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


  • IPA(key): /ˈkɪɑ̃ˈsiː/
  • 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 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”, 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]