Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
- (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]”, 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”, 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”, 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 978-981-204-050-3, 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”, 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).
- See Wikisaurus:cowardly.
kiasi (plural kiasi or kiasis)
- (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”, 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]”, 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".