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© Jack Tsen-Ta Lee
Last updated on 19 May 2016 (31 headwords). No reproduction without permission.

wa lan /uuah (wah) lun, ʊɑ (wɑ) lʌn/ int. [Hk., or Teo. ua2 oneself, own, self (Chaozhou Dict.); Mand. I, my, me; self (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.) + Hk. Lan penis] Also oa lan, wah lan. vulg.  An exclamation expr. astonishment, consternation, despair, dismay, etc.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 310 oa lan. A vulgar exclamation of Hokkien origin equivalent to ‘I’ll be damned’, ie ‘I am astonished’. Literal equivalent is: ‘my cock!’ Uttered almost involuntarily, during those times when one has been overwhelmed in surprise: eg when one’s jeep skids when the driver suddenly swerves to avoid an oncoming vehicle; or when one’s powerfully smashed tennis ball is returned so unexpectedly, and in a thunderbolt fashion, that one is caught off-feet.  2003Pak Cham Kai <>, 14 December. I immeelly thought, wah lan eh, tio beh pio ah!

wa lau /uuah (wah) low, ʊɑ (wɑ) laʊ/ int. [Hk., or Teo. ua2 oneself, own, self (Chaozhou Dict.); Mand. I, my, me; self (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.) + Hk. & Teo. lau, a meaningless word that is a euphemism for lan penis (see Wa Lan); or poss. Teo. lao2 opp. of young or under age; relating to the two generations above oneself; compare 老公 lao2 gong1 great-grandfather; (in general) ancestor, forbear, forefather (gong1 (dial.) grandfather; a term of address for old men) (Chaozhou Dict.); Mand. lǎo old, aged; old people; (slang) father; husband (Chi.–Eng. Dict.): see December 2002 quot. below]

[1995 Tan Kim Hock The Straits Times, 3 May, 30 [D]o not propagate the use of wah lau! It is a vulgar expletive! .. Wah lau does not mean “My old one” or “my father” as Ms Sharon Lim said in a review on the Clement Chow and Geoff Tan album entitled “Wah lau! Cannot like dat one meh?” in July 1992. .. Ask any true-blue Hokkien or Teochew speaker, and he will tell you the origin of wah lau is an expletive. It was uttered only by the uncouth, crass and vulgar men, never by women, at least not in public.  2002 The Sunday Times 24 November, 26 The Singlish term “wah lau” has travelled beyond Singapore’s shores and this is something people should be proud of, says comedian and film director Jack Neo. The term is a Hokkien exclamation that can mean anything from “Oh my goodness!” to “Wow!” to “Damn!”  2002 Karl Ho The Sunday Times (Life!), 1 December. Is wah lau vulgar or harmless? [title] Mr Kua Soon Khe, 50, the executive secretary of the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan clan association, says that such a crude phrase should not be highlighted because it reinforces the stigma that the Hokkien language is profane and unrefined. Wah lau, Mr Kua adds, is commonly believed to be derived from the cruder wah lan, which can be translated loosely as ‘oh, my penis’. Mr Lim Guan Hock, 56, a board member of the Hokkien Huay Kuan, says that wah lau evolved when wah lan was pronounced slightly differently. It has the same effect as ‘oh, my goodness’. But, depending on the intonation and usage, wah lau, eh can roughly mean ‘my old man’ or ‘my husband’. But Mr Lim says that wah lau does not really mean anything. Dr Phua Kok Khoo, 60, vice-president of the Singapore Teochew Poit It Huay Kuan clan association, thinks there is nothing wrong with wah lau. He says: ‘The Teochew- and Hokkien-speaking Chinese use it as an informal and casual utterance of surprise.’ Dr Phua, who also teaches at the National University of Singapore’s science faculty, adds: ‘It is nothing rude, and is definitely a common phrase used in daily Singaporean life.’ Wah lau is widely believed to have originated in Singapore. Some Chinese nationals, however, tell Sunday Life! that the phrase is also heard in the southern part of Fujian province in China, where Hokkien is the main dialect. Mr Yang Bin, 35, is a chemical engineer from Fuzhou City in Fujian province who moved to Singapore eight years ago. He says: ‘I have heard it before back in China, but it’s used more often here.’ He also feels there is nothing wrong with the term and that it is not lewd. According to Dr Phua, the term was first heard here only 15 to 20 years ago. It has since been adopted by the Singaporean heartlands, especially the younger generation, adds Mr Lim from the Hokkien association. He says: ‘Phrases like wah peh, which means ‘my father’ in Teochew, might be too traditional for youngsters; and wah lan might be too crude to be used in public. So, wah lau falls nicely in between these two.’]

Also wa lau eh, walao, walau, wah lau, wahlau.  A mild exclamation expr. annoyance, disbelief, exasperation, frustration, surprise, etc.; my goodness!, oh dear!, oh, my god!, oh no!; or poss. a euphemism for Wa Lan.
1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 51 If you can sing, wa lau, all the girls will come to you, boy!  67 Wah lau, eh! Me again!  140 wa lau. Exclamation for frustration or horror.  2000 Leong Liew Geok “Forever Singlish” in Women without Men 130 Wah lau, / Already got your meaning before you finish!  2000 Samuel Lee The Straits Times (Life!), 22 December, L12 Wah lau eh, so packed ah, and I thought this was a private party by invite only?  2002 Niamh O’Leary et. al. The Straits Times (Life!), 14 May, L2 Wah lau, this one same also!  2002 Lim Lye Choon The Straits Times, 28 November. Anyone fluent in Hokkien or Teochew will know that ‘wah lau’ translates into ‘my dad’, not much different from those who say ‘My God’ in English. To insist on there being a pun [on wa lan] is to conduct a linguistic witch hunt.  2002 Lim Yew Peng The Straits Times, 28 November. I am very angry with the writer who said the phrase ‘wah lau’ is a vulgar expletive uttered by uncouth, crass or foul-mouthed men! Tell him I utter these words very often to my friends, and even to my children. But I am not the sort of man he described. Anyway, ‘wah lau’ is not vulgar. .. ‘Wah’, as every Teochew or Hokkien will know, is a dialect word meaning ‘me’ or ‘I’. ‘Lau’ means ‘old’ or ‘old man’, if you refer to an old man. ‘Wah lau’ is merely an exclamation, the way English-speaking people use ‘Oh, my God’. You can hear ‘wah lau’ when people are surprised, or excited to explain something.  2003 Neil Humphreys Weekend Today, 22–23 November, 6 Wah lau, so troublesome.  2003 ‘Mr Brown’ (Lee Kin Mun) Today, 13 February, 34 My goodness! (I was going to say, Wah Lau Eh! But we have to be proper here.)  2004 Elisa Chia (quoting Jean Danker) Today, 16 June, 25 It’s like, wah lau!  I practically grew up on radio and people saw me from the 16-year-old girl with short hair until now.  2004 Wong Kim Hoh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 20 June, 38 Wah lau.. like that how can?  2007 Matthew Pereira (quoting Shaun Pereira) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 2 September, L12 Wahlau! But I earn so little.

wa piang /uuah (wah) biang, ʊɑ (wɑ) biɑŋ/ int. [Hk., or Teo. ua2 oneself, own, self (Chaozhou Dict.); Mand. I, my, me; self (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.) + Hk. piang (?)] Also wah piang, wah piang eh.  An exclamation expr. astonishment, consternation, despair, dismay, etc.
2000 Leong Liew Geok “Forever Singlish” in Women without Men 130 .. like when the secretary say / You hold on arh, he’s on another line; / So you wait for him to finish – wah piang, talk / So long, boey tahan, some more I kena / Scolding from boss for wasting time.  2004 ‘Mr Brown’ (Lee Kin Mun) Today, 9 April, 20 Wah piang eh, this kind of standard also can be in Miss Singapore Universe, ah. Eh, dear, I think you join you sure can win one!  2004 Jeanine Tan (quoting Ken Lim) Today, 9 August, 36 As Ken Lim, one of the judges of Singapore Idol told Today in an earlier interview: ‘There were a lot of Whitney Houston and diva-ish numbers. Aiyo, wah piang! I don’t know why they pick Whitney Houston songs.’  2004 Wong Kim Hoh (quoting Turbo Ang) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 31 October, L6 Wah piang, when I first started taking hormones, I had a lot of pimples.  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[.])

wah pron. var. of Wa.

wah /uuah, wah, ʊɑ, wɑ/ int. [compare Mand. wa exclamation used to indicate admiration, affirmation, exhortation, etc., or a query]  An exclamation usu. used at the beginning of sentences expr. admiration, awe, consternation, surprise, etc.
1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 Wah, she damn hiau 2000 Paul Yeow The Straits Times (Life!), 4 February, 5 Here, my attempts to get friends to dinner at my home are greeted with ‘wah… so far’, even if it is just a 20-minute drive.  2000 Jessica Tan (quoting Vincent Ng) The Straits Times (Life!), 22 July, 28 Wah, really good.  2000 Cheong Suk-Wai The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 3 September, 3 Wah, he is so famous.  2005 Wong Kim Hoh The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 30 October. Wah, you quite brave hor...  2013 Melissa Sim The Sunday Times (SundayLife), 31 March, 3 Wah, you so pro! .. Wah, so cool!

wahlau var. of Wa Lau.

wake up your ideas v. phr. [Eng.]  Stop being lazy or complacent.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 314 wake up your idea. Used to scold someone who is not ‘catching on’, especially with the kind of discipline required in an army. May be corrupted form of ‘wake up, you are idle’.  1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 52 Wake up your ideas. Scolding reserved for blur kings and idle kings.  1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 68 Eh, HELLO, you wake up your idea, understand.

wantan /wun-tun, wʌnˈtʌn/ n. [Cant. 餫飩 or 餛飩 want‘an (Eitel); Mand. 馄饨 húntun] Also wanton, wonton.  Chinese minced pork dumplings, usu. eaten in soup or with noodles.
1971 The Straits Times, 17 April, 9, col. 2 [advertisement] at Savoy House Our Motto is:– good food, good drink & good service / Food: .. Fried Wantan..  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. The “wantan” skin, made in-house, was delicious and light and the filling of prawns was suitably springy in the Guangdong style. 
2001 Tee Hun Ching The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 22 April, P10 Quality wantons contain a dried freshwater fish called Bombay duck, which impart a sweet flavour.  2006 Gerard Ee The Straits Times (National Day Supplement), 9 August, 16 Every Saturday, I go to Tembeling Road with two very close friends for my weekly serving of wanton mee. .. People may or may not share my excitement over the noodles but they do share my excitement over the wantons. The filling is the perfect mixture of fat and minced pork. Wantons from other stalls sometimes have meat minced up so finely that it disintegrates. Not these wantons.  2008 Cheryl Tan The Straits Times (Life!), 2 September, C8 He also lauded finalist Kok Kee Wan Ton Noodle stall at Lavender Square food court for its crunchy wontons.  2011 Huang Lijie The Straits Times (Home), 11 July, B5 [A] generous serving of springy elbow macaroni dressed in silky gravy, topped with tender chicken slices, blanched greens, slow-braised mushrooms and a side of shrimp wonton soup.

Comb.: wantan mee /mee, miː/ n. [see Mee]  A Chinese dish consisting of Mee served Dry or in soup with wantan and other ingredients such as slices of Char Siew and vegetables.
1972 The Straits Times, 31 January, 9, col. 2 [advertisement] New Maggi 2-Minute Noodles.. Now try some today – try them all – juicy Seasoned Mee, mouth watering Wantan Mee with chicken flavour and spicy Curry Mee.  1988 Khng Eu Meng  The Straits Times, 3 December, 2 He once ordered yuntun mian (wonton mee) giving specific instructions that the fiery stuff [chilli] be left out. 
2001 Tee Hun Ching The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 22 April, P10 Wanton mee, or dumpling noodles, is an affordable dish popular with the Chinese.  2002 Chua Minyi The Sunday Times, 31 March, 30 Enter a world where Muslims are digging their chopsticks into wanton mee, yong tau foo and hotplate hor fun2005 Theresa Tan (quoting Goh Chee Lock) The Straits Times, 23 December, H5 I’m a confirmed introvert. I would rather stay at home with a good book than go to a black-tie event. I don’t even own a black tie. I would rather be in my shorts and T-shirt eating my wanton mee. But now, I can’t even eat my wanton mee without people looking at me.  2006 Gerard Ee The Straits Times (National Day Supplement), 9 August, 16 Every Saturday, I go to Tembeling Road with two very close friends for my weekly serving of wanton mee. .. But you have to be patient because the stall-holder cooks one portion at a time. She boils the noodles in hot water then tosses it in the cool air and it’s this contrast between hot and cold that gives the noodles a springy texture. .. We are very busy people but we set aside Saturday morning to talk about life and our families over a plate of wanton mee.  2007 Huang Lijie The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 11 November. [F]ew food stalls sell the dry version of wonton mee in ketchup these days, which was how it used to be prepared when hawkers sold their food in pushcarts. .. Food consultant K.F. Seetoh, 44, says wonton mee is a traditional Cantonese dish and the authentic version comes in a gravy that is made of good stock, some sesame oil and pork lard oil, sans ketchup. ‘Ketchup wonton mee is unique to Singapore and you can’t find it in Hong Kong or Malaysia.’ Chef Sam Leong, 41, director of kitchens for the Tung Lok group of restaurants, who grew up in Malaysia, agrees. He says: ‘The dry wonton mee in Kuala Lumpur is served in a dark sauce, so I couldn’t accept the ketchup version when I first had it here in 1980.’ Mr Seetoh does not know when ketchup wonton mee came about, although he remembers ‘growing up on it in the early 1970s’. He says ketchup might have been introduced to the dish as a concession for children who do not take well to the chilli sauce that accompanies the noodles. Another theory he suggests is that ketchup was offered as a ‘modern replacement’ to the pickled green chillies that are added to the dish, since both have a sweet and sour flavour. Mr Voo Kai Seng, 40, owner of Hua Kee Hougang Famous Wonton Mee in Old Airport Road, offers another take. He says: ‘My father used to sell wonton mee in Hougang in the 1960s where there were a lot of Teochews. Back then, the Teochews were already adding ketchup to their fishball noodles and they asked for the same in their wonton mee. ‘We did as requested and customers kept coming back, so we made ketchup a part of our recipe.’  2008 Cheryl Tan (quoting Chua Wee Leong) The Straits Times (Life!), 2 September, C8 It’s where I’ll go if I have a craving for wonton mee..

wantan noodles n. Wantan Mee.
2001 Arti Mulchand (quoting Mohammad Johari) The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 25 February, P7 The.. Cameron Restaurant and its halal Chinese food – Hongkong noodles and hor fun, wantan noodles and even chicken rice.  2015 Eunice Quek The Sunday Times (Life), 26 July, C21 The local wonton noodles is found in almost every food centre or coffee shop. The egg noodles come topped with sliced char siew, pork-filled wontons and chye sim. Dry versions come tossed in chilli, dark sauce and sometimes ketchup. It is also common to eat the noodles and wontons with sliced green chilli.

wanton var. of Wantan.

wash v. [Eng. transl. of Mand. wash; bathe; develop (a film); or cognates in other Chi. dialects]  Of photographic films: develop.
2005 Vivian Poon Min Yee The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 6 June. .. I saw a teacher taking photographs of a group of students. Later, I overheard the teacher telling them: ‘I will wash and pass to you all.’ What the teacher should have said was: ‘I will develop the photos and pass them to all of you.’

wayang /wı-yung, wʌɪˈjʌŋ/ n., v. & a. [Mal., a theatrical or operatic show (Winstedt) < Jav. wajang traditional Javanese drama depicting tales based on Indian epic literature and Javanese mythology; a puppet used for the above in shadow-plays; Jav. wajangan a shadow-play performance (Horne); Ind. wajang puppet; Javanese puppet show (Echols & Shadily, Ind.–Eng.); compare Mal. bayang shadow (of a person in thin dress, in mirror, on wall, behind screen of shadow-play, on the road, on a film; of a cloud on a field or in a liquid) (Winstedt)]

[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1282 wayang. [Jav. [Javanese] wayang = Mal. [Malay] bayang] Etym., «shadow»; (whence) «shadow-play»; (whence) «stage-play of any sort», e.g.: (i) shadow-play proper (w.[wayang] Jawa, w. kulit, w. gědog, w. purwa); .. (v) w. China, w. Makau (Chinese operatic performance, the best-known «wayang» of Malaya)..]

A n. 1 A traditional opera usu. performed on an open-air stage, esp. a Chinese opera performance. Also attrib.  2 fig. An act carried out or display put up to confuse or mislead.  B v. Put up a front or display; spec. pretend to be hard at work.  C a. 1 Ostentatious, fussy, showy.  2 Contrived, fake, put-on.
A 1 1849 The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 18 October, 2 .. in Philip Street near the Chinese temple, where a Wayang was going on.  1926 The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 15 November, 6 A Chinese “Wayang” shed was also built for the wayang performance.  1956 Lim Choon Mong Legislative Assembly Debates: Official Report, 23 November, vol. 2, col. 1044 In one locality, invariably, you will find that there are people who are not of the Christian faith but who like to run public wayangs. I find that one section of the community will go around and build a stage, run the wayang for about two days for the public and then pull down the stage and after two days, another party will stage another wayang there.  1959 Seah Peng Chuan & E.B. David (Chief Minister) Legislative Assembly Debates: Official Report, 16 July, vol. 6, col. 426 Roadside “Wayangs” (Celebration of Chinese “Seventh Moon” Festival) [heading]. 5. Mr Seah Peng Chuan asked the Chief Secretary under what other conditions, apart from those specified in section 4 (2) of the Theatres Ordinance (Cap. 229), would permission be granted to organisations to hold roadside “wayangs” to celebrate the forthcoming traditional Chinese “Seventh Moon” Festival. Mr David: Sir, such roadside “Wayangs” would be required not to cause any obstruction to traffic or disturbance to hospitals, places of worship or neighbouring householders in a residential area. 
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 54 [F]rom this Rediffusion set came loud Teochew wayang (opera) music.  1999 Seng Han Thong Parliamentary Debates: Official Report, 12 March, vol. 70, col. 669 I believe that many of our Members here have seen the street wayangs in the past. I myself have enjoyed tremendously watching street wayangs and have learnt a lot of lessons from there. These Chinese operas have not only enriched our festivals but also our childhood. It is also a good way to inculcate in our people the traditional Chinese values.  2006 Richard Seah Siew Sai The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 16 June. Will the police kindly explain why one group of people in Singapore should be allowed to openly and consistently flout the law? This group is none other than the organisers of Chinese wayangs, getai and auctions. They have been blatantly defying the laws regarding noise pollution for years.  2 1990 Arthur Beng Kian Lam Parliamentary Debates: Official Report, 11 June, vol. 56, col. 54 Debate, by its nature and definition, cannot be friendly. The days of “shadow-boxing” or “wayang kulit” are over. An intelligent and better educated electorate will demand that its elected representatives in Parliament, whether on the Backbench or Opposition Bench, are serious in their debate and presentation of the views of those whom they purport to represent.  1991 Lim Boon Heng Parliamentary Debates: Official Report, 3 January, vol. 56, col. 724 There had been two important reservations made on the practice of consultation and consensus. .. The other reservation is that consultation and consensus is no more than a “wayang”, because views are not accepted and no changes are made to the original policy.  1994 B.G. George Yong-Boon Yeo (Minister for Information and the Arts) Parliamentary Debates: Official Report, 15 March, vol. 62, cols. 10411042 Personally, I find wrestling very distasteful. They trip each other, they smash faces in and they do all kinds of terrible things to each other. Then you have to remind yourself that it is all wayang.  1997 Charles Chong Parliamentary Debates: Official Report, 4 June, vol. 67, col. 301 Although the issues may be unexpected, the accusations and the wayang that follow are usually quite consistent and predictable. We are always accused of being insensitive to others and, if we try to be conciliatory, we are invariably accused of being insincere.  1999 Zulkifli bin Baharudin Parliamentary Debates: Official Report, 6 July, vol. 70, cols. 17201721 [I]s the Malaysian media trying to provoke the Malays in Singapore to be angry against our Government over this issue? Why are they against the fact that a Chinese-majority Singapore is making the effort and is willing to spend millions of dollars to set up a Malay Heritage Centre? .. Sir, the fact that almost all the media in Malaysia were saying about the same thing in this matter seems to suggest a planned salvo against Singapore. While such a wayang may be useful for a certain party to regain its lost ground, it is most unkind that in the same breath it tries to undermine that of another.  2001 Tan Tarn How The Straits Times, 29 October, H5 The most beguiling theory about the Aljunied fiasco is that it was an elaborate piece of wayang put up by Mr Low.  2006 Lydia Lim (quoting Chee Soon Juan) The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 27 April. Dr Chee called the polls a ‘wayang’ and said they were being held so that the PAP could claim to have the people’s mandate to govern.  2006 Leslie Koh & Aaron Low (quoting Inderjit Singh) The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 11 May. Mr [Inderjit] Singh.. had said earlier that Mr [James] Gomez told him the minority certificate incident was just a ‘wayang’, Malay for theatre.  B 1 2003 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 23 November, L18 Aiyah, I no need to wayang oreddy. Why you so atas, see me no up?  C 1 2001 Cat Ong (quoting Karen Tan) The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 7 January, P8 When I get dressed, there has got to be only one point of interest on my body. Otherwise, it’s just too wayang2 2006 Tan Dawn Wei The Straits Times (Life!) (from Straits Times Interactive), 24 April. Besides being adept at directing actors from behind the camera, [Royston] Tan is a bit of a wayang king himself. Whether it’s hopping from one film festival to another in a bunny suit or appearing in handcuffs as ‘a special loan from the Singapore Government’, he seems to relish putting up a sideshow as the unwitting, antiestablishment hero.  2007 Peh Shing Huei The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 6 November. Posters and pamphlets slamming the opposition party [the Workers Party (WP)] were mysteriously put up.. The posters, in attacking the WP, called it a wayang party, a derisive term suggesting that it is a party that is all show with no real substance. One of the posters, with pictures of sets of teeth, read: ‘Open your mouth, wayang party!!! Has the WP lost all its teeth?’

wet a. [Eng.]  Of noodles: served in a thick gravy.
¶ Opp. of Dry.

wet market n. [Eng. < the fact that the floors of such markets are frequently wet]  A market, usu. operating in the morning, that sells produce such as fresh meat and vegetables that is brought in daily from abattoirs, farms, etc.; in the past, animals were often brought to wet markets live and slaughtered on the premises.
1978 Phey Yew Kok The Straits Times, 16 July, 7 [T]here is no doubt that the consumer will be getting far more for his value by purchasing frozen fish from our supermarkets rather than the so-called fresh fish from the wet market at much higher prices.  1983 Augustine H.H. Tan Parliamentary Debates: Official Report, 17 March, vol. 42, cols. 1076
1077 Another concern of hawkers is the announced policy of the Housing and Development Board and other relevant authorities not to build any more wet markets in new housing estates. Naturally the fear is whether the present wet markets are also going to be phased out. I for one certainly hope not and would like to appeal to the Minister not to do so because there are thousands of hawkers whose livelihood depends on the markets, and there are even more thousands of Singaporeans who are very used to these markets that it would be a shame for these to be phased out.  2003 Sophie Campbell The Daily Telegraph (from, 5 July. [T]he wet markets were sluicing down the tiles that at dawn were piled high with produce from Malaysia, yesterday’s joss sticks were being uprooted from cauldrons of sand in the Chinese temples and the first mah jong tiles were clattering on to clan house tables.  2004 Dawn Chia The New Paper, 7 September. Wet market woes [title] .. The supermarkets have taken away many of their customers. Hardly any young people go to wet market these days. Only some of the older ones still do – those who are free to shop in the morning and prefer more personal service and fresh rather than frozen food.  2005 Wee Thiam Chye The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 12 August. I am glad that the Government and Housing Board have come up with schemes to help the poor and elderly. .. Besides helping the HDB shop tenants, is the Government or HDB extending a similar scheme to stallholders in wet markets? .. What are the plans for the stallholders in wet markets?  2005 Zul Othman Today (from, 15 October. Hidden between the chaos of Changi Road and Sims Avenue is Jalan Pasar Baru, an otherwise quiet and almost forgotten part of old Singapore. Usually tranquil and unassuming, the 41-year-old estate is famous for the iconic (if very run down) Geylang Serai wet market, also known in some circles as the “Malay emporium of Singapore”. Although Jalan Pasar Baru is a ghost town on most evenings, the area comes alive every Ramadan the Muslim fasting month. The reason? People of every race and religion come from across the country for the enormous annual Hari Raya Bazaar, which spills from Jalan Pasar Baru to the neighbouring Malay Village and onto the pavements of Haig Road from late afternoon to the early morning. But next February, the Geylang Serai wet market.. will be torn down under the HDB’s Selective Redevelopment Scheme. .. The charm of Jalan Pasar Baru lies in the fact that very little has changed since it was opened on April 17, 1974 by Mr Lee Kuan Yew, then the country’s Prime Minister. The concrete floors of Singapore’s only Malay-Muslim marketplace are always wet, and first-time visitors will be assaulted by all kinds of smells, both foul and pleasant. Rain or shine, the area buzzes with activity every morning as loyal visitors and the occasional tourist explore the untidy maze of stalls.  2006 The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 28 February. Two years after Seletar Market was closed, residents of the nearby Seletar, Fernvale and Anchorvale housing estates will finally get the replacement wet market they asked for. By September, a two-storey, 40,000 sq ft building housing the wet market, a supermarket, a 24-hour foodcourt and ATMs will be up and running next to Fernvale LRT station.

WH abbrev. of White Horse.

whack /wak, wak/ v. [Eng.]  1 Attack, beat up.  2 Do something in a perfunctory manner, attempt something despite not knowing how to do it.  Freq. in anyhow whack 3 Do something hurriedly, esp. eat quickly or greedily, wallop.
1 1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 90 The driver drew out his toolbox and handed me a long spanner. ‘Eh signaller, for you to whack the pai nang.’ .. ‘Thanks, but if I kena whack, I’ll still rely on your Shaolin wushu to help me.’  94 Alamak, medic kena whack!  140 whack. Beat/beaten/hit..  2001 Neal Cooke The Straits Times, 7 June, H4 He was going to look up some of his men to get them to whack a rival karaoke boss.  2006 Neil Humphreys Final Notes from a Great Island 190–191 It is an unfortunate symptom of the “whacking” culture that permeates society here. As there is very little to complain about in the economic and political arenas, there is a tendency to “just whack” trivial stuff such as minor bus fare increases, taxi drivers and Downtown East.  2 2005 Wong Kim Hoh The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 30 October. What do you say to people who think your works are of the ‘aiyah-just-whack-lah’ variety?  2008 David Ngiau Weekend Today, 30 August, 55 If you’ve ever walked past a Singapore Pools outlet and found yourself itching for a bet and prepared to “just whack” on any match ..  3 1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 whack.. – to eat (eg. Let’s go whack that buffet).  1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 140 whack. .. consume.  2000 Cheong Suk-Wai (quoting Albert Ng) The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 28 September, 6 When people come for midnight snacks, they really whack (buy up) the snacks, especially the jumbo hot dogs – nine inches each and all sold out!

what /waht, wɑt/ int. [Origin uncertain; perh. < Eng. what]  Used at the end of sentences for emphasis, to indicate that a statement is obvious, etc.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong (quoting Tan Geok Song) Youth in the Army 142 Most things come from Europe what.  1978 Leong Choon Cheong (quoting Lee Cheng Lian) Youth in the Army 155 The Government wants to reduce population what!  1978 Leong Choon Cheong (quoting Lee Cheng Lian) Youth in the Army 155 No lah.  No difference what!  2005Mr Brown’ (Lee Kin Mun) Today, 22 April, 30 Both also deal with money, what2006 Chua Mui Hoong The Straits Times (Life!) (from Straits Times Interactive), 29 September. Who says Singapore needs GRCs [Group Representation Constituencies]? Singaporeans vote for the best candidate regardless of race what.

what the fish int. [Eng.] vulg.  A euphemism for what the fuck, expr. astonishment, disbelief, etc., or used to make an angry demand for an explanation.
[1970 Graham Lord Marshmallow Pie, ch 15, 136 What the fuck do you think you’re doing?] 
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 314 what the fish. An [sic] euphemism for the four-letter expletive ‘f—’: Used as an exclamation, say, of disbelief or surprise.  1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 52 What the fish. Euphemism for ‘What the f***’.  [2011 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 18 September, 16 The look on the son’s face spoke volumes; specifically, it said (and I’m paraphrasing here), “Why the fish are you talking like that, dad?”]

where got v. phr. [Eng.; poss. transl. of Mand. 哪里有 nǎli yǒu: nǎli where + yǒu have; possess]  Where is there such a thing, when has such a thing happened.
The Straits Times, 6 August, 12 [A] pithy but essentially local “Where got meaning, lah?”  1976 Sri Delima The Straits Times, 15 February, 11 No lah, like that where got style lah!  1988 Zuraidah Ibrahim (quoting Edmund Jerome Kronenburg) The Straits Times, 3 July, 19 And when you praise her physical appearance, like her hair, she will say ‘Where got? Aiyah, split ends here cannot see, ah?’  2003 Tan Shzr Ee The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 21 December, L11 ‘Where got?’ they all say with a laugh..  2005 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 23 October. ‘.. Uncle,’ the Wife tried to explain. ‘We want to capture you as you are in real life.’ ‘Singapore real life where got fun?’ was his grumpy rejoinder.  2010 Jo-Ann Huang Weekend Today, 12–13 June, 26 Financial crisis? Where got? [title]

white fungus n. [Eng.]  Tremella fuciformis, a white frilly jelly fungus often used in Chinese dishes, soup and desserts; silver ear, snow fungus.  Compare Black Fungus.
¶ Known in Mand. as 白木耳 bái mùěr: bái white; dark + tree; timber, wood + ěr ear; any ear-like thing; or 银耳 yíněr: yín silver; silver-coloured (Chi.–Eng. Dict.).
1928 The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 19 March, 5 Shanghai imports annually from the province of Szechwan some $150,000 worth of white fungi. This product belongs to the variety of hirneola auricula judae, and is commonly known in China as “wood ears”, as it appears on the bark of pine trees. It is much prized as a delicacy by the Chinese and ranks at feasts with other luxuries such as birds’ nests and sharks’ fins. It is usually served as a sweetened soup. .. White fungus is considered a good tonic and is frequently prescribed for invalids by Chinese doctors.  1970 Tan Wang Joo
The Straits Times, 5 September, 5 [R]ubber tree stumps or fruit trees for white fungus and black fungus mushrooms.  1986 Magdalene Lum The Straits Times, 7 August, 3 [D]ouble-boiled white fungus dessert with longan..  2008 Sylvia Tan The Straits Times (Mind Your Body), 14 August, 22 [T]here’s still that dried white fungus from making chicken soup. It should add some crunch.

white horse n. [origin unkn., poss. < Mand. 白马王子 bǎimǎngzhĭ prince riding on a white horse, Prince Charming: bǎi white + horse + wángzhĭ king’s son, prince (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] Often abbrev. to WH. mil. slang  A soldier who comes from a wealthy family or who has connections with influential persons: see quots. 2003.
2003 Cedric Foo Chee Keng (Minister of State for Defence) Parliamentary Debates: Official Report, 11 November, vol. 76, col. 3443 National Servicemen (‘White Horse’ classification) .. Prior to year 2000, the term ‘white horse’ was used to identify sons of influential persons to ensure that such enlistees were not given preferential treatment, and that medical classification and vocational assignment are scrupulously fair. Over the years, the public has widely accepted that the NS assignment system is fair and that there is no preferential treatment to anyone. As such, since year 2000, the SAF does not have a “white horse” classification for national servicemen. 
2003 Laurel Teo (quoting Warren Lee) The Straits Times, 12 November, H3 I did have ‘white horses’ as friends when I was growing up, and I can testify that they didn’t get an easier time in the army. .. In a way, it’s good that they don’t have ‘white horses’ any more, because on the flip side, you put the young man, labelled thus, under pressure.  2003 Yan Dah Wei The Straits Times, 18 November, 20 The mere existence of this classification would have sounded warning bells to the camp commanders and officers to take extra care of the particular ‘white horse’ soldier. .. My platoon mates and I were at first unaware that there was a ‘white horse’ among us. Therefore, we were surprised at the special privileges accorded to us, ranging from more frequent canteen breaks to later wake-up hours and, sometimes, better food servings.  2003 Goh Chin Lian The Straits Times, 19 November, 1 [T]he minister gathered reporters at the Defence Ministry headquarters in Gombak Drive to elaborate further on who the ‘white horses’ were and what sort of treatment they were given. He revealed that the list included sons of current and former Members of Parliament and Nominated MPs, senior officials – lieutenant-colonels upwards, deputy assistant commissioners in the Police and Civil Defence and civil servants from Superscale Grade H onwards – and even doctors. Also included were sons of ‘a very big group’ of others who earned at least $9,500 a month..  2003 Tan Hui Leng Today, 19 November, 1 The White Horse Identification and Monitoring System, or Whims, was started in the late 1970s to monitor NS-liable children of Singapore citizens or permanent residents who held important positions in society or earned high incomes.  2003 Col. Bernard Toh The Straits Times, 22 November, 35 The purpose of the ‘white horse’ (WH) system was to identify and monitor those enlistees whose parents could be in a position to exert their influence, by virtue of their positions and occupations (eg, MPs, senior military and public officers, and doctors) or their incomes. Those full-time national servicemen (NSFs) identified as WHs would have their medical classification, vocational assignment and deployment scrutinised to ensure that there was no abuse.  2011 Natasha Ann Zachariah (quoting Jeffrey Ong) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 3 July, 10 We do get people calling us “white horses” (army slang for children of high-ranking civil servants who get special treatment) and teasing us about it. But I don’t think of myself as any different from the other boys.

Comb.: super white horse n. phr. Often abbrev. to SWH.  A soldier from an extremely wealthy family or with connections to very influential persons.

whole jin gang, the /jin, dʒɪn/ n. or pron. [origin uncertain, poss. < engine gang a gang of people working on an engine; or chain-gang a gang or number of convicts chained together while at work, etc., to prevent escape]  The whole group, everyone.

wind /wind, wɪnd/ n. [Eng. transl. of Mand. fēng wind < Mand. 风湿 fēngshī rheumatism: fēng wind + shī wet, damp, humid; or cognates in other Chi. dialects]  Rheumatism; the ache or pain caused by rheumatism.
2003 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times, 5 October, L41 Samsui women believed ginger could help prevent colds and remove ‘wind’ from the body.

wonton var. of Wantan.

wok hei /wok hay, wɒk̚ heɪ/ n. [Cant. [...] + 气 [...]; Mand. huò wok + breath; smell, odour (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  The flavour, particularly prized in Cantonese cuisine, that is imparted to food stir-fried in a very hot wok (a large Chinese cooking pan that is usu. round-bottomed).
2004 Kwen Ow Today, 7 March, 32 Kitchen two is all about wok hei (the aromatic wok-fried flavour of the Chinese kitchen). The line-up includes char kway teow, Hokkien mee, oyster omelette and fried rice – all served in mini woks which give the dishes a homely feel.  2008 Chen Fen
Weekend Today, 18–19 October, 39 We ordered the fried rice ($2.50) and in no time at all, we were tucking into a fragrant dish full of wok hei, the flavour imparted by a very hot frying pan that is so prized by the Cantonese.  2009 Thng Lay Teen The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 8 November, 27 Cooked with real wok hei (Cantonese for wok breath), such noodles are a disappearing breed. I was tired of eating too many versions of anaemic looking hor fun and this was a nice surprise.  2010 Rebecca Lynne Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 25 July, 20 Cantonese cooking is known for its “wok hei” – the aromatic charred fragrance which is infused into the food as a result of frying the ingredients over a big flame.

wor /wor, wɔː/ int. [poss. < Mand. ǒ (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  An exclamation used at the ends of sentences expr. amazement, astonishment, surprise, etc.
2006 Kenny Tan
The Straits Times (Digital Life), 8 August, 18 [T]hey do get a kick out of hearing the many [S]ingaporeans speak especially some with their ‘mehs’, ‘hors’, and ‘wors’.

wowo /woh-woh, ˈwəʊwəʊ/ n. & v. [poss. < Eng. w(ash-o(ut a useless or unsuccessful person; spec. in Air Force slang, a person who is eliminated from a course of training (OED), with redupl.] Also bobo. mil. slang A n. A soldier who has extremely poor aim or who obtains a low or nil score during a weapon firing practice.  Also wowo shooter.  B v. Obtain a low or nil score during a weapon firing practice.
A 1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 54 Wowo .. Wash out. Descriptive word for when a soldier completely misses the target during shooting practices.  B 1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 314 wowo. An extension of the acronym arising from ‘washout’. A washout score at a firing range is zero score. So when one ‘wowos’ one scores zero.  2000 Dennis Wee with Sylvia Fong Making Luck with Your Hands 28 I resented going to the firing range. .. I always WOWOed.

Comb.: wowo king n. mil. slang  A soldier who frequently or inevitably obtains a low or nil score during a weapon firing practice.  See King.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong (quoting Larry Tan) Youth in the Army 171 You get punishment for all sorts of things: .. poor shooting or being a wowo-king. .. Fortunately I was never a wowo-king. After the shooting practice they painted the face of a wowo-king, and he had to walk around carrying a board with the words: I AM A WOWO-KING.  315 wowo-king. Someone who is consistently blind in his shooting. Often he is singled out for shaming during and after a range exercise.  1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 53 Wowo king. One who misses more times than anyone else.

wu kok /woo kok, wuː kɒk̚/ n. [Cant. [...] + 饺 [...]; Mand. taro + jiǎo dumpling (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.)]  A savoury Chinese snack consisting of a deep fried ball of mashed yam (taro) filled with minced Char Siew (roasted pork).
1983 Singapore Monitor, 27 March, 34 [I]tems like yu jiao (wu kok), which are mashed yam puffs with char siew filling..  2004 C. M. Lim Today, 6 November, 28 [T]he run-of-the-mill wu kok and steamed bao2009 K.F. Seetoh The New Paper, 27 January, 32 “[W]u kok”, fried mashed taro puffs..

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