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© Jack Tsen-Ta Lee
Last updated on 14 November 2015 (135 headwords). No reproduction without permission.

saat /saht, sɑːt/ a. [poss. < Mal. saat, sa’at period of time, hour, moment (Wilkinson) < Arab. ساىت sá‘at an hour; a space of time; a watch (Wehr)] Also sah-saat, sard, sud.  Cool, hip.
1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 saat/sah-saat ‘cool’ in Hokkien.  2000 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 3 December 2000, P26 Singapore’s most popular Mandarin DJ is quite sud lah (absolutely charming).

sabo /sah-boh, ˈsɑbo/ v. [< Eng. sabo(tage1 Do some intentional or careless act or omission that causes inconvenience, harm, etc., to others or leads to others being punished; spec. do something that exposes another’s faults, ignorance, misdeeds, etc.; show someone up.  2 Play a prank or practical joke.
1 1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 213 Arumugam firmly believes that he was ‘saboed’ by one of the two friends.  311 sabo. Comes from ‘sabotage’. If a soldier says that someone saboes him, he means that some sinister fellow is doing something to put him in jeopardy. Victims of sabo are either nasty people or witless paranoiacs.  1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 49 Sabo. Short for sabotage; to make trouble for someone or to jeopardise his position.  1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 sabo – short form for sabotage (eg Must sabo him).  1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 38 I loudly saboed the next joker into being the silly monkey when Pimple-Face called for suggestions.  65 Don’t cock-up and sabo me.  2002 Tan Shzr Ee (quoting Grace Shu) The Straits Times (Life!), 1 July, L10 I’ve been sabo-ed.

Comb: sabo king n.  One who frequently sabos others.  See King.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 172 Known among the MPs as the ‘sabo-king’, the RSM’s most conspicuous behaviour was positioning himself at the gate once a week and when a senior officer arrived, delivering a sharp, resounding ‘Morning SIR!’  1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 49 Sabo king. Unfriendly term for the poor guy who inadvertently gets his mates into trouble.  1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 24 Curses and complaints were frequently and intensely heaped upon the ‘sabo kings’ of the platoon.  137 sabo king. Someone who upsets plans.

sago gula melaka /say-goh goo-lə mə-lah-kə, ˈseɪgo ˈguːlə məˈlɑːkə/ n. [Eng. sago + Gula Melaka]  A dessert consisting of sago pearls in coconut milk sweetened with Gula Melaka.
[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.]  2005 Kwen Ow Today, 7 March, 33 [D]esserts such as Malay kueh, sago with gula melaka, cheng tng, egg tarts, pandan chiffon cakes and almond cookies among others.  2005 Wong Ah Yoke The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 7 August. [D]esserts like the sago gula melaka..  2011 Eunice Quek
The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 14 August, 30 [S]ago gula melaka (sago pudding with palm sugar)..

sah-saat /sah saht, sɑ sɑːt/ a. [Mal. sa prefix implying unity, one; forming or constituting one; compare (dengan) sa-saat ini juga at the present time, at this very moment (Wilkinson)] var. of Saat.

sai kang /sı kahng, sʌɪ k̚ɑŋ/ n. [Hk. shit work: 屎 sai excrement, faeces + 工 kang work; Mand. shǐ gōng]  An unpleasant job or task.  Compare Bag of Balls.

sai yong choi /sı yong choy, sʌ jɒŋ tʃɔɪ/ n. [Cant. 西洋 sai yéung foreigners (sai western; foreign + yéung ocean; foreign) + ts‘oi edible plants, vegetables (Eitel); Mand. xīyáng cài: xīyáng the West, the Western world ( west; Occidental, Western + yáng ocean; foreign) + cài vegetable, greens (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  Nasturtum officinale, a perennial aquatic plant used as a vegetable with long stems and small leaves; watercress.
¶ Known in Hk. as sai eng chai (see quot. 1991).
1991 Kok Poh Tin et. al. A Guide to Common Vegetables 47 Nasturtium officinale R. Br. (Cruciferae) (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum (L.) Hayek) Water cress.. sai-yong-choi.. A much branched, leafy aquatic perennial herb. Stems are procumbent and root freely at nodes below. Leaves are lyrate-pinnate with 3–9 leaflets. It is more luxuriant and fleshy when grown in 12–15 cm deep swampy ground. .. In South East Asia, it is a vegetable always cooked in soup before consumption.

sakali /s(ə)-kah-lee, s(ə)ˈkɑliː/ adv. [< Mal. sa-kali all at one time, altogether; even though: sa prefix implying unity, one; forming or constituting one + kali time, occasion, instance (Wilkinson) < Skt. सकल sa-kala together with parts or portions; all, whole, entire < Skt. sa a prefix substituted for saha, sam or sama, and when combined with nouns to form compound adjectives and adverbs yielding the senses ‘with’, ‘together with’, ‘along with’, ‘having’, ‘accompanied by’, ‘possessing’, ‘same’, ‘similar’, or translateable by the English adverbial affix ‘–ly’ (compare Skt. सह saha with, along with, together, together with; Skt. सम् sam (as a preposition or prefix to verbs and verbal derivatives) with, together with, along with, together; when prefixed to some roots and verbal derivatives sam intensifies the idea contained in the simple root, and may often be translated by ‘much’, ‘greatly’, ‘thoroughly’, ‘quite’, ‘very’, ‘well’; it may also express ‘completeness’, ‘perfection’, ‘beauty’, etc.; it is not unfrequently prefixed to nouns in the sense of sama, ‘same’, ‘like’, ‘similar’; Skt. सम sama even, level, flat, plain; same, equal; like, similar, like to; a match for; acting in the same way or with equal justice towards every one; indifferent, impartial, fair; free from emotion, unaffected by passion, unmoved; straight; upright, honest, just, temperate, good, virtuous; fit, convenient, suitable; not eminent, ordinary, common, low, mean, equally distant from all extremes; all, everyone; full complete; whole, entire) + Skt. कला kalā a small part of anything, any single part or portion of a whole but esp. a sixteenth part (Monier-Williams); compare Mal. sa-kali (ini) (this) once (Winstedt); sa-kali at one time, altogether; sa-kalipun although (Wilkinson); or poss. a corruption of Eng. suddenly] Also sekali.  Supposing, what if.
2003 Tan Shzr Ee (quoting Darrell Ee) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 21 December, L11 Sekali got two girlfriends, one long one short [hair] then you’re in trouble.  2004 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 2 January, L12 Hideto Tomabechi, a Yale and Carnegie Mellon-educated congnitive scientist, claims to have invented Rockmelon, a mobile phone ringtone that sends subliminal messages to listeners, causing their bodies to shift unconsciously in specific ways – in this case, to grow larger breasts. .. I actually think A*Star should faster call Tomabechi-san (but make sure he’s activated the right ringtone, sekali you, ahem, raise the wrong hopes)..

sakar /sah-kah, ˈsɑkɑː/ v.t. [< Mal. sakar sugar, specifically cane-sugar and as a symbol of great sweetness (Wilkinson); or < Hind. शकर śakar, शककर śakkar sugar; fig. sweet words (McGregor) < Pers. شڪر shakar sugar; sweet (Palmer); compare Arab. سكر sakira, sakar, sukr to sugar, sprinkle with sugar (something); to candy, preserve with sugar; Arab. سكر sukkar sugar (Wehr)]  Flatter, butter up.

salah /sah-lah, ˈsɑlɑ/ a. [Mal., wrong, incorrect; fault; unbecoming (Ridhwan)]  Erroneous, incorrect, wrong.
2000 Jessica Tan (quoting Cynthia Koh) The Straits Times (Life!), 28 September, 7 Just stop me, just say salah salah (wrong wrong)!  2000 Samuel Lee The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 28 December, 6 Free of dents and scrapes so far, any wrong move or salah agar-ation will mar the car’s flawless paintwork.  2010 Hong Xinyi (quoting Leroy Diong) The Straits Times (Urban), 28 May, 15 And looking back on that era’s [1990s] teenage style – baggy pants paired with Reebok or LA Gear high-top sneakers, it all looks a bit salah (Malay for wrong) now.

sam lo hor fun /sahm-loh haw-fun, ˈsɑmləʊ ˈhɔːfʌn/ n. [Cant., rice noodles that have been tossed three times:  sám three + to fish up, to dredge + Hor Fun (Eitel); Mand. sān three + lāo dredge, scoop + ( (le) a kind of noodles made from buckwheat, sorghum flour, etc. + fěn noodle (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  A Cantonese dish consisting of Hor Fun cooked with slices of snakehead fish and bean sprouts.
2011 Wang Hui Fen The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 14 August, 26 The famous sam lo hor fun is a Cantonese phrase meaning “three mix” flat noodle. The three main ingredients are hor fun (flat rice noodles), beansprouts and sliced sang yu (snakehead fish). It is a simple dish.  2011 Lee Hui Chieh The Straits Times (Mind Your Body), 15 September 2011, 18 The plate of sum lor hor fun (thrice-tossed flat noodles in Cantonese) sailed onto the table.. The three main ingredients in the dish – flat noodles, slices of sheng yu (snakehead or ikan haruan in Malay) and bean sprouts – were drenched in glistening gravy. The sea of white and light brown was broken only by a sprinkling of green spring onion and sliced red chilli..

sambal /sahm-bahl, ˈsɑmbɑl/ n. [Mal., cold condiments served with curries]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1009 sambal. Condiment eaten with curry. A gen. name for peppers, pickles, grated coconut or pineapple, salt fish, fish-roe, very salted eggs, very acid sliced fruits and other condiments eaten cold to give additional flavour to the curry and rice. Not to be confused with the condiments (rěmpah-rěmpah) cooked with the curry to spice it.]

1 A sauce of Malay origin made with chillies.  2 A dish cooked with or containing sambal.
1817 Thomas Stamford Raffles The History of Java, vol. 1, 98 The most common seasoning.. is the lombok; triturated with salt, it is called sámbel1839 Thomas John Newbold Political and Statistical Account of the British Settlements in the Straits of Malacca, vol. 2, ch. 12, 178 The ordinary food of Malays.. is rice, and in times of scarcity, sago seasoned with a little salt fish, Blachang, the caviar of the East, made with acid fruits, &c., into a variety of condiments termed Sambals.  1894 N.B. Dennys A Descriptive Dictionary of British Malaya 337 Sambals. – This is the Malay name of certain relishes eaten with curry, and the list is, practically, almost inexhaustible. Those made with chilies are known as chabei besar or kechil, while many fish figure also, such as ikan sembilan, ikan jirehak, ikan mas, &c. Some twenty or thirty names might be given, but they are mostly of local [a]pplication, according to the place where the name is current.  1933 Leopold Ainsworth Confessions of a Planter in Malaya 145 The usual small side-dishes containing what are known as ‘sambals’, which consist of such things as fried ground nuts, shredded cucumber, burnt grated coconut, Bombay duck and red and green chillies.  1971 Leslie Charteris The Saint and the People Importers, ch. 3, 24 Order me some samosas, lamb curry, pilau rice, dhal, and all the sambals you can crowd on the table.  2000 Sylvia Tan The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 13 February, 7 [T]opped with fish or a piece of omelette and a dollop of sambal2006 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Robert Godley) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 25 June. If you could open a restaurant, what food would you sell? / I've always dreamt of moving back to Toronto to open a stingray place. I think the trick is in the sambal. I haven’t asked the Newton Circus guys for their recipe, it’s sort of taboo, isn’t it? Once, they actually gave me banana leaves and sambal to take back to Toronto when I returned for a holiday.  2006 Chris Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 1 October. Nasi lemak chilli is a simple sambal tumis (fried sambal) that can be adapted to suit different palates.  2  1894 N.B. Dennys A Descriptive Dictionary of British Malaya 234 Rice, salt fish, gulie, or curry, and sambal are the principal dishes found at a Malayan feast. .. Sambals are invariably used instead of curry with rice. The principal ingredient in a sambal is blachan, which is a condiment prepared from shrimps and small fish, to which is added a thousand articles of food, and these sambals are exceedingly palatable.  2000 Sylvia Tan The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 13 February, 7 The coconut rice would be eaten.. with kangkong sambal, otak-otak, ikan bilis sambal and cucumber.  2010 Eunice Quek The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 21 February, 28 [T]he meal, usually nasi padang, is not a small one. He digs into a smorgasbord of dishes, including egg sambal, fish, meat and vegetables..

Comb.: sambal belacan n. [Mal.]  Sambal made with Belacan.
2001 David Kraal The Straits Times (Life!), 20 February, L6 Hot fluffy rice in the centre of the plate, sambal belacan on the side.  2001 Angela Ee The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 25 February, P11 I remember my startling discovery of sambal belacan at the age of three. It was traumatic initially, but when the fire subsided, I was seduced by the taste of the salty, pungent sea.  2006 Wong Ah Yoke The Straits Times (Life!) (from Straits Times Interactive), 6 March. The selection is largely Asian, including local dishes such as chicken buah keluak, prawns with sambal belacan, chicken rice and Indian rojak.  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.

sampai tua /sahm-pı tuuah, ˈsɑmpʌɪ tʊɑ/ n. & a. [Mal. sampai attaining to, reaching + Mal. tua aged, matured, old, senior (Wilkinson) < Hk. tua big, large, great, eldest; Mand.   A n. mil. slang  A soldier with no future of advancement in the armed forces; a condemned soldier.  B a. Of a soldier, employee, etc.: having no chances of advancement or promotion.  Compare Condemned 2.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 312 sampai tua. Until old age: Malay. Used in the SAF to mean ‘condemned’, or as a noun to mean a condemned soldier, a soldier who has no further scope for advancement or promotion; a regular.  1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 49 Sampai tua (Malay). Until old age. Describes a soldier with no future of advancement in the army.

samseng /sahm-seng, ˈsɑmsɛŋ/ n. & a. [Mal. < Hk.; according to Gwee, Mand. sān three + 牲 shēng domestic animal; animal sacrifice (Chi.–Eng. Dict.), poss. an allusion to a secret society ritual: see quot. 2006 below]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1013 samseng. Ch. [Chinese] Professional bully; rough  1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged MalayEnglish Dictionary 308 samseng, Ch. [Chinese], a rowdy; a rough.] 2006 William Gwee Thian Hock A Baba Malay Dictionary 173 sam-seng [牲] Baba-prayer sacrificial offering of a blanched pork, a whole duck and chicken]

A n. A hooligan, a gangster, a ruffian.  B a. Like a hooligan or ruffian: uncouth, unrefined.
A 1928 The Straits Times, 11 July, 2 [title] Samsengs fight after funeral.  2003 Tan Shzr Ee The Sunday Times, 5 October, L2 Wandering among his favoured fluttering fauna, the samseng is turned into a gentle Francis of Assisi.  2004 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 17 October, L14 Many are surprised that cosmopolitans, foreign talents and even (Shock! Horror!) technopreneurs – all people we’ve been exhorted to emulate – have been caught with their noses not tilted towards the heavens and sniffing the rarefied air they inhabit, but rather bent over a table, snorting “pek hoon” like common samsengs2005 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 23 October. I had to stage a mock samseng-style brawl in the middle of Orchard Road to distract gawkers from peering into the camera as we were filming.  [2006 William Gwee Thian Hock A Baba Malay Dictionary 173 samseng [牲] ([Mal.] samseng) hoodlum; gangster]  B 2001 Magdalene Lum (quoting Pamela Oei) The Straits Times (Life!), 27 February, L8 I’m a samseng girl, my mother keeps telling me.  2003 Tan Shzr Ee The Sunday Times, 5 October, L2 [caption] Mr Teo’s samseng (gangster) looks belie his gentle ways with his feathered friends. .. Every day he sits, samseng-like in his glowing plumage in the dim shophouse, shaking one leg across the other knee.

Samsui chicken /sahm-suuee, ˈsɑmsʊɪ/ n. [< Cant. 三水 Samshui a region in Guangdong (Canton) Province in China: sám three + shui water (Eitel); Mand. sān three + shuǐ waters (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  See quot. 2003.
2003 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times, 5 October, L41 Long before there was Hainanese chicken rice, there was samsui chicken – healthy sustenance for hardy female construction workers from China. The chicken is steamed with just a few drops of soya sauce and sesame oil until the meat is tender and juicy. The samsui part comes from dipping it in ginger sauce and wrapping it in fresh lettuce. Samsui women believed ginger could help prevent colds and remove ‘wind’ from the body.

Samsui woman /sahm-suuee, ˈsɑmsʊɪ/ n. [see preceding] hist.  A female immigrant to Singapore originating from Samsui who worked as a labourer, particularly in building construction, and was usu. dressed in a distinctive red cloth cap and blue or grey samfoo (long-sleeved blouse and trousers).
2003 Tan Shzr Ee The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 14 December, L2 Madam Cheong, 89, and Madam Wong, 84, are two of the last dozen Samsui women still alive in Singapore. When they were in their late teens during the 1930s, they individually snuck out from their native Samsui in Guangdong province into Hong Kong, where they then boarded a boat for Singapore. Through World War II up till the 1980s, a few hundred of these women, then based in Chinatown, worked in construction sites alongside brawny men. Every day, they carried baskets of rubble and soil balanced on both ends of a precarious rod perched upon their shoulders. .. In the early days, they wore their distinctive red headgear and hand-stitched samfoos to work. But, as Madam Wong confesses, these days, Samsui women only don their hats ‘for special occasions’ – award ceremonies, TV shows and press interviews.  2005 Krist Boo The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 28 July. Wave, it’s the Samsui women.. When the first float rolls out at the Padang on National Day, there won’t be young beauty queens waving from the top but rather, two wrinkled women in their 70s. They will be clad in black silk samfoo, the traditional Chinese outfit. On their heads will be the stiff red scarves tied like rectangular boxes that shielded their hair from the grime of the construction sites on which they once toiled. The pair, Madam Li Yan Ling, 73, and Madam Wu Yen Xing, 74, are samsui women. .. They have been chosen, said the parade organisers, for being ‘pioneers’ who helped build some of Singapore's most important buildings and roads. .. Born here to mothers who were themselves samsui migrants from China, the two began work on construction sites by the time they were 12. Toiling alongside men, they cleared the forests and laid the roads of Bukit Timah and Redhill. Speaking in Cantonese, Madam Wu said: ‘Because we were very young, our salary was one banana note a day. We had to use sickles to clear the forest, and that could weigh up to 10kg.’ .. ‘Our ration was one milk can of rice each. When that was not enough, we mixed it with tapioca and nuts. The bread was as hard as stone. You could hit it against the floor and nothing would happen,’ [said Madam Li].

santan /sahn-tahn, ˈsɑntɑn/ n. [Mal.]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1019 santan. Soft milky pulp of the coconut, much used in cooking and a type of richness.]

A thick, creamy, white liquid with a high fat content that is obtained from pressing shredded coconut flesh, much used in Malay cooking as a base for sauces and in desserts; coconut milk, coconut cream.
1894 N.B. Dennys A Descriptive Dictionary of British Malaya 338 Santan. – The scraped-up kernel of cocoa-nut, used in curries, &c.

sapu /sah-poo, ˈsɑpuː/ v. [Mal., sweep, wipe, clean or dry something by rubbing; compare tersapu swept, cleared, wiped out, destroyed completely]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1021 sapu. .. Brushing lightly over anything. Used of sweeping a room.. fig. for «cleaning out» or «breaking the bank» at a Chinese gaming house (měnyapu pajak).  1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged MalayEnglish Dictionary 311 sapu, .. měnyapu wipe on (paint, ointment), stroke, wipe (eyes, nose, mouth), wipe off (dirt, sweat, tears), sweep (floor), sweep away (an army); .. těrsapu wiped (on, off, away)..]

1 Remove, steal, take without permission.  2 Of food, a meal, etc.: finish completely.
2 2004 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Moses Lim) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 6 June, L31 I liked to sapu (eat up) everything.

sarabat stall /sah-rah-baht, ˈsɑrɑbɑt̚/ n. [origin unkn., poss. < Arab. sarba a drink, sariba to drink (NMS; compare Mal. serbat syrup; ginger juice (Ridhwan)); or poss. < Mal. sarapan lining; early meal; menyarap line (with leaves, cloth); eat in the early morning, give one’s belly a lining (Winstedt) < Ind. sarapan bottom layer; to have breakfast; Ind. sarap to put in a bottom layer; to have breakfast (Echols & Shadily, Ind.–Eng.); or < Jav. sarapan (to eat) breakfast; Jav. disarap, njsarap (coarse) to eat (something, esp. for breakfast) (Horne)]  A stall, traditionally Malay-owned, selling drinks such as coffee and tea, and occasionally food as well.
1961 A. Richards The Singapore Free Press, 20 January, 7 [H]e studied his lessons in between business at his “sarabat” stall.  1972
The Straits Times, 23 December, 16 These patrons will feel the pinch of 25 to 33 per cent increases in the price of a hot drink. And they will want to know why office and factory canteens, like the sarabat stalls, can charge only five to 10 cents a cup and the coffeeshops think 15 to 20 cents still insufficient.  1974 The Straits Times, 13 June, 11 Why sarabat stalls won’t get special licences... [title] .. At the moment, there are a number of coffee shops, roadside stalls and sarabat stalls which sell beer unlawfully “under the counter.”  1976 Sri Delima The Straits Times, 15 February, 11 How you can give a serabat stall treat in style [title]  2006 Wong Kim Hoh The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 29 January. When he was a young lawyer more than 30 years ago, Mr Harry Elias represented a man who was involved in a gang fight at a sarabat stall in Sembawang.  2006 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 30 July, L26 Indian rojak is a Singaporean invention, dreamt up at sarabat stalls in Waterloo Street in the 1960s.

sard var. of Saat.

sarong party girl n. /sah-rong, ˈsɑrɒŋ/ [Mal. sarong sheath, covering (see quot. 1955 below), prob. < Skt. सारङ sāranga a variegated colour; a garment, cloth, cloths; prob. < Skt. अरङ a-ranga having colour; compare Skt. शारङ śāranga of a variegated colour, spotted, dappled < Skt. शार śāra variegated (of colour), of different colours (as dark hair mixed with grey), mottled, spotted; variegating; a variegated colour < Skt. शरी śrī to mix, mingle (Monier-Williams) + Eng. party girl a (young) woman who is a keen and frequent party-goer; (hence) one with a hedonistic lifestyle]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1024 sarong.. Sheath; covering. .. Kain sarong: «sarong»; the typical Malay long kilt or skirt. Usually explained as sarong (sheath, wrapper), but the garment is in use in Ceylon where it is known as saran; Yule derives the word from Singhalese. Malays rarely use the word; a sarong is kain in Malaya and samping or jarit in Java.]

Also abbrev. to SPG. derog.  A local (Chinese, Indian, Malay, etc.) woman who behaves and dresses provocatively, perh. originally in a sarong, and goes to parties, pubs, etc., to meet and form relationships with Caucasian men.
Yeow Kai Chai The Straits Times (Life!), 5 September, 7 Ang Moh expats with their skimpily-clad SPG appendages.  2001 Michelle Ho The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 14 January, P7 Branded SPGs (Sarong Party Girls) because of their conspicuous lack of attire and aggressive approach to white men.  2003 Arti Mulchand The Straits Times (Life!), 4 November, L4 [T]he infamous Sarong Party Girls – boon to Caucasian men who want to sow their wild oats in Asia, and bane to single, white females who find themselves in the midst of the ang mo’s Asian playground. .. SPGs don’t even care what a man looks like, as long as he’s white.  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.  2006 Melissa Loh The Straits Times (Digital Life), 8 August, 6 “My boyfriend is Australian,” said Ms Loh. “Call me an SPG [Sarong Party Girl] and I will kill you.” .. “When he moved here after graduation, we got a couple of stares and people who didn’t know me before we got together asked me if I was a Sarong Party Girl. .. [The term conjures] a mental image of a long-haired, scantily-clad money-grubbing Asian wannabe tai-tai, who exclusively dates Caucasians. .. To me, this slang is insulting and bigoted, since I’d like to think I’m an equal opportunity dater, with regards to race. ..”

satay /sah-tay, ˈsɑteɪ/ n. [Mal. satai, sate (Winstedt); Ind., Jav. saté, according to NMS < Tam. சதை catai flesh; pulpy part of fruit < தசை tacai flesh, muscle: one of the seven தாது tātu or constituent parts of the body; (colloq.) pulp or fleshy part of a fruit (Tam. Lex.); compare Skt. तवच् tvać skin (as of men, serpents. etc.); hide (as of a goat, cow, etc.); bark, rind, peel; any surface or covering (as turf of the earth) (Monier-Williams); or poss. < Hk. sna (colloq.) three times, thrice repeated (or sán skewers, or a spit, used in roasting meat) + tēy (colloq.) a lump of anything (Medhurst); Mand. sān three (or chǎn (literary language) skewer, slips or sticks used to roast meat (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.); a spit with meat on it (Giles)) + kuài piece, lump, chunk (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.) (see quots. 1934, 2001)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1026 sate. Jav. [Javanese] Pieces of flesh or fish roasted on a skewer, = kěbab. Also sěsate. Commonly sold by hawkers; mentioned Sid. Rama [Hikajat Siddha Rama (Batavia: Balai Poestaka)] 176; illd. [illustrated] May. [Mayer] i 213.  1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged MalayEnglish Dictionary 312 satai, sate, (satir, In. [Indonesian], Jo. [Johor Mal.]), Tam. [Tamil], cabobs served on a skewer.]

A Malay dish consisting of pieces of meat (usu. beef, chicken or mutton) marinated with various spices (according to the NMS, ground coriander, cumin, fennel, lemongrass, tamarind and turmeric), placed on wooden skewers (Satay Sticks) and barbequed over a charcoal fire. It is usu. served with Satay Sauce, Ketupat and sliced cucumber and raw onions.
¶ According to the NMS, ketupat and peanut sauce are South American ingredients brought in the 17th century to Southeast Asia by the Portuguese, and to Singapore by Indian Muslims.
1934 Alfred Charles Willis Willis’s Singapore Guide 149 ‘Satai’ I am given to understand was introduced into this Country by the Chinese, the word being spelt ‘Satae’, meaning three pieces of meat.  1955 Patrick Anderson Snake Wine, vol. II, ch. 6, 163 The Malays crouch over their portable stoves, fanning the embers below sticks of spicy broiled goat known as satay.  1971 Singapore Tourist Promotion Board Carry Singapore in Your Pocket 30 One of the most famous Malay dishes is satay which is tenderised and spiced mutton, chicken or beef barbecued over charcoal and dipped in a chilli-hot peanut sauce. They are served skewered.  2000
Arlina Arshad The Straits Times, 27 December, H8 Ketupat, or rice cakes, satay, lontong, rendang (meat), sambal goreng (mixed vegetables) and serunding (spiced grated coconut) are typical dishes served on this day [Hari Raya Puasa].  2001 David Kraal The Straits Times (Life!), 2 October, L4 Old-time Chinese traders would skewer three pieces of meat on a stick and marinate them in brine during their sea trips. When they got to Malacca, they would barbeque the meat over hot coals. The Malays looked on and asked what it was called. The Chinese would say, ‘Sa-the’ meaning three-stick; three bits of meat on a stick.


satay beehoon /bee-hoon, biːˈhʊn/ n. [Hk. 米粉 beehoon rice vermicelli: bee rice + hoon noodles, vermicelli; Mand. mĭfĕnBeehoon fried with pieces of beancurd, Sotong, pork, Kangkong, etc., and topped with Satay Sauce.
2005 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 31 July. Meng Kee Satay Bee Hoon .. No other stall comes close to offering a satay gravy that is as smooth or tasty – it boasts more than 30 herbs and spices and takes three hours to cook. Accompanying ingredients like pork, prawns, cuttlefish, kangkong and beansprouts are also perfectly prepared and presented.

satay celup /chə-lohp, tʃəˈləʊp̚/ n. [Mal. celup steep, soak, dye; of dipping bread in gravy (Wilkinson)]  A Peranakan variation of Steamboat, where raw food is cooked at the table by being dipped into boiling Satay Sauce.

satay sauce n. [Eng.]  A sauce that satay is traditionally served with for dipping. It consists of a spicy gravy made with ground peanuts, occasionally with grated pineapple added to it.

satay stick n. [Eng.]  A skewer of bamboo or other wood, sharpened at one end, used to hold the meat in a stick of satay during cooking and for eating.

save face v. phr. [poss. Eng. transl. of Mand. 救面 jìumiàn: jìu rescue, save, salvage + miàn face; reputation, prestige (Chi.–Eng. Dict.): see Face; according to OED, originally used by the English community in China, with reference to the continual devices among the Chinese to avoid incurring or inflicting disgrace]

[1898 Westminster Gazette, 5 April, 5, col. 1 Unquestionably the process of saving one’s face leads to curious results in other countries than China.  1900 The Daily News, 25 June, 4, col. 5 The communiqué in the Russian ‘Official Messenger’ provides the necessary formula by the adoption of which the Chinese Government can save its face.]

Act in a way to preserve or rescue the reputation or self-respect of oneself or another person; save one’s face, save another’s face.
2001 Neil Humphreys Notes from an Even Smaller Island 144 As I had confronted him in front of his wife and children, the guy was ‘saving face’ and refused to put the branch down. With my little sister and her husband watching, I was childishly doing the same thing. 
2007 Carmen Teoh-Tang Today (from, 5 January. Don’t give them ‘face’ [title] When I’m standing obediently in line, it is frustrating to have someone skip past me to the cashier. .. I think Singaporeans need to be told off when caught in the act; since we all love to “save face” in public, this method works best.

sayang /-yahng, ˈsʌɪjɑŋ/ n., v. & a. [Mal., pining, longing, pitying, love, affection, it were a pity, alas that (Wilkinson)]

[1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged MalayEnglish Dictionary 313 sayang.. affection (of parents, lovers)..  1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged MalayEnglish Dictionary 313 sayang.. to regret, feel (something) a pity..]

A n. (A term of endearment for one’s) loved one: darling, sweetheart.  B v. 1 Adore, love, be fond of.  2 Regret, feel something to be a pity or shame.  3 Assuage, pacify, soothe.  C a. Pitiful, regrettable, esp. because some opportunity or thing has been wasted.
A 2004
Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 22 August, L14 ‘Yes, sayang,’ she said, patting my back sympathetically.  B 1 2005 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Abdul Hamid Adam) The Sunday Times, 27 March, L26 In five days’ time, Indian-style curry puffs baked the traditional way.. will become part of Singapore’s culinary history. They are baked in the last remaining stone oven in Hup Hin bakery at 4 Joo Chiat Lane. On Friday afternoon, the 73-year-old oven will take its last fiery breath when the bakery closes for good. .. Stuffed with mutton, chicken or potato curry filling, stone-oven baked puffs are amazingly flaky, textured like many layers of potato crisps. “That’s why I very sayang this place,” says Mr Hamid (sayang means “fond of” in Malay).  2008 Salma Khalik (quoting Mdm Umi) The Straits Times (Home), 9 August, B1 He said he ‘sayang’ (Malay for love) me.  3 2005 Teo Cheng Wee (quoting Rima Melati-Adams) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 18 December, L15 We’ve had to sayang (Malay for soothe) her [our cat] a lot to try and get her back on our good side.  2013 Corrie Tan (quoting Adrian Pang) The Straits Times (Life!), 16 April, C6 If there’s any occasion to tell them [my children] off, 10 minutes later, I’m sayang-ing them (sayang means to love or to dote on in Malay). There’s no putting them to bed angry.  C 2001 K.C. Vijayan (quoting Johnny Tan) The Straits Times, 27 December, 4 People want to save these sayang items because they don’t want to see them go to waste.  2004 Glenys Sim (quoting Nasri Ahmad) The Straits Times, 17 May, H5 [T]he singer’s downfall was ‘so sayang’ (such a waste)..  2008 Ang Yiying (quoting Hajjah Sa’diah Abdul Rahman) The Straits Times (Home), 2 September, B3 “Sayang, sayang,” she said about the loss of the food centre, repeating the Malay word for “love”.

sayur lodeh /-yoor loh-day, ˈsʌɪjuːr ˈlodeɪ/ n. [Mal., mixed vegetables cooked to pulp (Winstedt): sayur vegetables (Winstedt) + lodeh boiled, soft, pulpy (Wilkinson); compare Ind. sajur lodéh vegetable soup in coconut milk: sajur vegetable; a vegetable soup + lodéh pulpy (of vegetables) (Echols & Shadily, Ind.–Eng.); Jav. sajur vegetable(s) + loḍèh a coconut-milk vegetable soup with red peppers (Horne)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 699 lodeh. Boiled soft; pulpy. .. Sayur l.: mixed vegetables boiled soft, spiced and flavoured with condiments, then beaten up into a pulpy mass.  1029 sayur. Green food; edible vegetables. .. S. lodeh: mixed vegetables boiled to pulpiness.]

An Indonesian or Malay dish consisting of vegetables such as cabbage, carrot, etc., cooked in coconut milk.
2006 Fiona Chan (quoting Tan-Wee Wei Ling)
The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 11 June. [L]earning how to cook things like nasi padang, rendang, and sayur lodeh..

score point, score points /often poyn, pɔɪn/ v. phr. [prob. < Eng. score points off, score off < Eng. score of a player or competitor: to add (so many points) to one’s score; also said of an incident in the game: to count for (so many points) in a player’s score (OED)]  Gain a triumph or someone’s favour, or make a point, esp. at the expense of somebody else; score points off, score off.

screw v. [poss. < Eng. screw v. extort by pressure; put compulsion upon, constrain, oppress; copulate with, have sexual intercourse with (someone)]  Shout at, scold, verbally abuse.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 312 screw upside down. When a soldier is ‘screwed upside down’, it means that he is reprimanded very severely and could possibly be in very hot soup. A variation is ‘screw inside-out’ – both allusions to impossible sexual feats.  1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 49 Screw upside down.. To be punished or reprimanded severely.

Phrases: screw inside-out, screw upside-down.

sedap /sə-dahp, səˈdɑp̚/ a. [Mal., pleasant, nice, tasty, agreeable (Wilkinson); Johor & Penang Mal., delicious (to taste, touch, ears, vision, mind), comfortable (Winstedt)]  often Mal. slang  Delicious, scrumptious, tasty, yummy.
2006 Eveline Gan Weekend Today, 22–23 July, 23 Enormous chunks of tender beef topped with dessicated spiced coconut melted in our mouths – so sedap, how could we stay peeved?

see first v. phr. [Eng.]  Wait and see what happens; we’ll see.
1982Paik-Choo’ (Toh Paik Choo) Eh, Goondu! 11 See First Person in not totally agreeable mood (state you put her in) who is not sure she should say no but then doesn’t want to say yes either (just to bait you) will raise your hopes with a flat “See first.” 
1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 see first – to wait and see what happens (usually said before committing oneself to a project).

see how v. phr. [Eng.]  See First.
2011 Rachel Chang
The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 23 October, 15 See how lor. Who’s going ar?

see peh /see bay, siː beɪ/ prefix [Hk. see dead + peh father; Mand. sĭ bà]  Used to intensify the meaning of other words and phrases.
1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 50 Si peh (Hokkien). Literally, dead father; the ultimate. Used as prefix to place emphasis on description. E.g., si peh ngeow.  1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 61 Moody faces and roaring exclamations of ‘Si peh xiong!’ and ‘Si peh suay!’  2011 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 8 January, 16 “Piang, you’re si beh kang kor,” sighed the Wife when I shared this thought with her. (Her use of Hokkien increases with her rate of exasperation; the phrase means I’m tough to deal with[.])


see peh kiam /gium, ɡɪʌm/ a. phr. [Hk. kiam stingy]  Very stingy, most unwilling to spend money on another person.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 312 si pe kiam. Utterly stingy. Applied to an officer who feels too pained to part with his money to buy lunch for his driver who has to drive him about in a SAF vehicle during the lunch hour. Obviously, the officer is on an ‘economy drive’: Hokkien.

see peh sian /sien, sɪɛn/ a. phr.  Very Sian.

see peh siong /siong, siɒŋ/ a. phr. [Hk. siong injure, hurt; Mand. shāng; or poss. Mand. xiōng fierce, ferocious, terrible, fearful]  Extremely Siong.
1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 61 Moody faces and roaring exclamations of ‘Si peh xiong!’ and ‘Si peh suay!’  139 si peh xiong. Very tough or taxing.

see peh suay /suuay, suːeɪ/ a. phr.  Very Suay.

see (you, him, etc.) small v. phr. [Eng.]  Take pity on a person or let a person off because that person is smaller in build, weaker, etc., than oneself.
1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 see you small – to take pity on someone because he is smaller than yourself.

sei /say, seɪ/ a. [Hk.]  Steady.
2001 Ng Sue Ling The Straits Times (Life!), 16 June, L8 In my very Western-oriented junior college, the coolest slang word was ‘sei’, which means ‘steady’ in Hokkien.

sekali var. of Sakali.

selar /-lahr, ˈsəlɑː/ n. [Mal. (ikan) selar horse-mackerel (Atule mate): ikan fish (Ridhwan)]  The yellowtail scad (Trachurus novaezelandiae), formerly called the yellowtail horse mackerel, which is used as a food fish.
¶ The common and scientific names of the fish were obtained from “Yellowtail scad”, (27 September 2006; accessed 16 December 2009). According to “Barred Yellowtail Scad”, (27 September 2006; accessed 16 December 2009), Atule mate is called the barred yellowtail scad, but this fish is not known as the horse mackerel.
2009 Huang Lijie
The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 8 November, 26 [C]hilli belacan selar (fried horse mackerel stuffed with chilli and belacan), which her maternal grandmother learnt from her mother-in-law, who lived in a Malay kampong.

selaseh, selasih /sə-lah-sə, -se, səˈlɑsə, -sɛ/ n. [Mal. < Skt. तुलसी tulasī, तुलिसका tulasikā holy basil, a small shrub (Ocymum sanctum) said to have been produced from the hair of the goddess Tulasī and held in veneration by the worshippers of Vishnụ (Monier-Williams)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1043 sělaseh.. Basil, Ocimum spp.; varieties are: O. basilicum (sweet basil, s. [selaseh] puteh); O. gratissimum (s. jambi); O. sanctum (s. kěmangi).]

The common or sweet basil (Ocymum basilicum); its edible fruit, the pulp of which consists of tiny black seeds each surrounded by transparent flesh, often used as an ingredient in desserts.

selekeh /se-lə-ke, sɛləˈkɛ/ a. [Johor & Penang Mal. selekeh, berselekeh smeared with sticky dirt (as clothes, dishes, face) (Winstedt)]  Messy, unkempt, untidy.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 312 selekeh. To describe a soldier whose turnout is really bad: Malay.  1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 49 Selekeh (Malay). Sloppy or untidy.

sell (one’s) backside v. phr. [Eng.]  Of a man: allow another man to perform anal intercourse (on oneself) in exchange for payment, be a male prostitute.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 166 Mark had to resort to.. ‘selling his backside’ at a fashionable Orchard Road hotel in order to get enough money to buy his drugs. 

senang /-nahng, ˈsənɑŋ/ a. [Mal., easy (of work); at leisure (of persons); comfortable, well-to-do (Winstedt)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1065 sěnang. Ease; restfulness. .. Also of a thing requiring little effort: sěnang měnipu dia (he is easily taken in); Sing. Terb. [Shaer Singapura Tebakar (Singapore)] 23.]

Of a job, work, etc.: easy, relaxed.  Compare Switch Off.

senget /seng-et, ˈsɛŋɛt̚/ a. [Mal., slanting, sloping, tilted, listing]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1068 senget.. Heeling over.. S.[Senget]-menget: uneven.  761 Senget-menget: inclining, now to this side now to that.  1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged MalayEnglish Dictionary 323 senget (těr[senget]), aslant (as a deck); s.-menget slanting in every direction (as a ship or plates on a tray)..]

Crooked; untidy.
1991 The Straits Times (Life!), 26 March What do you dislike about your appearance? My hair. It’s very difficult to maintain and when it’s too long it becomes senget (untidy).

seow /siow, sɪaʊ/ a. [Hk., crazy; Mand. shă stupid, muddleheaded] Also siow. joc.  Crazy, mad.
2005 Irene Ang The Electric New Paper, 17 June. Marie-France wanted me to change my image to more of a career woman than the usual ‘siao siao’ (crazy) image. Off work, I’m still my usual casual self.  2006 Tay Cheng Khoon (quoting Remy Ong)
The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 3 December, 36 Xiao one, lah, .. Where got this type of score?


seow cha bor /tzah bor, tzɑ bɒ/ n. phr. [Hk. 查某 cha bor woman (Chi. characters are according to Gwee: see 2006 quot. below)]

[2006 William Gwee Thian Hock A Baba Malay Dictionary 52 cha bo [查某] female]

derog.  A female person who is perceived to behave in an erratic manner.
2004 Tay Yek Keak The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 20–22 August, 9 There are hardcore Alien, Predator, Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord Of The Rings, X-Men, Spider-Man, Wolf Man, Batman mad men and seow char bor (Hokkien for crazy women) who spend a lot of time and money pretending to be their heroes.

seow eh /ay, / n. phr. [Hk. eh one] mil. slang  One’s partner or buddy in an army unit.
1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 49 Seow eh (Hokkien) Mad one. Term of endearment for buddy.

seow on a. phr. [Eng.]  Be very On.
1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 59 I think your platoon is siow on. .. You have actually gone through one of the worst shit.  67 Why bother to be so siow on when life is so easy?  139 siow on. Ridiculously active.

seow peng see entry under Peng.

serani /sə-rah-nee, səˈrɑniː/ n. [Mal., Nazarene; Roman Catholic; an Indo-Portuguese (Catholic) Eurasian (Winstedt); compare Ind. nasarani, Jav. Nasrani Christian (Echols & Shadily, Ind.–Eng., Horne) < Arab. نصراني naṣrānī Christian (Wehr); نصران nasrān A Christian, Nazarene; name of a town in Syria; نصرانيٌ nasrānīy a Christian; belonging to Christianity (a word not used by Christians) (Johnson) < Syriac nāṣrāyā < Aramaic nāṣrāyā (a.), nāṣrāṯ Nazareth, name of the town in Galilee (once in ancient Palestine, now in Israel) which was the home of Jesus Christ (OED)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1081 Sěrani. [Ar[abic] nasrani] Nazarene; Christian; esp. Catholic. Etym. = Christian; and, as such, applied to the first Christians who visited Indonesia, i.e. the Catholic Portuguese. Protestants drew a distinction by calling themselves masehi and by national names; so that sěrani has come to be limited to Catholics, esp. to Portuguese.  1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged MalayEnglish Dictionary 327 Sěrani, Nasrani, Ar[abic], Nazarene; Roman Catholic; an Indo-Portuguese, (Catholic) Eurasian.]

A Eurasian person.  Compare Grago.

serimuka /s(ə)ri-muu-kə, ˌs(ə)riˈmʊkə/ n. [Mal., “light of the countenance” (Wilkinson); a charming face: Mal. seri charm; quintessence; splendour; glory (Wilkinson); charm (of a face, country); cynosure (something that attracts attention by its brilliancy or beauty; a centre of attraction, interest, or admiration) (Winstedt) < Skt. सार sāra essence, substance; the substantial or essential part of anything; the best or choicest part; the quintessence; the heart; cream, curds, nectar; strength, power, vigour, force, courage, prowess, valour, heroism, firmness, hardness; worth, excellence, highest degree of perfection; wealth, goods, riches; compare Skt. सवऀ sarva all, every; whole, entire, universal, complete < Skt. सृ sṛi to go, move, proceed; to approach; to go fast, run; to flow; to blow (as the wind) (apparently involving in some of its derivatives a meaning ‘to be strong, to be whole or entire’) (Monier-Williams) + Mal. muka face, countenance (Winstedt) < Skt. मुख mukha the mouth; the face, countenance (Monier-Williams)] Also seri muka.  A two-layered Malay cake, the lower layer consisting of sweetened glutinous rice and the upper layer of a green-coloured custard flavoured with pandan leaves.  Also known as Kueh Salat or Putri Salat.
2005 The Star (from The Star Online), 26 October. Kuih Seri Muka is a sweet delicacy. Its top layer of green custard is made from coconut milk while the bottom layer is of steamed glutinous rice.

shack, shacked /shak(d), ʃak(d)/ a. [poss. < Eng. shag, shagged dance(d) the shag (a dance popular esp. in the US in the 1930s and 1940s characterized by vigorous hopping from one foot to the other); or copulate(d) (with) (OED)]  Often in shack, shacked out: exhausted or tired out from exertion.
1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 33 I suppose they could not really blame us for feeling so shack after doing PT, drill and other boring lessons in the morning.  38 It was always a happy hour in the water no matter how shack.  139 shack. Tired.  2005 Hong Xinyi (quoting Kevin Koo) The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 19 June. [F]or Mr Kevin Koo, army lingo remains a fond feature of his daily conversations. The 26-year-old engineer frequently peppers his speech with phrases like ‘don't show me your shack face’ (army speak for ‘I don’t give a damn that you are tired’) and ‘take your time, take your time’ (sarcastic instructor jibe that actually means ‘hurry up’) when making fun of his friends.

shake v. [transf. use of Eng. shake; poss. a transl. of Mal. gonchang, gunchang shake, cause a thing to sway (Wilkinson, Winstedt states that the word is Johor & Penang Mal.); masturbate]  Of a man: masturbate.

shake legs v. [Eng. transl. of Hk. kiao kar: kiao shake + kar leg; Mand. 摇脚 yáo jiăoKiao Kar.
2004 Janadas Devan The Straits Times (Very! Singapore), 9 August, 20 ‘[S]hake legs’.. someone who is avoiding work..

shang meen /s(h)ahng meen, sɑŋ, ʃɑŋ, mɪn/ n. [Cant. sháng raw, uncooked + mín wheat-flour; flour vermicelli (Eitel); Mand. shēngmiànshēng raw, uncooked + miàn noodles (Chi.–Eng. Dict.) (see quot. 2006 below)]

[2006 Wong Ah Yoke The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 1 October. The noodles are not mee sua but deep-fried egg noodles (sheng mian). And they come in a soupy gravy.]

A Chinese dish, the principal ingredient of which is a round cake of noodles that has previously been partially cooked by deep-frying and then dried. The noodles thus retain a crisp texture when stir-fried during the preparation of the dish. The noodles are commonly served in a gravy with vegetables and slices of meat or fish.

shee shee /shee, ʃiː/ v. [imit.] nursery  Urinate, pass urine, pee.
2004 Neil Humphreys Weekend Today, 30–31 October, 4 Children no need shi shi out of the window.  2009 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 14 June, 10 I was heartened to hear so many of you confirm that the traditional “shee-shee” potty training technique works.  2011 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 6 February, 10 [Y]ou can’t negotiate with babies: “Girl-girl, you shee-shee only at 4 o’clock, okay?”

shilling n. [Eng., poss. through Mal. shiling a twenty-cent piece; duit shiling small silver (Wilkinson): Mal. duit copper coin, money in general (Wilkinson); cent, small change (Winstedt) < early Middle Du. duit a small Dutch coin formerly in use, prob. orig. of silver, then afterwards of base silver and finally of copper; the word is of uncertain derivation: Kluge & Franck identify it with Norse Þveit a piece cut off, a small piece of land, a unit of weight, a small coin < Norse Þvíta to cut (OED); > Eng. doit]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1099 shiling. Eng. Twenty-cent piece; «shilling».. Duit sh. [shiling]: small silver]

A coin, a piece of loose change.

shiok /shiok, shuuk, ʃɪɒk, ʃʊk/ a. [< Mal. shok filling with desire, attractive; Mal. shokh attractive, pleasing; mirthful (Winstedt); Mal. shauk the ecstasy of the mystic; delight, rapture (Winstedt); desire or longing of the soul (Wilkinson) < Pers. شوخ shokh cheerful, sprightly, mirthful, jovial, festive, joyous, brisk, spiritual; saucy, impertinent, petulant, insolent, bold, brazen, impudent, shameless; whimsical, capricious, playful, mischevious; ready (with an answer), pert; beautiful, pleasing; Arab. شاق shāk, شوق  shawk filling with desire; exciting, inflaming one (desire, love); love, desire, propension, affection, inclination; zeal, eagerness; aclarity, gaiety, cheerfulness (Johnson); compare Arab. شغف šaḡafā, šaḡf to hit, or affect, the pericardium, i.e., to infatuate, enamour, fill with ardent passion; Arab. شغف šaḡaf pericardium; passionate love, passion, sensual desire; infatuation, enamouredness, amorousness; ardent zeal, craze, love, passion; Arab. شغف šaḡif madly in love, infatuated (with), enamoured (of), fascinated (by); Arab. شغوف šaḡūf obsessed with fervent affection (for); madly in love, infatuated (with), enamoured (of); Arab. شها šahā, شهي šahiya, شهوة šahwa to desire, wish, covet, crave (something), long for (something); to make covetous, fill with desire, allure, entice (someone); to arouse greed, desire, appetite (in someone for something); to whet the appetite, be appetizing (food); to be covetous, greedy, to long (for something); crave, desire, wish (something); feel appetite (for something); Arab. شهوة šahwa greed, craving, desire, ardent wish, longing, yearning, eagerness; passion, carnal appetite, lust; appetite (Wehr)]  1 Good, fantastic, superb, wonderful.  2 Comfortable, enjoyable, pleasurable.  3 Delicious.  Compare Steam Sia.

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1099 shauk. Ar. [Arabic]. Desire or longing of the soul; the spiritual exstasy of the mystic.  1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged MalayEnglish Dictionary 332 shok, Ar. [Arabic], filling with desire, attractive. .. shokh, Pers. [Persian], attractive, pleasing; mirthful. .. shauk, Ar., the ecstasy of the mystic; delight, rapture. Also shok.]

1 1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 139 shiok. Great/enjoyable/wonderful.  1998 Koh Buck Song The Straits Times, 9 August, 2 [T]he Singlish term that best describes happiness is shiok. My Malay friends say the term includes ‘very sedap’ (‘nice, delicious, wonderful, superb’, usually referring to food). Most Singaporeans use shiok only with this meaning, when it in fact applies to many other situations. Shiok carries no sexual connotation, so they tell me, and yet it conveys such heights of emotion and extreme satisfaction that it can only be called ‘orgasmic’, even though it applies to such contexts as an exhilirating car or boat ride, swim or watching an uplifting concert or an epic movie.  2006 Jeremy Au & Nur Amira Abdul Karim The Sunday Times, 23 July, 4 Once, I spent $200 in one night of gambling. It was shiok at first, when I was winning. But before I knew it, I lost it all.   2  1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 170 Larry explained that using the condom reduced his sensations of pleasure (‘no shiok’).  1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 37 When it came to swimming it was damn shiok! .. Just imagine how shiok the water was to us after a hard day’s work.  2001 Arthur Sim (quoting Danny Ong) The Straits Times (Life!), 27 January, L6 When I come and see the pond and koi, I just feel shiok2001 Michelle Ho (quoting Goh Boon Teck) The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 8 June, 14 Film and television can give you a ‘shiok’ feeling for about 2½ hours, but you totally forget about it soon.  2004 James Fu The Straits Times, 21 June, H2 [T]hey would talk about how many people they had sex with and that they felt shiok when they did.  3 1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 shiok – good, usually used in conjuction with eating.  1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 87 We panggang the fish on the beach and eat it with the special belachan my mother used to make. Damn shiok man! The taste!  2004 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Noel Hawkes) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 20 June, L32 [T]here’s also popiah, chicken wings, roti prata, murtabak and an Indian man who makes teh tarik, which are all very shiok2006 Thomas Kong The Straits Times (National Day Supplement), 9 August, 16 My shiokest makan is bak chor mee.

show half ball v. phr. [Eng.]  Reveal a lot of cleavage.
2005 Renee Tan The Sunday Times, 27 February, 38 Show half ball. What it means: To describe a girl revealing a lot of cleavage. How to use: “Look at that girl! Her top is so low-cut, she show half ball!”

shui jiao /shuui jiow, ʂueɪ tɕiɑʊ/ n. [Eng. (Hanyu Pinyin) translit. of Mand. 水饺 shuǐjiǎo boiled dumping: shuǐ water, liquid + jiǎo dumpling (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  The Mandarin term for Shui Kau.
2006 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 3 September. Delights now available here include shui jiao (soup dumplings) from Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province, and la mian (pulled noodles) from Lanzhou, capital of Gansu province.  2011 Eunice Quek (quoting Luo Qining) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 19 June, 26 The latest addition to her well-stocked kitchen.. is a Kenwood mixer – all the better to make home-made.. pork dumping (shui jiao) dough with. She says: “For shui jiao, it’s important to mince everything and then add cold stock in the mixture. The liquid gets absorbed, so that when you eat the dumplings, they have a nice texture to them.”

shui kau /shuui gow, ʃʊɪ ɡaʊ/ n. [Cant., dumplings made of dough and containing meat: shui water + káu sweet rice cakes; meat dumplings (Eitel); Mand. shuǐjiǎo boiled dumping: shuǐ water, liquid + jiǎo dumpling (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  A Chinese dumpling, often yellow and semi-circular with a wrinkled appearance, containing minced pork, prawn, water chestnuts, etc., and cooked by boiling. It is usu. eaten in soup or with Mee.
1984 Violet Oon Singapore Monitor, 24 June, 38 The other two above average dishes in the restaurant are the dumplings known as “wantan” and “sui kow” in Guangdong. .. [O]rder a bowl of noodles in soup with “sui kow” and you’ll enjoy the meal. .. Both the “wantan” and “sui kow” are also delicious deep fried ($5 per plate) and are accompanied by an unusual sweet and sour sauce which complements the dishes.  2006 Theresa Tan
The Straits Times (Mind Your Body) (from Straits Times Interactive), 14 June. This is a tale of two dumplings – sui kau and jiao zi. Sui kau is fat and thin-skinned. .. Sui kau is perpetually dunked in soup.. Sui kau carries a Hong Kong passport.. Choo Chiang’s sui kau soup (shrimp dumpling soup in Cantonese) is a cut above the competition at other hawker stalls. This is mainly because Choo Chiang packs one whole shrimp into each dumpling, instead of cutting up the shrimp and mixing parts of it into the minced meat. For one thing, a whole shrimp adds much more sweetness to the dumpling packed with pork and finely-chopped chestnut bits. It’s just more satisfying to bite into one whole juicy shrimp than mere shrimp bits. Choo Chiang, which has been around for over 30 years and is now in five locations here, uses powder ground from San Ban fish to marinate the pork and that gives the meat extra oomph.  2006 Wong Ah Yoke The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 15 October. Dumpling noodle soup: Springy noodles with three good-sized sui gau (dumplings)..

sia, siak /siah(k), sɪɑ()/ int. [poss. < Mal. (imit., pronounced nasally) siak, besiak to whizz; or Mal. siap ready, prepared; (imit., pronounced nasally) the sound of a whack (Wilkinson)] Also sial.  An exclamation used as a suffix for emphasis: power sia, Steam Sia.
2005 Cornelius Kan Wai-Chung Today, 18 November, 40 I decided to just teach them some proper [sic] Singlish vocabulary. I explained to them the evolution of “powerful” to “powderful” to simply “power sia!”.  2013 Joanna Lee (quoting Maria Ivanenko) The Sunday Times, 28 April, 10 Damn power, sial!

siam /siahm, sɪɑm/ v. & int. [Hk.]  A v. Avoid, get out of the way of.  B int. An exclamation used to tell others to make way: get out of the way!
A 1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 82 It was a very honest MO [Medical Officer] who gave me a four-day excuse from running and jumping, thereby allowing me to siam the obstacle course session tomorrow.  84 The six of us read all day, siam the obstacle course practice with ‘good reason’, and went for switch-off attachments.  139 siam. Avoid.

Phrase: siam one corner [perh. by analogy with Relak One Corner] Often jocularly abbrev. to SOC [also an abbrev. for s(tandard o(bstacle c(ourse].
2005 Hong Xinyi The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 19 June. Siam one corner (S.O.C.). Army use: To skive instead of undergoing the Standard Obstacle Course (also known as S.O.C.). Civilian use: To skive. Example: I can’t be bothered to do what my boss wants, so I’m going to siam one corner.

sian /sien, sɪɛn/ a. [Hk., bored, depressed, in low spirits; Mand. mèn1 Bored, fed-up, tired.  2 Boring, dull, tiring.
1 1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 50 Sian (Hokkien) Bored or lethargic. Popularly prefixed with si peh.  1991 Ken Lou The Straits Times, 9 October, 4 Sian is Hokkien for tired or fed-up.  2006 Serene Luo The Straits Times (Digital Life) (from Straits Times Interactive), 3 October. [Y]ou know you’re not the only one around who is bored and sian and tired of being bored and sian.  2013 Melissa Kong (quoting Tosh Zhang) Lifestyle, April, 62 It’s inconvenient and a bit sian (Hokkien for “tiresome”) but you have to understand that this is part of the package.

siew mai /siuu mı, sɪʊ mʌɪ/ n. [Cant. shiú to ignite, to burn, to roast, to bake + mái to dispose of goods, to sell; or mái a wild kind of greens; a name for various milky plants, Lactuca (Eitel); Mand. shāo cooked, heated + mài sell; or a general term for wheat, barley, etc. (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  A dimsum (savoury Cantonese-style snack) in the form of a small steamed dumpling consisting of a minced pork filling wrapped in a yellow or white skin gathered at the top.
2004 Peter Khoo The Straits Times (Life!), 5 January, 6 [F]or someone who has never liked siew mai (meat dumplings), she was now wolfing down six at one go.  2006 Lim Wei Chean The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 17 March. 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.

sign extra v. phr. [Eng.] mil. slang  Be punished by signing one’s name in an army unit’s informal punishment book and being assigned extra duties.

sign 1206 /twelv oh siks, twɛlv əʊ sɪks/ [< the Singapore Armed Forces form number SAF 1206 for recording damaged or lost items] mil. slang  Pay the armed forces for damaged or lost military equipment.

sin jiao /seen jiow, siːn dʒɪaʊ/ n. [Hk. sin new, novice + jiao bird; Mand. xīnniǎo]  An inexperienced person, novice, greenhorn; spec. (mil. slang) a new recruit or soldier recently posted into a unit from elsewhere.  Also transl. into Eng. as new bird.
¶ Opp. of Lau Jiao.

Singapore /sing-ə-por, sing-gə-, sɪŋəˈpɔː, sɪŋɡ-/ a. [< Mal. Singapura: Mal. singa < Skt. िसंह sinha lion (Monier-Williams) + Mal. pura, arch. city, town, esp. in compounds or honorific names (Wilkinson) < Skt. पुर pura fortress, castle, fortified town; town, city < Skt. पुर् pur rampart, well; stronghold, castle, fortress, fortified city, town (Monier-Williams); contrast quot. 1894 (however, the Skt. word singha, allegedly meaning ‘place of call’, has not been found in Monier-Williams; see, though, Skt. िसंहडवार sinha-dvāra a principal gate, chief gate, any gate or entrance: Skt. डवार dvāra a door, gate, gateway, passage, entrance, opening; डवार् dvār a gate, door, entrance; access, way)]

[1894 N.B. Dennys A Descriptive Dictionary of British Malaya 196 Lion. – “In Malay Singa from the Sanskrit, just as our own name is from the Latin. The lion is a mere myth to all the inhabitants of the Peninsula. ..” The word has no connection with Singapore or Singapura, which means a “port of anchorage.”  347 Singapore, correctly Singapura, formerly supposed to be from the Sanskrit singa, lion, and pura, city, but really from singha, a place of call, and pura, a city. It is spoken of in the Malay annals as Tamsak. This is the name of an island, which, with the exception of a single village of poor and predatory Malay fishermen, and that only formed in 1811, was covered with a primeval forest down to the 6th day of February, 1819, and is now the first in rank of the European emporia of the Far East. Barros gives a whimsical etymology of the name: “Anciently,” says he, “the most celebrated city which existed in the land of Malacca, was called Cingapura, which, in the language of the country, signifies ‘false delay’ (false demora).” This derivation must have come through the Malays, who, no doubt, were then, as they now are, ignorant of the true meaning of the name.  1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1110 The «lion» from which Singapore derives its name of the «lion-city» is described as maha-tangkas laku-nya merah warna tuboh-nya, hitam kěpala-nya dan puteh dada-nya dan sikap-nya tětalu pantas dan pěrkasa; dan běsar-nya běsar sadikit daripanda kambing randok (most agile, with a tawny body, black head and white breast, very active and strong, and rather bigger than an old he-goat), Mal. Annals [Malay Annals] 32.]

Of or pertaining to Singapore, an island republic in South-East Asia at the southern tip of the Malay peninsula; Singaporean.


Singapore fried noodles n.  A Chinese dish consisting of noodles fried with bean sprouts, Char Siew, egg, shrimp, etc., and flavoured with curry powder.
2005 Teo Cheng Wee & Edward Choy The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 15 May, L7 Singapore fried noodles .. A dish that’s hardly popular here but famous elsewhere. Fried with shrimp, barbequed pork, bean sprouts and egg, it probably had roots in Hong Kong, says renowned chef Chan Kwok. .. “It’s probably because of the curry powder, which chefs associate with South-east Asia. Singapore could just have been the first country that came to mind,” he speculates. .. It’s one of the most well-known dishes in Chinese restaurants in countries like the United States and Britain. So what if we didn’t invent it?

Singapore sling n. [Eng. sling an American drink composed of brandy, rum, or other spirit, and water, sweetened and flavoured: of doubtful origin; compare sling, rare slang a drink or draught, a ‘pull’]  A cocktail with a base of gin and cherry brandy: see quot. 2005.
1930 Harry Craddock The Savoy Cocktail Book, ch. 1, 190 Singapore Sling. The Juice of ¼ Lemon. ¼ Dry Gin. ½ Cherry Brandy. Shake well and strain into medium size glass, and fill with soda water. Add 1 lump of ice.  1948 David Augustus Embury The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, ch. 11, 299 Singapore Gin Sling. Of all the recipes published for this drink I have never seen any two that were alike. Essentially it is simply a Gin Sling with the addition of cherry brandy.  1969 Ross Thomas The Singapore Wink, ch. 11, 118 I’m going to have a Singapore Sling in the bar of the Raffles Hotel.  2005 Teo Cheng Wee & Edward Choy The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 15 May, L7 Singapore sling .. A gin-based cocktail that has drinkers the world over hooked. A mix of pineapple juice, cherry brandy and lime juice, it was created in 1915 by Raffles Hotel’s Hainanese bartender Ngiam Tong Boon. .. Next to the Singapore Girl, the Sling is probably the best known icon from these shores. Thanks, no doubt, to distinguished Raffles Hotel guests like writer Ambrose Pratt, who immortalised the fruity concoction in his book, Magical Malaya.

Singapura /sing-ə-pu-rə, sing-gə-, sɪŋəˈpurə, sɪŋɡ-/ n. [see Singapore]  A rare breed of cat apparently bred from strays in Singapore: see quot. 2004.
2004 Sharlene Tan Streats, 5 March, 58 The Singapura is described by the US-based Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) as ‘a smaller than average, shorthaired cat with noticeably large eyes and ears’. .. The Singapura was introduced to the US by its American breeder, Mrs Tommy Meadows, in 1975 and was accepted for registration by the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) in 1982. However, in 1991, cat breeders challenged her claim that she had produced the pedigree using strays from Singapore. The CFA investigated but refused to strip the Singapura of its pedigree status.

singgang /sing-gahng, ˈsɪŋɡɑŋ/ n. [Mal., fish, etc., cooked in salt (Ridhwan)]  A Eurasian dish consisting of fish cooked in spices and coconut milk, and then shredded.
2012 Wong Ah Yoke
The Sunday Times (SundayLife!), 7 October, 30 For chilli cowards, the singgang ($14) is a better bet. The wolf herring cooked with spices and coconut milk, and then deboned and shredded, makes for a great appetiser when eaten with slices of cucumber.

Singlish /sing-glish, ˈsɪŋɡlɪʃ/ n. & a. [< Eng. Sin(gapore + En)glish A n. English as used by many persons in Singapore; Singapore colloquial English; standard English modified by colloquial expressions and borrowings from local languages used in Singapore.  B a. Of or relating to Singlish.
A 1991 Rex Shelley The Shrimp People 5 I have used the variety of English known as ‘Singlish’.  1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 We all speak Singlish – the good old Singlish that everyone knows, loves, and ridicules. It reflects the Singaporean attitude: it is fast, economical and adequately understandable. It is a rojak of Malay, Chinese and broken English.  1992 Ravi Veloo The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 15 March, 2 The position of the anti-Singlish quarters at least is clear: there is nothing to be defined, Singlish is just bad English. No, say the pro-Singlishers, it is not. But they do not help their case by not having a clear agreeable definition of what Singlish is. .. Singlish can be seen as a significant variety of English analogous to, say, American English, Australian English, Caribbean English, and so on. .. Singlish is the English spoken by educated Singaporeans; especially when they are relaxed and not under pressure to conform to any ‘formal’ standards set by others. .. Singlish can be defined as a variety of English increasingly unique to Singapore and which: comprises a rojak of words, phrases, idioms and grammar borrowed from other languages; is different from standard English in terms of grammar and pronunciation; and is in common use among Singaporeans and is widely understood.  2000 Leong Liew Geok “Forever Singlish” in Women without Men 130 No class Singlish here to stay, / No big shot can have his way / With how people talk, what people say. / Rules are rules: our bo chap mouth refuse / To listen, follow or to choose!  2000 Stephen Ho The Straits Times, 13 January, 50 Singlish.. is supposed to be either a language or a dialect which relegates the use of proper English to formal occasions.  2000 The Straits Times, 2 May, 44 This does not spare Singlish-loving Singaporeans the need to detach themselves from a worldwide linguistic corruption. They must know that Singlish has taken hold of their daily lives.  2001 Neil Humphreys Notes from an Even Smaller Island 174–175 Like Changi Airport or the Merlion, Singlish is something that is quintessentially Singaporean. It is a dialect that everybody speaks and understands and is something that could provide the cornerstone for a unifying cultural identity. .. It is the language of Singapore and something to be proud of.. As long as Singaporeans are aware that they must switch into Standard English when conversing with foreigners, .. then frankly I do not see what the problem is.  2006 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 26 February. There are also the Singlish aficionados who keep me updated on our unjustly-vilified vernacular.  B 2002 The Straits Times, 1 April, H7 Say ‘tomolow’, and this system understands.. One of the most sophisticated voice-recognition systems here is up and running, and has been trained to understand the Singlish accent.

sinseh /sin-say, ˈsɪnseɪ/ n. [poss. Hk. or Teo., teacher; mister (Mr.), gentleman, sir; (dial.) doctor: sin earlier, before, first, in advance; elder generation, ancestor + seh give birth to, bear; Mand. xiānsheng; compare Khmer sinsē teacher; medical doctor < Hak. sīn-sāng (Headley), cognate with Mand. xiānsheng]  A practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine, a Chinese physician.
2003 Richard Seah Today, 12 November, 30 The sinseh said newspaper reports from China and Hong Kong suggested that Chinese herbal medicines could help the fight against Sars [sudden acute respiratory syndrome].  2004 Lee Hui Chieh The Straits Times, 3 March, H5 [title] Seeing the sinseh costs more as Chinese medicine prices rise.. Sinsehs here are feeling the squeeze, as growing demand and rising production costs push up the prices of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).  2006 The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 12 March. Health-care centre offers sinseh services [title]. The sinseh is in. Residents in Toa Payoh who go to the NTUC Healthcare centre to consult the dentist and general practitioner can now also see a traditional Chinese physician.  2006 Lee Hui Chieh The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 26 August. TCM board suspends 2 Chinese sinsehs [title] Two traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) physicians have been fined and suspended..  2006 Elena Chong The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 6 September. A woman said she was shocked, afraid and did not know what to do when her sinseh – a Chinese traditional healer – molested her during a consultation.

sinus n. [poss. < Eng. sinusitis inflammation of a sinus, esp. a paranasal sinus: sinus cavity within a bone or other tissue, esp. within the bones of the face or skull, connecting with the nasal cavities]  Non-allergic rhinitis.
2008 Eveline Gan Today, 26 August, 26 A nose for trouble: Changes in temperature, humidity can trigger sinus [title] .. [W]eather shifts – especially when temperatures plummet – can trigger a condition called non-allergic rhinitis (or sinus in layman-speak). Rhinitis occurs when the mucous lining of the nose becomes inflamed. .. [O]nce the nasal membranes are stimulated, sinus sufferers tend to experience sneezing, a blocked or runny nose, as well as phlegm. But don’t just blame the weather. Experiencing temperature variations while moving from one place to another .. can also trigger a sinus attack.

siong /siong, sɪɒŋ/ a. [Hk. siong injure, hurt; Mand. shāng]  Difficult, laborious, troublesome.  Compare Teruk.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 312 siong. This usually is used to describe certain activities, especially combat activities in the Army. Literally it means injurious: Hokkien. As a slang it means very tough. See ‘terok’.  1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 50 Siong (Hokkien) Tough. Should also be prefixed with si peh.  1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 13 However xiong the conditions are, just count the Sundays man!  76 Hoping that he did not mean a life that was xiong.  80 Most of us were thrown into the most xiong of appointments.  82 A hectic day of rushing to sign in and xiong full battle order equipping.  140 xiong. A uniquely army term used to describe hardships of any kind.

siow var. of Seow.

siput sedut /si-puut -duut, ˈsɪpʊt̚ ˈsədʊt̚/ n. [Mal. siput generic name for shellfish and snails or land shells (Wilkinson) + poss. Johor & Penang Mal. sedut, menyedut to sniff up the nostril (Wilkinson); inhale (Winstedt), f. the fact that each snail is sucked out of a hole made in its shell when eaten]  See quot. 2003.
2003 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times, 5 October, L41 Fancy some escargots Malay-style? ..  [S]iput sedut, or small snails cooked in a yellow gravy of coconut milk and chilli padi.

slang v. [transf. use of Eng. slang n.]  Speak with an (affected or put-on) accent, esp. one that is American or English.
2004 John Chua The Straits Times (Life!), 20 August, L6 There was this computer salesman who told me that he preferred Caucasian customers because ‘Americans are better, I can slang with them what.’

slime v. [< Eng. slime v. smear or cover with slime]  Insult, speak ill of.
2001 Michelle Ho The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 14 January, P7 Though often slimed by other holier-than-thou clubbers, Canto Dynamos are proud of their nightlife style.

smoke v. [< Eng. smoke-screen fig. something designed to conceal or mislead; a deliberate distraction or diversion; or < Eng. throw smoke over throw a smoke-bomb to create a smoke-screen; fig. conceal, mislead, create a distraction or diversion]  Hide the truth from, intentionally deceive or mislead.
1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 16 I learned that this was the fine art of ‘smoking’.  115 Hey, you don’t smoke me, OK. I’m only two months old here, and your batch don’t respect me.  139 smoking. To put up verbal and conversational camouflage.

SMS n. & v. [Eng. abbrev. of s(hort m(essage s(ervice, or occas. s(hort m(essaging s(ervice or s(hort m(essage s(ystem: see quots. below]

[1991 K. Holley in IEE Colloquium on ‘GSM & PCN Enhanced Mobile Services’ Digest, No. 23, 7/1 The GSM Short Message Service (SMS) has been designed to meet the messaging needs of the mobile telephone user over and above the real-time speech and data services. 1998 What Cellphone, November 19/1 We think that if you make it easier for people to use SMS, more will send text.  2005 Lily Lim The Straits Times, 9 December, H29 Stop SMS service with just a call [heading]. .. Star Cruises uses SMS messaging to communicate with our customers who choose to receive promotional material from us. Those who choose to unsubscribe from the SMS service can call our enquiry number.. We have contacted Mr Lee and removed his details from our SMS database.]

A n. A text message sent using a mobile telephone or other electronic communication device.  B v. Send a text message using a mobile telephone or other electronic communication device; text vSMS(-)ing, SMSed.
2006 Neo Bay Lee The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 17 February. I.. was told the SMS was sent by a company called Global Fun. .. Is it legal to send SMS greetings to cellphone users and charge them $1 without their consent? Although the company may agree to waive the charge if you ask, many people may pay unknowingly if they do not check their bill. If the company sends the SMS to the four million cellphone users in Singapore, there is a lot of money to be made.  2006 Lim Yeng Chuan The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 13 March. Unsolicited SMSes: Do more to prevent abuse [title]. I recently received this unsolicited SMS message a number of times..  2006 Li Xueying The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 21 April. The SMS went out at 3.20pm. ‘Parliament dissolved. Chairman would like to meet all of you for briefing at 6.30pm. Blk 115, Hougang Ave 1.’  2006 Chong Chee Kin (quoting Steve Chia) The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 7 May. My phone is now jammed with hundreds and hundreds of SMSes and I can’t respond to all. I got more than 300 SMSes yesterday and today, and over 100 phone calls to encourage and support me.  2006 Tham Yuen-C The Straits Times (Digital Life), 8 August, 10 Some people have broken up their relationship via SMS. Others have had meetings cancelled on them at the last minute also from an SMS.  B 2006 Tay Yek Keak
The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 8 January, L12 Between now and Chinese New Year, don’t call, write, SMS, send me smoke signals or contact me through carrier pigeons. I can’t do anything because I shall be spring-cleaning my home.  2006 The Straits Times, 19 August, H13 SMS your view on PM’s National Day Rally speech [title]  2006 Tay Yek Keak The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 20 August, L12 She’d be SMS-ing “Poor discount” to her shopping kakis.  2006 “Why you speak like that one? Let Gen Y help you get it right” The Sunday Times, 30 July, 7 Madam Davamoni noted that youngsters tended to use abbreviations when SMS-ing or chatting online, which had led to them speaking the way they SMS – in broken English.  2006 Low Sin Lu Today (from, 27 September. [T]he fact that his daughter refused to come home when he SMSed her, suggests that both father and daughter and not close enough to talk about problems close to the heart.

snake v. [Eng. transl. of Hk. chua snake; Mand. shé < Hk. chia chua Chia Chua.  Compare Keng, Take Cover, Tuang.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 312 snake. English translation for an originally Hokkien slang.  Same use as ‘chiah chua’, ‘skive’, ‘tuang’.

Comb.: snake-king  (a) One who frequently evades duty, work, etc.  (b) One perceived to be good at evading duty, work, etc., without getting caught.  See King.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 312 snake-king.  Once who is really good at ‘snake’-ing.

snow frog n. [Eng. name for the Chinese forest frog (Rana temporaria chensinensis), known in Mand. as 哈什蟆 hàshimǎ (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)Hashima.
2004 Deborah Kong San Francisco Chronicle (from, 14 September. Chinese also believe snow frog fat is good for the complexion, says Kowloon Tong owner Mimi Yeung, 27. Steamed and served with coconut milk or papaya, or sprinkled over scoops of ice cream, the cloudlike frog fat is clear, has a gelatinous texture and very little taste, says Yeung, who blends in easily among her hip, young patrons. But “when people are not familiar with snow frog, it scares them off,” she says. “They would be like, ‘Ewww.’”

snowskin n. [Eng. transl. of Mand. 冰皮 bīngpí: bīng ice + skin; cover, wrapper; a broad, flat piece (of some thin material), sheet (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.); or cognates in other Chi. dialects, f. its appearance]  The outer pastry of a certain variety of Mooncake made from cooked glutinous rice flour, which is soft and often pastel coloured. Also attrib., as in ‘snowskin mooncake’.
2007 Philip Lee
The Straits Times (Life!), 6 September, 14 Even the crust of some varieties [of mooncake] have taken on new forms – .. the translucent and soft skin types made from glutinous rice. They call this a snow skin mooncake.  2008 Huang Lijie The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 31 August, 42 Having heard from a friend that snowskin mooncakes are easy to make, she decided to have a go at it with her daughters too. .. Ingredients .. 150g icing sugar / 150g cooked glutinous rice flour, available from bakery supplies shops / 50g shortening ..  2008 Weekend Today, 6 September, 48 [T]he New Creations range ($40 for eight) which feature the mini snowskin white lotus mooncake with Grand Marnier and espresso chocolate truffles.

SOC abbrev. of Siam One Corner.

soh si /soh see, səʊ siː/ n. [Hk., key; Mand. 锁匙 suǒshi < the logo of Beck’s beer which consists of a key on a red shield inspired by the coat of arms of the city of Bremen, Germany; the key represents the key to the city’s gates]  Beck’s beer, a lager first brewed by Beck & May, a brewery established by Luder Rutenberg, Heinrich Beck and Thomas May in Bremen, Germany, on 27 June 1873.
2004 Karl Ho The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 13 June, L6 So Si: Hokkien for ‘key’, it refers to Beck’s beer.  So named because the German beer bottle has a key logo on it.

solid /so-lid, ˈsoˌlɪd/ a. [Eng. solid1 Good, excellent.  Compare Standard2 Unfazed, unflustered, graceful under pressure.
1 1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 28 Ah say – solid, man!  32 I must admit that ITC cooks are quite solid in their cooking for lunch.  50 Your section has such a solid singer. Should ask him to perform on POP [passing-out parade] night.  88 You get fresh coconut water and flesh – better than hawker centre. .. I get my men to pluck some solid ones for you to try.  2003 Peh Shing Huei (quoting Gwyn Tan) The Sunday Times, 12 October, 32 Who is the best buy so far? .. Cristiano Ronaldo lah. His dribbling is solid.

soon hock /soon hok, suːn hɒk/ n. [Hk.]  The marbled goby (Oxyeleotris marmorata), a prized freshwater food fish with a large head, symmetrical patterning on its dorsal fins, and rounded, outstretched pectoral fins.
2006 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Wong Hon Mun)
The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 30 July, L28 I love soon hock fish because the flesh is firm and is flavourful.  2008 Tay Suan Chiang The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 21 December, 2 He rears fish such as soon hock, tilapia and grouper, which he also supplies to restaurants..

soon kueh /soon kuay, suːn kʊeɪ/ n. [Hk. soon bamboo shoot + 粿 kueh powder made from rice or wheat; Mand. sǔn bamboo shoot + guǒ (literary language) powder made from rice or wheat (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  A Chinese pastry consisting of a sticky translucent skin filled with shredded bamboo shoots or turnip, usu. eaten with chilli sauce and sweet sauce.
2001 Cindy Lim The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 4 January, 6 The 80-cents-a-piece soon kueh – a translucent-skinned pastry with fillings.. proved to be enjoyable enough.  2003 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times, 5 October, L38 A lesser-known cousin to Teochew kueh such as soon kueh and chives kueh, black bean kueh is a rare find indeed.  2006 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 16 July. Soon kueh is steamed rice flour skin filled with turnip.  2009 Huang Lijie The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 8 November, 26 [C]lassic Teochew fare such as braised duck, steamed fish and soon kueh (steamed rice flour dumplings).  2010 Rebecca Lynne Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 25 July, 20 [W]hite soon kueh, with bamboo shoots and/or radish.

soto ayam /soh-toh ı-yuum, ˈsoto ˈʌɪjʌm/ n. [Ind. soto ajam chicken soup: 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) + Mal. ayam; Ind. ajam chicken]  An Indonesian broth containing shredded chicken and usu. served with bean sprouts and fried onions.  Compare Mee Soto.
2005 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 31 July. Sermi Karjiwalawi, 75, has been selling soto ayam for several decades, using her late husband’s Indonesian-style recipe. There is no stinting of [sic] ingredients. The deliciously rich soup is made with bones, coconut milk and secret spices. The chicken pieces are hand-shredded – not cut – to retain their juicy texture. And the sambal chilli is made fresh at the stall.  2015 Rebecca Lynne Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 1 November, C20 [T]he dish in question was a homemade Indonesia soto ayam thickened with bread crumbs, made by a friend of my parents. I could try, but I think it would take too long to cook soto ayam from scratch. So, on a soto hunt I go, for a cheap and convenient equivalent.

sotong n. & a. /so-tong, ˈsɒtɒŋ/ [Mal.]  1 n. The squid or common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis), used as food.  2 a. Blur like Sotong.
1 2003 Judi Low Streats, 12 December, 74 Sotong or squid is one of those foods that is either relished or disdained.  2008 Cheryl Tan The Straits Times (Life!), 2 September, C8 He also liked that it used sotong paste instead of the usual fish paste used in yong tau foo.

soya bean milk n. [Eng.] Also soybean milk.  Tau Huay Chui.
1973 Paul Theroux Saint Jack, ch. 5, 52 Over in an armchair drinking soy-bean milk.. sat old Mr. Tan Lim Hock.  2006 Li Xueying (quoting Goh Kai Suah) The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 21 April. ‘I’m going to tell my supplier tomorrow that I now want 12 tanks of tao huey zui every day,’ said soya bean milk hawker Goh Kai Suah, 42, who usually needs 10 plastic tanks for his stall.

specky n. [< Eng. specky a. bespectacled < spec(tacles + –y] often mil. slang  A person (esp. a soldier) who wears spectacles.
1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 50 Specky. Nickname for bespectacled soldier.

SPG abbrev. of Sarong Party Girl.

spoil the market v. phr. [Eng.] often joc.  Carry out a task to a high standard or otherwise act in a manner that creates an expectation that other people will do the same or that makes others look inferior in comparison, thus requiring them to put in more effort.
2006 Lydia Lim, Keith Lin & Ken Kwek (quoting Alvin Tan) The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 22 September. Groups are divided by ideological approaches.. Instead of working with each other, they bicker and say things like, if you do that, you’ll spoil the market.  2006 Alfred Siew The Straits Times (Digital Life), 5 December, 24 Though offering lower speeds of 512Kbps, the Wi-Fi service is set to “spoil” the market with the IDA expecting 250,000 users to sign up in the first two years.  2006 Sheralyn Tay Weekend Today (from, 30 December. I think SIA staff are highly valued at Emirates. In fact some of the staff (in Dubai) discriminate against former SIA crew because they ‘spoil the market’.. I think that if an SIA staff member applies (for Emirates) their chances of getting in are very high.  2009 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 28 June, 10 I guess I got all kancheong after reading in Wired magazine about a fellow named Ethan Nicholas who’s now making pots of money from an iPhone application he wrote while taking care of his infant son – cradling him with one hand and coding with the other. Talk about “spoil market”.

S’pore abbrev. [contraction of Eng. S(inga)pore]  A commonly-used abbrev. for Singapore, esp. in newspaper headines and article titles.
2007 Li Xueying The Straits Times, 20 August, H4 For greying face of S’pore in 2020, see Radin Mas now [title] For a peek at what Singapore will look like in 2020, look at Radin Mas today.

S’porean abbrev. [contraction of Eng. S(inga)porean]  A commonly-used abbrev. for Singaporean, esp. in newspaper headlines and article titles.
2007 The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 14 January. Take care of S’poreans first, says union leader [title] Union leader G. Muthu Kumar is used to union members going up to him to share their concerns about foreigners taking jobs from Singaporeans.

standard a. & int. [Eng. standard n. an authoritative or recognized exemplar of correctness, perfection, or some definite degree of any quality; a definite level of excellence, attainment, wealth, or the like, or a definite degree of any quality, viewed as a prescribed object of endeavour or as the measure of what is adequate for some purpose]  Good, excellent, impressive.  Compare Solid 1.

stand-by-bed n. phr. [Eng. < the fact that soldiers stand at attention beside their beds when inspections are taking place] mil. slang  An inspection of a solider’s bed, living quarters, personal equipment, etc., by a superior, sometimes as a punishment.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong (quoting Larry Tan) Youth in the Army 171 Another commonly hated feature of life in an army unit is the ritual of “stand-by bed”. “In our case,” said Larry, “this was done every morning at 8 a.m., just after area cleaning. As we stood to attention by our beds, the section commander or sometimes the platoon sergeant would march in and without even checking to see that everything was in order, which he was supposed to do, he would shake some of our cupboards, and this upset all the contents and we had to re-arrange them neatly again. The floor of our room had to be well-swept and clean. To check on this, our section commander used a tissue paper to wipe the floor and showed us the dirt. Mind you, he insisted that our boots must be like mirrors. If he was not satisfied we would have extra ‘stand-by bed’.”  265 [H]alf an hour later you return to your dormitory to observe the stand-by bed ritual, during which time your whole dormitory should be in a spick and span condition..  1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 16 In the name of good hygiene, the SAF organised another infamy: the stand-by bed. Uniforms frantically ironed the night before would be inspected, as would be boots, mess-tins, and all other personal items displayed in the lockers.  50 Stand-by bed. Inspection of soldier’s bed and personal belongings in the barracks.

steady pom pi pi /pom pee pee, pɒm piː piː/ adj. phr. [Eng. steady + Hk. or Mand. slang pi pi whistle]  Calm, cool, prepared for any situation.
2005 Renee Tan The Sunday Times, 27 February, 38 So steady pom pi pi: teens use slang to bond with friends and to avoid unwanted attention.. “Wah! Check out that CCG, he’s so steady pom pi pi.” .. First popularised by TV host Bryan Wong two weeks ago in the variety show Steady Ready Go, it plays on the words “steady” and “pi pi” (whistle in Mandarin and Hokkien). It is used to describe someone who is always cool and ready in any situation.

steam v. & a. [poss. a mispron. of Eng. stim(ulated or stim(ulating); or < Eng. steam up rouse or excite (a person) (OED)]  A v. Be sexually excited or stimulated; have an erection of the penis.  B a. Sexually exciting or stimulating.

steam sia /siah(k), sɪɑ(k)/ a. phr. [Eng. steam + Sia] Also steam siak. Mal. slang  Shiok.  See Sia, Siak.
1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 steam siak – the Mat version of shiok.

steamboat n. [Eng. steam + boat1 A Chinese meal in which raw food (usually meat, eggs, vegetables, rice vermicelli, etc.) is cooked at the table by dipping into a boiling soup flavoured with stock.  2 A round metal pot with a central flue used to heat the soup in a steamboat meal.
1 2000 Evelyn Tay The Straits Times (Life!), 11 February, 4 Now, I have my Singaporean friends here with whom I enjoy steamboat during the Chinese New Year.  2006 Wong Ah Yoke The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 26 February. [T]he continuing proliferation of Sichuan ma la steamboat eateries in the Beach Road-Bugis area..  2006 Wong Ah Yoke The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 24 September. Foo Lum is not strictly a steamboat eatery. It also offers a selection of cooked dishes comprising mainly seafood.. It’s one of the best steamboats in town.

Comb.: Hainanese Steamboat

study mama n. [Eng., loose transl. of Mand. 陪读妈妈 péi dú māma: péi accompany, keep somebody company + attend school + māma (spoken language) ma, mum, mummy, mother (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  A woman, often from China, who accompanies her child who is studying abroad.
2006 Ong Soh Chin
The Straits Times (National Day Supplement), 9 August, 10 Forgetting that we, too, come from lowly immigrant stock, we constantly speak ill of Chinese study mamas, Vietnamese prostitutes, Filipino and Indonesian maids and Bangladeshi workers.  2006 Lincy Kwan Straits Times Interactive, 10 August. Don’t tar all study mamas from China with same brush [title] My daughter’s Chinese tutor is a “pei du mama”. .. “Pei du mama” has become synonymous with “massage parlour girl”, but not all “pei du mama” are massage parlour girls.  2006 Kenneth Wang Ye Straits Times Interactive, 12 August. Lately, study mamas have been stereotyped to be indecent and frivolous. In my opinion, it is this ‘built-in’ categorisation of study mamas that has not only cost them their shot at a better life, but has also resulted in Singapore losing prominence as an open and cosmopolitan society. .. It is undeniable that some study mamas are desperate for a source of income and are willing to sacrifice their pride to take on a degrading job. However, their presence should not be an excuse for us to equate study mamas with massage parlour girls or worse, prostitutes. We should not, and cannot, scrap them from our country. .. Perhaps we have not given serious thought to why some study mamas are willing to participate in such activities and so subject themselves to thoughtless criticism. Many schools in Singapore go all out to attract foreign talent to come and study. In many of these situations, worried parents decide to give up their lives back home, opting to accompany their child to a foreign land in the hope of securing a better future for them. Sadly, more often than not, what they find awaiting them here is discrimination and prejudice. When they are repeatedly turned away by employers, who are we to blame them for turning to more controversial ways to make money to put food on the table?  2006 Leong Weng Kam The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 4 September. The divorcee from Guilin arrived four years ago to put her only daughter through school here, and is one of several thousand such peidu mamas or ‘study mamas’ here.

stylo a. [Eng. style + –o]  Stylish, fashionable.
2004 Jeffrey Low (quoting Quah Kim Song) The Sunday Times, 14 March, 39 [T]hey have stylo motorbikes, they have stylo girlfriends..  2006 Eunice Quek The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 17 June. [H]e met a ‘funky’ punk who asked him for a lighter. ‘At that time, I thought he was so ‘stylo’. ..’

Phrases: stylo-mylo.
2003 Serene Foo Today, 11 November, 25 [F]rom the photographs the impression I got of Shawn was cool, stylo-milo and aloof.  2006 Pearlyn Tham Today (from, 20 May. [T]he group editor in charge of Style magazine was approached by The National Museum to donate part of his designer wardrobe to its fashion exhibition, “Stylo Mylo – A Selection of Men’s Fashion in Singapore”. The August event is part of a collaboration with Style to build up a collection that traces the history of men’s wear and women’s wear here.

suaku /suah-koo, ˈsʊɑkuː/ n. & a. [Hk. sua hill, mountain + ku tortoise, turtle: Mand. shān guīA n. A country bumpkin, an unsophisticated person.  B a. Of or relating to a suaku: ignorant, naive, unsophisticated.
2000 The Straits Times, 26 June, 37 He was considered to be a suaku, a country bumpkin.   2001 Magdalene Lum (quoting Mark Lee) The Straits Times (Life!), 9 January, L8 I was so suaku I did not know that Kuching meant cat.

suan /suuahn, suːɑn/ v. [Hk. (?)]  Berate, criticize, insult, mock.
2003 Tan Shzr Ee The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 21 December, L11 University student Ee, known as ‘Ritchie’, is flavour of the month for the team’s regular suan (berating) sessions, having just bought himself a zircon blue Jaguar.  2005 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 9 October. [L]et’s not pretend that teachers don’t suan their students behind their backs..

suan pan zi /suuahn pahn tz, sʊɑn pɑn tz/ n. [Mand. 算盘子 suànpán zǐ beads (of an abacus): suàn calculate, reckon, compute, figure + pán tray, plate, dish; something shaped like or used as a tray, plate, etc. + seed; something small and hard (Chi.–Eng. Dict.); compare Hak. 算盘珠 sòn phân chu (tsṳ́) abacus’ balls: sòn to reckon, count, calculate + phân a dish, a plate + chu (tsṳ́) a pearl, bead; abacus (MacIver) (Mand. zhū pearl; bead (Chi.–Eng. Dict.))]  A Hakka dish consisting of small round pieces of dough made with yam and flour that resemble abacus beads which are fried with sliced mushrooms, minced pork and beancurd.
2006 Lam Yiru
The Straits Times (National Day Supplement), 9 August, 16 I have been eating suan pan zi, or abacus beads, since I was a child. This Hakka speciality is made by kneading yam and flour into round pieces that resemble abacus beads. It is everyone’s favourite at my Hakka family’s gatherings. I love the gooey texture of the yam pieces. They are fried with sliced mushrooms, minced pork and beancurd. These other ingredients complement the yam pieces, making it an excellent savoury dish.  2009 Alessa Pang The Straits Times (Saturday), 24 January, B6 [A]bacus seeds (suan pan zi) – a dish of flattened pieces of yam fried with tiny shrimps, mushrooms, beancurd strips and minced pork – originated from Dapu, in south-east China.  2010 Rebecca Lynne Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 25 July, 20 Suan pan zi or yam coins that resemble abacus seeds fried with minced pork and mushroom, and served with shredded cuttlefish..

suay /suuay, suːeɪ/ a. [Hk.; according to Gwee, Mand. 衰 shuāi decline, wane (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  Unlucky, unfortunate, jinxed.  suay-suay adv.
1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 31 That’s the most suay thing to happen to anyone.  61 Moody faces and roaring exclamations of ‘Si peh xiong!’ and ‘Si peh suay!’  130 This was a suay appointment all right.  140 suay. Bad luck.  2003 Peh Shing Huei (quoting Mervyn Koh) The Sunday Times, 12 October, 32 He [David Seaman] had always been steady and dependable. But he’s damn suay (unlucky in Hokkien).  2004 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 3 October, L16 If I go help him and then suay-suay drop him or what, then he sue me, then how?  [2006 William Gwee Thian Hock A Baba Malay Dictionary 188 suay [衰] cursed; bad luck; ill fortune]  2006 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 1 January, L12 What if you suay-suay pick up a gangsta with a gun? Or a serial killer?  2006 Sandra Leong (quoting Ho Yin Yin) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 8 January, L11 The thing about mad cow disease is that you don’t know if you’re infected till 10 years later, which is this year. But I’m still fine. I can’t be so suay (Hokkien for unlucky), right?  2008 Kimberly Spykerman (quoting Vincent Tan) The Straits Times (Home), 20 October, B8 The prize awaiting them was a pair of tickets to the gala premiere of the film, The Coffin, but to win those, they had to lie in a mock coffin for at least three seconds. Mr Tan, 26, said in Mandarin, using the Hokkien word for “bad luck”: “I feel uneasy about doing it, because it’s quite suay.”  2012 Phua Mei Pin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 11 March, 28 One hawker complained to Mr Goh that he felt very suay (unlucky) to get a stall at the Newton Circus food centre.

sud var. of Saat.

sudah /suu-dah, ˈsuːdɑ/ a. & int. [Mal., done, finished, ended; sudah!, sudah-lah enough! (Winstedt)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1126 sudah. Accomplished; done with; finished; over; (in some expressions) after. Of termination in point of time; completion of work is habis. .. S.[Sudah]-lah: that is the end of it. S. sa-kali: quite over; done with.]

A a. Done with, finished.  B int. Forget about it, leave it alone.
B 1991
Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 sudah – forget it.

sugee /suu-jee, ˈsuːdʒiː/ n. [Mal. suji < Penang Hindustani & Hindi सुजी sūjī coarse wheat-meal, semolina (McGregor)]  Semolina, which consists of hard portions of wheat which resist milling and are collected in the form of rounded grains; attrib. as sugee biscuit, sugee cake.
2015 Kenneth Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 1 November, C23 One recipe she got from her mother is for sugee cookies. She is making them for Deepavali, which falls on Tuesday. She says sugee cookies are one of the most fuss-free festive confections to make
 – they can be rolled out in 15 minutes.

Comb.: sugee cake n.  A rich Eurasian butter cake made with sugee and ground almonds.
2003 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times, 5 October, L42 Sugee cake.. Made in true Katong tradition with ground almond and cashew nuts, the cake is soft and full of nutty flavour.  2006 Low Shi Ping Weekend Today, 16–17 December, 38 I had a slice of sugee cake ($6), which is another Eurasian favourite. Covered with a layer of icing, this extremely rich, traditional cake is made using almonds and semolina flour.  2009 Huang Lijie The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 20 December, 27 Sugee cake is a traditional Eurasian cake made of semolina and almond, and is often eaten during festive and celebratory occasions such as Christmas, birthdays and weddings.

sui /suuee, suːiː/ adv. [Hk., beautiful; Mand. mĕi] Also sui-sui, swee 1 Nicely, just right, perfect.  2 Clean, neat, tidy.
1 2005 Richard Lim The Straits Times (Life!) (from Straits Times Interactive), 20 August. He knows that whatever you do, you have to cho sui-sui (Hokkien for do it nicely, in the customary way). 
2014 Sylvia Toh Paik Choo The Sunday Times (SundayLife!), 26 January, 3 Sweee!” and “Gooaaal!” That’s the familiar cry heard throughout the neighbourhood. It’s English Premier League and there’s no greater equaliser ground than the kampung coffeeshop in uniting Singapore’s football fans and followers.

suka-suka /suu-kah, ˈsuːkɑ/ a. [Mal., pleasure, to like, to agree to (Wilkinson); delight (Winstedt) < Skt. सुख sukha happiness, pleasure, delight, joy, comfort; prosperity; ease, alleviation; easiness; heaven, paradise < Skt. सुख् sukh to make happy, please, delight, rejoice, comfort; said to be < Skt. सु su an enhancing particle freq. used as a prefix implying ‘good, well, excellent, excellently, beautiful, beautifully, honourable, worthy of respect or reverence, excessive, excessively, exceedingly, much, very; readily, easily, willingly, quickly’ (said by some to be a shortened form of वस vasu good; wealthy; rich; sweet, sweet-flavoured) + Skt. kha a cavity, hollow, cave, cavern, aperture; happiness, pleasure, auspiciousness (Monier-Williams); compare bersuka-sukaan to enjoy oneself in various ways (Wilkinson), enjoying themselves (esp. of lovers) (Winstedt); melakukan kesukaan to enjoy oneself in one’s own way, to do as one pleases (Wilkinson); sesuka-suka according to one’s liking or wish, as one wishes]  In a manner as one pleases; as one wishes, and indifferent to the consequences.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 312 suka-suka. Applied to a soldier who carries on as he wishes, having no concern for rules or superiors: Malay.  1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 51 Suka-suka (Malay) As you wish.  Describes couldn’t care less attitude of some soldiers.  2000 Dennis Wee with Sylvia Fong Making Luck with Your Hands 80 This is not a suka-suka job.  2005 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 9 October. Do we really want schoolkids to take away the lesson that it’s okay to just suka-suka shut their critics up? What kind of leaders would they grow up to be?  2005Mr Brown’ (Lee Kin Mun) Today, 9 December, 38 Maybe they need to rank buses or public transport services like they do schools. I can think of the kinds of awards you can give out: / • Top Bus Service / • Top Value-added Bus Service (Drama and Sports), and / • Top Value-added Bus Service (Driver Does Not Suka Suka Jam Brakes).

sup /suup, suːp/ n. [Mal., according to Wilkinson (see quot. 1955) < Du. soep soup (Martin & Tops); compare Ind. sup broth, soup (Echols & Shadily, Ind.Eng.); Jav. sup, sop soup (Occidental style) (Horne)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1138 sup. Du. [Dutch] soep. Broth; soup; Ind. Nata [Hikayat Indera Nata, manuscript, Cambridge], Ht. Abd. [Hikayat Abdullah]]

Soup, stew. Freq. in the following combinations.


sup kambing /kahm-bing, ˈkɑmbɪŋ/ n. [Mal. kambing goat; sheep < Mal. bek, embek, mengembek imit. of a goat or sheep: to bleat (Wilkinson)]  A cloudy Malay soup or stew made with sheep or goat mutton and a variety of spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, star anise, tumeric and white peppercorns.
Teo Pau Lin (quoting Robin Lee) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 9 October. If your doctor were to give you a day off from your diet, what’s the first thing you’d eat? / Kambing soup, the thickest, oiliest, greenest one possible. There’s a Muslim-Indian stall opposite Beauty World in Bukit Timah. It sells kambing kaki, and you are supposed to suck out the marrow and all. But don’t ask me how it tastes, because it’s been that long.]  2009 Eunice Quek (quoting Russel Wong) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 18 October, 24 We used to have Sunday cookouts and my mother would make her prawn noodles and soup kambing.

sup tulang /tuu-lahng, ˈtuːlɑŋ/ n. [Mal., bone soup: tulang bone]  An Indian-Muslim dish consisting of a stew containing a mutton-bone rich in marrow with chillies, tomatoes, etc.
2005 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 31 July. The father of 44-year-old Mohd Iqbal is said to have invented sup tulang – mutton bone with marrow stewed in an explosive sauce of chillies, tomatoes and mutton stock – in the early 1950s. In those days, his father threw in a free mutton bone with every order of mee kuah (spicy noodles). Slowly, customers started asking for only the mutton bone – and the dish was born. This Indian-Muslim stall stands out from other tulang vendors for serving big bones packed with marrow and meat.  2006 Anthony Bourdain New York Times Magazine (from, 24 September. Since I have a passionate devotion to bone marrow, my next culinary destination was a foregone conclusion. .. Seetoh’s guide pointed me to Haji Kadir-M. Baharudeen’s stand in the Golden Mile Food Centre as being the apex of sup tulang (bone soup), an Indian Muslim dish popular at the end of Ramadan fasting. For lunch, I found myself clumsily manhandling a sticky, slippery yet utterly wonderful heap of sauce-dripping bones, all the while wishing I’d wrapped myself in a dropcloth. The red mutton bones, stewed in a spicy sweet chili, tomato and mutton stock, arrived with a useless fork, a spoon, a little cabbage and some fried bread slices to mop up the sauce. The idea, apparently, was to pick up the bones with your fingers and tap them repeatedly until the buttery marrow slid out. Naturally, this didn’t happen. I tapped and banged in vain. I gnawed on the shreds of exterior meat. I dropped my bones, splattering myself, finally settling on spooning a little soup forlornly into my mouth. The proprietors, taking pity on the ang moh (foreigner – literally, “red head”), presented me with a straw, to the amusement of my fellow patrons. I jammed it in and sucked, striking the good stuff immediately. I came away with red-stained fingers, a ruined shirt and a feeling of happy, somewhat guilty stickiness.

super white horse see entry under White Horse.

susah /suu-sah, ˈsuːsɑ/ a. [Mal., uneasy, disquieted, difficult (Wilkinson); difficult (of tasks); troubled, worried (of persons) (Winstedt); compare (menanggong) kesusahan trouble(d), to experience trouble (Wilkinson, Winstedt)]  Difficult, troublesome.

swee var. of Sui.

SWH abbrev. of Super White Horse: see entry under White Horse.

switch off v. & a. [Eng.]  A v. Cease to be concerned about, stop putting effort into.  B a. Also switched off.  Of a job, work, etc.: requiring little effort or skill, easy, relaxed.  Compare Senang2 Indifferent, not bothered, not caring.  Compare Bo Chap.
¶ Opp. of
switch on, switched on.
A 1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 51 Switch off. To not bother at all.  B 1 1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 46 He actually aspired to the ultimate switch-off job – clerk, but his asthma excuse failed him.  58 I told my PC in the last interview to recommend me for a switch-off place.  67 Half the platoon were committed to this ‘switch-off’ sergeant.  84 Went for switch-off attachments.  2 1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 313 switched off. The opposite of ‘switched on’. A soldier who does not care anymore; does what he has to do and nothing more; will not bother himself. This is a common phenomenon with the soldiers whose RODs are approaching. An ‘ROD mood’ is a switched off, euphoric time.

switch on, switched on a. [Eng.]  On the Ball.
¶ Opp. of
switch off, switched off.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 312 switched on. Origin: Thomas Edison. A solider who is switched on is on, or on the ball.  1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 51 Switch on. To be on the ball.

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