Singlish Terms You Need to Know if You're Dating a Singaporean

So you’ve been in Singapore for a while, and you’ve started dating someone. But they ask you to get them “BBT” and you have no idea what that is, or where to get it, and they’ve started calling you “Oi” even though that’s not your name – are you confused? Want to know if it’s some local Singaporean secret that you need to get in on?

Don’t worry, your bae’s Singlish will make sense to you in no time! Here are a few Singlish words that you might encounter when you’re dating a Singaporean:

1. Chiobu

Used to describe a female who is especially beautiful and attractive.

“Look at that chiobu over there...I wish she was my girlfriend.”

Danger: Do NOT say this to your girlfriend (goes without saying).

2. Yandao

The male version of a chiobu.

“Wah, that guy yandao..can he be my boyfriend?”

If your girlfriend says this to you, you may be in trouble. 

3. Oi

What your partner will probably call you when they’re annoyed or upset with you.

“Oi why you whole day never reply my messages?” (Why didn’t you respond to my texts? I’ve been texting you the whole day!)

4. Uncle / Auntie

What you should call your partner’s parents when you get to know them. This may seem strange, but it’s a norm in Singapore to refer to anyone older than you as uncle or auntie.

For more information and other phrases you might want to know when speaking to potential in-laws, check out our post on common Singlish phrases you might want to know!

5. Paktor

A Cantonese term, meaning date or to go on a date. 

“Why tomorrow you not free? You go paktor ah?”  

(Why are you not free tomorrow? Are you going on a date?)

6. Stead/Steady

To be dating someone exclusively

“Eh, so you and that girl, y’all going steady now is it?” (So are you and that girl officially dating now?)

“Wanna be my stead?” (Do you want to go out with me / be my girlfriend)

7. BBT

Acronym for bubble tea, or boba, a popular drink here in Singapore. We love bbt and we love to drink it, anytime, anywhere. It’s kind of our love language *hint hint*

Speaking of food…we also have a Singlish guide to eating out in Singapore, click here to check it out and impress your bae with your knowledge of iconic local dishes!

8. Anything / Whatever

The Singlish equivalent of “Why don’t you choose?”, also known as the classic trap that men fall into.

“Where do you wanna go for dinner later?”

“Anything lor”

“Okay…wanna eat macs?”

“Huh?? Why macs? We already ate it the other day”


9. See how

To wait and see what’s going to happen. This term basically means “we’ll see (how it goes)”, and is often used when procrastinating or putting off plans to be considered later.

“Next week where you wanna go for dinner?” 

“Hmm… idk leh. See how lor” 

10. BTO (Build-To-Order)

A commonly known proposal method in Singapore, where couples apply for a BTO apartment together after getting married.

For those who are confused, BTO apartments are, as the name suggests, apartments built after married couples apply for them and bid for it successfully. They often have to wait a few years for the apartment to be ready, so planning to apply for the apartment together is a signal that you’re ready to think about the future together and take the next step.

“Congrats on your engagement! How did he pop the question?”

“He asked me if I wanted to apply for BTO together…so romantic right?”


11. Spoil market

When someone does something above and beyond the normal level of service, which raises the bar and spoils the market for others. It’s like Disney movies that raise our standards and expectations of love – if you’re not searching the whole kingdom for me with my lost shoe, or showing me a shining, shimmering, splendid whole new world, then you’re not the one for me. See? That really spoils the market, because no guy can keep up with that. 

“How come his proposal so romantic one…really spoil market sia”

12. Blue-tick

When someone is ignoring you. It refers to the blue tick you see when someone has read your messages, but isn’t replying. 

“We had a really bad fight last week...he’s been blue-ticking me ever since…”

13. Stay-cay

The shortened form of staycation, where you enjoy a local vacation without going overseas. This is a very common way to celebrate anniversaries, especially for the modern working couple who can’t afford the time for a proper getaway.

“Eh, next week is our one year anniversary leh”

“Oh ya…but I’m only free on the weekend”

“Me too…why don’t we just book a room at MBS hotel and have a staycay?”

14. Kiam

Stingy or cheap, something you shouldn’t be if you want to treat your partner right!

“He’s so kiam, we were supposed to go staycay for our anniversary but instead of booking a hotel, we ended up staying at home!”

We hope this helps you understand your significant other more and can bridge any language barriers you have when you go paktor! Don’t worry if you haven’t got the hang of it though… we’re sure your bae will be very patient and coach you in Singlish too. Whatever it is, one thing’s for sure: love transcends all languages, and your true feelings will definitely be expressed, one way or another :-) Please last long hor!

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