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Jack Tsen-Ta Lee
fa cai /fah chı,
fɑ tsʰaɪ/ n. [Hanyu
Pinyin transliteration of Mand. 发菜 fàcài black
moss, hair weeds: fà hair + cài vegetable, greens (Comp.
Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] Nostoc flagelliforme, a cyanobacterium (type of photosynthetic bacterium)
used as a vegetable in Chinese cuisine which, when cooked, resembles black human
hair; black moss, fat choy, hair moss, hair weed.
¶ The vegetable is often eaten during the Chinese New Year season because its name sounds like the Mand. 发财 fācái which means “get rich, make a fortune, make a pile, coin money, earn good money” (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.). It is known in Cant. as Fat Choy.
2002 Leong Pik Yin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 3 February, P13 Black moss (fat choy or fa cai). Believed to represent: Prosperity. The words “fa cai” are part of a common Chinese New Year salutation “gong xi fa cai”, which means “wishing you happiness and prosperity”. 2007 The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 31 January. A group of Hong Kong researchers has called for a total ban on the sale of fa cai – a hair-like sea moss that is widely consumed during Chinese New Year. The team from the Chinese University's department of biochemistry said international research showed that the plant – known as Nostoc or black moss in English – not only has no nutritional value but has also been found to contain a toxic amino acid that could affect the normal functions of nerve cells. .. Black moss is widely eaten in Hong Kong during Chinese New Year, mainly because its Chinese name, fa cai, is homonymous with “prosperity” in Cantonese and Mandarin.
face n. [Eng. transl. of Hk. 面 min face; reputation, prestige; Mand. miàn] Reputation, credibility, honour, prestige.
fan choy /fahn choy,
fɑn tʃɔɪ/ n. [Cant.
饭菜 [...]; Mand. fàn cooked cereals + cài
vegetable, greens; compare Mand. fàncài meal, repast; dishes to go with
rice, steamed buns, etc.
Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] A one-dish
meal consisting of rice steamed together with
Siew and sometimes other ingredients.
2007 Foong Woei Wan The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 13 May. The fan choi (one-dish meal of rice steamed with char siew, $1.50 each) is not bad too. Okay, so it is a pared-down take with just pink meat – no boiled egg, no Chinese mushrooms, no frills. But the rice is just right, with the grains nice and firm.
fat choy /faht
choy, fɑt̚ tʃɔɪ/ n. [Cant. 发菜
[...]; Mand. fàcài: see
Fa Cai] The Cantonese name
for Fa Cai.
2001 Raelene Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 14 January, P12 [C]ustomary Cantonese dishes [for Chinese New Year] include dried oysters (ho see) with sea moss (fatt choy) and eight-treasure rice, a traditional dessert. 2002 Leong Pik Yin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 3 February, P13 Black moss (fat choy or fa cai). Believed to represent: Prosperity. The words “fa cai” are part of a common Chinese New Year salutation “gong xi fa cai”, which means “wishing you happiness and prosperity”.
/feng, fɛŋ/ n.
[origin unkn.] A spicy Eurasian curry dish containing minced beef or pork; minced pig’s kidney, liver,
stomach, tripe and tongue; and various spices.
1995 Joan Margaret Marbeck Ungua Adanza 2 There are various curries on the other table – Curry Feng, Curry Devil.. 188 feng spicy curry with pig entrails 2001 David Kraal The Straits Times (Life!), 2 October, L4 I have decided to bring you the recipe for Feng, that other Eurasian curry masterpiece. 2010 Huang Lijie (quoting Robin Pereira) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 14 February, 22 Mr Robin Pereira, 76, is particular about the way ingredients are sliced, diced and chopped when he cooks. The pork and offal he uses in feng curry, a Eurasian pork curry, for example, must be cut into 0.5cm cubes. .. Mr Pereira, a Eurasian, says: “When the pork and pig organs are cut to the same size and shape, each scoop of the curry is likely to contain an even mix of the different pig parts. So every mouthful is the same and the taste and texture are consistent. .. Feng is traditionally eaten by Eurasians on Christmas and New Year’s Day..[”]
[Eng.] mil. slang
A state of cheerfulness, restlessness, disinclination to work,
allegedly experienced by soldiers as their release from full-time military
service approaches. See also
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 307 fever high. The medical status of soldiers approaching their RODs.
fire in the hole n. phr. [Eng., poss. f. a warning shout by U.S. miners after explosives had been ignited in the pit and a blast was imminent; later U.S. army slang (see quot. 1991)] coarse Used to describe the passing of large lumps of faeces.
[1991 Linda Reinberg In the Field: The Language of the Vietnam War 81 fire in the hole warning shouted by soldiers when there is to be a planned demolition.]
2005 Hong Xinyi The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 19 June. Fire in the hole. Army use: The warning shouted when throwing a grenade. Civilian use: To excrete an unusually large lump of faecal matter. Example: I got constipation for weeks, but lucky today I fire in the hole.
fire-walking n. & a. [Eng.] A n. An act
of walking across a fire pit containing burning coals, performed by Hindu men at a ceremony which is held on the
seventh day of Aipasi [Tam. ஜப்பசி
Aippaci < Skt.
āśvayuj harnessing horses; having horses put to (as a carriage); name
of a constellation, the head of Aries; the first lunar mansion; the month Āśvina;
born under the constellation Aśvayuj < Skt.
āśva relating or belonging to a horse, equestrian, coming from a horse;
drawn by horses; Skt. अशव
aśva a horse, esp. a stallion (Monier-Williams)],
the seventh month of the Tamil calendar (mid-October to mid-November of the
Gregorian calendar), eight days before
Deepavali. The ceremony is
performed as a penance or
thanksgiving in honour of the goddesses Sri Mariamman and Sri Drowpathai Amman.
In Singapore devotees walk from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road to the Sri Mariamman
Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore (founded between mid-1819 and
1821), in South Bridge Road where the ceremony has been held since 1840.
B a. Of or relating to fire-walking or the fire-walking ceremony.
¶ Fire-walking is known in Tam. as தீமிதீ tīmiti [Tam. தீ tī fire; lamp; sacrificial fire; to be burnt + மித miti to tread on; to tread down, trample; step into a tank or well (Tam. Lex.)].
The Mahabharata relates that the childless Drupada, king of Panchala, prayed for a son to enable him to seek vengeance against his enemy, Dronacharya. Due to his faith, a son, Dhrishtadyumna, and a daughter, Drowpathai or Draupadi, were born to him out of a holy fire on his oblation altar. Draupadi was put through severe tests in her life but was aided by Lord Krishna, with whom she shared a special platonic relationship. On one occasion, one of Draupadi’s five husbands, Yudhishthira, lost her in a game of dice that he played with his cousin Duryodhana after having pledged her as a chattel. Duryodhana ordered Draupadi to be dragged by her hair to the royal court and to be disrobed before the people there assembled. Draupadi cried out to Lord Krishna, who protected her honour by giving her a sari that could never be fully unravelled. To add insult to injury, Yudhishthira accused Draupadi of infidelity with Lord Krishna. To prove her innocence, Draupadi walked across a pit of burning coals and, with Lord Krishna’s help, emerged unscathed.
It appears that the fire-walking ceremony is related to the worship of Draupadi because of her birth out of holy fire, the test of her virtue by walking on burning coals, or her miraculous purification by fire after she spent a year in turn with each of her five husbands. Devotees participate in the fire-walking ceremony in honour of Draupadi and as a test of their purity and their faith to her; it is said that if a devotee is not pure, he will fail the test and sustain burns.
A 1931 L. Elizabeth Lewis National Geographic Magazine, April, vol. LIX, 513–516. The fire-walking Hindus of Singapore [title]. .. After an absence of two years, I had been back in Singapore only a few hours when my English school-teacher hostesses rushed into their apartment with the breathless news that a Hindu acquaintance had given them reserved-seat tickets for a Treemiri (fire-walking). .. The devotees, including quite a number of women, approximated 400. Some were kneeling and touching the earth with their foreheads, while others, more devout, were literally groveling in the dirt. A few were endeavoring to crawl or roll completely around the temple.. Many of those who had made a vow to undergo torture had prepared their bodies the preceding month by some form of penance and had refrained from eating for a day before the event. While these zealots were proceeding with their tasks, a bed of coals was being prepared. Great piles of wood were burned to embers; then the ashes were raked into a neat bed about 24 feet long. It seemed hours to us before it reached this stage, as the atmosphere was rendered almost unbearable by the intense heat. At the end of the mass of live coals was dug a pool, which was filled with milk brought to the spot in earthernware jars. The images of the gods were then brought from the temple and placed near this pool of milk. .. [T]he priests who held back the devotees began to lash them with whips, and one by one they made a dash, barefooted, across the red-hot coals into the pool of milk. Each participant wore a short covering of cheesecloth stained yellow by saffron water, and each carried in his hands, clenched above his head, a twig of green from a tree supposed to possess curative properties.. The wrists were also tied together with yellow amulets. If the person was pure, the amulet would remain unbroken. I did not see any break. .. Walking through fire has become a custom for the curing of bodily ills or the overcoming of other calamities. 2005 The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 22 October. More than 3,000 Hindu men will gather at the Sri Mariamman Temple in South Bridge Road on Monday to participate in this year’s fire-walking ceremony. At 1.30am, they will walk 4km from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road to the Sri Mariamman Temple. There, they will tread across a 4m fire pit as a form of penance or thanksgiving in honour of goddesses Sri Mariamman and Sri Drowpathai Amman. Only men perform this ritual. Women will walk around the fire pit after all the men have crossed. Before that, they will assemble in Mosque Street to watch the proceedings on large TV screens. Members of the public can view the ceremony from 4am onwards. On that same night, a brightly lit silver chariot will glide down Serangoon Road symbolising the triumphant procession of the goddess Sri Drowpathai Amman after the successful fire-walking. B 1931 L. Elizabeth Lewis National Geographic Magazine, April, vol. LIX, 513. The fire-walking Hindus of Singapore [title]. Whether he be transplanted from his native land to the Union of South Africa or to the Straits Settlements, the East Indian fire-walker takes his weird religious ceremony with him.
transl. of Mand.
fish + yuán
Dict.), or cognates in other Chi. dialects] A Chinese food item consisting of a mixture of minced fish and flour
shaped into a ball and boiled till firm, often eaten in soup, served with
2000 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Dasmond Koh) The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 3 December, P26 When I go out to makan (eat), sometimes I get extra fishball or prawns lah. 2005 Peh Shing Huei The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 13 October. [F]amiliar local fare like .. Fuzhou fishballs will be available. 2006 Wong Ah Yoke The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 8 January, L4 [F]ishballs which are not only springy but have a distinct taste of fish too. Their slightly flattened shape is also a clear indication that they are made by hand. 2006 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Soh Gim Teik) The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 12 March. I do have a ritual whenever I return home from overseas. On the day I touch down, I will always drive out for my noodles – whether it’s in the corner coffee shop in Sixth Avenue or Maple Avenue in Bukit Timah, which is where I live. I need to have my wonton mee or fishball noodles. 2006 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 13 August, L25 FISHBALL: They are laborious to make because fish has to be cleaned, minced, mixed with other ingredients such as onions and egg and finally shaped into round balls. Handmade fishballs are irregular in shape and more springy and moist than machine-made ones.
transl of Mand.
yǘ fish +
bĭng round, flat cake (Chi.–Eng.
Dict.), or cognates in other Chi. dialects] A Chinese food item
made of the same ingredients as
except shaped into a oblong piece and usually served sliced with noodles.
2005 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 11 December, L31 [N]oodles topped with fresh prawns and fishcake.. 2006 Wong Ah Yoke The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 8 January, L4 The fishcake has a firm texture and is the tastiest among the four stalls. 2008 Cheryl Tan The Straits Times (Life!), 2 September, C8 Hawker nominee Beach Road Prawn Noodles in East Coast Road is one of the five to be shortlisted. .. The springy noodles, fresh prawns and tasty fish cake also keep him going back for more..
five-foot way n. [Eng., poss. < Mal. kaki lima five-foot way, pavement (Winstedt): kaki foot; measure of length + lima five. See 2006 and 2008 quots. below.]
[2008 Stephanie Yap The Straits Times (Life!), 20 November, C6 In Sir Stamford Raffles’ Town Plan of 1822, the founder of Singapore ruled that shophouses must have a covered walkway of about 5 feet wide along its street front, meant to shield pedestrians from the sun and rain.]
A covered corridor or walkway in front of a row of shophouses, often but
not necessarily five feet in width.
1996 Michael Wise Travellers’ Tales of Old Singapore 4 They pushed through motley crowds along the five-foot ways. 2006 Wong Ah Yoke The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 24 September. [T]he premises are tiny and most tables are set up along a raised five-foot-way outside the eatery. 2006 Moses Lim Weekend Today, 2–3 December, 38 The older generation would be familiar with the term “five foot way”, especially when said in Chinese dialect. According to them, it is a direct translation from the Malay term, lima kaki, which literally means “5 foot” in width. But how did the term come about in the first place? In the old days when Singapore was a British colony, it was mandatory to leave a 5ft wide pavement in front of every shophouse – for the benefit of pedestrians. Five foot ways were so ubiquitous in my childhood days that they were almost an integral part of life. Then, it was not uncommon to see Chinese shop owners and their staff setting up tables and chairs on the pavement at lunchtime. Some of them would even make use of the space to display their goods, especially during festive seasons, when the five foot ways would be jam-packed with foodstuff and other festive buys. So much so that there was often little room left for pedestrians. Street hawkers were another group of people you’d see on five foot ways taking a break and selling their wares at the same time.
five-spice powder n. [Eng. transl. of Mand.
五香粉 wǔxiāngfěn: wǔxiāng the five spices (prickly ash, star
aniseed, cinnamon, clove and fennel) (wǔ five + xiāng fragrant,
sweet-smelling, aromatic, scented) + fěn powder (Chi.–Eng.
Dict.), or cognates in other Chi. dialects] A mixture of star
anise, fennel, clove, cassia bark or cinnamon, and either black pepper or sichuan
pepper, which is used in Chinese cooking.
2003 Pauline D. Loh Today, 28 October, 40 Nothing evokes the primary flavours of Chinese cooking as much as five-spice powder or wuxiang fen. Literally, it translates to ‘powder of the five fragrances’. .. [T]he predominant flavour in Chinese five-spice is star anise. It is blended with fennel (jintan manis), clove, cassia bark or cinnamon and either black pepper or sichuan pepper (which are not true peppercorns). 2012 Thng Lay Teen The Sunday Times (SundayLife!), 7 October, 30 There was a distinct whiff of five-spice powder as I bit into the roll [Hay Cho] which had been cut into several pieces and then fried.
[Eng.] A children’s game (similar to dibs, jacks, jackstones or knucklebones) played with five
tetrahedral ‘stones’ made of fabric filled with beans or sand, the object being
to throw one of the stones in the air and, using the same hand, grab the other
stones and catch the falling stone.
2001 Ong Sor Fern The Straits Times (Life!), 24 February, L17 In the bathroom playing the child’s game of ‘five stones’. 2012 Frances Ess Today on Sunday, 11 March, 8 Our mothers would make small cloth bags filled with beans and we would play five stones.
v. phr. [Eng.] Fail to keep an appointment, stand someone up.
2005 Renee Tan The Sunday Times, 27 February, 38 Fly aeroplane. What it means: To stand someone up. How to use: “It’s important you attend the meeting tonight. Don’t fly aeroplane. Otherwise I’ll never forgive you!”
go fly kite: get lost, go
away, leave me alone. Compare
Go Fuck Spider.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 307 fly kite. Euphemism for more vulgar forms of outbursts as someone who is frustrating and annoying. ‘Go fly a kite’ is somewhat like ‘go jump in a lake’ – socially acceptable alternative to the ubiquitous but unprintable ‘f— off’. 2011 Akshita Nanda The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 13 November, 39 [W]hen I ask them to “go fly a kite”, it is not an invitation to bring paper and string to a picnic spot but an instruction to stop horsing around.
flying low a. [< Eng. fly n. a piece of cloth that hides the fastening at the front of a pair of trousers; also, the fastening itself] Having the fly of one’s trousers accidentally unzipped.
n. [Fc. (?)
foo good fortune; blessing;
happiness + chow prefecture; Mand.
A n. 1 An inhabitant of
Foochow or Hokchew, the provincial seat and largest prefecture-level city of
Fujian (Fukien) Province in China, or a descendant thereof living in another part of the
world. 2 The Chinese dialect of Foochow, regarded as the standard
form of Mǐn Dōng [Mand. 闽东: Mǐn another name
for Fujian Province + dōng east], the language mainly spoken in the
eastern part of Fujian Province, which is also spoken in Singapore. B
a. Of or pertaining to Foochow, its culture, and its inhabitants or
persons who trace their ancestry thereto.
¶ Known in Hk. as Hokchew, Hokchiew.
A 1 2010 Rebecca Lynne Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 25 July, 21 There are about 50,000 Foochows in Singapore. Other dialect groups closely related to Foochow include Hockchia, Henghua and Hockchew. Most come from the Fuzhou area in Fujian province. 2 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.), vol. 5, 216 col. 2 We pass in succession the following dialects:.. Amoy.. Foochow, [etc.].
n. phr. [Eng.] mil. slang
A collar pin worn by infantry soldiers featuring two rifles with crossed barrels.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 307 fork and spoon. Reference to the infantry’s collar dot. 1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 41 Fork and spoon. Description of the collar dot worn by infantrymen.
free and easy a. phr. [< Eng., unconstrained, easy-going: see quots. below]
[1699 Martin Lister A Journey to Paris in 1698 41 In a very free and easie posture. 1837 Harriet Martineau Society in America, ch 3, 142 He was a most friendly personage, as willing as he was free and easy. 1981 Washington Post 10 August, C4 Among the assorted pleasures of the Glen Echo Park summer dance festival is the free and easy atmosphere.]
Of a holiday trip: involving travel at one’s leisure, rather than according to a fixed schedule on a conducted tour.
friend v. [< Eng. friend n. or befriend v. Compare friend v., regarded as arch. or poetic: see quots. 1562, 1676 below] often nursery Act as a friend to, befriend.
[1562 John Heywood Prouerbes in the Englishe Tounge (1867) 89 Freende they any, That flatter many? 1676 William Row The Life of Mr. R. B. (Continuation), ch. 12 (1848) 434 Reports came that the King would friend Lauderdale.]
1982 ‘Paik-Choo’ (Toh Paik Choo) Eh, Goondu! 5 Don’t Friend You Said with the stress on “friend.” Meaning “It’s all over, how can I trust you some more and after I said don’t broadcast too.” 7 Friend Me Or Not Never “Friend me?” always “Friend me or not?” In Pasar Patois there’s no place for the wishy-washy, you must make a committment [sic], hence the “or not.” 2006 The Sunday Times, 13 August, 38 John said: “Betty don’t want to friend me any more.” .. Yes, children are fond of using these “don't friend you/him/her” phrases. We hear them in the playground and in school, and they mean simply this – the end of the friendship.
fu chuk /foo chuuk, fuː tʃʊk̚/ n. [Cant. 腐 fú putrid, rotten, decayed, spoiled + 竹 chuk the bamboo, of which sixty varieties are recognized by the Chinese (Eitel); Mand. fǔ rotten, putrid; bean curd + zhú bamboo (Chi.–Eng. Dict.), poss. f. the fact that in its dried, uncooked form, fu chuk resembles bamboo sticks] Also fu chok. A Chinese food item consisting of thin, wrinkled, cream-coloured sheets of bean curd which are used in savoury dishes, soups and desserts. Compare Tim Chuk.
fu yu /foo
yuui, fuː jy/
n. [Cant. 腐 fú putrid, rotten, decayed,
spoiled + 乳 ü milk; to suckle; the breasts, a teat; soft (Eitel);
Mand. fǔ rotten, putrid + rǔ milk; any milk-like liquid (Chi.–Eng.
Taufu (bean curd or tofu) that has
been fermented in brine and rice wine, and often flavoured with ingredients such
as red chillies, sesame oil, soya sauce, five-spice powder, etc. It is
used as a condiment in Chinese cooking.
2006 The Straits Times (Urban) (from Straits Times Interactive), 15 June. Fu yu or fermented beancurd is really Chinese cheese. Like cheese, fu yu comes in different grades: from the common salty China-made kind sold at any supermarket to the finer, creamier cubes from Hong Kong. Hong Kong fu yu is hard to come by in Singapore, so beancurd snobs like me have to go to Lau Chiu Tai Food Supplies, a rare shop here that stocks the old Hong Kong brand Liu Ma Kee. Liu Ma Kee Preserved Beancurd is less salty and much smoother than regular fu yu. It is far too good to be tossed in the wok and stir-fried with vegetables and what have you. Best to eat it on its own, with congee or even beer. 2007 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Sim Ee Waun) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 2 September, L28 [A] full spread of authentic Teochew porridge including .. slabs of fu yu (fermented beancurd).
1 In big fuck: a A ‘very important person’ (VIP),
esp. a high-ranking guest or official, often regarded with derision.
A person who has a high opinion of himself, a conceited person. 2
In fuck care [< Eng. not to give (or
care) a fuck]: not care in the slightest, not give a damn.
2 [1929 Frederic Manning The Middle Parts of Fortune vol 1, ch 5, 87 ‘They don’t care a fuck ’ow us’ns live,’ said little Martlow bitterly. 1962 Jean Iris Murdoch An Unofficial Rose, ch 6, 63 Not that I care a fuck.]
[Eng.] vulg. Berate, rebuke, reprimand, scold.
2006 Neil Humphreys Final Notes from a Great Island 36 “He take any small thing and make it into a big thing. I tell you, any small thing, he want to make it into a big thing. So I fuck him, lah.” They were criticising their supervisor, I believe, but the dialogue could equally have detailed a gay romp they had enjoyed the previous night.
Phrase: fuck upside down v. phr. Reprimand or scold severely.
spider int. [origin uncertain; poss. < Eng. spider (mil.
slang) the dirt in a rifle barrel; or f. the practice of boys catching
spiders and having them fight each other (Coxford
Eng. Dict.)] vulg. 1 An exclamation expr. extreme
frustration. 2 In go fuck spider: go away, get lost, leave me alone. Compare
Go Fly Kite.
2006 Neil Humphreys Final Notes from a Great Island 133 .. National Servicemen are all fluent in bizarre Hokkien and Singlish phrases that mean nothing to anyone else. Approach a Singaporean woman and say “fuck spider” and she almost certainly will not clean your rifle. .. Singaporean men possess the ability to converse in an exclusive, members-only language. It is not Malay, it is not Singlish, it is not even Hokkien. It is Army Speak. If you do not know the language, you can go “fuck spider”.
fucked-up a. [< Eng. fuck up v. ruin, spoil, mess up; blunder, make a (serious) error; fail: see quots. 1968, 1971]
[1968 John Updike Couples, ch 4, 294 This fucks up our party, doesn’t it? 1971 Eugene E Landy The Underground Dictionary 84 Fuck up, v. 1. Make a gross error..]
vulg. 1 Of a person: incompetent, ineffective, useless. 2 Of things: broken, damaged, faulty, useless. See also Cock-Up a.
fuckshop n. [Eng. fuck + shop, poss. alt. of tuckshop] coarse mil. slang A brothel.