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© Jack Tsen-Ta Lee
Last updated on 16 April 2012 (7 headwords). No reproduction without permission.

zai /tzı, tzɑɪ/ a. [Hk.]  Calm, steady, collected, cool, esp. in a stressful situation.
1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 65 I was to understudy the current, supposedly more zhai IC.  2001 Susan Long (quoting Khoo Swee Chiow) The Straits Times, 23 February, H12 You have to stay very focused, very zai (Hokkien for steady) under pressure.


ai zai /ı, ʌɪ/ [Hk. ai be; Mand. yào]  Be cool, calm down, don’t panic.
1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 115 Guard commander should not worry too much. Ai zhai! Right or not?  140 zhai/ai zhai. Savvy/skilled/steady/showing expertise.

buay zai /buuay, bʊeɪ/ [Hk. buay not; Mand. ]  (Having a tendency to be) frantic, panicky.

zap v. [Eng.]  Photocopy, photostat, xerox.
2004 Kevin & Lily Shepherdson The Straits Times (Digital Life), 19 October, 16 Got to go and zap this document now.

zero point n. [Eng., origin unkn.]  A children’s game involving the use of a skipping rope, often made from linked rubber bands.  Also known as Yeh Yeh.
2012 Frances Ess Today on Sunday, 11 March, 8 [W]e would accumulate rubber bands to be strung into a homemade skipping rope and play yeh-yeh or zero point.

zhi cha, zhi char var. of Zi Char.

zi char /tz chah, tz tʃɑ/ n. [Hk. zi cook + char stir-fry, fry; Mand. zhǔchăo] Also zhi cha, zhi char.  Chinese home-style dishes cooked to order.
2001 Wong Ah Yoke The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 4 February, P7 The humble zi char stall – that ubiquitous coffeeshop eatery where home-style dishes are cooked to your order – has finally caught up with the times.  2002 The Straits Times (Life! This Weekend), 12 April, L23  She avoids sitting near zhi cha (cooked food) stalls as their stoves are the hottest.  2003 Katrina Karim Today, 22 December, 40 While many people who enjoy eating crab usually order dishes such as chilli crab or pepper crab, more zhi cha (wok-cooked) eateries are offering crabs cooked in other ways.  2006 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 11 June. [F]rom top Chinese restaurants to neighbourhood zi char (restaurant-style food) stalls.  2006 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Benjamin Seck) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 31 December, L28 Just three shops away, there’s another zhi char (restaurant-style coffee shop) place..  2008 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 5 October, 13 The places I raved about weren’t the posh, fine-dining restaurants, but the declasse zhi cha joints, preferably with seating in an alleyway next to a longkang.  2008 Huang Lijie The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 23 November, 24 Once synonymous with comfort, home-style food, zi char (cooked food in Hokkien) eateries are becoming the hot bed of innovative, if not haute Singaporean cuisine.

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