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From Hokkien 驚死惊死 (kiaⁿ-sí, “afraid to die”)


  • IPA(key): /ˈkɪɑ̃ˈsîː/
  • Hyphenation: kia‧si


kiasi (comparative more kiasi, superlative most kiasi)

  1. (Singapore, colloquial, mildly derogatory) Unwilling to take a chance for fear that something bad or unfavourable will happen; cowardly.
    Why are you so kiasi? You won't die from getting a small cut on the finger.
    If everyone dares to bungee jump, why can't you do the same? Are you kiasi or what?
    • 1988 December 11, "Pro Bono Puntero" [pseudonym], “That $5 win minimum [letter]”, in The Straits Times, Singapore, page 35:
      The kia-si/kia-su ("afraid to die/afraid to lose") attitude of the Totalisator Boards in Malaysia and Singapore is deplorable.
    • 1991 April 7, Sandi Tan, “Face-to-face with the kiasu customer”, in The Straits Times, page 8:
      When you are anxious to make the right travel arrangements, you sometimes cannot help but be inquisitive. For those in the travel business, these whines should be a common affair. But when does being "inquisitive" translate into "irritating", or "anxious" into "kiasi" []
    • 1994 September 14, “Promotion blown out of all proportion”, in The Straits Times, page 22:
      Do not be alarmed if you have received this yellow cylinder which looks like a stick of dynamite and even had the word "explosive" on it. Last week, one "kiasi" fellow was so alarmed that he called the police []
    • 2000, Leong Liew Geok, “Forever Singlish”, in Women without Men, Singapore: Times Books International, →ISBN, page 130:
      No lubang, so teruk. Kiasu cannot lose, / Kiasi cannot die; machiam machiam words / We also try. Proper English? So lecheh, / So correct, so actsy for what? []
    • 2001 February 20, Carolyn Chew, “A different take on the Singaporean syndrome”, in Today, page 6:
      Too often you hear about Singaporeans with the "K syndrome", meaning kiasu (afraid of losing out), kiasi (afraid of dying), kiabor (afraid of wife).



kiasi (plural kiasi or kiasis)

  1. (Singapore, colloquial, mildly derogatory) A kiasi person.
    • 2003 May 28, Frederick Lim, “Sars and the Singaporean: Crisis has brought out the best and the worst”, in Today, Singapore, page 22:
      Apart from the kiasis and kiasus, there are also Singaporeans at the other end of the scale – the healthcare workers who put their lives at risk.
    • 2006 July 5, Tan Chek Wee, “Debugging the kiasi, MC takers [letter]”, in Today, Singapore, page 18:
      The kiasi (those afraid to die) who insist on seeing a doctor for the most minor complaint such as "my baby sneezed this morning leh".

See also[edit]




From Arabic قِيَاس(qiyās).


  • (file)


kiasi (ki-vi class, plural viasi)

  1. amount, measure, quantity
  2. price
    Synonym: bei
  3. (firearms) cartridge



  1. a little, somewhat
  2. moderately
  3. approximately