Song Dynasty [Mand. 南宋朝 Nán Sòng Cháo] (1127
2000 Josephine James The Straits Times, 11 September, 37 Zhong Qiu Jie, celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, is believed to have originated as a festivity marking the harvest season. .. People would drink wine and eat mooncakes while admiring the moon, which was at its biggest and brightest. .. Mooncakes, pomelos and tea are traditional gifts of the season. The round cakes symbolise the moon and family reunions. Mooncakes have also been used to advantage in revolutions. In the 1300s, when the Hans were oppressed by the Mongols, the mooncake was used to call people to take up arms through concealed slips of paper.  2004 Joyce Teo The Straits Times, 28 September, H1 Two legends lay claim to the mooncake tradition. One is to celebrate legendary beauty Chang-Er, who flew to the moon. Another holds that mooncakes were first used to hold secret messages that began the revolution which ended the Yuan Dynasty in the 14th century.  2006 Clarissa Oon (quoting Lu Jichun) The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 10 June. When children today think of the Dragon Boat Festival, all they can think of is eating zongzi. For the Mid-Autumn Festival, they can only think of eating mooncakes.  2006 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 10 September. Mr Tan Chock Soon gets incensed each time the annual Mid-Autumn Festival rolls around. He likes his mooncakes made the traditional way – plain lotus seed paste with one salted egg yolk. But each year, he is greeted by newfangled flavours that get ever more bewildering. ‘Ice cream, durian, wasabi, is there really a need to be so modern?’ asks Mr Tan.. Hand-made mooncakes have thinner and softer skins, because they are individually wrapped by hand around fillings, before they are shaped inside wooden moulds and baked. .. Opened about 70 years ago in Chinatown, this old-world shop [Tai Chong Kok] specialises in Cantonese-style pastries. During Mid-Autumn Festival, its Cantonese-style mooncakes – the type with lotus seed paste wrapped with a thin layer of baked skin – attracts long queues. .. It also sells snowskin versions and filling options include red bean paste and green bean paste. .. This 60-year-old bakery [Thye Moh Chan Cake House] specialises in Teochew-style mooncakes, which are characterised by their flaky skins. They come in three different sizes. The small ones.. are filled with a mixture of candied winter melon, sesame seeds, orange peel and red bean. The medium ones.. are about the size of your open palm, and are filled with the same mixture. There is a durian option, too.. The largest one.. is flat and only 1cm thick, filled with chewy malt sugar paste. .. Hokkien-style mooncakes.. are similar to the Cantonese ‘wife biscuit’, filled with candied winter melon paste and have a slightly salty taste..

Comb.: Mooncake Festival n. [Eng.]  Mid-Autumn Festival.

muffadet /muf-ə-det, ˈmʌfədɛt/ n. [corruption of Eng. hermaphrodite] Eurasian slang  An effeminate male.  See also Ah Kua A1, Bapok.

mugger n. [Eng., regarded as rare and perhaps obs. < mug v. read or study in a concentrated manner, learn by hard or concentrated study; perh. related to mug v. pout, grow sullen, mope < mug n. a face, esp. an unattractive one; prob. < mug n. a drinking vessel, freq. cylindrical (and now usu. with a handle), generally used without a saucer, perh. in allusion to drinking mugs made to represent a grotesque human face which were common in the 18th century]  1 A student who works with particular diligence or concentration; a swot.  2 A person overly concerned with studying, a bookworm.
1 1883 James Payn The Canon’s Ward, ch. 8. ‘A mugger’ – a comprehensive term understood to include all persons with an ambition for University distinction.  1900 H.G. Wells Love and Mr. Lewisham, ch. 8, 77 That beast Lewisham – awful swat... Frightful mugger.  2003 Clara Chow The Straits Times (Life!), 9 December, L4 While other 16-year-olds were playing their air guitars and flinging their hair at home back in 1994, I was a sad mugger, cramming for my O-level examinations.

Phrase: mugger toad.

mui choy /mooay choy, muːeɪ tʃɔɪ/ n. [Cant. mui [...] + 菜 choy [...]; Mand. méi enzyme; ferment + cài vegetable, greens (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  The Cantonese name for Mei Cai.
2008 Chris Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 16 November, 28 Once upon a time, preserved items such as kiam chye, mui choy and chai poh would have been homemade by every Chinese family for its daily consumption. They are not as easy to make as they might seem, requiring successive rounds of drying, seasoning, salting, brining or steaming.

mum mum /mum mum, mʌm mʌm/ n. & v. [poss. imit. of the sound of eating; or < Mysore Kannada ಮಮು mammu that which is mumped (chewed with toothless gums): food in the language of children < Mysore Kannada ಮಮ್ mam, ಮಮಮ್ mammum, ಮೊಮು mǒmmu a sound in imitation of chewing (used by children) (Kittel)] nursery  A n. Food, esp. a child’s meal.  B v. Eat, have a meal.
A 2004 Teo Cheng Wee The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 20 June, L10 Jacob is obsessed with food and has a continuous urge to eat. In fact, his first words ‘mum mum’ referred to food, not his mother.

munjen /mun-jən, ˈmʌnʤən/ n. [< Tam. மஞ்சள் mañcal turmeric; yellow colour as that of turmeric; or < Tulu ಮಂಜಲೆ mañjale a yellow or tawny-coloured man (Tulu Lex.); compare Tulu ಮಂಜಳ್ mañjaḷ, ಮಂಜಲ್ mañjaḷu, ಮಂಜಾಳ್ mañjaaḷụ, ಮಂಜೊಳು mañjoḷu, ಮಂಜೊಲು mañjolu Indian saffron, the long rooted turmeric (Curcuma long) Linn. Zingiberaceae; tumeric root; yellow (Tulu Lex.); Kannada ಮಂಜಳ mañjaḷa Indian saffron (Curcuma longa), turmeric (Kittel); Koḍaga mañja; Malayalam മണണ mańńa yellow or turmeric colour < Malayalam മണണഴ mańńaḷ Indian saffron (Curcuma longa), turmeric; yellow dye (Mlm. Lex.)] Tam. slang  A Chinese person.
2004 Ong Soh Chin The Straits Times (Life!), 30 October, 4 ‘Munjen’ is actually a variation of ‘munjal’, a Tamil term for Chinese people which literally means ‘turmeric’, referring to the spice’s yellow colour.

murtabak /mə-tə-bahk, mətəˈbɑk˺/ n. [(?)]  An Indian dish consisting of a prata filled with spicy meat and onions.
2002 Michelle Ho & Ruby Pan The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 12 April, L27 The outlet is famous for its chicken murtabak of varying sizes.  2004 Judi Low Streats, 6 February, 46 The murtabak is a prata filled with spicy meat and lots of onions. Although always regarded as Indian food, this dish is unknown in India.

murukku /muu-ruuk-uu, ˈmʊrʊkʊ/ n. [Tam. முறுக்கு murukku to twist (as a rope), twirl, spin (as a potter his wheel); n. twisting, turn or thread of a screw, ball of thread; a kind of cake made of flour (Burrow & Emeneau, Tam. Lex.); a writhing, wresting or twining; a kind of cake (Percival, Tam. Dict.)]  A South Indian snack food made of dough from chick-pea, rice or wheat flour, or a mixture, flavoured with spices such as asafœtida, chilli, cumin and sesame seeds, which is then twisted into a noodle-like strand, coiled into a flat spiral shape, and deep fried.
2006 Vasanthan Govindasamy Today (from, 24 October. Deepavali would mean a celebration not only for us but also for the entire row of residents. Auntie Norma helped my mother with her “murukus”, while she made some Malay kuih.  2008 Wang Hui Fen The Straits Times (Life!), 28 October, B6 Preparations for the celebration [of Deepavali] start weeks before with a spring cleaning of the home. New clothes are bought, and women make cakes, sweetmeat and other tidbits – the favourite being murukku.  2014 Chris Tan
The Sunday Times (SundayLife!), 12 October, 21 “Murukku” means “twisted” in Tamil. The term is colloquially used to refer to deep-fried crispy snacks in general, although each kind has its own proper name. .. Pressed murukku: Cooks squeeze murukku dough from wood or metal murukku presses, whose interchangeable discs allow different shapes to be pressed out, from flat ribbons to deeply ridged loops or round noodles. Murukku can also be rolled and shaped by hand. .. Murukku are also called chakri, chakli or chakkali in other dialects. .. Achu murukku/achappam..: Flower- or star-shaped wafers made by dipping a metal mould into thin batter and then into hot oil, forming a lacy shape. Almost identical snacks are found as far afield as Sweden, Iran, Turkey and Italy, so the recipe is probably a very old one propagated by religious or colonial expansion.

my one pron. [Eng.]  Mine.
[1982Paik-Choo’ (Toh Paik Choo) Eh, Goondu! 9 My’s One The use of this indicates that “my” is more powerful than “mine” and therefore “my’s one” is the strongest possessive of all. As opposed to “Your’s one.” This is not “mine,” but “my’s one!” in a raised voice.]  2009 Huang Wenwu Today, 17 April. I was reading at a bookstore but was interrupted when a kid cried out: “That is my one!” I shuddered. Where did she pick up such grammar? One wonders if we’ve made any progress from 20 years ago, when I recall such Singlish phrases were commonplace at my kindergarten.

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