Idioms...Hokkien style

When words fail, use idioms… Hokkien style (32)

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.

Idioms, expressionsHokkien pronunciationLiteral translationMeaning
芋圓頭o een t’aotaro round heada bald head
毋死心mm si simheart won’t dienot giving up
無豆哇bo tao wano choiceno choice
三人要得四人無分san lang beh ti si lang bo hunthree persons want it, four persons have noneup for grabs
看毋甲目kuan mm kah bakunsatisfactory looknot acceptable

First published in Tulay Fortnightly, Chinese-Filipino Digest 29, no. 12 (November 15-December 5, 2016): 13. (image source: