Culture Idioms...Hokkien style

When words fail, use idioms… Hokkien style (38)

Hokkien, on the tongues of Tsinoys, has grown and evolved, taking on a life of its own. Sometimes words simply fail us. With some creativity, Tsinoys have strung together words to form colorful phrases that simply hit the bull’s eye. Here are some expressions unique to Hokkien as favored by Tsinoys.


en t’ao te tsui round head short mouth

to describe an ugly boy or man


sin san bin rusty face

referring to very unfamiliar faces, stranger


sang t‘ao bo tsi ngao both head but not one is caught

doing two tasks or works at the same time but unable to achieve the goals or accomplish something


tsin k’ua k’i extravagant

very generous


tsia pa k’a ho yao si better eat full than starve to death

better to have at least something than nothing at all