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A-Z Dictionary

To help us better navigate the world of our youth, here is a guide to the colourful jargons and unique interpretations collected from our community. 



Ang Pao

A.K.A. Red Packet

Noun, Hokkien for red packet

(1) a source of reliable annual income

“Ang Bao money can last from beginning till end of the year, then another round of Ang Bao money will come in the new year.”


(2) also an expression of love and generosity

"When I strike lottery, I will give Ang Bao. My mother does that, so I also do the same."




Noun, alcoholic drink, legally available for consumption for people 18 years and above in Singapore

"I started drinking at the age of 14 or 15 because I got to know these friends and everytime I met them, they bought soju and other drinks. I drink when I’m stressed, when there are a lot of things happening."


Noun, a 2-wheeled transport very common amongst the youths in this neighbourhood.

"Without my bike, I will die of boredom."


(běn qián)

Noun, Chinese for capital; refers to money or assets that are used at the beginning of a venture to generate profits

"Once, when I was in Primary 6, I thought I had won money from gambling at my relative's house. But my mother taught me that I had to include my 本钱  (běn qián) in my calculations (“你要算本钱,你不算本钱你输了都不知道。”). From then on, I will set aside my 本钱  (běn qián) each time I play. Depending on what I play, the starting capital I set aside will vary. Texas Poker: $100+; Blackjack (八九点、21点): $0 — start with $2, but after I win back $2, I will keep it and continue playing only with the additional money I make."




Noun, reduced rate, refers to the lower prices offered to students for public transport

If you purchase the bus concession, transport will cost you $29 per month: 

“I use the bus concession because I go to work, so I need to take the bus a lot, so with the concession, transport is cheaper.”


If you don’t purchase any concession, transport will cost you around $50 per month:

“I take the bus and MRT, MRT because I go to Jurong Point with my friends after school to play. He treats us. He stays in the condominium next to Lakeside MRT, so he is very rich. He gets $100 pocket money each week. So at the start of the week when he gets his pocket money, he will ask a few of us to go Timezone together. I didn’t buy the concession because I didn’t know about it.”


Noun, tobacco product; minimum legal age for purchase, use, possession, sale and supply of tobacco products in Singapore is 21 years old

“I started smoking at about 14, 15 years old because my friends introduced me to it. Now I am addicted to it, it’s become very hard to quit. My mother helps me buy a bundle each time. It used to cost $110, I don’t know how much it costs now. I usually smoke less than 1 pack per day. I’m trying to quit because it is very expensive now, but if I strike lottery, I will carry on.”




Noun, Financial Assistance Scheme, for household with gross household income below $2750 or household per capita income below $690

“The government every day put $5.80 in your Ezlink card to buy food in school. If you spend $5 only, then you rugi (lose out) the $0.80.”




Noun, a thing given willingly to someone without payment

“I treat my mother to a barbecue on her birthday. If I don’t pay for her meal, she gets jealous. Once, when I was in Sec 1, I bought my father a gift on Valentine’s Day but not for her. She deducted my pocket money for the following month.”




Noun, the act of cutting a person’s hair; schools in Singapore are usually particular about students’ hair length, especially for boys

“To save money, I cut my hair once a year. When my hair gets longer, I tuck it behind my ears so that the teachers won’t notice. When teachers tell me to cut my hair, I try to delay it as much as I can. I say, ‘cher, 1 more week.’”



Noun, Hokkien for coffee

“When I wake up early, I’ll get a cup of coffee from the shop downstairs. It keeps me awake for work.”





“I buy 4D for Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. When I have money, I buy. It’s become a habit. I started last year, then I won some money during the Lunar New Year, so I continued. If I strike lottery again, I will use the money to buy more 4D.”


Maggi Mee

Noun, a brand name, used generally to refer to instant noodles, which is one of the first things many people learnt to cook from a young age

“I get $50 a week for pocket money. If I feel lazy to cook, I will buy food from the hawker centre. If I feel like cooking but not washing dishes, then I will make cup noodles.”


Noun, stands for medical certificate

“I need it to skip school, but to save money, I don’t go to the clinic. I just make my own MC. I also make for my friends, I just have to change the date and name.”


Noun, a well-known global fast food restaurant; also a go-to place for youths looking for work

“You can start working at McDonald’s when you are 14 years old. For one hour of work, I can earn $10. If I work 6 hours per day on weekends, I can earn $480 per month before CPF deduction. If I work on public holidays, the pay is doubled.”




Noun, a brand of medication, used synonymously to refer to fever medication

“I never see the doctor when I’m sick, waste money. I just shove panadol into my mouth and drink a lot of water. One visit to the doctor costs $70, one box of Panadol only $15. If I take 5 pills each time I’m sick, one box of Panadol can save my life 6 times.”




Noun, writing materials; an essential for students

“There’s no need to buy stationery at all. You can find them on the floor around school, or just borrow from friends and then pretend to forget about it.”

Sing My Song

Noun, the name of a karaoke joint in Jurong West

“When I have money, I’ll go sing with my friends. When I’m broke, I’ll sing at home.”




Noun, a place of worship

“Going to the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho temple in Bugis is very important to me. I don’t know why, I just have to do it. I started to pray at the temple when I was 15 years old, when I started buying 4D.”


“There was a fire at the Sembawang God of Wealth temple. Even after burning for 5 hours, the God of Wealth statue wasn’t damaged, so a lot of people believed in it. I went there many times. Once I stole $100 from the donation box, I told my father and he asked me to return it but I refused. After that, we struck lottery and donated $200 back to the temple.”



“I tattoo things that I want to remember. My tattoo cost $80, but I only paid half of it. My mother paid the other half.”




(yě huā)

Noun, Chinese for wild flowers

“On Valentine’s Day, I’ll pick wild flowers on the way to school and sell them for $1.”



(zuò mèng)


Noun, Chinese for dreaming


“When I have no money, I will either work or sleep. If I work, I can earn some money. If I stay home and sleep, I won’t spend money and I can dream of being rich.”

Seeing The Obvious: 5th Edition

3Pumpkins 2023.

Designed by School of Film & Media Studies.

Inspire Design 2023, Wildcard.

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