Idioms...Hokkien style

When words fail, use idioms… Hokkien style (40)

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.


ho di ho toh carelessness

carelessness, unorganized, confused


tsao kue smelly chicken

to describe someone lousy, inferior skills, new hand


bo bing bo lang not clear

topsy-turvy, thoughtless

有空無榫 woo k’ang bo soon  mortise without tenon (dowel), or slot without tab to describe futile effort because it won’t achieve any results


ti ko tsue beh k’ia riding a boar to substitute for a horse

meaning to save, salvage in time of desperation