Chneh Meh Kay

(Version in Hokkien)

Chneh Meh Kay

Tok Tiok Tharng

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(Version in English)

A blind chicken

Pecks a worm!

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About this saying:~

This phrase/saying is commonly used to describe how luck could strike undeserving people the same way a chicken , though blind, could peck worms.

The author/owner has compiled for record, a collection of early Hokkien sayings, proverbs, rhymes and ditties 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 ditties retell their story and their lifestyle way back then so that the younger generation can gain an insight and foothold to their origin..

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Ang Pow Giving

On the first day of Chinese New Year as Confucianist practice dictates, the entire household of an extended family would tidy themselves up, all nicely coiffured before presenting themselves to the head of the household, (generally the matriarch) to receive special blessings and ang pows (red colored packets containing money symbolizing good luck, prosperity, great health and joy). As receiving ang pows is hierarchical, so it is with the givers, each taking turns distributing whilst juniors kow tow and wish ‘Keong Hee Huat Chye’ as a mark of respect to the givers. In our family we went a step further by serving tea to the elders. It is also customary that once a child got married, they are obligated to give ang pows to their parents. The unmarried are exempted from ang pow giving because to the Chinese, they are still rated a child. Thus, any family members can receive ang pows for as long as they remained single. In our Hokkien tradition, only the womenfolk gives away ang pows. Reason is that the menfolk are supposedly the breadwinners of the family whilst the womenfolk are in charge of household affairs.

This is my extended family.

1st pic- my grandma Gek Kee, receiving blessings from my great grandma, matriarch Saw Kit, at Boon Siew Mansion. Generally as a senior in the family herself, my grandma is no longer entitled to ang pows but I guess that also depends on the generosity of individuals and the wealth of each family.. Matriarch Saw Kit’s life sized bronze statue still graces the Home of the Infirmary, Penang.

2nd pic- Aunt Guat Eng, Aunt Gim Ean (deceased), Aunt Guat Hong, Aunt Loh Ean, Uncle Kah Poh (deceased), unidentified Aunt and my mom (deceased). Aunt Guat Hong and 2nd Tniau Seng Leong kow towed.

3rd pic- Tiny tots group pic with matriarch. Kah Heng (deceased), Kah Bee, and Kah Kheng (deceased).

An extended family has added advantages except for privacy and at least three generations of one household lives and stays together. That was the in -thing of that period for well to do family’s with big houses.

Images copyrighted. Circa 50s.

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 U-Z

~hungry ghost~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~hungry ghost~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ULU- A remote place.

UM BONG BONG- Very dark.

UM CHI- Late night thorns. Cinema Touts.

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WA CHIAK EAM CHAY KUAY LU CHIAK BI- I ate more salt than you have eaten rice. Normally told to a younger person by an elderly when exerting an experienced assessment.

WA KAR LU KONG- Let me tell you.

WA KONG TANG LU KONG SAI- I say East you say West. To describe someone who misunderstands you or wasn’t listening and consequently did the wrong thing.

WAH LAN/WAH LAN EH- Oh Penis! Used when surprised by something.

WAH LAU/WAH LAU EH- The more polite variation of Wah Lan.

WAH PIANG- Also more polite version of Wah Lan.

YAU KWEE- Hungry ghost. It describes a glutton or avaricious person.

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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.

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Hokkien Phrases P-T

 

~berthing~ image copyrght Kris Lee 2012

~berthing~
image copyrght Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PAIK CHEK- Exasperation or frustration.

PAI OO LUNG- Refering to a person/a blurr cock who always catches the wrong end of the stick.

PA KAT- To conspire/Gang up against.

PANG CHIEW- Let go of the hand. To give chance.

PANG PUAY KEE- Fly Aeroplane. To be stood up.

PAR CHAT- Full tummy and pocket. A wealthy person.

PATTERN CHUT KAR LIOW- A person’s real self is revealed.

PEH KHI LAI THIOW- To jump up. A visibly upset person.

PEH PHI KONG CHU- White nose scholar. An amorous gentlemen.

PEH TH’I KI- Climb iron bars. Someone who is behind bars/in prison or in a police lock up.

PHAI KIA- Bad kid, A gangster/triad.

PHAI KHUAN- Bad manners.

PHAI SAY-  Humility.

PHAR BAY SI- Beat but won’t die. Indestructible or invincible.

PHAR CHIAO BAK- Beat bird eye. It describes someone with a squint/cockeye or someone who is not observant enough.

PHAR CH’IEW CHENG- To hit the hand gun. To masturbate.

PHAR PNAI SENG LI- Spoil business.  To describe someone who chases away prospects of others.

PHAR PUAY KEE- Beat Aeroplane. To masturbate.

PHAK THOR- Going on a date.

PHIAN CHIAK- Cheat to eat. An illegal way to earn a living.

PHONG TAI HAI- Appear bloated. As in a person’s face.

PHOR LUM PHAR- To carry balls. An act of sycophancy. Buttering someone up, or brown-nosing.

PHU BOR KNIA- Fucks wife and children. Swear Language.

PHUAK LENG CHWEE- Throw cold water. To denegrade another’s plan/idea/dream.

PHUI CHOW NUAR- To spit smelly spittle. Hence to spit on someone is a way of ridiculing someone over his actions or words.

PHU KI MAK/MAK PHU KI- Your mother’s clitoris. Swear Language.

PIEN HENG- Changed in form. A changed person.

PIEN MOR KWI- To turn into a ghost. Used when a good person changes to bad.

PNIA CHUI/PNIA TIN- Pour water/Pour team. To get into unruly fights with gangsters.

PNIA MIA- Pour your life. Working against time.

PNUA KIN, PEH NIAU- Half a kati, eight tahils. To describe something similar.

PUAY KI TNIAU/PUAY KI POR- Airport. A flat chested woman.

PUM CHET- Puncture.  How a flat tyre is called.

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RO  JIAK- A salad of mixed vegetables eaten with prawn paste sauce. To describe something eclectic/messy.

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SAM SENG- A ruthless person, either a gangster or even a thug or just an arrogant person.

SANG G’NEK- Bent.

SAO KOR NA LENG-  Sao means sweep & ‘Kor na leng’ is a local colloquial for ‘cornering’ hence to compromise a corner in driving.

SARK BO SAIK- Not enough boiling. Like a half boil egg. To describe a naive person.

SART CHUI- Kill Hand. An Assassin

SA YANG- Borrowed from a Malay word which means Love.

SEK AR NI- Eurasians. From the Arab word nasrani meaning Nazarene, or Christians.

SENG LI CHO TUA- Business getting bigger. Used (with a bit of sarcasm) to comment on someone who appears to be giving others the impression that he/she is doing very well in his/her undertaking.

SI AR NEH KHUAN EH- That’s the way it is. To reaffirm that your way of doing something is in fact correct.

SIAR SUAY- To embarass.

SIAM- Get out of the way/move away. Used to shoo people away/To dodge a task.

SIAM SAI HONG- To run away from the wind. To be hiding/like a fugitive.

SIAN THOW ONG- A bullshitter.

SI BAI- A placid person.

SI GIN NA- Dying child. Used to scold naughty kids.

SI KI TENG TARN- Four nails sounding. An indicative that death is around the corner.

SI KNIA SI SOON- Dead children and dead grand children. A bad curse. Swear Language.

SI LANG KHUAN CHUT KA LIOW- Dead man’s personality surfaces. A person’s bad attitude begin to show.

SI SIM- Heart goes dead. No longer affectionate.

SIM CHENG BO HO- Heart is troubled. Used on a person who is not in a good mood.

SIM KNUA BO LART/ SIM KNUA THAU BO LART- Heart is weak. To express disappointment over a rude news or someone else’s action/inaction.

SIM LENG- Cold heart or frozen heart. Used by a person to describe how he/she no longer feels affection towards someone they love.

SIM TNIA- Heart ache. Used by a person who recollects his past mistake/poor judgement/inaction over an investment that could bring him good returns today.

SI OR KWI- Dead tortoise/dead pimp. Swear Language.

SIO PHAK KAY- Fighting cock. A formidable pugilist who never loses.

SIO SIAR- Embarassing. Similar to PHAI SAY.

SIONG NOW- Injuring the brain. Used on bird brains.

SIOW CHAR BOR- A crazy woman.

SIOW LIOW- Gone crazy.  Used whenever a situation or something has gone wrong.

SIOW TAR POR- A crazy man.

SIOW TING TONG- A dumbbell or crazy person.

SI SNUA LAI- Loose loose come. To describe someone who uses weird methods to perform a task.

SOAK HUEK KU- Suck Blood Beetle. A blood sucking negotiator.

SNAR KI KHAR- Three legged. Sycophancy.

SNAR KHAR CHUAR- Three legged snake. A sycophant that’s up to no good.

SNAR CHAP LAK LEH MOOI- Thirty six doors.  A sewage truck.

SNAR JIT HONG, SI JIT HOR- Three days of wind, three days of rain. To describe a moody, fickle person.

SNAR SUKU- Three quarter. To describe a person who had gone cuckoo.

SNI KIAM CHYE- Salted vegetable. To describe an old unmarried woman.

SNUA KOO/SNUA KOO PEK- Mountain tortoise. Used to describe or suggest someone as being unsophisticated and ignorant. A country bumpkin.

SNUA PAR KAU- Mountain monkey. A naive person.

SNUA NIOW CHU- Mountain rat. To describe communists.

SOM BONG- An arrogant/haughty person. Adapted from a Malay word of the same meaning.

SOO LANG BO SOO TIN- Loose people but not team. Used to describe what sportsmanship is about. That even when you are underhanded, you fight till the end even if it means losing.

SUAN SIAU- Fidgetty sperm. To criticize.

SUM PAT THONG- A mad/crazy person.

SUP SUP SUAY- As easy as drinking water. To describe a task that is supposedly easy to perform.

SWEE SWEE BOH KUAY CHOOI- Beautiful as it is not rinsed in water. Something or someone perfect.

SYIOK KAR BAY SI- Feel so good until one wants to die.  Delightful pleasure.

SYIOK KAR BAY PANG PHUI- Feel so good till cannot fart. Feeling delightfully great.

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TAHAN MATI- Withstand death. A determined fighter/One who doesn’t give up easily.

TAN KU KU- Wait forever. The forever is asserted here meaning it won’t happen.

TAPI- But. Adapted from a Malay word of the same meaning.

TAR POW- As in takeaway of food. Adapted from a Cantonese word of the same meaning.

TA TA PAI- Everytime/Always.

TENG KHOK KHOK- Extremely hard.

THAI LANG PANG HUAY- To kill and set fire. A massacre.

THAU HONG- Wind in the head. A person gone fruity.

THAU SIO SIO BUAY LENG LENG- Warm Head, Cold Tail. Start with enthusiasm but fizzles out in the end. A bad organiser.

THAU TNIA- Headache. Can also mean troublesome.

THARN CHIAK/THARN LOOI- To earn a living.

THARN BOH CHIAK/THARN BOH LOOI-Not earning anything.

THIAU BU CHAR BOR- Dancing lady. A guest relations officer who works in a girly bar.

THI KHI- Iron teeth. Stubborn.

THOO LU/THOO LU KU- A bald headed person.

THOR HUEK- Vomit blood. Expression used in great surprise/disbelieve over someone else’s stupidity.

THNI OR OR- Black sky. An expression that rain is going to fall.

THUM SIM- Greedy Heart. A greedy person.

TIAM KOW KA SI LANG- A quiet dog do bite. A quiet person can be dangerous.

TIOK KA MAK BAY JIN KNIA- Get it till the mother can’t even recognise her own child. A severe problem.

TIOK MARK- Being marked.

TIOK PH’NI- Taken advantage of.

TIOK TNUA- Being stood up.

TIOK TUA KEE- Get a big dick. A person who landed himself in great trouble.

TNEH KA LUM PHAR TUA SAY LIAP- Press testicles till both are uneven in size. Describes a person whose plan, plot or decision backfired.

TNEH TIAU/TNEH TIAU LUM PHAR- Press testicles.  Describes a person whose plan, plot or decision backfired.

T’NG KHUI- Long breath. Used on long winded people/A person who emphasizes a point far too many times.

TNIAU KAIR- Fussy with price. Used on people who rejects a good gift/proposal or offer.

TO BALIK- Upside down or Inside out. A reversal. Balik is adapted from a Malay word meaning to go back.

TO LONG- Help. A cry for aid. Adapted from a Malay word of the same meaning.

TUA KANG- A big river. To describe someone telling a tall story.

TUA KHANG- A big hole. A loose woman.

TUA LAN PHAR- Big testis. Used on people who don’t walk normally.

TUA LAU CHUI- A leaking vagina. Someone telling a tall story.

TUA LIAP LANG- Big ball people. An important person as in a politician/dignitary/rulers or in more casual terms, a VIP.

TUA PHAI KNIAR- Big naughty child. A big time gangster.

TUA PHIAN SIAN- Big Bluffing God. A confidence trickster.

TUA SAY KANG- Big small flow(as in a river). A boastful person.

TUA SIM- Big heart. A greedy person.

TUA THOW- Big head. To describe the head of a company/team.

TU LAN- Pig’s testis. Disgruntled/Pissed off.

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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.

.

.

.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

.

.

.

Hokkien Phrases F-J

 

~fire ridge~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~fire ridge~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GE RAM- Exasperated. Adapted from a Malay word of the same meaning.

GIA PEK KI- Hold white flag. To surrender.

GNIAU LAN- Fussy prick. A fussy person.

GOH HUAY LANG- Five years old people. To misunderstand someone’s intention.

GOH KI CHIU- Five strands of hair. An amorous individual.

GOH KHAR KHI- Five foot way. A covered walkway found in front of pre war shophouses.

GOH LOOI SIANG KA GU CHIAR LEAN- Five cents bigger than a bullock cart’s wheel.  To criticise those who think that their money is worth a lot.

GOH PEH SI- Five Eight Four. An amorous person.

GONG KNIA SAI- Dumb groom. Used on young man who speaks thoughtlessly or come out with lame ideas.

GOON DU- Idiot. Adapted from an Indian word of the same meaning.

GOSTAN BALIK- To go astern/To reverse one’s vehicle or turn it around. The word ‘balik’ is adapted from a Malay word meaning ‘go back’.

GU BEH LAT- Cow horse strength. To deploy one’ whole human strength into a task.

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HANA- Enough already! Often said in exasperation.

HAMI SU- What’s the problem?

HAMI LAN CHIAO- What dick? Swear Language.

HAO LIAN- Arrogant, cocky or smug.

HAO SIOW- Nonsense or bullshit.

HENG- Lucky or fortunate. Usually uttered after having escaped a tight spot or avoided a near miss as in an accident.

HIN KONG HIN KONG- To describe in jest a confuse person.

HIONG KAI KAI- Very Fierce. To describe a ruthless inconsiderate person.

HIOW LOK- Flirtatious deer. Amorous lady.

HNAR THAU TUA- Scare head big. To outwit or scare an opponent whom you know is more able than you.

HO CHYE- Luckily.

HO KOW MIA- A good dog’s life. A reassurance after having escaped a dangerous situation.

HO SAY- Exclamation of approval/An enthusiastic endorsement.

HOR CHAN- Give chance. A desperate plea to give another chance or to forgive someone.

HOR HUAY TH’NG TIO- To let the fire burnt you. An accidental mistake that hurts/harms.

HOR LANG KAN- Let people fuck you. Swear Language.

HOR LI CH’NI- Fox spirit. Amorous lady.

HOR LU EH LAN CHIAU CHENG- Let your penis swell. Swear Language.

HOR KWI KAN- Let ghost fuck. Swear Language.

HUAN CHU- Sweet potato. Used to describe idiots.

HUAN SUAN- Fussy. A fussy person.

HUAT SIO- Fever. To describe someone as crazy.

HUAT KUEH HUAT KAIR HUAY- To eat sweet cake will increase your fortune.

HUM PA LANG- Everything. Adapted from a Cantonese word of the same meaning.

HUM SUP LO- An amorous person. Adapted from a Cantonese word of the same meaning.

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IM THIM KO CHOW SIM- Devious yet wicked. A person with deplorable character and dangerous to associate with.

JU KIN JU HO- The faster it is the better.

JU LAI JU LAO LAN- A more and more cocky person.

JU SIOW- Crumpled sperm. To provoke, irritate or disturb. To titillate sexually.

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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.

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Hokkien Phrases A-E

~lunchbox meal~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~lunchbox meal~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

ABU NEH NEH- Churlish term to describe Indians.

AGAK-AGAK- To estimate/To guess.

AH GNAU- Country Bumpkin. To describe a person still living under a coconut shell.

AH LONG- Loan shark. An illegal moneylender.

AI CHAI- To keep steady/calm.

AI PH’NI KO AI CH’NI- Want it cheap, want it fresh. To describe people with unrealistic expectations.

AI SAY- An enthusiastic endorsement for someone who made a mark on something.

AI SI- Want to die. Courting death.

AI SI BEH SI- Want to die but cannot.

AI SWEE- Vain.

AI YO- Uttered when in shock or disbelief over an unexpected happening.

ALABAI/BAI- Way of addressing a Sikh. The term bhai means brother.

ALABAI JOPE- A game played by churlish Chinese that pokes fun at Sikhs. It involves shouting that phrase out each time and at the same time make a five finger beak on both hands each time we encounter a Sikh because they are rare.

ALAMAK- An expression of dismay/surprise/alarm.

APONG BIN- Vagina face. Swear language.

APONG SIN- Vagina spirit. A man who chose woman over his friends.

ANG KI KI- As red as ever. A teaser used to describe the blush of colour on a persons face after having a drink too many or one who dresses up in red.

ANG KU IN- A type of sweetcake mold. Used to describe siblings/families/couples with similar facial/physical features.

ANG KONG LOR- Red grandfather’s road/God’s road. A miracle. Uttered when something good but usually out of the ordinary happens.

ANG MOR/ANG MOR KOW- Red haired monkey. A reference to Caucasians.

ANG MOR LANG- Red hair people.  A term used to describe Caucasians.

ANG TAO PENG- Refers to the Civil Defence Unit that wears red helmets.

AR CHI LOAT- A game of catching.

AR KHAR AR CHEW- Duck legs, duck hands. To describe people with poor limb coordination.

ARN CHNUA- Now how?

ARN TUA- a triad leader.

ART KHAR ART CHIEW- Bend legs, bend hands. To be a buddy with someone else.

ART KAH LIAU- Bend all. To be a real good friend with someone else.

AY LAU BAY TUA- Can grow old but not big. To describe a childish person.

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BAH KHAR- Meaty leg. A bad driver.

BAK CHEW ANG- Red eye. To be jealous.

BAK CHEW TAK STAMP- Eyes pasted with stamp. Sometimes one fail to see the true colors of another person even with our naked eye. Normally used in relationships.

BALU- Just.

BAN GA LI- Colloquail for Bengali or Sikhs, an Indian  tribe.

BANG GA LAI- Colloquail for Bangladeshi.

BARN BARN TARN- To slowly wait.

BAU CHUT KAR LIOW- Smell surfaces. A person’s negative self is revealed.

BAY CHARM SIONG- Reluctant to co operate/work together.

BAY CHI TONG- Dumb/Not diligent or alert enough.

BAY HIAU KIN- Nevermind.

BAY HIAU KONG- Don’t know how to say it. Having difficulty in expressing oneself.

BAY HOW KOR- Totally unacceptable/disgusting/horrible/grotesque/horrid.

BAY KAN- Unable to fuck. Extremely self centered individual with unnegotiable character.

BAY PAKAI- Unusable. Also refers to inconsiderate self centered people.

BAY PHAI SAY/BEH HIAU PHAI SAY- Do not know embarrassment/Thick skinned.

BAY SAI- Cannot. No choice.

BAY TA HAN- Cannot stand/tolerate.

BAY TIOK KA LU- Cannot get it from you. Used as a gesture of respect/ridicule when others beat us in something we are good in or does things beyond our imagination.

BEN TEN- Colloquail for Burmese.

BIN CHOW CHOW- Smelly face. To describe someone with a grumpy look.

BIN SAIK PEN- Face color changes. To describe the dismayful look of a person.

BIT PHANG SIEW- Beehive. Used to describe one who wears an afro hairstyle.

BO BEH CHOW- No horse running. To describe something or someone accomplish.

BO BEH LAND- Unevenly balanced.

BO BIN/BO BIN CHUI- No face. To lose face because of a mistake or embarrassment.

BO CHAI (1)- Not steady. A nervous person.

BO CHAI (2)- No luck.

BO CH’AI- A waste.

BO CHAY’NG- No sentiment. Used on people who does things without considering sentimental relations or past favors.

BO CHEE- No balls. Swear language.

BO CHENG HU- No government/ lawless or chaotic.

BO CHENG KOW- No gratitude dog. An ungrateful person.

BO CHIAK PNUI- Didn’t eat rice. To poke fun at someone physically weak.

BO CHUP- Angered and not wanting to get involved.

BO ENG- Not free/occupied/busy.

BO GAU KOON- Dangerous.

BO GNAM- Something inconsistent as in an imperfect match.

BO HEW- Don’t give a damn. invariably used in the negative sense.

BO HOO HEH MA HO- If there are no fish, prawns are just as good. To accept second choices cheerfully and pragmatically.

BO HOOD/ BO LAN HOOD/ BO LUM PAR CHEE- No testicles/balls. To describe people who are cowardice and with no guts.

BO HO SAY BIN- Something/situation/circumstance which is not right.

BO KAM BUAN- Unwilling or reluctant.

BO KAN TAN- Not easy.

BO KAR SI- Never taught/Badly brought up. Swear Language.

BO KHANG THAU- Nothing promising. No opportunity.

BO KNIA- Not afraid.

BO KNIA LANG TU LAN- To do things unabashedly or unashamed of doing things others might disapprove of.

BO KUAY NAU- Never cross the brain. A loose cannon who never think before he utters.

BO LARNG AI- No one wants. To describe those who remain single.

BO LARNG CHAI- No one knows. Uttered in embarrassment over one’s own blooping.

BO LIAU- No talent.

BO LIONG SIM- No tolerance heart. A hard hearted person.

BO LIOW- No more.

BO LOR EONG- No road to use. To describe one without guts or a hesitant.

BO LOOI- No money.

BO LOOI BOH UAR KONG- No money no talk.

BO PIAN- No choice. Can’t do anything about it.

BO SAY/BO KH’UAN- No personality.

BO SAIK BAK- Eye not alert enough. One who is not alert enough.

BO SIM- No heart. To describe someone who doesn’t know how or when to requite love be it in thoughts or actions.

BO SONG- Uncomfortable.

BO SU CHO- Nothing to do. Used on people who interfere then messes up situations when they should mind their own business.

BO SWEE- Not pretty/ A biased person.

BO SWEE AY KHAR- Not a good partner.  Refering to a partner on a gambling table. One who did not honor his words or did not make a cooperative partner.

BO TAR BO LUM PHAR- If it’s not dry, you’ve got no balls. A dare to someone to bottoms up an unpleasant drink.

BO TAI CHI- Nothing’s the matter/Nothing’s wrong.

BO THAK CHEK- Uneducated.

BO THOW BO BUAY- No head, no tail. Incomprehensible.

BO TUA BO SAY- No big, no small. To admonish someone for not being respectful or knowing his position.

BOTAK HEAD- Hairless head. A bald person/skinhead.

BOTAK THUI- Hairless Object. A Penis.

BO TNIA TIOK- Maybe.

BO TNIA BO TIOK- Fidgety. Used to describe an excessively fussy person.

BUNG CHA CHA- A Blur/Confuse person.

BYE BYE MA CHAI LEH PAI- Bye Bye tomorrow is a Sunday. A kiddy way of saying goodbye.

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CHABAI BULUNG- A small chilli. A petite woman.

CHAR LUAN LANG/ CHAR SI LANG- Irritate till death. To admonish problematic people.

CHARM/CHIN CHNIA CHARM- Pitifully disastrous.

CHAR SIOW- Frying sperm. To disturb.

CHAP CHENG- Mixed parentage.

CHAP CHENG KNIA- Child of mixed parentage.

CHAP SNAR TIAM- Thirteen o’clock. Someone half-baked/A cuckoo.

CHAR THAU- Wooden Head. An idiot

CHEK AK- What a pity!

CHENG HU KANG- Government job.

CHENG SWEE SWEE PANG NUI NUI- Nicely dressed, Subtly relaxed. To describe a person who looks as though they have made it in life.

CHIAK KAY UAR KAY, CHIAK ARK UAR ARK- Eat chicken go near chicken, eat duck go near duck. Trait of an opportunist who took sides base on self benefits and advantage.

CHIAK LAT- Eat energy. A tiring task. In deep pain or trouble.

CHIAK BAY LIOW- Cannot finish eating. It means to have come into great, unending fortune.

CHIAK CHO BI- Ate the wrong rice. Used on someone who unexpectedly say or did a blooper!

CHIAK CHOW- Eat grass. To describe impoverishment.

CHIAK CHUAR- Eat snake. Means to goof off or skive.

CHIAK MM TIOK EOK- Took the wrong medication (See CHIAK CHO BI)

CHIAK HONG- Eat wind. To go on holiday.

CHIAK HOR CHIAK CHNIAU- Eat tiger eat elephant.  A very big cheat.

CHIAK LANG- Eat people. To describe someone exploitative.

CHIAK LUI- Eat money. To describe a con man or cheat.

CHIAK KA KI- Eat self. To absorb one’s own losses especially in business risk.

CHIAK KIOW- Eat gambling. To cheat on the gambling table.

CHIAK NUI PNUI- Eat soft rice. A gigolo.

CHIAK PAR BAY POW- After meal, sell buns. To describe someone who don’t need to work.

CHIAK PAR BO SAI PANG- After meal, no shit to excrete. Someone with too much time in his hands.

CHIAK PAR BUAY- Have you eaten yet?

CHIAK PAR EO LUM PHAR- After meal, shake your testis.  Someone with too much time on his hands.

CHIAK PAR PHAR KA CHNOOI- After meal, hit backside. Addressing someone who pretends not to share the bill.

CHIAK PAR SNIAU ENG-After meal, too free.  More exasperated version of Mana Ooh Eng.

CHIAK SUAR- Eat Sand. Getting nothing out from a deal.

CHI BAI/CHI PONG- Vagina. Swear language.

CHI BAI BIN- Vagina face. Swear language.

CHI BAI LANG- Vagina person. Swear Language.

CH’IEW CHENG/ CH’IEW CHENG KNIAR/ CH’IEW CHENG LAN- Hand gun. Describes one who misses the target as in a game or challenge or one who always catches the wrong end of the stick. Most of the time it is said in jest.

CHI HONG- A frustrated person.

CH’I LEOW BEE- Feed waste rice. To describe someone useless or a waste even after consuming so much rice.

CH’I KO PEK- A dirty old man.

CHIN CHNIA TU LAN- Really fed up.

CHIN KAN TAN /CHIN CHNIA KAN TAN – Very easy.

CHIN CHAI- Anyhow.

CHIN NGIAU- A Fussypot.

CHIN CHNIA LUAN- Very annoying.

CHIN GOW TAN- An irritating wailer.

CHIN KHARM LAN/CHIN CHNIA KHARM LAN- Very mischevious.

CHIN KOW GIAK- Very demanding.

CHIN CH’IO- Very dashing and well dressed.

CH’IO KAR BUEK LAU JIO- Laugh till one pee. An extremely hilarious incident that causes one to react that way hence the phrase.

CH’IO KAR CH’UI KHI LUT- To laugh till one’s dentures fell off. An extremely hilarious incident.

CH’IO LU KOO KOO/CH’IO EE KOO KOO- To laugh at you/them for a long time.

CHIT CHAR PEH CHAR KHOW PEH KHOW BO- Seven early eight early cry father cry mother. To describe people who causes disturbances in the morning.

CHIT HO BO NOR HO- One is good, two is not good. In one way it is nice. In the other, it is otherwise. There is two sides to a coin.

CHIT THO CHOW- Play cheat.

CHNEH MEH PO CHAP- The blind hoping for a  full house (as in gambling). A feat that warrants alot of luck.

CHNEH GOO MM BAT HOR- A green cow hardly recognizes the tiger. To describe people who underestimate the influence, capability or ability of others and ended up being humbled.

CH’OAY SI LOR- Looking for dead end. Courting disaster.

CHO BOH LAN- Does no penis. To describe a useless, idle person who can never do anything right.

CHO KHUAN- Make an attitude. In false pretence.

CHOON BO? Accurate or not? To express sceptism over a claim.

CH’OR LOR- Rough or crude, sometimes even hard and demanding.

CHOW CHI BAI- A smelly vagina. Swear Language.

CH’OW KAH- Smelly feet. A bad loser or cheat.

CH’OW KHUAN- Smelly character. A cheat or devious person.

CHOW KW’NI- Undeliberately exposed especially one’s private part.

CH’OW LING TIE- To describe someone who slurs when they talk.

CH’OW LOK- Smelly deer. A cock teaser.

CHUAR- Snake. To be labelled a “snake” means you are someone unscrupulous. This person is out to get what he wants by hook or by crook.

CH’UA WA KHI HOR LANG- Bring me to someone else. Leading someone astray.

CH’UI KONG LUM PHAR SONG- Mouth says, testicle feel good. A pledge that won’t be fulfilled. Making empty promises.

CH’UI PEK- White mouth. A quiet person.

CH’UI POW KIM- Mouth wrapped with gold- A person who dislike talking/A proud person.

CH’UI KANA KHAR, KHAR KANA LUM PHAR- Mouth like legs, legs like testicles. A clumsy person.

CHUM SIONG- To negotiate/Come to an agreement.

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DUNGU- Feeble minded/Stupid.

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EH SAI BAY/EH SAI BO- Can or not? Is it possible?

EH YA TOK- Short person.

ENG ENG CHENG CHENG- Free and easy.

E’OW LAN HIN- Goats testis faint. Describes a person in turmoil.

E’YAN TAO BAR- A handsome male.

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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.

.

.

.