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Singlish Words That Are More Like Sounds

Although more Singlish words have made their way into the English dictionary (read BBC article here), there are still many that haven’t. Here are more common words (or sounds) which you might overhear while out and about in Singapore.

1. Gai gai

This is used on kids tell them (or lure them) that you are taking them out – to a mall or playground or anywhere. This probably originated from the Cantonese dialect where “gai” means street.

2. Mam mam

This is used on kids too, when you are just asking them if they are hungry or if you are about to feed them.

3. Bing bing biang biang

Most people stay in high rise apartments in Singapore. Inevitably, neighbours living directly upstairs might drop some heavy items like a pot, be dragging a chair across the floor, or their kids might be playing ball or throwing stuff on the floor. It is common to hear some noises like “pom pom pom” and “piang piang piang”.

4. Henah henah

When someone keeps telling you something repeatedly to remind you, you get a little irritated and answer “henah henah” to tell them that you got the message.

5. Dong

“Dong” is used when coins are involved to be deposited somewhere which will give a “dong” sound when dropped. For example, you can “dong” a coin into a vending machine or a tin. You cannot however “dong” a coin into a wishing well or water fountain as it  doesn’t produce the “dong” sound when dropped in. It is common to hear parents say “Go and dong,” and giving their kids some coins whenever there are people from various charitable groups holding metal tins to raising funds.

6. Piak

“Piak” is the sound of a slap. In Singapore, sometimes you hear parents say to their kids, “I piak you then you know,” as a warning that they will get a beating if they continue to misbehave (I’ll hit you and you will know I mean business). Here, Cynthia slaps Johnson hard in her excitement that there’s a “piak” sound.

7. Gleu gleu

“Gleu gleu” is the sound made when you are gulping down a drink really quickly.


More Singlish words and phrases to learn:




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