Mai Khiam Kuay Ni

“Mai Khiam Kuay Ni” is a Hokkien saying uttered before Chinese New Year. Translated, it means “don’t defer your debts till the next year”. Though this has no real life connotation as most big companies does owe, it grew into a widespread belief somehow rooted into the community. But no doubt it has its goodness. It’s good practice not to be a lousy paymaster because everyone during the festive season needs cash to prepare for the yearly ritual and celebration hence the practice of giving bonuses a week before Chinese New Year. Just like problems that doesn’t get solved, it will slowly pile up into one big unsolvable package. Below is the image of God of Wealth a deity if placed in your home will ensure prosperity in your household.

Hokkien Phrases K-O


~eye of the lion~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~eye of the lion~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012















KAM CHENG- Relationship.

KAM LAN- Suck penis. A phrase exerting one’s disapproval over another’s way of doing things.

KAM PHOOI- Suck fart. What’s the point?  More polite than “Kam Lan”, it can be used in jest.

KAN- Fuck. A decent word meaning coitus that has been extensively emphasized as Swear Language.

KANA LAN ANEH- Just like a penis. An insulting phrase.

KANA SAI- Like shit. To describe something upsetting.

KAN KA CHI BAI NUA- Fuck till the vagina is diseased. Swear Language.

KAN KAY- Fuck chicken. An untrustworthy person. Swear Language.

KAN KIO- Fuck brinjal. Swear Language.

KAN NI NA/KAN NI NEH- Fuck you/fucking. Swear Language.

KAN NI NOW BO/KAN LU EH LAU BO- Fuck your mother. Swear Language.

KAN NI NOW BO EH CHAO CHI BAI/KAN LU EH LAU BO EH CHOW CHI BAI- Fuck your mother’s smelly cunt. Swear Language.

KAR HUAY SNIAU CHIOK SAR SAY- Lending a comb from a monk. A futile request.

KAR KI LANG- Buddies or close companions as in relatives.

KAY BO KHAR CH’WNOOI- Chicken backside. A coward.

KAY BO PHIOW- Chicken brand. A coward.

KAY PO/KAY PO CH’NI- A busybody or nosey parker.

KEH GAU- Acting smart. To describe someone who bit off more than he could chew/To act smarter than one actually is.

KEH NAN PUSING- An about turn. To do an about turn. The word ‘pusing’ is adapted from a Malay word of the same meaning.

KEK KA LUM PHAR TUA SAY LIAP- Pressured till my testicle is uneven is size. To describe unimaginable stress brought by others carelessness or mistake.

KENG CHIAK- Choose to eat. A person who is choosy about his meal.

KHI KAI KAI- Go walk walk.  To go out for a jaunt.

KHAR CH’NOOI CH’NIAU- Itchy backside. A bad attempt to improve something/situation which is best left as it is.

KHARM LAN/KWAI LAN- Cover testis. A mischievous person.

KHARN KHOR- Bring suffering. Troublesome, don’t feel at ease or uncomfortable.

KHANG THAU- Hole Head. A good opportunity.

KHAU CHA BOR- Scrape a woman. To flirt/court a woman.

KHAU CHIAU UAI- Crying bird bent. To describe a person who shrills instead of talking nicely.

KHAU HONG- To scrape the wind. Going for a joy ride.

KHAU PEH KHAU BO- Cry Father, Cry mother. To make a lot of noise/create a scene because of some dissatisfaction.

KH’IAM TIOK PHAR- Nearly got beaten. To forewarn someone of the dangers of his actions.

KHI CHIO- Acting vainly/daringly.

KHI HOR CHNIAU KAN- Let the elephant fuck you. Swear Language.

KHI HOR KOW KAN- Let the dog fuck you. Swear Language

KHI HOR KWEE KAN- Let the ghost fuck you. Swear Language.

KHI HOR LANG KAN/KHI HOR LANG SOOT- Let people fuck you. Swear Language.

KHI HOR SWNAR TU KAN- Let the wild pig fuck you. Swear Language.

KHIAU KHAR EYO LUM PHAR- To raise one’s legs and shake one’s genitals. It describes someone being extremely idle.

KHI SI/KHI SI LA LU- Go and die, you go and die. Swear Language.

KHI SIOW KIN- Lifting one’s mad artery. Violently agitated/ Frenzied/Berserk.

KHIT CHIAK AR- Beggar. To describe one who is or behaving like a beggar.

KHNUAR LANG EONG BAK CHEW AU- Look at someone with the tip of your eye. Means do not take that person seriously.

KHOON KAR JIT THAU CHIOK KHAR CHNOOI- Sleep till the sun shines on your buttocks. To describe a late riser.

KIAM CHYE- Salted vegetables. To describe anything crumpled or messy.

KIAM HU- Dried salted fish. Slipper/flip flops.

KIAM KONG UWA SNEH LIOW NUA- The lesser we talk, the more saliva we save. The lesser we talk, the lesser frustration we get. Used to stop people from arguing.

KIAM SIAP- Salty and Bitter. To describe someone stingy.

KNIAR SI- Afraid to die. Used to admonish someone for being cowardly.

KNIAR SU- Afraid of losing. To describe competitive people.

KIM TANG TANG- To describe someone who is very rich or opulently dressed. Literally dripping with gold.

KIN BO TIT- Veins not aligned. To describe an agitated/upset individual.

KIN CHIO KNIA- Banana child. A western educated Chinese.

KIN CHEONG- Nervous or uptight.

KIN KHAR KIN CHEW- Fast hand, fast leg. A pro-active person.

KIO KAY- Call chicken. To procure sexual favor from a prostitute.

KIU KIU KIO- Shriek and Yell. To make a lot of noise.

KNAR KNAR CHO/KNAR KNAR LAI- Be daring to do/Be more daring. An advise as not to contemplate too much before executing something.

KNIA KAR BAY CHUT SNIA- Scared till dumbfounded.

KNIA SI LANG- Scare the dead/to scare people to death. Uttered when one is frightened.

KNIA SI WAR- Scare me to death. Uttered when someone is frightened.

KONG LAN CHIOW UWA- To speak prick language. Swear Language.

KONG HA MI LAN CHIAU/KONG HA MI LUM PHAR- Say what penis/Say what testicles. What cock are you talking about? Swear Language.

KONG LANG OW BUAY UAR- Talking behind peoples back. Gossiping.

KONG SNAR KONG SI- Talk three talk four. To engage in idle talk or gossip.

KONG SI- To share. Adapted from a Malay word of the same meaning.

KOPI KNIA- Coffee boy. The waiter at a coffee shop. Kopi is adapted from a Malay word meaning coffee.

KOPI TIAM- Coffee shop.

KOR KA KI- Take care and teach oneself. A selfish individual.

KOW GIAK BEH EONG- Really useless.

KOW GIAK CH’NI- Really crafty.

KOW GIAK HIONG- Really fierce.

KOW GIAK THUM SIM- Really greedy.

KOW GIAK ULU- Really remote.

KU KU CHIOW- Penis. Used when speaking to children. Equivalent of “little pee pee”.

KUM LAN- Suck Cock. Uttered when someone wants to do something that don’t make sense.

KUM POOI- Suck flatulence. Uttered when someone wants to do something useless.

KWAI LAN KNIAR- Child of a naughty penis. Mischievous kid.


LAN CHIAU- Penis. Swear Language.

LAN CHIAU BIN- Penis face. Swear Language.

LAN CHIAU HA LU KAR- Let you bite my penis. Swear Language.

LAN SAI LANG- Dick shit person. Swear Language.

LAN SI LAN YUNG- A show off. Adapted from a Cantonese phrase of the same meaning.

LAN THOOI – Penis shaft. Swear Language.

LAO BEH- Old Horse. An outdated product or thinking.

LAO CHEOW- Old bird. An experienced individual.

LAO HOR PHUAY OON EAM- Nutmeg dipped in salt. To describe a very stingy person.

LAO HOR THAU NIAU CHU BUAY- Head of a tiger, tail of a rat. To describe a person who shows off initially but backs off after being confronted.

LAO KHWEE- Leak in breath. To lose face/ great embarassment.

LAO PHI KHANG HUAY- Nose bleed. To describe one’s reaction in an arousing situation.

LAO YAH- Things that are old, not trendy or up to date.

LIAK BOH KIEW- Catch no ball. Someone who fail to understand something explained to them.

LIM CHIEW CHOOI- To describe a drunk or someone behaving like a drunkard.

LONG KOW EE, LONG TOK TENG- Bang Chair, Bang Table. An extremely angered/pissed off person.

LONG TIOK OO SNIA- If the car gets knock there will surely be a sound.

LUAN CHU KONG- Simply said. To describe people who states wrong facts.

LUAN LUAN LAI- Simply simply do. To do things recklessly/haphazardly or without a plan.

LU EH CHAU CHI BAI- Your smelly vagina. Swear Language.

LU HO SAY BO- Are you alright? Meaning are you doing well in life or your career?

LU KHI HOR LANG KAN- You go and let people fuck you. Swear Language.

LU KHI SI- You go and die. Swear Language.

LU KONG HA MI LAN CHIAU- What penis are you talking about? Swear Language.

LUM PHAR- Testis. A perfectly normal word that became Swear Language over time.

LUM PHAR BIN- Testis Face. Swear Language.

LUM PAH PAH LAN- Testicles hitting back at the penis. A plan that backfire.

LU PUN SI- You also. A kickback when accused.


MAK CHI BAI- Your mother’s vagina. Swear Language.

MAK EE KONG- An old granduncle. A colloquial phrase.

MAK EE PO- An old grand-aunt. A colloquial phrase.

MAI HIAM BAY PNAI, AI HIAM KANA SAI- If you’re not picky, it’s not bad. If you are picky, it’s really like shit. To describe a situation or something that can be looked at either way.

MAI SIOW SIOW- Don’t be mad. A warning not to fool with things beyond your ability.

MANA OO ENG- Where got free? A general reply when asked to do something when one is engaged.

MAN KNIA- Don’t be scared. An exhortation to do things boldly.

MATI KONG KHIAU- Dead with belly up. An expression used by children to describe something that is dead or a warning to stop something from happening that could result in an accident/death/mishap.

MOH PENG TIOW TENG- Pock face hanging lanterns. A pock face person.

MM BAT HUAY- Cannot recognise product. People who do not know their trade.

MM CHAI SI- Ignorant of death. An audacious person/cavalier about consequences.


NOR JIT HONG SNAR JIT HOR- Two days of wind, three days of rain. To describe someone’s unpredictable mood/personality.

NOR THOW CHUA/NOR KI KHAR TAK BOH SIANG CHOON- Double headed snake/Two legs stepping on different boats. A dangerous person who gains favor and confidence by artful insinuations between enemies.

NUI THOR CHIM KOOT- Soft soil is easily dug. A self effacing person is easily taken advantage of.


OO CHENG BO TH’NAR- With relationship, nothing blocks. A buddy relationship. More like blood brothers.

OO HI KHNUAR- Got show to watch. Used when one contemplates a reciprocal hysteria after something bad/incorrect was done.

OO SAY- Has ability. The opposite of “Boh Say”.

OO NYIA BO?- Is there a shadow? Means is it for real or are you sure?

OR BAR- Black person. A dark man.

OR UM- Black and dark. To describe a persons misfortune arising out of unattentiveness.

OR UM HIN- Black and Dark Dizzy. To describe a feeling of dizzyness/Like one who is on the verge of fainting.

OR UM THNI- Black and Dark sky. To suggest that rain is falling soon.

OR UM SAY KAI- Dark world. Normally used on people who foil others plan.

ORK KAY BO- Fierce hen. A very fierce woman.

OR KWI KENG- Tortoise Lodge. A brothel.

OR KWI THAU- Tortoise Head. A pimp.


About the Phrases:~

The author/owner has also compiled for record, a collection of everyday Hokkien Phrases to capture the essence and spirit of his hoi polloi, a community originating from the southern province of Fujian, China where individuals climbed aboard bum boats, crossing the South China Sea to settle in faraway lands to escape the brewing civil unrest and a way out from hardship carrying along with them in their journey, nothing except their trademark ponytails and their beliefs, very much rooted in Confucianism. These phrases are as much as possible being conserved in its purest state despite having some which had been mixed with other local dialects and languages but nevertheless the Hokkien lingo took prominence over the rest. This list is continuously updated.