Back to the home page
Jack Tsen-Ta Lee
/tah pow, tɑ paʊ/
to beat, to hit, to strike; an auxiliary verb in the sense of to make, to do, to
to enclose, to contain, to hold, to wrap up (Eitel); Mand.
gather in, collect, reap +
bundle, package, pack, packet, parcel (Chi.–Eng.
Pack a meal to take along with oneself rather than to consume it at an eating
establishment; have a meal to go, take away, take out.
2000 Dennis Wee with Sylvia Fong Making Luck with Your Hands 73 I tar pau a packet of nasi lemak home for dinner. 2004 Philip Lee Streats, 23 April, 22 I have never done any ‘tah pow’ (packing) at such functions.. [E]ven at home parties in Singapore when food is served buffet style, the hosts often ask guests if they want to ‘tah pow’ the leftovers. To ‘tah pow’ food home is a way of life here, a part of our culture. I do not find anything reprehensible about it. 2004 Sharlene Tan (quoting Russel Wong) Streats, 29 December, 6 The last meal I had with Jackie (Chan) was laksa and chicken rice ‘ta pao’ from Newton Circus or some place. We ate it off the coffee table.. 2006 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Robert Godley) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 25 June. When my wife gave birth to the girls at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, she made me go there to tapow (take away) food.
[Eng.] mil. slang.
An action or activity carried out by a soldier designed to create a good impression
on a superior.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 313 tactical movement. Action deployed and directed by an officer towards creating a good impression on his superiors who are able to have a say or even to decide on his future in the Army. (An instance is the tea-pouring competition.)
[Mal., holding out against,
sustaining; compare bertahan
hold out, endure] Endure, hold out.
1987 Toh Paik Choo On the Buses 16 Those of us who cannot tahan germs and sweat smell. 2000 Karamjit Kaur The Straits Times, 15 February, 44 How to tahan (last) until lunch? 2000 Leong Ching The Straits Times (Life!), 26 October, 4 Sure cannot tahan. 2005 Val Chua (quoting Gerard Ee) Today, 9 December, 1 Sure, 6 to 7 years, we can tahan (withstand) for a while.. 2011 Eunice Quek (quoting Dilip Ghosh) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 19 June, 28 But I cannot tahan (Malay for “bear”) century egg.
n. [Mal.; > Eng. tael] hist. A unit of weight,
one-sixteenth of a
Kati, which is equal to the
Chinese 两 liǎng and fixed by treaty for
commercial purposes at 1⅓ oz. avoirdupois (about 37.799364 grammes).
1902 Encyclopædia Britannica, vol. 33, 813/1 Tahil.. Straits Settlements 1¼ oz. av. = 10 chee = 100 hoon. [1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1149 tahil. A measure of weight known widely. Best known as the Chinese «tael» (i.e. 579.84 grains of silver or nearly the weight of a dollar and a half). But the word is not Chinese; see mas, saga. In Malaya there are two «taels»: (i) the Chinese tael for weighing opium = 10 chi or 100 hun; and (ii) the gold tahil (known also as bongkal), = 16 mayam and representing the weight of two Spanish dollars. In Java = 16 mas.] 1947 Richard Olaf Winstedt The Malays, ch. 6, 112 Soon after the founding of Malacca Chinese annals under 1416 record.. that, ‘tin.. is cast into small blocks weighing 1 kati 8 tahil or 1 kati 4 tahil official weight... They use these pieces of tin instead of money.’ [1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged Malay–English Dictionary 346 tahil, 1⅓ oz. (gold weight); Ch. [Chinese], weight for opium = 10 chi.] 1970 Metrication Act 1970 (No. 52 of 1970), s. 5(b). Conversion of imperial standard units to metric system units. The values expressed in terms of .. the local customary system of weights and measures, may be converted into the values expressed in terms of the International System of Units in accordance with Schedule C. .. Schedule C .. Conversion of Local Customary Units to Equivalent SI Units .. 1 tahil = 37.799364 grammes approximately 1972 The Straits Times, 25 November, 15/1 The gold bars, weighing 15 katis seven tahils.
/tı chee, tʌɪ tʃiː/
a kind of traditional Chinese shadow boxing:
highest, greatest +
the utmost point, extreme
fist] Pass a duty, job,
or shift blame, to another person.
1991 Ken Lou The Straits Times, 9 October, 4 Taiji is the Chinese art of shadow boxing. But the expression, to practise shadow boxing, means shifting the blame to someone else.
/tı tı, tʌɪ tʌɪ/
mistress of a household, madam, lady]
A woman, usu. wealthy, who does not work but spends her time shopping, meeting
a lady of leisure.
2000 Elisabeth Gwee The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 9 April, 15 Loyal following of tai tais and fashion victims. 2000 Yeow Kai Chai The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 2 July, 5 His regular tai-tai clientele. 2000 Ong Sor Fen The Straits Times (Life!), 12 September, 4 Grace’s ditzy, bitchy tai tai secretary. 2001 Cat Ong (quoting Bernie Chan) The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 14 January, P19 Now I prefer to wear Prada, but bought at half-price, second-hand from my tai tai friends. 2001 Suzanne Sng The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 22 April, P3 The tai tai, the well-heeled housewife who has plenty of time – and money – on her ring-encrusted hands.
tair /tair, taïə(ɹ)/ a. [Hk.] In the habit of exhibiting childish, coquettish behaviour to elicit attention.
/tahk jah-lahn, tɑk̚ ˈdʒɑlɑn/
ta’ = tidak no, not (Wilkinson,
Winstedt) + jalan
movement in a definite direction] Of comments, proposals, suggestions,
made to someone: be ignored or turned down, have no effect.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 313 tak jalan. Of Malay origin meaning ‘cannot move’. One’s complaints, suggestions or recommendations are said to tak jalan when their submission upwards is met with no response, or (worse) with rebuff, from the top. Such communication blockage is inevitable in a massive and rigid hierarchical organisation as the Army’s.
[Eng.] mil. slang
In take one, two,
perform a specified number of duties or jobs as punishment.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 313 take. Just as ‘to drop’ so many is to do many push-ups as punishment, ‘to take’ so many is to do so many extra guard duties, or other forms of duty, as punishment. 1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 51 Take. Usually followed by a number. If a soldier is told to take seven, it means he has to do seven duties.
[< Eng. cover n. that which serves for shelter or concealment, shelter,
hiding-place] mil. slang
Hide, lie low, skive; spec. avoid duty or work, avoid meeting one’s superiors. Compare
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 313 take cover. To go into hiding; to avoid duty and escape training. See ‘chiah chua’, ‘skive’. 1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 51 Take cover. To hide. 1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 83 It was no surprise that the ‘take-cover’ mood filled the air the whole day. 2005 Elena Chong The Straits Times, 30 March, H8 AWOL man ‘takes cover’ – in jail.. For almost a month, Raja Izzuwin hid from civil defence officers who were looking for him – by “taking cover” in prison.
[Eng., origin unkn.; poss. <
talc mica, a crystalline mineral which can be used as a glass substitute]
In full, talc sheet:
a clear plastic sheet on which map overlays are drawn.
198? Bernard Peh Chin Ann “A Soldier’s Story” Pioneer 13 We knew that the reality of a marked arrow on a plastic talc at Headquarters meant hours of cross terrain bashing. 2002 Koh Boon Pin & Lee Geok Boi Shoulder to Shoulder 26 Change the exercise telt sheet.
v. phr. [Eng.
< cock-and-bull story a fictitious narrative, or U.S. slang
poppycock nonsense, ‘rubbish’, ‘humbug’] 1 Talk rubbish, spout
nonsense, make an unfounded statement. 2 Engage in chit-chat or small talk.
1 1937 Cecil Day Lewis Starting Point 52 ‘If I hadn’t let Mackenzie through that time, we’d have won.’ ‘Don’t talk cock. You played a damned good game.’ 1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 31 talking cock .. The expression can also be used as an admonishment. ‘Don’t talk cock!’ is an appropriate response to a trainee’s suggestion that guard duty be extended to officers. 2 1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 313 talk cock. ‘Talking cock’ is talking rubbish or talking about anything under the sun. This is an activity carried out during the soldier’s spare time or when he is shining boots. It can be enjoyable and much frustration is worked away through displacement, fantasy and rationalisation during a ‘talk cock’ session. 1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 31 A favourite pastime in the army is talking cock. .. It merely means getting together after training or during breaks to talk rubbish. 2006 Neil Humphreys Final Notes from a Great Island 10 The intricacies of Singlish were as confusing as they were entertaining. I was alarmed by how comfortable local men were discussing their reproductive organ. I can vividly recall David saying, “That guy likes to talk cock.” Does he now? The dirty old bastard. And I thought Singapore was a conservative society. .. [E]veryone “talks cock” in Singapore now.
Phrase: talk cock sing song.
tamby /tum-bee, ˈtʌmbiː/
n. [Tam. தம்பி
tampi younger brother; younger male cousin who is the son of a paternal
uncle or maternal aunt; term of endearment applied to a younger male (Tam.
Lex.)] rare and poss. derog. 1 A young male Tamil.
2 An office-boy, an errand-boy or messenger working in an office
(formerly a position often filled by a young Tamil boy or man).
[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1158 tambi. [Tam[il]; = «younger brother»] «Boy», as a term used when addressing young Tamils; whence it has come to mean «messenger, errand-boy» (not usually «house-boy») and sometimes even any young Tamil, cf. (Panj. Sg. [Shaer Panji Sumirang (manuscript, Cambridge; since lithographed, Singapore)]), Bapa’-mu orang tiada běrtěntu / Tambi dan China di-pasar batu: And none can say whose son you are, – / Some Kling’s or Chink’s from the bazaar. 1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged Malay–English Dictionary 349 tambi, Tam[il] (= younger brother) errand-boy, messenger.]
/tahng hoon, tɑŋ huːn/
n. [Hk. 冬 tang + 粉 hwún
rice flour, any kind of powder (Medhurst);
Mand. dōng winter + fěn noodles or vermicelli made from bean or
sweet potato starch (Chi.–Eng.
Dict.)] A transparent form of rice vermicelli. Also known as
2006 Low Shi Ping Weekend Today, 9–10 December, 29 Our last dish was the dried tang hoon, or vermicelli noodles.. The noodles were fried with prawns, chicken, egg and leafy greens. 2009 Huang Lijie The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 8 November, 26 [U]ncle’s fish ball soup with tang hoon (mung bean vermicelli).
/tahng kee, tɑŋ kiː/
[Hk.; according to
Mand. 童 tóng child; virgin; bare, bald + 乩
jī to divine by means of a stick writing upon sand; planchette (Giles);
fújī to write in sand with a stick which is held by two blindfold
persons and is supposed to be guided by spirits this is a common method of
fortune-telling in China, usu. practised at a temple (Giles); a traditional form of divination whereby the spirit, when
involved, writes characters on a sand pan by means of a stick attached to a
horizontal piece supported by two persons serving as mediums (Lin); planchette writing (Chi.–Eng.
Dict.), that is, writing produced using a planchette, a
small board supported by castors and fitted with a writing implement held
vertically which, when one or more people rest their fingers on the board, is
said to trace out messages without conscious human direction (OED);
请乩 qǐngjī to invite the spirits to
disclose events; this is done by making offerings upon the altar, and burning a
paper with the question required to be answered written upon it (Giles)] Also tang ki. A Taoist spirit medium.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 55 Poh Lan, though less intelligent, is more persevering: she has formed the habit of studying from afternoon till midnight or 1 a.m. before every examination. And on a number of occasions, she broke down into tears because she was afraid she would forget what she had learnt. Her mother would then “consult” the gods and Poh Lan would then be treated with the tanki’s (medium’s) prescription. .. 61 Noticing that she was not herself, her mother went to the temple to consult the gods. This she did through a medium (tanki) whose unintelligible mutterings, alleged to be the lispings of the gods, were rendered coherent for the benefit of mortals by the tanki’s assistant who then issued a piece of holy paper on which were scribbled some Chinese characters. This piece of paper Poh Hock’s mother brought back and burnt, then soaked the ashes in a cup of water. Poh Lan drank the water. 2004 Clarissa Oon (quoting Margaret Chan) The Straits Times, 15 September, L3 [S]he is now an expert on Taoist rituals such as the tang kee (spirit mediums) and lion dances. .. Before a ritual in a temple, .. a tang kee behaves like any ordinary person.. Once in trance, however, ‘there is another mind controlling him’. His eyes may roll, and he speaks in a different voice, usually a falsetto. Among other things, the medium experiences pain – but does not show it – when he skewers himself. .. [T]he tang kee takes on the spirit of that weapon to arm himself and protect his people. [2006 William Gwee Thian Hock A Baba Malay Dictionary 192 tang ki [童乩] spirit medium] 2006 Zakir Hussain & Sim Chi Yin The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 18 February. Mr Liew [Kai Khiun], who has written about local trade unionists and naval dockyard workers, sees his role as that of a ‘tang kee’ (Hokkien for spirit medium), ‘bringing back forgotten voices of the past in order for the present to remember’. 2006 Tan Hsueh Yun The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 25 June. For her thesis, she chose to research the ancient practice of tang-ki or Chinese spirit worship. Over three years, she made trips back home to Singapore and also to China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Thailand, speaking to these mediums, watching them pierce their cheeks with fluorescent light tubes while in a trance.
tang ku /tahng kuu, t̚ɑŋ kuː/ int. [Hk. 等 tang wait + 久 ku long; Mand. děng jiŭ] An exclamation expr. disbelief or skepticism, in the sense that something is so unlikely that one must wait a long time before it will happen; pigs will fly; when hell freezes over.
/tahng oh, t̚ɑŋ əʊ/
n. [Hk.; Mand. 茼蒿 tónghāo crown-daisy
Dict.)] Chrysanthemum coronairum
var. spatiosum, an
annual plant with strong-flavoured, broadly-serrated leaves which is eaten as a vegetable;
crown-daisy, garland chrysanthemum.
¶ Known in Cant. as t‘ung mo (see quot. 1991).
1991 Kok Poh Tin et. al. A Guide to Common Vegetables 24–25 Chrysanthemum coronairum L. var. spatiosum Bailey (Compositae) Garland chrysanthemum.. tang-oh.. An annual eaten at the seedling stage when it is not more than 20 cm high. Leaves are succulent with a light silvery tinge and broadly serrated edges. .. The tender shoots are eaten as cooked vegetable or in soups. Its rather pungent smell, however, does not appeal to many people. But it is known to be rich in vitamin A. 2006 Sylvia Tan The Straits Times (Mind Your Body) (from Straits Times Interactive), 6 September. I have at times tossed in green vegetables such as tang orr (garland chrysanthemum) or bok choy, which we seldom look upon as salad vegetables, into the bowl as long as they are young and tender.
/tahng shuui, tɑŋ ʃʊɪ/
syrup: táng sugar +
shuǐ water, liquid;
or cognates in other Chi. dialects] A general term for a
Chinese dessert consisting of sweet potato, yam or other vegetables or fruits in
a sweetened syrup, or ground into a smooth paste.
2003 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times, 5 October, L42 Tang shui.. Whether it is peanut cream, sesame cream or almond cream, the quality of this stall’s Cantonese desserts shows. For over 30 years, the stall has produced a creamy texture of unrivalled smoothness, thanks to an antiquated granite grinder that the owner still uses.
/tahng yuuan, tɑŋ jʊan/
n. [Mand. 汤圆 tāngyuán: tāng soup,
broth + yuán round, circular, spherical] 1 Spherical
made of white or coloured glutinous rice flour, which are traditionally plain
but now commonly stuffed with a sweet or savoury filling, and served in soup. 2
A Chinese dessert consisting of tang yuan dumpings, traditionally plain but now
commonly filled with Tau
Sar, crushed peanuts or other ingredients, and served in a
clear sweetened soup or in soya bean milk.
¶ The dessert, and savoury versions in which the tang yuan are stuffed with meat, are traditionally made and eaten during the Winter Solstice Festival [Mand. 冬至 Dōngzhì Extreme Winter: dōng winter + zhì extremely, most] which falls on 21 or 22 December of the Gregorian calendar, apparently because tang sounds like 团 tuán [Mand., rally, unite, conglomerate] and yuan signifies 圆(满 yuán (mǎn) [Mand., satisfactory, perfect: mǎn completely, entirely, perfectly (Comp. Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] (see quot. December 2006).
1 2005 Wong Ah Yoke The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 2 October. Another signature dish, the dessert of glutinous rice balls with salted egg yolk and candied winter melon, is an updated tang yuan with an original filling that stands out from the usual lotus seed and black sesame paste. 2006 Lim Wei Chean The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 12 October. Traditional Hokkien dishes such as fried tang yuan in soup, kong ba pau or meat-filled buns, rice dumplings and special rice vermicelli will be on sale. 2006 Thng Lay Teen The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 17 December, L30 Whenever Dong Zhi, or the Winter Solstice festival, comes around, I’m reminded of the fun I had as a child helping my sister knead glutinous rice flour dough to make tang yuan, or glutinous rice balls. We would throw the balls – some mixed with pink food colouring – into a pot of boiling water and wait eagerly for them to float once they were cooked. The best part, of course, was eating the balls soaked in a hot brown syrup that had been boiled with a few slices of old ginger and pandan leaves. The sweetness of the syrup lifted the simple tang yuan. Traditionally, Dong Zhi, which coincides with the winter solstice and falls on Dec 22 every year, is the time Chinese families gather to celebrate the past year. Tang yuan is eaten to signify unity and harmony within the family. Tang, meaning soup, sounds like tuan, which means reunion, while yuan, which means round, signifies yuan man, or complete. Hence, tang yuan symbolises tuan yuan (family reunion). Not many people I know mark this thanksgiving festival of the Chinese calendar these days, much less make the tang yuan themselves. The balls are now available in supermarkets and hawker centres and are eaten all year round. They come with all kinds of filling – groundnut, red bean paste, lotus seed paste, black sesame and yam paste. They can also be served in peanut soup instead of syrup. 2006 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Benjamin Seck) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 31 December, L28 Favourite hawker stall? / The tang yuan (glutinous rice balls) stall in Block 85 Bedok North Street 4, and Lei Garden in Chijmes. These two serve the best versions becaue they’re soft and the rice texture is so fine. 2007 Foong Woei Wan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 18 November. On days when I am feeling a bit chilly, I crave something sweet and spicy, like tang yuan (sticky rice balls) in hot ginger soup.
A member of a tank crew.
1981 Martin Choo (ed.) The Singapore Armed Forces 63 Success on the modern battlefield cannot be achieved solely with the ‘tankee’ viewing enemy tanks as his private piece of the action.. 1991 Domonic Nathan The Straits Times, 9 August, 3 Now in their seventh year of reserve training, the tank crew, or ‘tankees’ as they are dubbed, went about their duties of getting equipped and ready for deployment in a business-like, professional manner.
/taht giuu, tAt gjuù/
[Hk. 踢 tat
kick + 球 giu
Milo, a chocolate-flavoured milk drink: see
2004 Karl Ho The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 13 June, L6 Tat giu: Hokkien for ‘kicking ball’. Refers to Milo. Milo tins have images of different sports, such as football, embossed on them. 2006 Serene Luo The Straits Times (Digital Life), 8 August, 3 I know the difference between teh, teh-O, teh-C, teh-peng, teh-O-peng, kopi-gau, kopi-siew-tai, kopi-chino, milo-dinosaur, milo-godzilla, ta-chiu, and I have drunk and loved them all.
tau /dow, t̚aʊ/ n. [Cant. 豆 tau legumes (Eitel), Hk. taoù (Medhurst); Mand. dòu] A legume, pulse, bean or pea; spec. the soybean or soya bean (Glycine maximus). Commonly used in the following combinations.
[Hk. 浆 cheoh
paste, sauce; Mand. dòujiàng]
Fermented soya bean paste, used in Chinese cooking.
2001 Sylvia Lim The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 4 February, P7 Add 2 Tbs brown soya bean paste (tau cheoh) to brown as well. 2006 Cheong Suk-Wai The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 6 August, L12 [S]lice them and saute them with oyster sauce, taucheo (yellow bean sauce), nutmeg and Thai chilli flakes for a quirky kick. 2006 Sylvia Tan The Straits Times (Mind Your Body) (from Straits Times Interactive), 6 October. [T]he nonyas have a dish called chap chye bulat where they braise the whole cabbage in a soya bean paste (tau cheow) stock together with dried soya bean products, black mushrooms and fungus. 2006 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Benjamin Seck) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 31 December, L28 I also do.. crayfish sambal with taucheo (fermented soy beans). .. Peranakans come from the Hokkien and Teochew dialect groups. My family is Teochew, so you can see the use of taucheo in our dishes.
n. [Hk. huay flower, blossom, bloom; anything resembling a flower;
Mand. 花 huā] A Chinese hot or cold
dessert of the consistency of very soft jelly made of coagulated soya bean milk.
It is either served plain or with a sugar syrup, and occasionally with
flavourings such as almond or ginger. Known in Cantonese as
2005 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Fong Loo Fern) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 23 October. For lunch, I eat popiah or a bowl of tau huay (soya beancurd). 2006 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 16 July. It takes a brave man to open a tau huay shop right next to the famous Rochor Original Beancurd in Short Street. But David Koh, 38, has no fear. He is confident that his tau huay (beancurd custard with syrup) can stand up to Rochor’s, even though the latter is a household name known for its super-smooth beancurd texture. After all, he is none other than the younger brother of Rochor’s shop owner, William Koh, 47. .. The Rochor legacy began in the 1960s when the three men’s parents started peddling tau huay from a pushcart in the Rochor and Beach Road areas. Their eldest son, Koon Meng, helped them from the time he was 12, and the trio went on to improve the recipe through years of trial and error. Their brand of silky smooth beancurd comes from watering down soya milk to the right thickness, and adding just the right amount of coagulant and sweet potato flour.
chui /chui, tʃʊɪ/
n. [Hk. 水 chui water; a liquid; Mand.
shuǐ] A sweet or plain beverage made of the boiled liquid squeezed
from mashed soya beans, sometimes flavoured with almonds;
Soya Bean Milk, soybean milk. Known in Cantonese as
2006 Li Xueying (quoting Goh Kai Suah) The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 21 April. ‘I’m going to tell my supplier tomorrow that I now want 12 tanks of tao huey zui every day,’ said soya bean milk hawker Goh Kai Suah, 42, who usually needs 10 plastic tanks for his stall. 2006 Hannah Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 4 June. Competition is.. shaking up the humble tau huay chui (soya bean milk). .. Soya bean milk is now also sold as soft-serve soya ice cream and frothy soya shake. 2007 Arlina Arshad The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 9 February. [T]he cafe did not materialise because the operator ‘wanted to sell sugarcane, ming chiang kuay (pancakes) and tau huay chwee (soya bean drink)’, which went against the mall’s ‘hip and trendy’ image.
tau kon /gon, ɡɒn/ n. [Cant., dried bean-curd: 干 kon parched, dry (Eitel); Mand. gān dry (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] The Cantonese term for Tau Kua.
干 kua dry; Mand.
dòugān] Also tau kwa. Firm beancurd.
Known in Cantonese as Tau
[1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1177 taukua. (Batav. [Batavia], from Ch. [Chinese]) A dish sold by food-hawkers.] 2003 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times, 5 October, L41 Pan-fried tau kwa.. A cheap and rare meal, this is simple man’s food – pan-fried pieces of firm beancurd dipped in chilli sauce.
tau kua pau
包 pau bun, bundle; Mand.
See quot. 2003.
2003 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times, 5 October, L42 Tau kwa pau are fried beancurds stuffed with streaky pork, sliced fishcake, fried yam, egg bits and cucumber, which you drench in dark sauce or a zesty chilli dip.
n. [Cant. 苗 miú grain in the
blade, young growth of grass and vegetables
miáo young plant, seedling (Chi.–Eng.
Dict.)] The young, tender shoots of the pea plant (Pisum sativum),
used as a vegetable.
1991 Kok Poh Tin et. al. A Guide to Common Vegetables 92 Pisum sativum L. (Leguminosae) Snow pea.. An annual, herbaceous, temperate climber, it does not grow well in the lowlands in the tropics. .. The tender shoots are sold as a vegetable, commonly known as “Tou mio”.
tau pei /pay, peɪ/ n. [Cant. 皮 p‘i skin of the body, a hide, fur; a wrapper, a covering (Eitel); Mand. pí skin (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] A Chinese food item consisting of a soft, thin cream-coloured sheet of bean curd which is used in soups, desserts, etc.; bean curd skin. It is made from the coagulated layer that forms on the surface of the mashed soya bean mixture used to make Tauhu.
tau pok var. of Taupok.
tau sar /sahr, sɑː/ n. [Hk. 沙 sar a granulated or powdered substance; Mand. shā] A sweetened paste made of Red Beans, Green Beans, etc., used as a filling in Chinese pastries.
tau sar pau
filled with tau sar (usu. made from
2011 Thng Lay Teen The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 26 June, 23 I also like the.. tau sar (red bean paste) pau (50 cents) as the filling is not too sweet.
n. [Hk. 饼 piah round, flat
A round, flaky Chinese pastry filled with tau sar.
2003 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times, 5 October, L39 Tan Boon Chai.. is still making Hokkien tau sar piah from his ancestor’s original recipe from Fujian province. .. Filled with green bean paste, the 50-cent pastries are rich in taste and aroma. 2006 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 10 September. This 60-year-old institution [Tan Hock Seng Cake Shop] is famous for its Hokkien tau sar piah, which owner Tan Boon Chai, 56, makes using his grandfather’s original recipe from Fujian province. .. [I]ts signature tau sar piah (flaky pastries with green bean filling).. 2009 Thng Lay Teen The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 19 April, 28 The salty tau sar piah (bean paste pastry, 60 cents) was good, with the thin pastry gently flaking off as I bit into its homemade mung bean filling with just the right balance of salty and sweet.
n. [Hk. suan (?);
Gwee suggests Mand.
爽 shuǎng bright, clear, crisp: compare 爽口
shuǎngkǒu tasty and refreshing (Chi.–Eng.
Dict.)] A hot Chinese dessert consisting of a thick soup made from
Beans boiled with sweet potato flour, sugar and pandan leaves, and
served with pieces of
[2006 William Gwee Thian Hock A Baba Malay Dictionary 194 tau suan [豆爽] green pea soup] 2006 The Straits Times (National Day Supplement), 9 August, 17 TOP 10 SINGAPORE DESSERTS.. 5 Tau suan 2006 Kelvin Wong (quoting Simon Chua) The Sunday Times, 17 December, 41 Now I can have my tau suan and durian but still must control a little bit..
taucheo var. of Tau Cheoh.
taufa /tow-fah, ˈtaʊfɑ/ n. [Cant., bean-curd jelly: 花 fá flowers, blossom (Eitel); Mand. huā flower, blossom, bloom; anything resembling a flower (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] Also taufu fa. The Cantonese term for Tau Huay.
taufa shui /shuui, ʃʊɪ/ n. [Cant. 水 shui water (Eitel); Mand. shuǐ: water, a liquid (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] The Cantonese term for Tau Huay Chui.
taufoo var. of Taufu.
taufu /tow-foo, ˈtaʊfuː/ n. [Cant., bean curd: 腐 fú putrid, rotten, decayed, spoiled (Eitel); Mand. fu rotten, putrid; bean curd (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] Also taufoo. The Cantonese term for Tauhu.
var. of Taufa.
2006 Anthony Bourdain New York Times Magazine (from Travel.nytimes.com), 24 September. [A] bowl of tofu fa, a hot beancurd custard with sugar syrup that is chased with a glass of soy milk.
n. [Hk. 芽 geh bud, sprout, shoot; Mand.
yá] Also towgay. Sprouts of the
Green Bean used as a vegetable;
[1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged Malay–English Dictionary 355 tauge, Ch. [Chinese], sprouts of the mung bean, Phaseolus aureus, eaten with rice] 2009 Lee Siew Hua The Straits Times (Saturday), 12 December, E6 [H]e describes how he grows towgay – soak beans overnight, toss them into pet bottles, harvest in seven days.
n. [Hk. 豆腐 taoù hoō a jelly-like
preparation from pulse (Medhurst); Mand. fu
rotten, putrid; bean curd (Chi.–Eng.
Dict.)] A Chinese food item
consisting of a curd made from mashed soya beans; bean curd, tofu. Known
in Cantonese as Taufu.
[1832 Walter Henry Medhurst A Dictionary of the Hok-Këèn Dialect of the Chinese Language 481 豆腐, taoù hoō, a jelly-like preparation from pulse, very much eaten by the Chinese. 1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1177 tauhu. Ch. [Chinese]. Bean curd (shaped but not pressed); Hn. [A.W. Hamilton]]
tauhu goreng /gor-reng, ˈɡɔːrɛŋ/ n. [Mal. tauhu < Hk. Tauhu + Mal. goreng fry in a pan] A Malay dish consisting of deep-fried pieces of Tauhu that are stuffed with bean sprouts and served with a sauce of chillies, cilantro (coriander leaves) and peanuts that are ground up and mixed with soya sauce, salt and vinegar.
thin; Mand. báo]
Also tau pok.
A variety of beancurd which is flattish and square with a brown, wrinkled skin
and soft, spongy interior. 2
A prank where several people pile on top of another and flatten that person like
a piece of taupok.
1 2005 Peh Shing Huei The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 13 October. The Guangxi and Gaozhou Association will serve up this dish [Guangxi yong tau foo], with its special soft-skin tau pok and meat with chives. 2005 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 11 December, L31 Turns out chilli noodles is just a version of dry prawn noodles. But instead of just noodles topped with fresh prawns and fishcake, it has pork spare ribs, slices of taupok (fried beancurd), a hard-boiled egg and a huge dollop of burn-your-lips-off chilli sauce. 2006 The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 2 July. [C]ooked with taupok, mushrooms and vegetables, the noodles are springy and smooth, and boast a delicate flavour of soya sauce. 2008 Thng Lay Teen The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 16 November, 27 I also liked the tau pok (fried beancurd, 50 cents) braised in the same gravy. 2 2004 Maria Almenoar The Straits Times, 12 January, H5 “[T]aupok”, in which students gang up to pile onto one of their brethren, is common in schools here, though principals say they neither condone nor encourage it. The prank starts when one student signals five to 10 others to pile on top of a targeted friend – flattening him like piece of “taupok”, or compressed brown tofu. Students say it is spontaneous, and targeted at boys who are good friends. .. Said Mark Chen, 18, an RJC student: “I’ve been ‘taupok-ed’ before and it’s actually quite fun. It’s usually not painful because everyone piles on quickly and gets off just as fast.”
n. [Hk. 油 yu; Mand. yóu oil, fat, grease (Chi.–Eng.
Dict.)] A salty black liquid made from fermented soya beans which is
used as a seasoning; soy sauce, soya sauce.
[2006 William Gwee Thian Hock A Baba Malay Dictionary 194 tauyu/tauk-yu [豆油, 酱油] soya sauce]
tauyu bak /bahk,
Bak] A Peranakan dish consisting of fatty pork cooked with soya
sauce and spices such as cinnamon and star anise.
2009 Wong Ah Yoke The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 19 April, 28 I also like the flavour of the tau eu bak (soy sauce pork, $10.90), which is strong with aromatic spices such as cinnamon and star anise. I enjoy fat with my meat but even the pork is too fatty for me. It would be better if there was slightly more meat than fat instead of the half-half ratio here.
[Mal. < Hk.
with milk and sugar.
2000 Josephine James (quoting Erlin M. Amin) The Straits Times, 27 November, H6 I still come here for the best teh (Malay for tea). 2002 Karl Ho The Straits Times (Life!), 23 March, L10 They serve hot beverages brewed from Myanmar or Indian tea leaves and a choice of sugar or condensed or evaporated milk – quite similar to our teh or teh si.
teh alia var. of Teh Halia.
teh halia /hah-li-ah, ah-li-ah, ˈhɑliɑ, ˈɑliɑ/ n. [Mal. halia ginger] Also (erron.) teh alia. Tea brewed with ginger.
teh kah tai /kah tı, kɑ tʌɪ/ n. [Hk. kah + tai; Mand. jiā add, plus; increase, augment; put in, add, append (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] Tea with more sugar.
n. [Mal. kosong
nil, nothing, zero] Unsweetened tea with milk. See
2005 Eric J Brooks The Sunday Times, 10 April, 36 Fortunately, the drink seller across from her was able to provide me a teh-c ping kosong for 80 cents and without sugar, just as I had requested. 2006 Philip Soh Yeok Khoon The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 1 March. One can see that more health-con[s]cious Singaporeans are drinking ‘teh-o-kosong’ or ‘kopi-o-kosong’ (without sugar).
n. [Hk. 冰 peng
2005 Eric J Brooks The Sunday Times, 10 April, 36 [D]espite my pointing at the sign which clearly stated that a teh-c ping was 80 cents, the seller continued to demand $1.50. 2006 ‘Mr Brown’ (Lee Kin Mun) Today 36 No more daily teh peng (iced milk tea loaded with lovely condensed milk), no more soft drinks, and no more sweet drinks.
teh si var. of
2002 Karl Ho The Straits Times (Life!), 23 March, L10 They serve hot beverages brewed from Myanmar or Indian tea leaves and a choice of sugar or condensed or evaporated milk – quite similar to our teh or teh si. 2006 Tan Dawn Wei The Straits Times (Life!) (from Straits Times Interactive), 24 April. The guy is as at home sipping teh-si and talking shop with Chinatown natives at Tong Ah Coffeeshop in Keong Saik Road, as he is downing vodka – his sole choice of alcohol – at Zouk or Ministry of Sound.
teh siew tai /siuu tı, sɪuː tʌɪ/ n. [Hk. siew + tai; Mand. shǎo few, little, less (Chi.–Eng. Dict.)] Tea with less sugar.
teh tarik /tah-rik,
n. [Mal. tarek,
to pull] Tea with milk and sugar which has been ‘pulled’, or frothed and mixed
by pouring from one mug to another, often from a height.
2003 Sheena Chan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), L40 At the row of ornate conservation shophouses along rustic Kandahar Street, you can sip your teh tarik at any of five halal restaurants, two of which have been there for more than four decades. 2006 Peter Khoo The Straits Times (Life!), 4 December, 6 No one complained even though there was only teh tarik at the table. But there was joyful banter and great kinship. 2006 Stephanie Chu Huiying The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 28 January. I don't think it is ‘blind patriotism’ to prefer local works [of literature]; it is more like preferring teh tarik to English breakfast tea. If we know only tea, we will never know the joys of teh tarik, which is uniquely satisfying. 2006 Eveline Gan Today, 31 July, 27 [O]ld-school beverages such as teh tarik, bandung and barley are served in traditional kopitiam mugs. 2006 Anthony Bourdain New York Times Magazine (from Travel.nytimes.com), 24 September. Wong also insisted that I try some chicken and mutton curries, which we washed down with teh tarik, or ‘pulled’ tea.. This Indian tea is brewed from leaves, dosed with condensed milk and then pulled, meaning poured back and forth between pitchers from increasing heights until it is frothy.
n. [< the initial letter of the Eng. word
a proprietary name for a brand of evaporated milk first sold by American grocer
E.A. Stuart in the late 19th or early 20th century and now manufactured by the
Nestlé company: see
teh si. Tea made with evaporated milk.
2005 Eric J Brooks The Sunday Times, 10 April, 36 I recently ordered a “teh-c ping kosong” from a drink seller at HDB Hub’s basement foodcourt. For good measure, I also politely said: “One tea with ice and milk, no sugar.” 2009 Mak Mun San The Sunday Times, 19 April, 29 .. I popped in at my neighbourhood kopitiam for my teh c and kaya toast fix. 2011 Ng Kai Ling The Straits Times (Home), 15 December, B1 She used to pay $1.10 for her teh-c (tea with evaporated milk) but switched stalls after buying from another which charged her just 90 cents.
n. [Eng. cappu)ccino] Local tea topped with
frothed milk like a cappuccino. Compare
2006 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 10 September. [A]t many late-night supper spots, the suffix ‘-ccino’ is added to a bewildering array of frothy beverages, from the ‘Tehccino’ to the ‘Miloccino’. I once even heard someone ask the waiter: ‘I want Horlicks. Can make it ccino, one?’
teh-o /or, ɒr/ n. [Hk. or black, dark; Mand. 乌 wū] Sweetened tea without milk.
teh-o kosong /ko-song, ˈkɒsɒŋ/
Kosong] Tea without milk or
sugar; black tea. Compare
2006 Philip Soh Yeok Khoon The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 1 March. One can see that more health-con[s]cious Singaporeans are drinking ‘teh-o-kosong’ or ‘kopi-o-kosong’ (without sugar).
[Mal., press, push hard; force, control; compare
pressed, pressured, dominated, bullied]
Pressure put on someone.
Bullying, ill-treatment, harsh treatment, punishment.
Put pressure on. 2
Bully, ill-treat, treat harshly, punish.
A 2 1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 34 Even if it was the friend next to you who got caught, everyone suffered the tekan that followed. 47 Despite all the tekan and sweat and all the nonsense, you haven’t broken down. B 2 2003 Teo Hwee Nak & Lee Ching Wern (quoting Low Thia Khiang) Today, 17 October, 2 We have also been through training and we all kena tekan (were bullied).. 2003 Tracy Quek & Irena Joseob The Sunday Times, 19 October, 14 [title] Kena tekan.. but survival training must be rough and tough, say NSmen.. What they remember of POW training was that it tested them physically and mentally. Some soldiers might say they kena tekan (were put under mental and physical pressure), but all of them agreed it was essential.
Comb.: tekan session mil. slang A session of extended punishment.
telt var. of Talc.
tembah /tahm-bah, ˈtɑmbɑ/ v. [Mal. tembah, (formerly) tambah increase by repetition or continuation; compare tambahkan, tambahi, menambah, menambahkan, menambahi supplement, add to; increase (Wilkinson)] Add (to something).
n. & a. [Teo.
潮 dio the phenomenon of the rising and
falling of the waters of the seas caused by the attraction of the sun and moon;
an abbrev. for Chaozhou +
州 ziu1 an ancient type of
administrative district, now commonly used in place-names; a type of national
autonomous administrative district (Chaozhou
Dict.); Mand. cháo tide + zhōu
(autonomous) prefecture (Chi.–Eng.
Dict.)] A n. 1 An inhabitant of
Teochew or Chaozhou, a prefecture-level city in eastern 广东
Guǎngdōng Province in China, or a descendant thereof living
in another part of the world. 2 The Chinese dialect of Chaozhou,
a variant of Mǐn Nán [Mand. 闽南 Southern
Min: Mǐn another name of Fujian Province + nán south], which
was originally spoken in the Chaoshan [Mand. 潮汕
+ 汕(头 Shàn(tóu Swatow, a coastal city in eastern Guangdong Province (shàn
a bamboo fish trip; a weir (Lin); a wicker basket for catching fish (Giles) + tóu head; top)] region of Guangdong Province and is
today commonly spoken in Singapore. B a. Of or pertaining to
Teochew, its culture, and its inhabitants or persons who trace their ancestry
A 1 1893 James Dyer Ball Things Chinese (2nd ed.) 229 By.. 1891 there were 43,791 Teo Chews in the Straits Settlements: Teo Chews is the term applied generally to them in that part of the country, while Hoklo is the name by which they are generally known by the Cantonese speakers in China; the former name being derived from the Departmental city Ch‘ao Chao fú (in the local dialect Tíú Chíú fú, or Teo Chew fu). 1927 Richard John Hamilton Sidney In British Malaya To-Day, ch. 12, 144 Trouble had been brewing between Hok-kiens and the Teo-chews for some time. 1966 Maurice Freedman Chinese Lineage and Society, ch. 3, 95 People will assume for all Hakka or Hokkien or Cantonese or Tiuchiu that.. [etc.] 1979 China Now, January–February 10, col. 2 The Teochiu group from one district in Guangdong (Kwangtung) province. 1999 Lynn Pan (ed.) The Encyclopedia of the Chinese Overseas 203 Status distinctions apart, Chinese groups divided along speech lines. In his 1848 article, Seah [Eu Chin], a Teochiu speaker himself, named five other speech groups: Hokkien, Cantonese (also called ‘Macao Chinese’), Hakka and Hainanese. .. Teochius lived closer to the banks of the Singapore River.. 204 While Teochius – twice as numerous as Hokkiens at the time – were also well represented in trading and agriculture, more than half were in gambier and pepper planting, a sector which they monopolized until soil deterioration drove them to Johor in the 1850s. Both Hokkiens and Teochius were in economic sectors with significant rates of capital accumulation. 2010 Rebecca Lynne Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 25 July, 20 The Teochews are the second largest dialect group in Singapore, making up about 21 per cent. Many Teochew ancestors came to Singapore from Shantou, in the eastern part of Guangdong province. 2 1970 Michael Pereira Pigeon’s Blood, ch. 15, 164 He was speaking in the Teo-chieu dialect. 1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 86 [T]he only dialects spoken in the family are Hokkien and Teochew (Swee Poh comes from a Hokkien-speaking family, but is also conversant in Teochew because they have always stayed in Teochew neighbourhoods) although all members of the family except the parents have been educated in Chinese schools. 1999 Lynn Pan (ed.) The Encyclopedia of the Chinese Overseas 203 .. Seah, a Teochiu speaker himself.. 2005 Colin Chee The Electric New Paper, 12 July. In our three-storey SIT (Singapore Improvement Trust) flat, we had.. Chinese families speaking in Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew and Hainanese. B 1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 54 There was only a Rediffusion set placed at the common corridor to the several cubicle rooms occupied by several families, among which was Poh Hock’s. And from this Rediffusion set came loud Teochew wayang (opera) music. 2005 The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 30 September. Ngee Ann Polytechnic has received a $12.1 million ‘red packet’ from the Teochew philanthropic foundation it is named after. 2006 Thng Lay Teen The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 26 February. [T]raditional Teochew food at Teo Soon Loong at 55, Jalan Hang Kasturi [in Malacca, Malaysia]. 2010 Rebecca Lynne Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 25 July, 20 [A] Teochew-style steamed fish would involve boiling slices of ginger with preserved sour plum, tomato and slices of preserved vegetable. Broth is then added to the fish before it is steamed. The result is a fish served in a slightly tangy light broth. .. As for porridge, the Teochew style is more like soupy rice, versus the smooth, creamy Cantonese style.
porridge n. [Eng. porridge, transl. of Teo.
糜 muê5; Mand. mí gruel (Chi.–Eng.
Dict.); rice gruel, congee (Lin)] A thin rice porridge that is eaten with a variety of meat and
vegetable dishes such as salted duck eggs, stewed pork and preserved vegetables.
2007 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Sim Ee Waun) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 2 September, L28 [A] full spread of authentic Teochew porridge including salted eggs, steamed pork with salted fish, chai poh (preserved radish) omelette, pork with pickled olive and slabs of fu yu (fermented beancurd). 2010 Rebecca Lynne Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 25 July, 20 .. Teochew porridge, a watery gruel with large fluffy grains of rice. The porridge is usually eaten with condiments such as preserved olives, preserved lettuce and salted egg, and simple dishes such as omelette with preserved radish. [2011 Annette Tan Today, 23 June, T14 There is an unspoken roll call of things that most of us like with our mui – or Teochew-style rice porridge. Among them are invariably stronger tasting salty treats that pair well with the plain and watery gruel.]
ter kah /tər
kahr, tər kɑː/ n. [Hk.
猪 ter [...] + 脚 kah [...]; Mand. zhū
pig, hog, swine + jiǎo foot
Hokkien stew consisting of pork
trotters braised in a savoury brown gravy.
2007 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Leslie Tay) The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 13 May. The high cholesterol stuff like ter kah (pig’s trotters) and soup tulang (mutton bone marrow soup). No matter which hawker sells it, it’s sinful. And if it’s not sinful, it will surely not taste good. 2008 Thng Lay Teen The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 16 November, 27 [I]t was sheer luck when I stumbled on a stall selling nice ter kah (braised pork trotter) in a coffee shop in Sims Avenue recently. .. The trotters ($3) were tender and you could savour the contrast between the gelatinous fat and the firm, flavourful meat. The savoury gravy, cooked to a lovely brown instead of pitch-black, which is the Hokkien style, went well with steamed rice. 2008 Huang Lijie (quoting Darcy Thong) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 23 November, 28 .. I fell in love with food such as Nonya ter kah (pig’s trotters)..
terok var. of Teruk.
a. [Eng.] Impressive,
2003 Peh Shing Huei (quoting Mervyn Koh) The Sunday Times, 12 October, 32 Damn terror.
[Mal., acute (of illness,
pain); severe (of a beating); arduous (of work) (Winstedt)] Also
1 Serious, severe, very bad. 2 Of work, training, etc.:
arduous, difficult, tough. Compare
1 1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 59 I heard of that platoon sergeant of yours: real sadist; how he tekan the whole butt party for ten minutes during nightshoot just for accidentally dropping a rifle. The guy was teruk. 1998 The Straits Times, 2 August, 40 Terok man. Luckily I am like a cat who has nine lives or else I would have been dead by now because of the tension. 2 1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 313 terok. Means ‘tough’: Malay. Reference to training. See ‘siong’. 1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 51 Terok (Malay) Tough; like siong. 140 teruk. Terrible/extreme/worse. 2002 Tessa Wong (quoting Lim Poh Huat) The Straits Times (Life!), 15 April, L3 ‘Our work is quite teruk sometimes, and I want the public to know about us.’ Teruk is Malay for terrible.
taippūcam the full moon in the month of Tai, a day of festival:
Tai the tenth month of the Tamil calendar (in the Gregorian calendar,
mid-January to mid-February) < Skt.
taishī the day of the full moon in the month of
Taisha (December–January of the Gregorian calendar), the month in which
the full moon stands in the asterism
Tishya, which is regarded as shaped like an arrow and is named after a
mythical being who, like
is a kind of heavenly archer (Monier-Williams) +
pucam the eighth nakshatra,
one of 27 (or, according to some texts, 28)
lunar mansions or equal divisions of the ecliptic through which the moon passes
during the course of a sidereal month
A Hindu festival celebrated on a full-moon day in the Tamil month of Tai
that marks the birthday of Lord Murugan – a deity representing virtue, youth and
power – and the occasion when his mother, the Goddess Parvathi, gave him a spear
to slay the demon Surapadman (see quot. 2007). During the festival, devotees
of milk, etc., in procession to fulfil vows they have made, seek forgiveness or offer thanks to Lord Murugan.
¶ A kavadi is a decorated pole of wood with an arch over it that is carried on the shoulders which has long skewers that pierce the bearer’s skin [Tam. காவடி kāvaṭi: காவு kāvu to carry on the shoulder, as a palanquin, a pole with a weight at each end; to bear or sustain anything heavy on the arms or on the head + தடி taṭi stick, staff, rod, cane; to hew down, cut down, cut off (Tam. Lex.); Telugu కావడి kāvaḍi (Brown)]
1931 L. Elizabeth Lewis National Geographic Magazine, April, vol. LIX, 517–522 To the Hindu god Subramanya, son of Siva, the Tai Pusam vows are made. This three-day ceremony takes place in Singapore in January. Weeks in advance the participants prepare themselves by abstaining from the routines of life. The first day of the ceremony the silver car, which is the palanquin of the image of the god, is brought forth from its shelter in the courtyard of the Tank Road Temple, dusted and polished, then drawn to the South Bridge Road Temple, where it remains under a canopy until the third day. .. On the second day the difficult part of the vow is performed. .. Before me sat a Tamil clad in a loincloth and silver pins. Two temple officials, one on each side, were preparing the martyr for his three-mile pilgrimage to the temple on Tank Road by thrusting pins into his flesh. His chest, his back, his forehead, his arms and thighs, were entirely covered with small, shining, V-shaped pins. He seemed almost in a state of coma and his eyes rolled in their sockets until at times only the whites were visible. .. I found myself in the midst of another group, watching the priests thrusting long spearlike needles through holes in the metal laths of a fanlike arch over another devotee. These needles, which were from two to three feet long, had to be fastened securely in the flesh of the chest and back in order to hold in place this heavy metal canopy. Through his cheek had been thrust a silver skewer, which protruded an inch or more on each side of his face. .. When the route has been traversed and the goal has been reached, the devotee kneels before the image of Subramanya while the friends place on the altar appropriate offerings and the priest bestows his blessings upon the gift and the giver. Then the devotee is taken to a corner of the temple, where the needles, spears, or hooks, as the case may be, are removed. After thus fulfilling his vow he proceeds on his way, apparently none the worse for the ordeal, no trace of blood appearing at any time during the procedure. 2001 Sharmilpal Kaur The Straits Times, 8 February, H3 Thaipusam, which falls on a full-moon day in the Tamil month of Thai, has been celebrated in Singapore for over 150 years. 2005 The Straits Times, 26 January, H4 Balancing milk pots on their heads, devotees set off from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road on a 4km walk to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road. The Thaipusam festival is a time to offer thanks to Lord Murugan, the deity believed to represent virtue, youth and power. Besides milk pots and the traditional wooden arch decorated with peacock feathers, some carry the spiked kavadi, with skewers that pierce their tongues, cheeks and bodies. 2005 Prasanna J. Pillai The Straits Times, 28 January, H20 Thaipusam is a religious festival observed by many Hindus in Singapore, where the devotees make offerings to Lord Muruga by carrying kavadis and milk pots, sandals, flowers, etc. It is observed on the full-moon day of the Tamil month of Thai (January–February). Thaipusam was once a public holiday. 2006 Sonia Tan The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 28 January. Speak of Hindu festivals and, more often than not, Deepavali comes to mind rather than Thaipusam. For many Singaporeans, Thaipusam is a little-known festival. .. Thaipusam, or the Day of Thanksgiving, falls on Feb 11 this year. On this day, Hindu devotees carry kavadis from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road. A kavadi, or ‘yoke of burden’, is an offering to Lord Muruga, and can range from milk pots to intricate spiked kavadis which pierce the carrier’s skin. 2007 The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 1 February. Thaipusam offerings [title] Hindu devotees at the Sri Mariamman Temple in South Bridge Road make offerings to Lord Murugan ahead of Thaipusam today. Thaipusam celebrates the deity’s birthday and the occasion when his mother, the Goddess Parvathi, gave him a spear, to slay the demon Surapadman. It is believed that by making offerings, devotees will be blessed and have a safe and fulfilling Thaipusam. Yesterday, an idol of the deity was placed on a silver chariot and taken in a procession from Sri Thandayuthapani Temple in Tank Road to the Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple in Keong Siak Road and back.
/tahn chiah, tɑn tʃɪɑ/
[Hk. 赚 than
earn + 吃 chia
eat; Mand. zhuàn
Relating to a job, work, etc.,
done solely to make a living or for survival.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 313 than chiah. Literally, earn to eat: Hokkien. More strongly, it means to earn for survival. If applied to a soldier it means he is really serious in being a soldier as his livelihood or survival depends on it. Usually used to denote a regular in the Army. (Carries the implication that the person is good for nothing else.) However, it takes on an accusatory tone when applied to a national serviceman who works too well. Apparently, the ethos is that a national serviceman should not be as hardworking as a regular. 1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 51 Than chia (Hokkien) Livelihood. Refers to regulars who depend on the army for a living.
[Hk. 兵 peng
soldier; Mand. bīng]
1 A soldier who works solely to make a living or to survive; (derog.)
soldier, especially a full-time National Serviceman, perceived to be too
An army regular.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 273 This turning away from the Army as a source of regular jobs is reflected in the widely-circulating reference to a professional soldier as a ‘tung chiat peng’, meaning a soldier who earns solely for his survival. 1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 273 Now and then, a NS youth is called a ‘tung chiat peng’ if he works harder than other NS soldiers. Apparently the prevailing ethos prescribes that a NS man should not be as hardworking and serious in his military job as a permanent regular soldier. 314 than chiah peng. Same as above. ‘Peng’ is a soldier in Hokkien.
n. [< Tam. தோஸா
tōcai a kind of rice-cake (Tam.
Lex.); or Telugu దోసె
dōse a kind of cake (Brown,
which suggests it is
apparently < Skt. దోషకము
dōssakamu (not found in
Monier-Williams)); compare Kannada
dôsě a holed, i.e., spongy, cake of rice-flour, uddu, etc.,
baked on a potsherd or iron plate (Kittel);
dōsá a kind of cake prepared with dough mix of rice and black gram or
similar dough and fried on a metal plate (Mal.
Lex.)] A South Indian pancake made of a rice flour and black gram
batter (which sometimes has been allowed to ferment) and flavoured with
ingredients such as chilli, cumin, curry leaves, fenugreek and turmeric. A
thosai may also be made with a batter containing onions (an onion thosai),
have an egg cracked on it when it is cooking (an egg thosai), or be
stuffed with mashed potatoes, onions and spices (a masala thosai).
Thosais are usu. eaten with curry or sambar (a lentil dish).
2001 Angela Ee The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 25 February, P11 I first learnt to appreciate the multi-cultural richness of Singapore through fish-head curry, satay, mee pok, dhosai and a hundred other dishes. 2006 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Milind Sovani) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 8 October. What Mumbai food do you miss most? / Dosa (or thosai, a breakfast crepe). In Mumbai, you get very crispy and golden dosas. But I can’t find them here. Maybe the Tamil dosa isn’t meant to be crispy. 2008 Don Mendoza Weekend Today, 6–7 September, 42 From mouth-watering tandoori delights to the regular briyani, thosai, prata, meat and vegetarian choices..
Comb.: paper thosai see Paper Thosai.
thunder tea rice n. [erron.
Eng. transl. of Mand. 擂 léi pestle, pound +
茶 chá tea +
饭 fàn cooked rice (Chi.–Eng.
Dict.), the first word having been rendered 雷 léi
Lei Cha Fan.
2010 Rebecca Lynne Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 25 July, 20 .. lei cha fan or thunder tea rice, a rice dish topped with vegetables served with peanuts..
/tiah boh, tɪɑ bəʊ/
Liak Bo Kiu.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 314 thia bo. Translated, ‘hear no’: Hokkien. Same meaning as ‘liat bo kiu’. Spoken by the mentally retarded. 1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 52 Thia boh (Hokkien) Hear nothing; as in liak bo kiu.
[poss. corruption of Thai girl show] mil. slang
A live sex act performed on stage before an audience.
2003 Tan Ken Jin Streats, 24 December 22 [T]he tawdry tiger show we sometimes hear about in our travels in Asia. 2008 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 28 December, 11 Saturday night, adoi! My cab can be like tiger show, you know? Some of the girls wear dental floss only! 2011 Natasha Ann Zachariah The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 11 December, 8 .. [M]odels were hired to perform a “tiger show” on Mr Jeffrey Tan Boon Keong, one of the old boys of the Raffles Institution class of 1961 during their recent reunion bash.
/tee-kum, (ti-), ˈtiːkʌm, (ˈti–)/
n. & v. [Mal. tikam staking or playing (in a lottery or game of chance)
A n. A game of chance often found at
Sarabat Stalls consisting of a decorated board with rows of numbered
tickets attached, some of which are randomly marked as winners. Players pay a
small fee to remove a ticket and unfold it to find out if they have won a prize.
The prizes awarded are decided by the vendor, and are usu. items such as soft
drinks, packets of biscuits or condiments or plastic toys (NMS).
B v. Gamble, take a chance.
A 1978 Leong Choon Cheong (quoting Lim Kai Seng) Youth in the Army 113 After school, “we usually stayed back to play tikam at some of the s’ing ch’iu hawker stalls.[”] Kai Sing believes unreservedly that tikam is not a serious type of gambling. He said, “Tikam is not big gambling. We are merely hoping to win ten to twenty cents for a mere investment of five cents. Moreover, we are getting something in return, for instance a drink or a cake, if we lose!” 2009 Agatha Koh Brazil (quoting Akhterun Nisha Idris) Today, 16 June, 26 Perhaps some of them have been careless and played tikam tikam (a game of chance) with their own health.. B 2006 Sim Chi Yin (quoting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong) The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 27 April. On the opposition’s grouses that the GRC [Group Representation Constituency] system disadvantages them because they do not have enough candidates to fill them, Mr Lee maintained that the system keeps standards high. ‘If you are one weak candidate in a single seat, you can tikam tikam (gamble), you know. Maybe, if you are lucky, you may get through, but if you are a GRC and you are four or five or six weak candidates, you cannot tikam tikam, people will know straightaway and you can’t start.’
/tim chuuk, tɪm tʃʊk/
n. [Cant. 甜 t‘ím pleasant; sweet,
one of the five flavours +
腐)竹 (fu) chuk (see
Fu Chuk); Mand.
tián sweet, honeyed + zhú bamboo (Chi.–Eng.
Dict.)] Also tim chok. A Chinese food item consisting of dried, rectangular,
brown, sweet pieces of bean curd which are usually cut into strips for cooking.
2006 Eveline Gan Weekend Today, 22–23 July, 24 I used to think that nobody could rival my nenek’s (grandma) delicious chap chye, but I changed my mind.. While the mixture of cabbage, vermicelli, black fungus, lily flower buds and tim chok (dried sweet beancurd strips) may not look very appetising, this dish is what I’d call comfort food, and it’s very tasty, too.
n. [Mal., raised floor, staging, storey (Wilkinson);
storey (of house), tier (of dais, in stadium), rung (of ladder), social grade (Winstedt)]
A tiered receptacle for transporting meals, usu. made of metal and
consisting of several round containers with covers that stack into an
arch-shaped frame with a carrying-handle; a tiffin-carrier.
2006 Sandra Leong The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 24 September. She pays about $200 a month to have dinner delivered to her home from Mondays to Fridays in a tingkat – a tiered, stainless steel container piled with food like stir-fried pork ribs, sweet and sour fish and winter melon soup. .. When the couple have cleaned out the containers, they simply leave the tingkat – which literally means ‘tiers’ in Malay – outside their door to be collected by the same people who deliver them. .. Once a household item in which Samsui women used to store cooked food, the humble tingkat has spawned a thriving food industry of its own. 2008 Chen Fen Weekend Today, 4–5 October, 40 Its tingkat meals are its signature. Not the mess that the more plebian order for dinner but tasty gourmet lunches delivered to the offices of executives too busy for a three-course meal at a chi-chi restaurant. 2012 Eunice Quek The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 18 March, 21 He suspected something was different with his tingkat (tiffin carrier) meal one week, after tasting the dishes.
tio be pio
/tioh be pioh, t̚iəʊ
[Hk. 中马票 tio be pio
win a bet at a horse race:
tio hit, fit exactly +
horse + pio
Be selected for some undesired or unpleasant duty or work. Compare
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 314 tio be pio. ‘Got a winning lottery ticket’: Hokkien. The sardonic humour of the Hokkien-speaking soldiers has brought the use of this expression to cover those occasions when a soldier has been nominated or detailed to perform some unpleasant chores or duties such as guard, fatigue and the like. 1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 52 Tiok beh pio (Hokkien). To strike lottery. Commonly used when one checks the guard duty list on the notice board and spots one’s name. 2003 ‘Pak Cham Kai’ Talkingcock.com <http://www.talkingcock.com/html/article.php?sid=1289>, 14 December. I immeelly thought, wah lan eh, tio beh pio ah!
[abbrev. of the Hanyu Pinyin transliteration of Mand. 他妈的
t(ā m(ā d(e his
mother’s...] An exclamation expr. annoyance, frustration, etc.:
damn it, blast it, to hell with it.
2005 Renee Tan The Sunday Times, 27 February, 38 Some terms currently in vogue include acronyms TMD (ta ma de – a popular Mandarin epithet meaning “curse his mother”)..
tock tock man /tok,
n. [imit.] hist. An itinerant seller of cooked noodle
dishes, who made his presence known by knocking two pieces of bamboo together to
make a ‘tock-tock’ sound.
2011 Eunice Quek (quoting Lim Soon Hock) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 18 September, 30 I always looked forward to piping hot wanton mee when the “tock tock” man came around my kampung area in Towner Road. 2011 Eunice Quek (quoting Peter Goh) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 28 August, 28 There was also the “tock tock” man selling mee tai mak (short noodles), prawn noodles and mee pok (flat noodles) for just 10 or 20 cents.
[poss. < Mal. gogok (imit.) gulping down water; the gurgle of
Johor Mal. gogok, menggogok gulp down water with lifted chin; Mal.
ogok greedy; mengogok swig, gulp down liquid with lifted chin (Winstedt
says the words are Ind., but not found in
Echols & Shadily, Ind.–Eng.); compare Ind. gogok gulping
(Echols & Shadily, Ind.–Eng.);
Jav. gogok (digogok, nggogok) to drink from an earthen
water pitcher (Horne);
or poss. < Port. tocado bruised (of fruit), going off, somewhat rotten;
tipsy, drunk, boozy, fuddled (Dicionário
says this is a popular South Brazilian usage); compare Kristang tokadu drunk (Baxter
& de Silva,
Adanza 212); or poss. < Jav. tog, ditogaké to do something to capacity;
compare Jav. katog to the utmost, to the limit or end; or < Jav. togog
a corner fence post; togog
to sit like a bump on a log (not contributing to the conversation, etc.)
or < Mal.
tree trunk stripped of branches (Winstedt);
a body with mere stumps of arms and legs; misshapen, deformed (Wilkinson)] Drink alcohol,
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 314 togok. (1) To togok is to gobble: Malay. (2) To go for a togok is to go for a drink in slangland language. Used among junior officers more than anyone else. 1985 Michael Chiang Army Daze 52 Togok (Malay) To guzzle. Used to describe drinking sessions.
n. An extended period of alcohol consumption, a drinking session.
2004 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 31 October, L14 I’ve become less judgmental about Halloween since, because I think the Feast of All Souls may actually serve a useful function, and I don’t mean enriching the coffers of pubs organising horror-themed ‘togo’ sessions.
/toh hay, təʊ heɪ/
n. [(?)] A dark red
Peranakan condiment made of shrimp
fermented with salt, ground rice, red yeast and brandy.
2003 Teo Pau Lin The Sunday Times, 5 October, L41 Nonya toh hay.. It is a dark-red stew of pork and chicken pieces, simmered in a painstakingly prepared shrimp paste. Shrimps are first pounded and mixed with fermented rice wine to form a paste. It is then allowed to sit for up to three months, with brandy added to it every two weeks for a full, alcohol-flavoured kick. The dish is then put together with meat, tamarind water, lemongrass, onion, kaffir lime leaves and chillies. 2010 Chris Tan The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 21 February, 24 Rather more rare a condiment is toh hay (also spelt tho eh and toh eh), a traditional Peranakan preparation used to flavour and colour stir-fried and braised dishes. This ferments geragau shrimp with salt, ground rice, red yeast rice (angkak) and a dash of brandy. It is a brilliant brick-red from the angkak, which also layers a funky, yeasty note on top of the prawn aroma.
/tok kong, tɒk̚ kɒŋ/
[Hk. (?)] Best.
2001 Ng Sue Ling The Straits Times (Life!), 16 June, L8 My.. younger brother favours ‘tok kong’, which means ‘best’.
[Mal., aid, assistance; favour, mercy, help] Help me; please; I beg of you.
2004 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 22 August, L14 ‘Tolong, please don’t use the word ‘haunt’ in this context. It’s too creepy,’ said the Wife, smoothing away her goosebumps. 2006 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 12 March. The endless pieties [at the Academy Awards], the thanking of one’s extended family, name by name, the mutual ego massaging... Tolong.
n. [Mal. toman (barung) or toman (bunga) snakehead (Channa striatus
[sic]): barung stall, booth; bunga flower; design, pattern
on cloth, etc. (Ridhwan)]
The snakehead murrel (Channa striata), used as a food fish.
¶ The common and scientific names of the fish were obtained from “Channa striata”, Fishbase.org (15 July 2009; accessed 16 December 2009).
2009 Thng Lay Teen The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 8 November, 27 The freshness of the Toman fish prompted me to try the claypot fish head ($22) but I have eaten both better and worse versions elsewhere. The roast pork slices were not great and there were too few of my favourite yam slices.
tombalek /tohm-bah-lek, -lik, tomˈbɑlɛk̚, -lɪk̚/ a. [mispron. of Mal. terbalek inverted; turned upside down (of clouds, ships, cards) (Winstedt)] Upside-down, reversed.
/tong chı, tɒŋ tʃʌɪ/
n. [Hk. 冬 tong + 菜 chye; Mand.
dōng winter + cài vegetable, greens (Chi.–Eng.
Dict.)] Preserved dried cabbage or mustard greens, used in Chinese
2005 Teo Pau Lin (quoting Robin Lee) The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 9 October. My late grandfather.. was a pig farmer. When I was growing up, he would take the best part of the pig to cook for me, almost every day. It’s a very simple dish of pork soup cooked with flour and tong cai (preserved vegetable). I think about him whenever I think of the dish.
toot /toot, tuːt˺/ a. [unkn.] 1 Inept; foolish, ridiculous. 2 Unfashionable, uncool. Compare Obiang.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 314 Topo General. Sarcastic name for one who is very bad at topography.
+ king] mil.
slang A soldier who is very
poor at topography. Also
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 314 Topo General. Sarcastic name for one who is very bad at topography. ‘Topo-king’ is another version of this slang.
towgay var. of Taugeh.
[Mal. tauke < Hk.
头 tow chief, head +
family, household; a person or family engaged in a certain trade; a specialist
in a certain field; Mand.
chief, head + jiā family, household; a person or family engaged in a
certain trade; a specialist in a certain field (Chi.–Eng.
Dict.)] A boss, a chief, a leader; esp. a prominent
1854 Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia, vol. 8, 16 Country born Chinese have a club called Sip Gee Seeah; they elect 12 Towkays or trustees. 1894 N.B. Dennys A Descriptive Dictionary of British Malaya 138 The following account of the burial of a leading Malay, from the Singapore Free Press of September 1st, 1887, will give a fair idea of the ceremonies usually observed:– “The interment took place at 4 p.m. in the ground of the Mosque at Kubu. Several Government officials were present. The general European population and Chinese Towkays were well represented, and thousands of Malays, of course, thronged the mosque and its environments. ..” 1900 Walter William Skeat Malay Magic, ch. 5, 253 The Malay pawang may squeeze a hundred or perhaps two hundred dollars out of the Chinese towkay who comes to mine for tin in Malaya. 1948 The Straits Times, 7 July, 4/5 Our lives were probably saved by a Chinese towkay from Karak who used to keep us supplied with fresh fruit and tinned milk. [1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1177 tauke. Ch. [Chinese] «Towkay»; Chinese employer of labour or financier behind an enterprise; descriptive title given to Chinese of good position. 1963 Richard Winstedt An Unabridged Malay–English Dictionary 355 tauke(h), Ch. [Chinese], employer; any Chinese above the labouring class.] 1966 Duncan Charles Forbes The Heart of Malaya, ch. 3, 41 Nancy, the fourth daughter of Lee Kwan Bock, the saw-mill towkay, was a schoolteacher. 1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 314 thau ke. Same meaning as ‘boss’: Hokkien. 2003 Sue-Ann Chia The Sunday Times, 26 October, 3 Formed by Hokkien towkays (bosses) such as Lim Nee Soon and Gan Eng Seng, the Ee Hoe Hean is one of Singapore’s oldest social clubs for wealthy Chinese men. 2005 Koh Buck Song The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 16 August. In the past, only tycoons and towkays could contemplate seeing their names carved onto the grand archways of buildings. Today, with the rise of private wealth, an explosion of naming platforms and a decline of ostentatious nationalism, anyone with reasonable savings can do their bit for the community. 2006 Neil Humphreys Today (from Todayonline.com), 26 August. [A] TV news presenter informed us that Forbes magazine had released Singapore’s 40 Richest List and the towkays’ combined net worth was US$28 billion ($44 billion).
tu lan /tuu lahn, tuː lɑn/ a. [Hk. 吐 tu spit; vomit + lan penis; Mand. tù] Disgruntled, frustrated.
kong /tooah pek kong, tʊɑ pɛk̚
k̚ɒŋ/ n. [Hk.
大伯公 tua pek kong a Chi. deity originating from
Penang, Malaysia, in the 18th century: tua [..] + pek a superior,
an elder + kong
Mand. dàbó father’s elder brother, uncle; uncle – a polite form of
address for an elderly man (dà eldest + bó father’s elder brother,
uncle; the eldest of brothers) + gōng an old-fashioned term of respect
for middle-aged and older men (Chi.–Eng.
Dict.). The connection between the deity and the term is presently
unknown.] A person who is paid to assume liability for the true
perpetrator of a criminal offence; a scapegoat; a fall guy, a patsy.
2008 Leong Wee Kiat Today, 29 October, 3 Known to some as “tua pek kong”, he may not possess the powers of the namesake deity. Yet this person is sought after by some lawbreakers: He assumes criminal liability on another person’s behalf in return for a bribe. Such fall guys have previously been found in offences related to the employment of illegal foreign workers or the running of gambling dens, but the authorities are now seeing a rising trend of their presence in the running of illicit massage parlours and brothels. 2008 Ben Nadarajan The Straits Times (Home), 17 November, B6 The term “tua pek kong” is common underworld slang for those who are paid to take the fall for others. How the term, also the name of a Taoist deity, came to be used in this context is unclear. In the past, the authorities’ clampdown on illegal foreign workers fanned a big demand for tua pek kongs to pose as their agents. In the 1990s, they were hired to “own” pirated VCD shops, fixtures in suburban malls at the time often targeted by the police. Evergreen illegal businesses such as gambling dens and brothels also always need hired scapegoats, as do those which sell counterfeit watches, bags and clothes.
[Mal., pour out, empty out a
run off, play truant] Play truant, skive. Compare
Snake, Take Cover.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 314 tuang. The meaning in Malay is ‘to pour’. Somehow the slang meaning is to escape duty, similar to ‘chiah chua’, ‘skive’, ‘snake’. 2000 Dennis Wee with Sylvia Fong Making Luck with Your Hands 28 But that did not stop me from idling. It only taught me to be more careful before I twung again. 2006 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 4 June. My expertise in the field of education consists mostly of how to tuang P.E. [physical education] 2006 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 8 October. I know many Singaporeans who consider anything outside a 16-hour workday to be ‘tuanging’. But are we really that industrious or is most of it posturing?
[Mal., take a lift or passage;
lodge; use another’s belongings; compare
give a lift to] 1
Take a lift (in one’s car,
Have someone do a favour for oneself.
1 [1955 R.J. Wilkinson A Malay–English Dictionary, vol. 2, 1247 tumpang.. Joining in with others. Esp. of a person lodging with others or taking passage with others, e.g. on a passenger-ship (kapal tumpangan, Abd. Jud. [Kissah Pelajaran Abdoe’llah Kenegeri Djoedah (Batavia, 1920)] 7), or in a caravan (měnupang dengan kafilah, Kal. Dam. [Hikayat Kalilah dan Daminah] 231); cf. also měnchari tumpangan akan bělayar ka-sa-bělah barat (seeking a passage on some ship sailing westward), Ht. Bugis [Silasilah Melayu dan Bugis (Singapore, a.h. 1329 )] 9.] 2 2003 Yvonne Kwok (quoting Keith Colaco) Streats, 12 December, 68 Whenever we go to Bangkok.., at least five or six friends would ‘tumpang’ (Malay for ‘hitch a ride’) us to buy these pants.