Back to the home page


© Jack Tsen-Ta Lee
Last updated on 14 November 2015 (79 headwords). No reproduction without permission.

pai /pı, pʌɪ/ a. [Hk.; according to Gwee, Mand. bad, wicked, evil (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  Bad.


pai cho /choh, tʃəʊ/ a. phr. [Hk. cho do, act, engage in; Mand. zuò] Also phai cho.  Of a job, piece of work, etc.: difficult or troublesome to do.
Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 310 phai cho. Literally, ‘difficult to do’: Hokkien. Description of any task which is more difficult than the average. Usually a complaint.  1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 68 IC sie-eh pai zhor!  139 sie-eh pai zhor. Tough being one.

pai kia /giah, ɡʰiɑ/ n. [Hk. kia; according to Gwee, Mand. nān (dial.) child]

[2006 William Gwee Thian Hock A Baba Malay Dictionary 149 pai kian [否] bad lifestyle (of wine, women and song)] 

Also pai kiah.  A young person who behaves badly and gets into trouble; delinquent, hooligan.
Clarissa Oon (quoting Cynthia Lee MacQuarrie) The Straits Times (Life!), 9 July, L5 People usually think of Ah Lians as pai kiah (bad youngsters).  2003 Peh Shing Huei (quoting Gwyn Tan) The Sunday Times, 12 October, 32 He is a pai kia (thug in Hokkien).  2003 Peh Shing Huei (quoting Neo Yong Aik), The Sunday Times, 12 October, 32 The Arsenal players are just hooligans. All bloody pai kias 2003 Chua Mui Hoong, The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 16 November, L16 I checked out other mission schools. Several people warned that some are ‘pai-kiah’ (naughty boys) schools. I decided that pai-kiahness was relative.  2004 Tee Hun Ching The Straits Times, 14 August, H14 Today, the self-confessed pai kia (Hokkien for ‘wayward youth’) [Ms Elim Chew] has published a book to help teenage rebels, gives talks in schools and helms a fashion chain, 77th Street, which has outlets in China and Malaysia.  2013 Melissa Kong (quoting Tosh Zhang) Lifestyle, April, 61 She will tell me not to style my hair in a certain way because it looks very pai kia (Hokkien for “bad boy”) and people will not have a good impression of me.

pai lang var. of Pai Nang.

pai nang /nahng, nɑŋ/ n. [Hk. nang person; Mand. rén] Also pai lang.  Gangster, thug, bad guy.
1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 90 The driver drew out his toolbox and handed me a long spanner. ‘Eh signaller, for you to whack the pai nang.’  139 pai nang. Bad person.  2003 Tan Shzr Ee (quoting Ng Ho) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 16 November, L2 ‘Lim Tua Tow sounds like some pai lang,’ .. Pai lang is bad guy in Hokkien.


zho pai nang /choh, tʃəʊ/ v. phr. [Hk. zho be; Mand. zuò]  Be the person (often beyond one’s control) who has to do something unpleasant to another person, eg. select him for an disagreeable task, terminate his employment, etc.; be the bad guy.

pai than /tahn, tʰɑn/ a. phr. [Hk. than earn; Mand. zhuàn] Also phai than.  Of a job, piece of work, etc.: too difficult or too much trouble for what it is worth.
Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 310 phai than. Hard to earn: Hokkien. Equivalent to ‘What a hard life we have to go through to earn our keep!’ Context of usage: when the going is rough and tough, say, during a strenuous training exercise.

paiseh /-say, ˈpʌɪseɪ/ a. [origin uncertain; poss. Hk. p’hà to fear, to be afraid, to be terrified (?) + ( seaou, sew (t’hé) to be ashamed (?) (Medhurst); Mand. pàxiū shy, coy, sheepish, bashful: fear, dread, be afraid of; be unable to bear; have a fear of, for fear, fear lest (?) + xiū shy, bashful; shame, disgrace; feel ashamed; to shame (?) (chǐ be ashamed of, regard as shameful) (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  Bashful, shy; embarrassing, humiliating.
2000 Leong Liew Geok “Forever Singlish” in Women without Men 130 We say sorrysorrysorry to make sure we are: / So pai say, we have to repeat two, three times; ..  2001 Karamjit Kaur (quoting Kelvin Tan) The Straits Times, 17 June, 27 ‘So paiseh because everyone is staring.’ Paiseh is Hokkien for ‘embarrassing’.  2004 Yvonne Kwok Streats, 7 June, 30 [W]hat surprised us were five people who declined to sing for us, all citing the same reason: ‘Pai seh’ (‘embarrassing’ in Hokkien).  2005 Chua Mui Hoong The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 19 July. .. Singaporeans are known to dislike ma fan, or trouble. They are also bo-chap (can’t be bothered). Add these qualities to a fear of feeling pai-seh (fear of embarrassment) and we have a recipe for citizens turning a blind eye to suspicious activity.  2005 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 23 October. When filming at a Toa Payoh wet market, far from shying away, the hawkers suddenly started calling out to each other to get in on the action. One fishmonger carped on and on about why we’d chosen to film his neighbour’s wares instead of his, and made us so pai seh (embarrassed), we decided to mollify him by filming him scaling a large garoupa.  2006 Lim Wee Kiak Straits Times Interactive, 16 April. He said that when he first joined the party, he was very pai seh (Hokkien for shy). When he went campaigning from door to door, he only introduced himself and that was it..  2006 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 13 August, L12 I know I’m not their teacher, but I still feel pai seh not giving enough attention. If children are approaching me, it’s either because they think I’m accessible, or their teachers for some reason send them my way. If I don’t respond, they’ll think I’m sombong (Malay for “proud”), and then how?  2006 Kelvin Wong (quoting Simon Chua) The Sunday Times, 17 December, 41 Your wife, Tina, thinks you look like Andy Lau. Any comments? / Alamak, paiseh! Maybe if I keep longer hair, I will really look like him.  2010 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 18 April, 24 Sure, ah? Thanks, man, pai seh.

pak choi /pahk choy, pɑk̚ tʃɔɪ/ n. [Cant., native cabbage, Shantung cabbage: pák white (colour of the West) + ts‘oi edible plants, vegetables (Eitel); Mand. báicài Chinese cabbage: bái white + cài vegetable, greens (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] 1 Brassica rapa subsp. chinensis, an annual or biennial plant used as a vegetable which has large, dark-green leaves with white veins and white, fleshy, leaf-stalks that are broader at their base; Chinese cabbage, Chinese white cabbage.
¶ As to the botanical name, see the Plant Varieties Protection Act (Amendment of Schedule) Notification (S 743/2013), 9 December 2013, para. 2: “The Schedule to the Plant Varieties Protection Act is deleted and the following Schedule substituted therefor: .. PLANT GENERA AND SPECIES TO WHICH ACT APPLIES.. 3. Vegetables / [Botanical Name] Brassica rapa subsp. chinensis / [Common Name] Baicai, Xiaobaicai.” Known in Hk. as peh chai (see quot. 1991).
Brassica pekinensis var. cylindrica, a plant used as a vegetable which has a large, cylindrical head of leaves: each leaf is large and broad and of a pale greenish-yellow colour, thick and fleshy at the base, and thin and crinkled at the top; Chinese cabbage, celery cabbage, pe-tsai.

¶ Also known in Cant. as wong ngá pák colewort (orig. a general name for any plant of the cabbage kind, genus Brassica; later applied esp. to varieties that do not heart, e.g. kale or greens, or to cabbage-plants before they heart (OED)): wong yellow + ngá a bud, a shoot; to begin + pák white (colour of the West) (Eitel) [Mand. huáng yellow + bud; sprout; shoot + bái white (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] (see quot. 1991), and in Hk. as peh chai.

[1795 William Winterbotham An Historical, Geographical, and Philosophical View of the Chinese Empire, ch. 5, 221 The Chinese make provision of pe-tsai for winter; pickling of it, and mixing it with their rice.  1960 Farmer & Stockbreeder, 8 March (Suppl.) 11, col. 2 The celery-cabbage (Pe-Tsai) is worth trying, too. The heads are crisp and tender.  1972 Homes & Gardens, August, 104, col. 1 Chinese cabbage, or pe-tsai, is a new vegetable to this country. It comes from Israel and looks like a cross between a very pale whitish-green cos lettuce and a head of celery, although it is larger and considerably heavier than both.]

1 1847 Robert Fortune Three Years’ Wanderings in the Northern Provinces of China, ch. 16, 306 The celebrated ‘Pak-tsae’, or white cabbage of Shastung and Peking, is a very different plant.  1894 Cornell University, Bulletin of Agricultural Experiment Station, no. 67, 183 The Pak-Choi, commonly called Chinese cabbage and frequently confounded with the Pe-Tsai.. is a vegetable which never forms a head.  1900 L.H. Bailey Cyclopedia of American Horticulture, vol. 1, 178, col. 1 Pak-Choi Cabbage... This plant is grown by the American Chinese, and is occasionally seen in other gardens.  1931 Homer Columbus Thompson Vegetable Crops (2nd ed.), ch. 19, 291 The Pak-choi varieties resemble swiss chard in habit of growth. The leaves are long, dark green and oblong or oval. This type does not form a solid head.  1972 Yann Lovelock The Vegetable Book 72 The other [Chinese cabbage], Baak-choy (B[rassica] chinensis), is also called Chinese mustard, and is noted for its lack of smell when cooking.  1991 Kok Poh Tin et. al. A Guide to Common Vegetables 36–37 Brassica chinensis Jusienius (Cruciferae) Chinese white cabbage.. pak-choi.. A glabrous annual or biennial with mature radical leaves loosely set, leaving the stalk bare for a great part of its length. Blade bright dark green [sic] are rounded with noticeable white veins, tapering below into a long white fleshy petiole, usually expanded at the base. There are many cultivars under different names used by farmers and in the markets, which create a rather confusing situation. One recently introduced cultivar sold here differs from the others in that the petiole is only a little lighter green than the blade (小白菜 or 青白菜 [Mand. xiǎo small; qīng green]). It is a neat upright plant which is harvested when quite small, with about 8 leaves and only 15 cm tall. .. The leaves are eaten cooked or they can be picked in salt for three days and dried and stored for weeks as salted cabbage (pak-choi-kan, (C[antonese]).  2 1991 Kok Poh Tin et. al. A Guide to Common Vegetables 42 Brassica pekinensis (Lour.) Rupr. var. cylindrica Tsen & Lee (Cruciferae) Celery cabbage.. pak-choi, wong-nga-pak.. The head is in the form of an upright cylinder, the leaves held erect and overlapping to form a compact head. The broad and flat petiole of the leaves winged to the base is a characteristic feature. Blades are large, light greenish-yellow, thin, veiny, crinkled, and undulate. .. The vegetable can be used in soups or together with other greens as a mixed vegetable dish.

pak tong gou /pahk tong goh, pɑk̚ tɒŋ gəʊ/ n. [Cant. pak + (?) 糖 tong + 糕 gou; Mand. bái white + (?) táng sugar; sugared, in syrup + gāo cake, pudding (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  A white, spongy steamed cake of Chinese origin traditionally made from a fermented rice flour batter.
2010 Chris Tan (quoting Linda Lai Yoon Yoong)
The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 18 April, 32 Q. In the 1950s, pak tong gou was a popular kueh sold by hawkers who balanced a big flat, round cane basked on their heads, and would squat down to sell pak tong gou, ham cheen peng and other kueh.. A. .. The most traditional recipes call for whole rice grains to be soaked for a few days, then ground into batter and sweetened. The batter is then fermented either naturally or via a dash of home-made rice wine as a source of live yeast, for several more hours. This sequence yields the cleanest rice flavour, lightest texture and most translucent appearance, but is time-consuming.. Here is a slightly simplified recipe using rice flour, plus some tapioca flour to add springiness and translucency.

pakat /pah-kaht, ˈpɑkɑt̚/ v. [Mal., arrangement by conference, agreement, settled plan; compare Mal. berpakat confer, concert a plan of action; sa-pakat in concert, in collusion, unanimous (Winstedt) < Arab. مفاوظة mufāwazat having business (with another); consulting or explaining anything (with him); agreeing; going or running with another; conversation; partnership; Arab. مفاوحة mufāwahat talking together; boasting against (Wehr)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 837 pakat. .. Ar. [Arabic] Agreement; (S.S. [Straits Settlements]) conspiracy; plot; = muafakat but usually (S.S.) in a bad sense.]

Agree on a plan, conspire.

pakcik /pahk-chik, ˈpɑktʃɪk̚/ n. [Mal., younger uncle (Wilkinson); uncle younger than one’s father or mother (Winstedt): pak, pa’ = bapa father; uncle or elderly man (Wilkinson) + chik, chi’ = kechik, kechil minor, junior, lesser]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 1, 85 bapa or bapa’. Father. Not as respectful as ayah; less familiar than pa’. Also of persons in a position comparable to that of a father, e.g. stepfather or uncle or father-in-law..  1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 1, 225 chik. Minor; junior; lesser. In expressions like ..  pa’ch. [chik] (younger uncle).. Also chi’. Short for kěchil or kěchik1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 823 pa’. Father, daddy, papa. A short and familiar form of bapa.. Applied to a father and also to uncles and «old daddies», not always respectfully. .. pa’chik.. = youngest uncle.  1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged Malay–English Dictionary 72 pa chi’ uncle younger than one’s father (or mother).]

Mal.  (A polite term of address for) a middle-aged or elderly Malay man who may or may not be a relative; a Malay ‘Uncle’.  Compare Makcik.

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.  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).

pang chan /pahng, pun chahn, pɑŋ, pʌn tʃɑn/ v. [Hk. pang let off, give out; put, place; Mand. fàng + Eng. chance] Also pun chan.  Give a chance or opportunity to.
2000 Susan Long (quoting Sylvia Toh Paik Choo) The Straits Times, 6 September, 52 For a country which invented the term pang chan (national service-speak for “give chance”), nothing is left to chance.

pang giu /pahng giuu, pɑŋ ɡiʊ/ v. phr. [Hk. pang put, place + giu ball; Mand. fàngqíu] football betting  When setting odds in football betting: give a handicap of a certain number of goals to another.
¶ Opp. of Chia Giu.
2004 Karl Ho The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 13 June, L6 Pang giu and jiak giu. Hokkien for ‘give ball’ and ‘eat ball’ respectively. Punter-speak for setting odds such that the person betting on the favourite team gives a handicap to the one putting his money on the dark horse. Usage: ‘Oi, I take Portugal and you take Greece. I pang zi liap for you (give you one ball) and you jiak kiu (eat ball) lah.’  2006 Chan Yi Shen The Sunday Times, 20 August, 34 Singapore’s EPL [English Premier League] lingo [title].. Pang giu: to give ball (betting by giving a handicap to the supposed “weaker” team)

pantang /pahn-tahng, ˈpɑntɑŋ/ a. [Mal., prohibited, taboo by custom (Winstedt)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 844 pantang. Taboo; thing not done; prohibition due to custom or superstition. .. Etym., the courtly form of an old word pali surviving in pěmali..; whence the collective pantang-pěmali (taboos of all sorts), Ht. Bugis [Silasilah Melayu dan Bugis (Singapore, a.h. 1329 [1911])] 155. The word would cover such superstitions as our objection to sitting down thirteen at table or walking under a ladder; with Malays it covers the «prohibitions» that enter (for unknown reasons) into every department of life. .. [I]t includes offences prescribed by customary or common law such as murder or adultery. It lays down what a pregnant woman may not eat or do and indeed what her husband must abstain from doing (p. [pantang] běranak), the pantang period lasting from the seventh month of pregnancy to the 44th day after childbirth..]

1 Taboo.  2 Superstitious.

1 2003 Nancy Koh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 2 November, L38 Yet, even as black permeates lives here and coffeeshop-talk rages on about how pantang (Malay for taboo) it really is, some industry players are indignant that DBS has blurred the ‘upper crust’ cachet by offering its Black Card with a mere $48,000 as the minimum eligibility, making it accessible to the yuppie masses.  2006 Derrick A. Paulo Today (from, 30 October. [A]lthough he acknowledged that it may be “pantang” (Malay for taboo) and a “sensitive, emotive and personal” issue, he intends to start a national conversation on end-of-life care and how people choose to be treated in their final stages.  2 2008 Theresa Tan & Tessa Wong (quoting Tay Jun Ngiap) The Straits Times (Home), 1 August, H7 “We are atheists and not very pantang,” said Mr Tay, using the Malay word for “superstitious”.  2009 Khaw Boon Wan (Minister for Health) The Straits Times (Saturday), 4 April, D6 [M]any Singaporeans can now discuss death openly and comfortably, without feeling “pan tang” [sic] of superstitious.

paper thosai /toh-say, ˈtʰoseɪ/ n. [Eng. paper + Thosai]  A large, thin, crisp Thosai that is usu. served rolled.

pasal /pah-sahl, ˈpɑsɑl/ n. [poss. < Port. passada pace, step, footstep, stride, gait; passadas pains, trouble (Dicionário de Português–Inglês); diligences; efforts (Michaelis); compare Kristang pasada affair, business, responsibility (Marbeck) (see quot. 1995 below); Kristang pasadu past, experienced, undergone; pasah to pass, to convey, to transmit; to experience, to endure, to undergo (Baxter & de Silva)]

[1995 Joan Margaret Marbeck Ungua Adanza 204 pasada  about/my affair, my business, my responsibility]

Also pasar.  Affair, business, concern.
2002 The Coxford English Dictionary 85 pasal.. [T]his means ‘business’, as in ‘that’s my business, not yours’ rather than anything commercial. .. [T]his thing is my pasal, so don’t come and kachau, okay?  2004 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 3 October, L16 [T]o paraphrase Pontius Pilate, that one not my pasal. .. [W]e just have to be good neighbours and make things our pasal.

pasang /pah-sahng, ˈpɑsɑŋ/ n. & v. [Mal., be effective (of a blow); penetrate or produce the intended result; compare kena pasang hitting a vital spot or hitting ‘full’ < the practice of hitting or touching someone during a game to make that person ‘it’]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 851 pasang .. In games of chance it means usually setting down a stake and awaiting the throw. In heads-or-tails (main lerap) p. [pasang] is to spin a coin and put the hand on it, leaving the adversary to indicate which side he stakes on by laying down (tikam) a coin with that side uppermost. .. Full (of a blow). Kěna p.: to be hit squarely; to get a blow where it does most harm.]

often nursery  A n. A person who is singled out for a particular role in a game; the person who is ‘it’.  B v. Be singled out for a particular role in a game; be ‘it’.

1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 38 He would organise us into merry-go-round groups of twenty with a pasang in the centre.  139 pasang. State of forfeit.

pasar var. of Pasal.

pasar malam /pah-sahr mah-lahm, ˈpɑsɑr ˈmɑlɑm/ n. [Mal. pasar < Pers. بازار bāzār bazaar, market-place (Palmer); market; market-day (Johnson) + Mal. malam the dark, night (from sunset) (Winstedt)]  A bazaar or market, usually held in the open after sundown.
1964 Poh Ber Liak Legislative Assembly Debates: Official Report, 12 November, vol. 23, col. 399 There are more and more hawkers in pasar malam. Why should that be so? It is because many workers have to leave their factories, and in order to earn a minimum livelihood, they have no alternative but to buy some goods and sell them at the pasar malam. Or some of the shopkeepers, because of business failure, have to sell their goods on tricycles in the night markets. As a result of this, there are more and more hawkers in the pasar malam and less and less shopkeepers.  1977 Augustine H.H. Tan Parliamentary Debates: Official Report, 16 February, vol. 36, cols. 240
241 Sometime last year I heard that the Hawkers’ Department intends to phase out Pasar Malam sites. I think it would be a pity to phase out what has become a colourful feature of our night life. Sir, even in advanced countries, bazaars are popular and colourful events. We should not be over-anxious to establish such an orderly existence that life loses some of its colour, Furthermore, Pasar Malam allows hawkers that extra elbowroom to earn that extra margin that makes life more tolerable. Already the urbanisation and rapid development of Singapore has unsettled lives and removed some traditional means of livelihood. We should therefore make every effort to provide a little leeway for small enterprises.  1985 Dr Wong Kwei Cheong (Minister of State for Trade and Industry) Parliamentary Debates: Official Report, 30 August, vol. 46, cols. 275276 The pasar malam at the Singapore Handicraft Centre was introduced by the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board in April this year. .. A total of 81 stallholders and demonstrators of vanishing trades operate at the pasar malam. Items sold include works of art, handicrafts and souvenirs. In addition, on-the-spot art demonstrations and handicraft making demonstrations are also featured. To complement the pasar malam activities and create a festive atmosphere, cultural and contemporary entertainment are also regularly featured. In our assessment, the pasar malam at the Singapore Handicraft Centre has been a success. Firstly, it is a good crowd drawer. .. Secondly, many visitors, especially tourists, have expressed satisfaction with the pasar malam as they find it a unique style of shopping. They seem to enjoy the bargaining and haggling.  1988 Eugene Yap Giau Cheng (Senior Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment) Parliamentary Debates: Official Report, 23 March, vol. 50, cols. 1241–1242 [P]asar malam.. is commonly understood as the setting up of stalls by individuals on the streets, car parks and void decks. This is similar to street hawking. As a policy, the Ministry does not allow or encourage such activity. However, exceptions have been made for the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board to hold sales of goods for tourists at the Singapore River during festival periods. Permission was also given to STPB to hold sales of goods within the courtyard of the Singapore Handicraft Centre as this is not tantamount to street hawking. Street hawking in HDB estates cannot be permitted. Besides, in HDB estates, there is really no need for pasar malam.  2000 Lea Wee The Straits Times (Life!), 29 April, 28 They will be putting up their merchandise for sale on trolley-booths.. in a pasar-malam ambience.  2000 Magdalene Lum (quoting Elaine Cheah) The Straits Times (Life!), 12 September, 14 There is a pasar malam there once a week. I can find quaint things there..  2001 The Straits Times, 20 January, H9 Saw a woman he fancied at a pasar malam (night market).  2001 Chan Kwee Sung The Straits Times (Life!), 29 October, L6 In the evenings, Chinese medicine men set up their businesses, selling their concoctions of ointments, unguents and embrocations by the glow of carbide lamps, which gave the Hill [Dickenson Hill] a pasar malam flavour.  2005 Zul Othman Today (from, 15 October. The area has always been a Malay kampong traditionally, and pasar malams makeshift marketplaces have been a common sight here since 1970. Without a doubt, though, the yearly Hari Raya Bazaar during Ramadan is the main event at Jalan Pasar Baru.  2006 June Cheong The Straits Times (Life!) (from Straits Times Interactive), 30 May. Pasar malam of dance [title] Summer DanceFit aims to be something to everyone, be they dancers, children or the elderly. The festival organised by Odyssey Dance Theatre reminds one of a pasar malam, albeit with an educational intent.

patchri /paht-chree, ˈpɑt̚tʃriː/ n. [unkn.]  A Eurasian vegetable dish consisting of fried brinjal (aubergine or eggplant) with a sweet and sour sauce.
2006 Low Shi Ping Weekend Today, 16–17 December, 38 Patchri ($5) is a vegetable dish that is gentler on your taste buds – good if you can’t take overwhelmingly spicy food. Brinjal is lightly fried, and then served with sweet-and-sour sauce, and topped with chillies, onions and garlic.

pau /bow, p̚aʊ/ n. [Cant. páu bun; Mand. bāo]  A dimsum (savoury Cantonese-style snack) in the form of a (usu. white) steamed bun with a variety of savoury or sweet fillings such as minced meat or Tau Sar; spec. a Char Siew Pau.
2006 Lim Wei Chean
The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 17 March. Firm eyes bite of $400b global halal market with pau, dimsum [title].. A Singaporean food manufacturer is tapping into the growing multi-billion-dollar halal food market with chicken pau or buns and chicken dumplings. KG Food.. was set up in 2002 to develop halal dimsum and pau that Muslims can tuck into. It has more than 40 types of dimsum and pau, ranging from chicken siew mai, honey chicken pau and satay pau.  2006 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 18 June. Before the revamp, the 50-year-old Tiong Bahru market was as famous for its chwee kueh and pau as it was for its grimy, one-storey ramshackle premises.  2011 Thng Lay Teen The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 26 June, 23 Take a bite into a big pork pau and the juices literally ooze out. The minced meat filling is juicy and moist. .. Tucked inside the filling are strips of onion and bangkwang (turnip) which add natural sweetness to the bun.

pau chia /bow chiah, p̚aʊ tʒɪɑ/ a. [Hk., sure to eat:   pau + 吃 chia; Mand. bāo assure, guarantee + chī eat, take (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] football betting  Sue to win.
2006 Chan Yi Shen
The Sunday Times, 20 August, 34 Singapore’s EPL [English Premier League] lingo [title].. Pau jiak: sure win

pau ka liau /bow kah leeow, p̚aʊ kɑr lɪaʊ/ v. phr. [Hk. pau undertake the whole thing + ka until + liau ended, finished, settled, disposed of; Mand. bāo dào liăo]  Undertake the whole thing; do everything.
2000 Kelvin Tong The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 9 April, 7 Customers expect him to bao kar liau (provide everything).  2005 Tay Yek Keak The Straits Times (Life!), 21 February, 3 Some people call this a dynasty. I call it bao gar liao (Hokkien for “take over everything”).  2005 Philip Lee The Electric New Paper, 26 November. [S]ome carparks display signs that might take more than a minute to read – which defeats the aim of quick comprehension. Of course, they do this to ‘pow kah liow’ (Hokkien for ‘cover everything’) in case a theft victim sues.  2006 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 4 June. [Benjamin] Heng mans the cashier, mixes drinks and washes dishes as the pau ka liao (‘do everything’ in Hokkien) guy..  2006 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 13 August, L12 It’s a pow-ka-leow session for students that will hopefully answer all your questions.  2010 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 24 January, 14 I chose the organ out of purely Singaporean tendencies – the piano can only sound like a piano, whereas with some button-pressing, the organ could sound like a cello or marimba, or both simultaneously. Plus it had drum accompaniments. It was more pow-ka-leow (Hokkien for “all-in-one”).

pau tau /bow tow, p̚aʊ taʊ/ n. [Hk. pau wrap + tau head; Mand. bāo tóu] mil. slang  An Indian soldier who wears a turban.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 310 pao thau. Literally, to wrap the head: Hokkien. A nickname for turbaned soldiers. No aggressive overtones.

peach kueh /kuay, kʊeɪ/ n. [Eng. peach, poss. a transl. of Mand. táo, or cognates in other Chi. dialects + Kueh]  A sticky cake of Chinese origin in the form of a patterned slab shaped like a peach which is often coloured pink. Traditionally, it is filled with a savoury mixture of glutinous rice and peanuts (and is then known as Perng Kueh), but can also have a sweet filling of mung bean paste, peanut paste, etc.
2006 Thng Lay Teen
The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 25 June. [T]he peach kueh with homemade mung-bean filling tasted just fine.

peanut soup n. [Eng.]  See quot. 2003.
2003 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times, 5 October, L41 This could be one of the oldest Chinese desserts you can taste. Peh Cheng Giat’s peanut soup has been served here for over 70 years since his grandmother, an immigrant from China’s Anxi province, started selling it. The ingredients comprise just peanuts, sugar and water. Peh, 50, boils it up to four hours to attain a smooth, almost silky texture.

pee pee n. [< Eng. pee-pee n. < pee n. act of urination; urine]

[1923 Joseph Manchon Le Slang 220 To do peepee.  1941 Edwin P. O’Donnell The Great Big Doorstep, ch. 10, 143 Commado said, ‘When them twins get in the show like lass time, one’s gotta make pee-pee, the udda one gotta climb on the seat [etc.].’  1962 Bruce Jay Friedman Stern, ch. 1, 58 Do you still make peepee in your pants?]

nursery  A child’s penis.
2009 Phin Wong Today, 20 February, 35 I’ve got news for ya. It’s legal for 18-year-olds to start a family – I’m guessing they know what a pee-pee looks like.

pek chek /pek chek, pɛk̚ tʃɛk̚/ a. [Hk. pek (?) + chek get angry, be enranged; Mand. ]  Frustrated.

pek tor he /pek tor hur, pɛk̚ tɔːr həː/ n. [Teo. pek [...] + 肚 tor [...] + he fish; Mand. bái white + belly, abdomen, stomach + fish (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  The rabbitfish (of the Siganidae family), which is often eaten by the Teochews during the Chinese New Year season to bring prosperity.
¶ The fish is also known colloquially in Teochew and Mandarin as the ‘prosperity fish’ [Mand. 发财鱼 fācái yú: fācái get rich, make a fortune, make a pile ( develop, expand; come or bring into existence + cái wealth, money) +
fish] or ‘Chinese New Year greetings fish’ [Mand. 拜年鱼 bàinián : bàinián pay a New Year call, wish somebody a Happy New Year (bài make a courtesy call + nián New Year) + fish]. The scientific name of the fish was obtained from “rabbitfish, n.”, OED Online (draft rev., June 2008).
2009 Gwendolyn Ng
The Straits Times (Saturday), 24 January, B6 Another fish popularly eaten during the Chinese New Year is the rabbit fish, also known as pek tor he. Its price can skyrocket to $80 per kg during the Chinese New Year period. The fish usually costs about $10 per kg, says Mr Lee. There is a steep price hike because the fish tastes better at this time of the year which is its mating season. The sperm and eggs make it more flavourful. Besides being tasty, the rabbit fish is also eaten in the hope that it will bring prosperity. “In the 1970s, I heard how a Teochew businessman ate the pek tor he and got rich. That’s why we also call it the prosperity fish,” adds Mr Lee.

Penang char kway teow /pee-nang (pə-) chahr kuay tiow, pɪˈnaŋ (pə-) tʃɑr kʊeɪ tɪaʊ/ n. [Penang, a state of Malaysia < Mal. pinang areca palm (Areca catechu); areca nut (buah pinang); a gen. name for many palms suggesting the areca palm and for many things associated with the areca nut (Wilkinson) + Char Kway Teow]  The version of Char Kway Teow from Penang, Malaysia.
2006 Teo Pau Lin
The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 17 September. Ask any Malaysian and he’ll say that when it comes to fried kway teow, nothing – not even Singapore’s pride and joy, the sweet, slippery char kway teow – beats the Penang version. .. If Singapore’s version is like pop singer Christina Aguilera – loud, in-your-face and packed full of flavour from the first note – then Penang fried kway teow is like Norah Jones, the soothing chanteuse who is light, subtle but slowly addictive. .. She prepares the noodles.. with evident pride. She buys the ingredients from the market next door every morning. The prawns are carefully marinated in sugar and soya sauce, and every plate is presented on top of a sheet of banana leaf. The noodles are springy, smooth and not too oily, offering a wonderful bite seldom found in its Singapore cousin. The dish is clean and appetising, unlike the dark Singapore version which often contains black bits – like chips from the wok from the cook’s rigorous frying. Madam Tan says the most important part of the dish is the sauce, which is made of soya sauce, fish sauce and other ingredients she won’t reveal. She also uses lard, which she fries fresh every day. Other signature additions are prawns, eggs, beansprouts and chives.

Penang laksa /pee-nang (pə-) lahk-sah, pɪˈnaŋ (pə-) ˈlɑksɑ/ n. [Penang, a state of Malaysia (see preceding) + Laksa] Also Assam Laksa.  A dish originating from Penang consisting of thick rice noodles with mashed fish, shredded cucumber and chilli in a sour-tasting clear soup flavoured with Assam.
Magdalene Lum (quoting Elisa Chew) The Straits Times (Life!), 2 April, L6 Along Penang Road [in Penang], you can find a lot of food-stalls selling Penang laksa, char kway teow and Penang loh bak which comes with deep-fried doufu, fishballs, meat and sausages dipped in a special chilli sauce.  2006 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 17 September. The Penang laksa, in particular, won’t disappoint. A wondrously thick, sour and super spicy soup is poured over a batch of thick noodles, enmeshed with tasty fish meat, chilli padi, lettuce, red onions, cucumber and pineapple.

peng /peng, pɛŋ/ n. [Hk. a weapon of war; a person who uses such a weapon, a soldier (Medhurst); Mand. bīng soldier (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  A soldier.
2000 Dennis Wee with Sylvia Fong Making Luck with Your Hands 31 The army made me rub shoulders.. with the Hokkien pengs.


Cha Tow Peng

Chau Peng

Hokkien Peng

lau peng /low, laʊ/ n. phr. [Hk. lau old; Mand. lăomil. slang  A soldier who has completed basic military training.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 309 lau peng. Old soldier: Hokkien. A reference to anyone who has passed out from BMT.

seow peng /siow, siaʊ/ n. phr. [Hk. seow crazy]  mil. slang  A soldier who plays the fool or behaves in an erratic manner.  See also Clown.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 312 siau peng. Hokkien for mad soldier. See ‘clown’.

peng kueh var. of Perng Kueh.

pengat /pəng-aht, ˈpəŋɑt/ n. [Mal. pengat a fish or meat custard (Ridhwan)]  A Malay or Peranakan pudding consisting of a soft mash of meat or fruit, etc.
2009 Wong Ah Yoke
The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 19 April, 28 Among the desserts, I like the pengat ($2.90), which is like bubur cha cha. The pieces of yam and sweet potato are boiled till nice and soft and the coconut milk soup is sweetened just enough. But it is the cubes of starch, which are soft and faintly aromatic, that stand out.  2009 Tan Hsueh Yun The Straits Times (Urban), 18 December, 21 .. I have a feeling many people will ditch the fruit cake, dump the log cake and head straight for the Durian Pengat. This Peranakan dessert.. is thick, creamy, pungent and very, very moreish. Serve it chilled so that it has the consistency of rice pudding. Although rich, it is not too sweet and there are chunks of durian pulp all through the dessert.

pengsan /peng-sahn, ˈpɛŋsɑn/ v. [Mal., fainting, loss of consciousness (Wilkinson)] freq. joc.  Collapse or faint, esp. as a result of work.
2000 Brendan Buxton The Straits Times, 8 February, 32 I suggest he does my work for a week and tries not to peng san.

Peranakan /pə-rə-nah-kahn, pə--nah-kahn, ˌpərəˈnɑkɑn, pəˈrənɑkɑn/ n. & a. [Mal., born, native (Wilkinson); foreigners but locally born (Winstedt) < Mal. anak child; native (of a place) (Winstedt)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 1, 27 pěranakan (born, native), cf. Bugis yang jati dan yang pěranakan (Bugis born in Celebes and Bugis born in Malaya), Ht. Bugis [Silasilah Melayu dan Bugis (Singapore, a.h. 1329 [1911])] 101  1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged MalayEnglish Dictionary 15 pěranakan .. foreigners but locally born, Jawi p. Muslim Tamils born in Malaya often with a Malay mother]  2006 William Gwee Thian Hock A Baba Malay Dictionary 25 peranakan popular reference to members of the Baba community; local born]

A n. A person of Chinese, Chinese and Malay, or other mixed descent born in the Malay archipelago, particularly in the Straits Settlements (Malacca, Penang and Singapore) and Java; Straits Chinese.  B a. Of or relating to the Peranakan.

A 1894 N.B. Dennys A Descriptive Dictionary of British Malaya 74 Chinese emigration differs in two material respects from other emigration – that it consists mainly of adult males, to the exclusion of women and children, and that it never embraces either the upper or middle classes. The settlers, whenever it is in their power, form connections with the native women of the country; and hence has arisen a mixed race, numerous in the older Settlements, known to the Malays under the name of Peranakan China, literally, “Chinese of the womb,” that is, Chinese by native mothers. These intermarrying, either among themselves or with native Chinese, a race of quadroons, and almost of creoles, has sprung up, differing from the original Chinese – perhaps somewhat less energetic, but always possessed of more local knowledge.  1999 Lynn Pan (ed.) The Encyclopedia of the Chinese Overseas 202 Later, the local-born descendants of China-born settlers in the Straits Settlements would also be considered ‘Straits-born’, especially if they married into Straits Chinese families or became increasingly adapted to local ways. Straits Chinese were known as Babas if male, and Nyonyas if female. Alternatively, Babas were referred to by the term used for the local-born in the Dutch territories, including the Riau islands. One Singaporean commentator, Lim Boon Keng.. described Chinese Peranakans as ‘a new race… created by the fusion of Chinese and Malay blood,’ and there was indeed some intermarriage between Chinese men and local women. Lim also observed that Peranakans has [sic] ‘lost touch with China in every respect, except that they continued to uphold Chinese customs, and to practise, in variously modified forms, the social and religious practices of their forefathers.’ But their modification of such practices and the fact that their speech was a patois combining Chinese and Malay led Lim to consider them ‘a class by themselves.’  2006 Eveline Gan Weekend Today, 22–23 July, 23 Like most food-proud Peranakans, owners Mr and Mrs Kelvin Lee are extremely finicky about what goes into their food.  B 1993 National Geographic Traveler March–April 103/2 But Peranakan food is what Singaporeans know best. Nonyas, as Peranakan women are called (the men are called Babas), have long been famous for their expertise in the kitchen.  2005 Sandra Davie The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 8 October. NUS given $5m to buy Peranakan homes: Daughter of late businessman wants the young to learn the legacy [title] Here’s $5.5 million to spend, but you must buy a Peranakan house. The National University of Singapore (NUS) received this unusual request from the daughter of the late Malaysian Chinese Association founder Tun Tan Cheng Lock. Miss Agnes Tan, 85, asked NUS to acquire a traditional Peranakan house along Neil Road, near Singapore General Hospital, and two shophouses in Malacca. She wants them to be used to teach young Singaporeans about Peranakan history, culture and architecture. .. Miss Tan’s nephew, Mr Peter Lee, will be the honorary curator of the Neil Road house, which may have a local Peranakan bibik (old lady) impersonator to act as a live-in housekeeper. NUS architecture dons, who described the pre-war Neil Road house as ‘one of the last remaining authentic Peranakan houses in Singapore’, said it will be restored and preserved as a unique architectural gem. The total cost: $4 million. Besides being a museum of Peranakan history, architecture and artefacts, there are plans to turn the three-storey house into a centre for exhibitions, talks and performances. NUS Development Office director Chew Kheng Chuan described the house as an unusual but ‘charming’ gift. ‘This gift is not about bricks and mortar. It is a gift to preserve and build further understanding of the Peranakan legacy; something that is also very much a part of Singapore’s history. ..’  2006 Linda Lim The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 19 June. National identity has been reshaped to serve economic and political goals, with the state itself becoming the determinant and arbiter of acceptable ethnic identities and their expressions, such as the enforced diminution of the Malay heritage of Peranakan Chinese and of the dialect heritage of the majority non-Mandarin-speaking Chinese.  2006 Eveline Gan Weekend Today, 22–23 July, 23–24 A marriage of both Chinese and Malay influences, Peranakan cuisine is unique to the culture of the immigrant Chinese community that made the Straits Settlements their home in the 19th century. Those unfamiliar with this eclectic cuisine may have the misconception that it is usually spicy. Truth is, there are also many Nonya dishes which are gentle on the palate.  2006 Stephanie Yap (quoting Desmond Sim), The Straits Times (Life!) (from Straits Times Interactive), 20 November. I grew up in an extended Peranakan family in a big shophouse in Upper Serangoon. So, as a child, I just assumed that everybody’s grandmother wore the sarong kebaya, and had bottles of sambal belacan in their fridges.  2007 Huang Lijie The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 9 September, L26 The word Peranakan means “local born” in Malay. The Peranakan Chinese trace their ancestry back to Chinese male immigrants from Fujian province who travelled to the Straits Settlements and married local Malay women. Three major groups of Peranakan Chinese are found in Penang, Malacca and Singapore. Despite sharing a similar heritage, the cuisines of the groups differ slightly from region to region. Penang Peranakan food, for example, carries certain Thai influences. A good example is its well-developed range of hot and sour salads, which is shared by Thai cuisine. Malacca Peranakan food, on the other hand, uses fish more than it does chicken or port as Malacca is near the coast. Singapore Peranakan food is perhaps best distinguished by the dish chicken buah keluak or chicken with black nuts. The dish is absent from Penang Peranakan cuisine, while in Malacca, it is prepared using fish instead.

perng kueh /pərng kuay, pərŋ ɡʊeɪ/ n. [Hk. pooīng (colloq.) rice + 粿 köéy pastry, confectionery (Medhurst); Mand. fàn cooked cereals + guǒ (literary language) powder made from rice or wheat (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] Also peng kueh.  A variety of Peach Kueh filled with savoury glutinous rice.
2010 Rebecca Lynne Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 25 July, 20 Healthy [Teochew] fare include.. snacks such as pink peng kueh, filled with rice..

perng tang /pərng tahng, pərŋ tɑŋ/ n. [Hk. pooīng (colloq.) rice + t’háng (colloq.) a barrel, a bucket, a tub (Medhurst); Mand. fàntǒng big eater: fàn cooked cereals + tǒng barrell, bucket, commode, keg, pail, tub (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  A person able to consume a large quantity of food at one sitting.
1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 32 It is not surprising that with all that training and all that energy used up, we easily became perng tang. This is an image that is forever tagged to NS guys.  139 perng tang. Literally, rice bin.

petai /pə-, pəˈtʌɪ/ n. [Mal. buah petai, petai a kind of tree and its stinking edible pod (Parkia speciosa) (Ridhwan)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 896 pětai. A tree, Parkia speciosa. Also (Java) pěte; (Min. [Minangkabau]) patai; and patal (Cl. [Clifford & Swettenham, Dictionary of the Malay Language, and notes on the unfinished part]). It bears a long pod with flat beans that smell offensively but are thought to be good eating whether cooked or raw.  1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged MalayEnglish Dictionary 273 pětai, buah p. [petai], a stinking edible pod, Parkia speciosa.]

An edible flat green seed with a strong odour and flavour used as a vegetable, which is obtained from pods from the tree Parkia speciosa.
¶ Known in Mand. as 葱豆 cōngdòu: cōng onion; scallion + dòu legumes; pulses; beans; peas; or 臭豆 chòudòu: chòu smelly, foul, stinking (see quot. 1991).

1991 Kok Poh Tin et. al. A Guide to Common Vegetables 88 Parkia speciosa Hassk. (Leguminosae).. petai, petah.. A large tree which can reach 40–50 cm tall. .. Pods are large, 40–55 cm long and 4–5 cm wide, straight or more commonly twisted, dangling in small bundles, green becoming black. Each pod contains 10–18 large seeds. .. The pods taste like garlic and have a very strong odour. The immature seeds, young leaves and fresh parts of the flower stalks can be eaten raw. Half-ripe pods are pickled in salt.  2006 Wong Ah Yoke The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 26 November. I liked the tendon curry as well as the sambal cockles with petai.., as both had my favourite ingredients. .. The sambal prawns with petai.. were a favourite all round..  2006 Low Shi Ping Weekend Today, 16–17 December, 37 Chilli lovers can also go for the sambal prawns natibu ($12) – a Malay dish which has been altered by the Europeans to suit their palates. Juicy prawns are doused in fiery sambal, made using fresh and dried chillies. Petai, which is a green bean, is also added.  2012 Tan Hsueh Yun The Sunday Times (SundayLife!), 7 October, 30 .. Sambal Petai ($8), comes with big, gorgeous specimens of the stinky beans and is topped with fried anchovies.

PGO /pee jee oh, piː dʒiː əʊ/ n. [abbrev. of P(olice G(eneral O(rders] derog. mil. slang  A soldier, esp. an officer, who carries out or complies with directives, orders and rules with unwarranted strictness; a stickler for rules.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 310 PGO. Reputed to be the initials for Police General Orders. Used to describe someone who carries out orders to the letter. Closely associated with niau1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 47 PGO. Police General Orders. Describes an officer who sticks to the books.

phai cho var. of Pai Cho.

phak bang /pahk bahng, pɑk̚ bɑŋ/ v. phr. [Hk. phak clap, pat, beat + bang mosquito; Mand. pāiwén1 mil. slang  Train in the field, esp. in a location infested by mosquitoes.  2 Have nothing to do; spec. of a businessperson or merchant: have no business, lack customers.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 311 phak bang. Literally, ‘beating off mosquitoes’: Hokkien. In the SAF, it refers to training in mosquito-infested grounds.  2 2013 Toh Han Chong (quoting Ngiam Tow Dong) Today, 1 October, 10 You only need to start worrying when you have no demand, when you pa bang (Hokkien for “swatting flies”, meaning “lack of business”).

Pinkerton Syndrome n. [Eng. < the character of Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton in the opera Madama Butterfly (1904) by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924)]  The tendency (perceived to be possessed by Asian Singaporeans in particular) to be favourably disposed towards, or prejudiced in favour of, Caucasians to the detriment of persons of other ethnic origin.
¶ In Madama Butterfly, Pinkerton, an officer of the United States Navy stationed in Japan, arranges a marriage to a Japanese geisha girl, Cio-Cio-San, known as Butterfly. He goes through a wedding ceremony with her but then returns to America, leaving the faithful Butterfly who, unknown to him, bears his son. Butterfly refuses to believe that Pinkerton has abandoned her. Three years later he returns to Japan with a new American wife. When Butterfly learns the truth she kills herself.
2001 Neil Humphreys Notes from an Even Smaller Island 213 Like vampires, the ang moh crowd comes out at night, dressed in their best shirts and armed with plenty of tax-free Singapore dollars to woo those local darlings tragically struck down by the Pinkerton syndrome. Like the character in Madame Butterfly, they are somehow lured by the attraction of drunken voices and the possibility of a fat wallet.  2001 Ravi Veloo Radio Singapore International Archive, 2 March. Latino rhythm has taken a whole new generation of Singaporeans by storm .. Today’s generation lacks a sense of discovery, and is simply led by the nose, by whatever is popular in the West. .. There is a popular Indian pub in Singapore that draws only Indians for the music. .. [T]his pub, which alternates between Indian music and the latest cool R&B American hits will never have even a fraction of the attention of the Latino pubs opening all over the place. Ironically, even Latin music can have a Pinkerton Syndrome. 
2003 Ian De Cotta Today, 12 December, 39 Not too long ago, another Singaporean wrote that sarong party girls, better known as ‘SPGs’, who crave white men of any shape, size or intellect, are different from the educated Singapore woman, such as herself, whose penchant for ang moh men is restricted only to those who admire women for their ‘brains’ .. What balderdash! Both types of women fall into the classical definition of an SPG, which is an Asian woman who is hopelessly infatuated with white men only. And whichever way you turn the coin, both are SPGs who suffer from the Pinkerton Syndrome.  2004 Eileen Yu ZDNet Asia, 16 December. In a bid to inject new skills into the market and beef up its workforce, the Singapore government encouraged local companies to hire foreign workers. The move sparked off a heated debate in the country, with some arguing that it would feed the Pinkerton Syndrome and encourage organizations to drop local workers in favor of foreigners. The government then stressed the need for companies to keep their focus on merit.

pisang /pee-sahng, ˈpiːsɑŋ/ n. [Mal., banana (Musa spp.) (Ridhwan)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 907–908 pisang. «Banana». .. a specific name for the banana in its many forms. The principal varieties of banana are: (i) p. mas (small, golden-yellow, popular); (ii) p. raja, buah punti (large, ruddy-skinned, good eating); (iii) p. Ambon or p. hijau (large and green, good eating); (iv) p. Almeida, p. rastali (Singapore varieties); (v) p. susu (very delicate in flavour); (vi) p. tandok, p. kapas, p. rimpi (edible only in cooked form). Other varieties (of little importance) are: p. abu; p. anak lěbah; p. awak; p. ayam; p. batu; p. běraksa or p. raksa; p. běrangan; p. Boyan; p. gěmbar; p. gěrasau; p. buaya or p. jari buaya; p. kajar; p. kerok (a wild variety of which the leaves are used as torches); p. kělat; p. kěling; p. lang; p. lěmah manis; p. lidi; p. moris; p. monyet; p. muli; p. nangka; p. Padang; p. Pahang; p. pinang; p. sěrěndah; p. udang; p. wangi.]


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 Pisang .. Musa paradisea .. The plantain. Of this about 40 varieties might be enumerated. The best are the Pisang mas, P. raja, P. oodang, and P. medgi. Decoctions of the root are used as emollient applications.


pisang goreng var. of Goreng Pisang.

pisang mas /mahs, mɑs/ n. [Mal. pisang emas yellow and small banana (Ridhwan): mas gold < Hind. माश māś any variety of the pulse green gram (Phaseolus radiatus); Hind. माशा māśā a jeweller’s weight, one twelfth of a tolā (McGregor) < Pers. ماش māś a kind of pea; ماشه māśa a small weight (Palmer) < Skt. माष māsha a bean (the sing. is used for the plant, the pl. for the fruit), Phaseolus radiatus, a valued kind of pulse having seeds marked with black and grey spots; a particular weight of gold, etc.; Skt. माषक māshaka a bean; a particular weight of gold, etc. < Skt. मस् mas to measure, weigh; a measure, weight (Monier-Williams): see quot. below]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 744 mas. .. «Mace», – an Indian term that bears various meanings in Indonesia. Also «gold», because measured by the mace. (i) Etym., the weight of a bean, the Skr. masha (Phaseolus radiatus or Ph. mungo), used as an equivalent of the weight of eight seeds of Abrus precatorius (Mal. saga). This bean-weight is the «mace» of ancient India, only traceable in Malaya in attempts to represent the later mas as equal to 8 saga, q.v. (ii) The medieval Indian masha, introduced into Malaya by purchasers of gold dust, weighed about 17 grains troy or about 10 Abrus seeds. In India the tul or tola (Mal. tahil) was variously recorded at 12 or 16 mace; the latter was the value introduced into Malaya. It survives in the proportion between the mas and the tahil. (iii) This «mace», as a weight of gold dust, was a convenient standard of value, which gave its name: (a) to a gold coin weighing one mas, and (b) to gold generally. The coin is now obsolete; but the meaning «gold» is the commonest attaching to the word mas at the present time..  907 .. p. [pisang] mas (small, golden-yellow, popular)..]

A small banana with a bright yellow peel and flesh with a fine, smooth texture.
1894 N.B. Dennys A Descriptive Dictionary of British Malaya 137 Some sixty-three varieties of the banana and plantain are described by botanists, many having distinct names in Malay, e.g., pisang mas, p. rajah, &c.

pisang raja /rah-jə, -jah, ˈrɑdʒə, -dʒɑ/ n. [Mal., a variation of Musa paradisiaca (Ridhwan): raja king; prince; administrator (Wilkinson); king, queen; any prince or princess (Winstedt) < Skt. राजन् rājan a king, sovereign, prince, ruler, chief, governor; any principal object or anything the best of its kind < Skt. राज् rāj to reign, rule, exercise sovereignty, to be a king or sovereign, to be the first or chief (of anything); to rule over; to govern, direct; to be illustrious or eminent; to shine, glitter, glisten, be radiant or splendid (Monier-Williams)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 907 .. p. [pisang] raja, buah punti (large, ruddy-skinned, good eating)..]

Also pisang rajah.  A medium-sized banana (a variation of Musa paradisiaca) with a dull yellowish-green peel that blackens quickly and flesh that has a somewhat coarse texture. Goreng Pisang is usu. made using pisang raja.

1894 N.B. Dennys A Descriptive Dictionary of British Malaya 137 Some sixty-three varieties of the banana and plantain are described by botanists, many having distinct names in Malay, e.g., pisang mas, p. rajah, &c 2009 Elizabeth Soh The Straits Times (Saturday), 24 January, B4 For reunion dinner this year, she is considering cooking pengat, a Nonya dessert of yam, sweet potato and pisang rajah, an especially sweet type of banana, cooked in coconut milk.  2014 Melody Zaccheus & Pearl Lee The Straits Times (Home), 2 August, B8 Goreng pisang hawker Abdullah Omar can rattle off the 15 types of bananas commonly imported from Malaysia into Singapore. Of the lot, the 66-year-old said Singaporeans are crazy for pisang raja – a sweet and creamy breed which complements the deep-fried fritter’s savoury shell.

plaster prata n. [Eng. (sticking-)plaster a material for covering and closing superficial wounds spread with an adhesive substance, poss. f. its appearance] Also prata plaster, ellipt. plaster.  A prata with an egg cooked on top.
2003 (, 1 May. [P]laster is a variation of the egg prata. Instead of having it beaten and mixed within the dough of the prata, the egg is cooked on top of a plain prata. A well cooked plaster, you’ll find the egg yolk still juicy and the prata crispy.

play cheat v. [Eng.]  Do something to gain an unfair advantage, cheat.

play play v. [Eng., poss. < Mand. 玩玩 wánwán: wán play, have fun, amuse oneself; trifle with, treat lightly; or cognates in other Chi. dialects]  Play the fool, fool around, take lightly.
1982Paik-Choo’ (Toh Paik Choo) Eh, Goondu! 5 Don’t Play Play This-is-serious-so-quit-fooling-around.  2002 Leong Horn Kee Parliamentary Debates: Official Report, 5 April, vol. 74, col. 587 .. Dr Ng Eng Hen, has called this Chamber a “theatre”. I am sure he did not mean that this House is a theatre for shows. Not a place for wayang wayang, or play-play. This House debates on serious matters. 
2003 Tan Shzr Ee The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 16 November, L2 Mr Ahmad Ali.. works as a security guard at the Kasturina Lodge condominium in Kay Poh Road, off River Valley Road. Whenever he takes a taxi to work, the driver will inevitably tell him ‘Don’t play play.’ He adds: ‘They don’t believe me. So I tell them to drive to the famous chicken rice stall nearby instead.’ The road, which means ‘busybody’ in Hokkien, is named after a 19th-century Chinese businessman called Wee Kay Poh, who was a managing partner of an opium and liquor business.  2014 Melissa De Silva The Straits Times (Home), 6 August, B12 Don’t play-play with safety [title]

play punk /pung(k), pʌŋ(k)/ v. phr. [(?)]  1 Play the fool.  2 Aggravate, irritate, provoke.  3 Stymie, sabotage; refuse to co-operate. 
1 1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 64 He warned us that we would do better than to chiak chua and ‘play punk’ behind his back.  2 2002 The Coxford English Dictionary 86 play punk. To provoke, irritate or aggravate. I told you not to do it, you still go and do. Don’t come and play punk with me, ah, I tell you first!  2004 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 1 August, L16 Restaurants play punk all the time!

PLU /pee el yoo, piː ɛl juː/ n. [abbrev. of P(eople L(ike U(s, an informal Singapore gay and lesbian group formed in 1993]  A homosexual, bisexual or transgendered person.  Compare A-Jay, G.

police and thief n. [descriptive]  A children’s team game in which one group of children pretend to be police officers and try to catch members of another group who are the thieves.
2009 Low Lin Fhoong Today, 24 June, 47 [A] game of tag – or “police and thief” as it’s popularly known here..

pom pom /pom pom, pɒm pɒm/ v. [origin unkn., poss. imit.] nursery  Defecate, move the bowels.

pondan /pon-dahn, ˈpɒndɑn/ n. [Mal., hermaphrodite (Ridhwan)]  1 A male transvestite.  Compare Ah Kua 22 A male homosexual, whether effeminate or not.

pong kan /pong gahn, pɒŋ ɡɑn (k̚ɑn)/ a. [Hk. pong bump against, run into, strike, collide + (or ) kan testicles, balls; Mand. pènggāo (or wán) (?)]  Be frustrated.  Also Bang Balls.

Pongal /pong-gahl, ˈpɒŋɡɑl/ n. [Tam. பொங்கல் poṅkal boiling, bubbling, ebbing, swelling, leaping; a preparation of boiled rice seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin seeds and ghee; solar festival when the sun enters Capricorn and takes a northward course, being the first day of the month Tai, when poṅkal is prepared as an offering; fullness, abundance, excess, profusion; bloom, splendour < Tam. பொங்கு poṅku– to boil up, bubble up by heat (Tam. Lex.)]  1 A four-day harvest festival of Tamil origin which begins on the last day of Maargazhi, the ninth month of the Tamil calendar (in the Gregorian calendar, mid-December to mid-January), and ends on the third day of தை Tai, the tenth month (mid-January to mid-February). The festival occurs in the middle of January. The first day, Bhogi, is marked by the destruction of old clothes and cleaning of the home. The second day, Pongal, is celebrated by cooking rice with jaggery, milk and raisins on outdoor stoves and allowing it to boil over as an offering to Surya, the sun god. On the third day, Maattu Pongal, offerings are made to cattle to thank them for providing milk and ploughing the land. The last day, Kaani Pongal, was traditionally celebrated in India with various sporting activities. Other observances during the Pongal festival include decorating the home with kolam (patterns traced on the floor using coloured rice flour), visiting relatives and friends, gift-giving and feasting.  2 The second day of the Pongal festival, which falls on the first day of Tai (in mid-January) (see above).
¶ The etymologies of certain Tam. terms used in the above definition are given below:

Boghi [Tam. போக pōki, போகிபண்டிகை pōki-paṇṭikai festival on the day before poṅkal: pōki Indra; Venus; snake; wealthy man, man of good fortune and prosperity, epicure; headman (Tam. Lex.) < Skt. भोिगन् bhogin furnished with windings or curves, having windings or rings, curved, ringed; भोिगनी bhoginī a snake < भोग bhoga any winding or curve, a ring, a coil; winding; the expanded hood of a snake; a snake; the body; a particular array, an army in column < भुज् bhuj to bend, curve; turn around, make crooked; or Skt. भोिगन् bhogin enjoying, eating; using, possessing; suffering, experiencing, undergoing; an employer, possessor, etc.; full of enjoyments, devoted to enjoyments, indulging in sensual pleasures; wealthy, opulent < भोग bhoga enjoyment, fruition; eating; use, application; usufruct, the use of a deposit; utility, profitable aim or object; enjoyment (of woman), sexual enjoyment; possessing, possession; ruling, governing, protecting, rule, government; cherishing, nourishing; suffering, experiencing; enduring, feeling, perception (of joy or sorrow); pleasure; suffering, passion; any object of enjoyment; that which is eaten, food; food offered to an idol; festivity, feasting, a repast, feast, banquet; income, gain, profit, produce; money, wealth; hire, the hire of dancing girls or courtezans, wages of prostitution < भुज् bhuj to enjoy, enjoy a meal, eat and drink, eat, consume; to possess, have, make use of; to enjoy carnally; to rule, govern; to suffer, experience, endure; to pass (as time), live through) (Monier-Williams) + Tam. பண்டிக paṇṭikai festival, periodical festival (Tam. Lex.)]

Kanni Pongal [Tam. கன்னிப்பொங்கல kāṉṉi-p-poṅkal festival on the day following Pongal specifically celebrated by unmarried girls: கன்னி kaṉṉi virgin, maiden, young unmarried woman; youthfulness, tenderness, juvenility, virginity (Tam. Lex.) < Skt. कञा kanyā a girl, a virgin, a daughter < कञका kanyakā a girl, a maiden; a young virgin; a daughter (Monier-Williams)].

kolam [Tam. கோலம் kōlam beauty, gracefulness, handsomeness; colour; form, shape, external or general appearance; adornment, decoration, embellishment; ornamental figures drawn on floor, wall or sacrificial pots with rice-flour, white stone-powder, etc. (Tam. Lex.)].

Maargazhi [Tam. மார்கழி mārkaḻī the ninth solar month (Tam. Lex.) < Skt. मागॅशीषॅ mārgaśīrsha born under the constellation मृगिशरस् mṛiga-śiras; name of the month in which the full moon enters the constellation mṛiga-śiras (Skt., the tenth or, according to some, third or fifth Nakshatra or lunar mansion, containing three stars, one of which is λ Orionis and figured by an antelope’s head < मृग mṛiga a wild beast; an animal in general, any quadruped; a deer, stag, antelope, musk-deer; game in general; the spots on the moon represented as a hare or antelope; the celestial antelope mṛiga-śiras < मृग् mṛig to chase, hunt, pursue; to seek, search for, seek for, seek after; to investigate, examine; to strive for, aim at; to visit; to desire or request or beg anything from another + शिरस् śiras the head, the skull; the top of a tree; the head or top of anything, highest part), the tenth or (in later times) the first month of the year = November–December (also Skt. मागॅशीर mārgaśīra, मागॅशीरस mārgaśīras) < Skt. मागॅ mārga hunting or tracking out game; following after, seeking; search, investigation, inquiry; the track of a wild animal; any track, path, road, way; मागॅ् mārg to seek, seek for; to hunt after, chase; to search through, trace out; to seek after, seek to obtain, strive to attain; to follow after, strive after; to request, ask, beg, solicit anything from any one + शीषॅ śīrsha (abbrev. form of शीषॅन् śīrshan) the head, skull (Monier-Williams)].

Maattu Pongal [Tam. மாட்டுப்பொங்கல் māṭṭu-p-poṅkal festival of ceremonial boiling of rice performed on the second day of Tai in order to ensure prosperity of cattle: மாடு māṭu ox (Tam. Lex.)].

Surya [Tam. சூரிய cūriya (Tam. Lex.) < Skt. सूयॅ sūrya the Sun or its deity < सूर sūra the sun; prob. connected with सवर् svar (orig. सुवर् suvar) heaven, paradise; the world of the gods, abode of the deities; the heaven of Indra and temporary abode of the virtuous after death; the sky, ether; the space above the sun or between the sun and the polar star, the region of the planets and constellations (Monier-Williams); compare Tam. சூரி cūri sun (Tam. Lex.)].

2006 The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 16 January. Pongal thanks for good fortune [title] Mr G.S. Manyam, 55, and his wife M. Chandramathi, 48, make an offering of Maattu Pongal, a sweet dish made from boiled rice, fresh milk and sugar, to a cow as part of Pongal celebrations in Little India. Pongal is a thanksgiving harvest festival with origins in India – which started last Thursday and ended yesterday – when people give thanks for their good fortune. To Hindus, yesterday’s event is known as Maattu Pongal, a time when they give thanks to cattle, which provide milk and are used to plough the land. On this day, cows are worshipped, and some are decorated with paint and have clothes tied to them.

Ponggol mee goreng see entry under Mee.

ponteng /pon-teng, ˈpɒntɛŋ/ v. [Mal. slang ponteng, ponting bilk, cheat (Wilkinson, Winstedt); Batavia Mal., run away (Wilkinson); compare Mal. pontang-panting (run) helter-skelter (Winstedt)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 912 pontang. Pontang-panting: helter-skelter, as fugitives bolting when defeated; Ht. Panj. [Hikayat Pandji Sumirang (3rd ed.) (Batavia: Balai Poestaka)] 45, Perch. Mal. [Berbagai-bagai Kepertjajaan orang Melajoe (vol. 1) (Batavia: Balai Poestaka)] 30  1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 912 ponting. I. (Slang) to cheat; to bilk. Also punting, ponteng. From Ch. [Chinese]; Hn. [A.W. Hamilton]. II. (Batav. [Batavia]) To run away; Z. [Batavian words compiled by Ritter E. von Zach]. Cf. pontang1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged MalayEnglish Dictionary 278 pontang-panting, Jo. [Johor], P. [Penang], (run) helter-skelter  1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged MalayEnglish Dictionary 278 ponting, Ch. [Chinese], sl. [slang], bilk, cheat]

Escape, evade, play truant from.

1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 253 But by then Ah Bang was most heavily hooked on morphine, and he started to ponteng work. 2004 Wong Fei Wan Today, 23 December, 30 I ponteng (skip school) when my mother doesn’t have money to top up my fare card.  2004 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 2 January, L12 [W]e might finally be able to make it home for Chinese New Year, without her having to ponteng classes.

popiah /poh-piah, poˈpɪɑ/ n. [Hk., thin pancake: po thin + piah round, flat cake; Mand. báobĭng]  A Chinese dish consisting of a thin round flour pancake which is spread with shredded radish and carrot, lettuce, minced pork, egg omelette, crushed peanuts, garlic, sweet sauce, chilli sauce, etc., then rolled up; a spring roll.
2000 Wong Ah Yoke The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 9 January, 8 You do find.. roll-it-yourself popiah..  2005 Peh Shing Huei The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 13 October. Kim Meng Popiah [heading]. About 100 members of the Kimmui Hoey Kuan will be roped in to prepare the 2,000 rolls to be sold at the festival. Unlike the usual popiah filled mainly with turnip, the Kim Meng Popiah has 10 different types of vegetables that are sliced manually, not by machines. Because of the work involved, hawkers rarely sold it.  2006 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 24 September. There’s a popiah stall in just about every hawker centre here. But why are there so few good ones? Could it be that the art of making good popiah lies in labour-intensive details? Turnip and carrot have to be julienned and cooked in meat or seafood stock. Then, it has to be combined with just the right amount of prawns, beansprouts, egg, minced garlic, ground peanut, sweet black sauce and chilli paste. Finally, it has to be wrapped inside thin dough skin that is soft yet resilient – a result possible only if the skin is stored carefully in an air-tight container so it doesn’t harden. The traditional Hokkien version uses plain flour skin, while Peranakan ones use egg flour skin.

popiah goreng /gor-reng, ˈɡɔːrɛŋ/ n. [Mal., fry; compare Jav. gorèng deep-fried (Horne)]  A deep-fried popiah.
Zul Othman Today (from, 15 October. These Hari Raya treats
which include .. popiah goreng (fried spring rolls) .. are usually available during the fasting month of Ramadan.

potong ice-cream /poh-tohng, ˈpɔtɔŋ/ n. [Mal. potong cutting, slicing, cutting off a portion (Wilkinson)]  Ice-cream (traditionally sold by itinerant vendors) that is cut into small rectangular blocks or scooped from large slabs and served between wafers or sandwiched in bread.
2005 Teh Joo Lin & Sheryl Loke The Straits Times (Home), 30 April, H11 Local potong (cut) ice cream vendors on wheels are alive and well in Orchard Road, unlicked by competition like Swensen’s and Haagen-Dazs. Just ask Mr Chieng Puay Chui, 57, a daily fixture outside Ngee Ann City near the road crossing to the Meritus Mandarin hotel. He has plied his trade for about 12 years, selling slices of green and pink bread wrapped around cold scoops in flavours like attap chee (palm fruit) and peanut. Bars of cut ice cream are also slapped between wafers. The get-up is totally traditional: the ice cream cart affixed to a motorcycle, hunks of ice cream frozen in 10kg of dry ice, the defining giant umbrella. When Mr Chieng started out 40 years ago, he made rounds in housing estates like Queenstown with a trishaw, staying 15 to 30 minutes at a spot. 
2011 Eunice Quek (quoting Peter Goh) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 28 August, 28 We would also buy potong (cut in Malay) ice cream, syrup drinks and ice balls for just five or 10 cents.

potong jalan /poh-tohng jah-lahn, ˈpɔtɔŋ ˈdʒɑlɑn/ v. phr. [Mal. potong cutting, slicing, cutting off a portion (Wilkinson) + jalan walk]  Cut in and seize something from another person, spec. 1 cut into a queue, jump queue; 2 steal a boyfriend or girlfriend away from someone.
1982Paik-Choo’ (Toh Paik Choo) Eh, Goondu! 20 Potong Jalan.. Malay for “cut path” to mean “get in another’s path and steal away his girlfriend/chance/business.”

powder bath n. [Eng.] mil. slang  A liberal dusting of talcum powder given by soldiers in the field to themselves in lieu of a proper bath or shower.
2005 David Boey
The Straits Times, 23 December, H2 Former SAF [Singapore Armed Forces] servicemen will remember just how different things were in the old days. Instead of hot showers, soldiers dusted themselves with handfuls of talcum powder during “powder baths” to clean themselves.

powderful a. [deliberate mispron. of Eng. powerful] ironic  Powerful.
2007 Neil Humphreys Weekend Today (from, 12 May. In Singapore, I had a taxi driver who once took me from Thomson Road to Toa Payoh, via Jurong. Apparently, my England was not so powderful and my “Lorong 2” sounded like “Jurong, too”.

prata /prah-tah, ˈprɑtɑ/ n. [Mal. < Hind. पराठा parāthā]

[1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged MalayEnglish Dictionary 270 pěrata, .. P. [Penang], pastry (roti chanai)]

Roti Prata.

2002 Michelle Ho & Ruby Pan The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 12 April, L2627 The Indian Muslim foodstall tosses up a mean prata. .. Other specialities include the fish head and mutton curries and prata2004 The Straits Times (Very! Singapore), 9 August, 26 Zam Zam.. still sticks to its good old prata plain, egg or onion, its nasi briyani and, of course, its mutton, chicken and sardine murtabaks.  2006 Andrea Ong The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 8 January, L34 He and his team went on food-tasting trips in Singapore and Malaysia to find the best method and recipe for making prata.  2006 Sandra Leong The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 11 June. Meet one of the big cheeses of the roti prata world – Mr Abdul Bashir Saidek, the man behind Niqqi’s The Cheese Prata Shop. He’s just one of a group of prata purveyors who are enjoying rising fortunes, thanks to Singaporeans’ passion for a humble piece of crispy fried dough. From origins as a quick snack sold at small, family-run shops, the treat made of flour, water and ghee has become big business, sold at outlets with branches all over Singapore. Gone are the days of taking the snack with a simple choice of curry and/or sugar. These days, you can get anything from a chicken floss prata to one with ice cream.

Egg Prata

Plaster Prata

prata bomb n. [Eng., origin unkn.]  A prata filled with butter and a sweetener such as honey, sugar or sweetened condensed milk.

prata plaster var. of Plaster Prata.

pregnant duck n. [Eng.] derog. mil. slang  A soldier, esp. one who is female, who cannot march properly.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 311 pregnant duck. Derisive term aimed at women soldiers who cannot march properly, but also extended to any soldier whose marching resembles a duck’s movements.

puah liap /puuah liahp, puːɑ lɪɑp/ n. [Hk.   puah + 粒  liap; Mand. bàn half, semi- + grain, granule, pellet; a numerical coefficient for granule- or pellet-shaped objects (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] football betting  Half ball: a form of tie-breaker.  Also transl. into Eng. as Half Ball.
2006 Chan Yi Shen
The Sunday Times, 20 August, 34 Singapore’s EPL [English Premier League] lingo [title].. Puah liap: half-ball (a form of tie-breaker in betting)

pulasan /puu-lah-sahn, pulɑˈsɑn/ n. [Mal. pulasan < Mal. pulas wringing, twisting (Wilkinson)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 918 pulasan. .. The «pulasan» fruit-tree, Nephelium mutabile. The fruit resembles that of the rambutan but has short stumpy excrescences instead of the long «hairs» that give the latter its name. Also rambutan kapri, sangga lotong1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged MalayEnglish Dictionary 280 pulas, .. pulasan the ‘tweaked’ fruit, Nephelium mutabile, like a rambutan with that fruit’s hairy processes tweaked short]

The plant Nephelium mutabile; its fruit which is oval and has a single almond-shaped seed. The flesh of the pulasan is translucent and sweet, and the skin is thick, red and bears small knobs. The fruit closely resembles the rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum), except that its skin lacks long hairs.

2006 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 6 August, L25 Also popular is a close relative of the rambutan, the pulasan.., commonly known as “mountain lychee”. Blood red in colour, its skin is thicker and harder than rambutans, but the flesh within boasts the same taste and juicy texture. But unlike rambutans, pulasans contain a soft seed which can be eaten. It is shaped, and tastes, like almonds.

pulut hitam /poo-loot hi-tahm, ˈpʊlʊt ˈhɪtɑm/ n. [Mal. pulut sticky; glutinous varieties of rice; cakes made from glutinous rice (Wilkinson; see quots. 1955, 1963 below) + hitam very dark in colour (Wilkinson); black (Winstedt)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 919 pulut. Sticky; a name (= padi p. [pulut]) for glutinous rice (Oryza glutinosa) and for cakes made from glutinous rice  1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged MalayEnglish Dictionary 281 pulut, .. (padi) p. [pulut] sweet glutinous rice (white); p. hitam black variety; p. sěrikaya confections made of p.]

A Malay dessert, usu. served hot, consisting of sweetened black glutinous rice served with coconut milk.
Sam Chua Today, 12 April, 38 We ended the meal with pulut hitam.., a dessert of black glutinous rice with coconut milk.  2006 Eveline Gan Weekend Today, 22–23 July, 25 [F]or a wholesome sweet treat, try the pulot hitam.. which is creamy but not cloying.

pump n. & v. [Eng.] milA n. A push-up.  B v. Do push-ups; be ordered to do push-ups.
A 1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 17 I came up on the twentieth pump feeling slightly sweaty yet invigorated.  B 1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 29 He got pumped just for that style.

pun chan var. of Pang Chan.

put (one) on charge [< Eng. put (someone) on a charge (also charge-sheet)] Also ellipt. put (one) on. mil.  Charge (one, usu. a soldier) with a specified military offence, subject (one, usu. a soldier) to formal disciplinary action.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong (quoting Tay Poh Hock) Youth in the Army 52 He always threatened us: ‘I’ll put you on charge…’ – for shoes not polished, etc.  275 Certain officers ‘always threaten to put you on charge’.  311 put you on. Taken to mean that the subject is to be put on a charge. Usually used threateningly by an officer.

putri salat /puu-t(ə)ri sah-laht, ˈpʊt(ə)ri ˈsɑlɑt̚/ n. [poss. Mal. ‘princess’s prayer’: puteri, putri daughter (of princely birth), princess (Wilkinson) < Skt. पुतरी putrī a daughter; a doll < Skt. पुतर putra a son, child, the young of an animal (Monier-Williams) + poss. Mal. salat prayer (Wilkinson, Winstedt) < Arab. سلوة ,سلاة  ṣalāt, ṣalūt the official Islamic prayer ritual; intercession, intercessory prayer, benediction; blessing, grace (of God) < Arab. سلح alaḥa to be good, right, proper, in order, righteous, pious, godly; to be well, thrive; to be usable, useful, practicable, serviceable, fitting, suitable or appropriate (for); lend itself (to), suit, match (something), fit (something or someone), apply (to someone or something); to be admissible, permissible (in, at or with); to be valid, hold true (for) (Wehr)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 927 p. [puteri] mandi (a sugared dumpling)]

Also Kueh Salat or putri salad Serimuka.

2005 Zul Othman Today (from, 15 October. These Hari Raya treats which include traditional Malay cakes such as.. putri salad (steam glutinous rice with kaya).. are usually available during the fasting month of Ramadan.

putu /poo-too, ˈpʊtʊ/ n. [Mal. putu cakes of rice-flour or nuts (Winstedt) < Tam. புட்டு puṭṭu, colloq., corruption of Tam. பிட்டு piṭṭu a kind of confectionery (Tam. Lex.); perh. < Skt. िपषिटस् pishṭika a cake made of rice flour; िपषटक pishṭaka a cake made of the flour or meal of any grain, any baked cake, bread; िपषटस् pishṭas pastry < Skt. िपष pish to grind, pound, crush; compare Skt. िपषट pishṭa ground, pounded, crushed, bruised; rubbed together, squeezed, clasped (as the hands); kneaded; िपषटम् pishṭam anything ground, any finely-ground substance, flour, meal (Monier-Williams)] A generic name for a number of cakes of Malay origin made with rice flour. Freq. in the following combination words.


putu bambu /bahm-boo, ˈbɑmbʊ/ n. [Mal. bambu, considered by some to be < Kannada ಬಮಬು bambu, ಬೊಮಬ bombu a large hollow bamboo (Kittel) > Eng. bamboo]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 928 putu. Tam. Rice-cake. Gen. for a number of sweetmeats (p. [putu] bambu, p. buloh, p. gěmang, p. mayang), = dumplings of rice meal in a sauce of salted coconut-milk, and usually with a lump of palm-sugar in the centre of the dumpling.]

A Malay cake which consists of a mixture of glutinous rice flour, coconut and Gula Melaka which is steamed in a container made from a bamboo shoot.

2005 Zul Othman Today (from, 15 October. These Hari Raya treats which include traditional Malay cakes such as.. putu bambu (rice flour with brown sugar).. are usually available during the fasting month of Ramadan.  2005 The Star (from The Star Online), 26 October. One interesting find at the Raja Alang Ramadan Bazaar is Putu Bambu, a delicacy from Johor. The stall owner, known only as Janggut, mans the stall with a few of his family members. Putu Bambu is made from a mixture of glutinous rice flour, coconut and palm sugar stuffed into cleaned bamboo shoots and steamed. “This is a light snack, which can be taken for breakfast, evening tea, or as afters,” said Janggut.

putu mayam /-yum, ˈmʌɪjʌm/ n. [poss. < Mal. mayang the young spikelet of the palm-blossom that the seludang (sheath or wrapper) pushes out (Wilkinson); spadix (Winstedt); or < Mal. mayam a measure of weight for gold, musk, otto of roses and other precious substances (Wilkinson); or < Tam. மயம் mayam pleasure; satisfaction; beauty (Tam. Lex.) < Skt. मयस् máyas refreshment, enjoyment, pleasure, delight, prob. < Skt. मा to measure, mete out, mark off; to measure across, traverse; to measure (by any standard), compare with (Monier-Williams); Tam. மாயம் māyam beauty (Tam. Lex.) < Skt. मायम māyā art, wisdom, extraordinary or supernatural power (only in the earlier language); illusion, unreality, deception, fraud, trick, sorcery, witchcraft, magic; an unreal or illusory image, phantom, apparition (Monier-Williams); compare Tam. மாமை māmai beauty; Tam. மாதர் mātar woman; beauty; gold; love (Tam. Lex.) < Skt. माता mātā, nominative of  मातृ māṭrí a mother, any mother (applicable to animals) (Monier-Williams); Tam. மாது mātu woman, damsel; beauty; love (Tam. Lex.), perh. < Prakrit मातु mātu < Skt. मातृ māṭrí ; Tam. மவ்வம் mavvam beauty]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 928 putu. Tam. Rice-cake. Gen. for a number of sweetmeats (p. [putu] bambu, p. buloh, p. gěmang, p. mayang), = dumplings of rice meal in a sauce of salted coconut-milk, and usually with a lump of palm-sugar in the centre of the dumpling.  1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged MalayEnglish Dictionary 230 mayang .. Jo. [Johor], P. [Penang], palm-blossom, spadix .. putu m. [mayang] a sweetmeat.]

Also putumayam.  An Indian sweet consisting of a steamed rice-cake pressed through a perforated mould and thus resembling vermicelli, which is sprinkled with shredded coconut and Gula Melaka.  Also known as Idiappam.

putu piring /poo-too pi-ring, ˈpʊtʊ ˈpɪrɪŋ/ n. [Mal. piring shallow-rimmed platter or plate (usu. of metal) (Wilkinson); saucer (Winstedt)]  A flat, white Malay steamed cake filled with Gula Melaka.
2003 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times, 5 October, L41 Not to be confused with kueh tutu.. putu piring is slightly larger and comes with a filling of gula melaka, not peanut or coconut.  2006 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Najip Ali) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 23 July, L28 What food reminds you of your childhood? / Putu piring (steamed flour cakes with coconut filling). I was brought up by my late grandmother in the Marine Parade area. She always brought home putu piring for me. I’m glad that we can still find really good putu piring in Haig Road’s S11 foodcourt. It’s good, okay. Nowadays, whenever I think of my grandma, I’d think of buying putu piring.

PWD /pee dub-dew (dubl-yoo) dee, piː ˈdʌbdjuː (ˈdʌb(ə)ljuː) diː/ n. [abbrev. of P(ublic W(orks D(epartment] derog. mil. slang  Singapore Armed Forces Engineers.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 311 PWD. Irreverent alternative for SAF engineers.

horizontal rule

Back to the home page   Back to the top