Idioms...Hokkien style

When words fail, use idioms… Hokkien style (60)

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.



k’o suan tsia suan, k’o hai tsia hai when close to the mountain, eat the mountain; when close to the sea, eat the sea in order to survive, you should know how to exploit one’s position to one’s advantage
吃沒打罵有 tsia bo, p’a ma ooh not getting to eat but receiving a spanking not getting compensated but only blame and rebuke in return


san dit bo tsue tsat, tsi dit tsue lao tua three days of no stealing, next day wants to be the big boss derogatory to describe someone who rarely does good deeds but wants to show off


kuan lang tsia, bak chiâ-yiâ looking at someone eating and feeling jealous envious of others instead of striving hard himself
有吃有爭差 ooh tsia ooh tsing tsa there is a difference when you eat yields positive results when one exerted effort to do a mission