Everything from paying your taxes and road rules, to purchasing housing and even Singaporean pop culture; we've got short forms for them all
Though Singapore’s one bustling nation that never seems to take a break, it doesn’t mean that we don’t know how to cut corners – at least, in our everyday lingo. Efficient and expressive, Singaporeans have been using abbreviations and acronyms for ages, with many eventually becoming cornerstones of our culture. We’ve compiled a list of 34 such buzzwords that you’ll often hear Singaporeans speak; no more “LOL” or “SMH” moments whenever you try to use these phrases, ’cos you’ll be conversing like a SG pro in no time!
People’s Action Party: The country’s rulers and the political party that’s won every election in Singapore since 1959.
Housing Development Board: The high-rise flats provided by the government which the majority of Singaporeans call home.
Build To Order: The housing system that will help hook you up – once you’re eligible – with a HDB flat (see above).
Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore: The government body responsible for reaping your taxes, phooey.
Central Provident Fund: The mandatory savings plan that takes a chunk outta your monthly salary to fund your future.
Ministry of Education: The body of government you complain to when you feel like disputing your child’s education system in school.
Co-Curricular Activity: The reason why your kid’s coming home later and later after school.
Singapore Armed Forces: The mandatory two-year period where all Singaporean men have to serve the nation in the military (we speak from experience).
Individual Physical Proficiency Test: The annual, strenuous post-SAF exercise test that you hear most un-fit males groan about.
Registry of Marriages: The institution that officially and legally recognises your gesture of tying the knot.
Corrective Work Order: The punishment served to litterbugs in Singapore, often identifiable from the fluorescent yellow jackets that attract as much shame as a Dunce Cap.
Immigration and Checkpoints Authority: The organisation in Kallang where you have to endure half-day queues just to renew your passport.
Public Utilities Board: The folks that ensure we get clean, sufficient water despite Singapore’s scarcity of resources… even if that means the reputedly dubious sewage-sourced NEWater.
Media Development Authority: The reason why we can’t publish words such as ****, *********, and especially not *#$!%&***.
Singapore Bus Service/ Mass Rapid Transit/ Light Rapid Transit: The primary forms of public transport that see many squeezing with hundreds of people during their daily commute – hang in there!
Electronic Road Pricing: The pain-in-the-butt overhead gantry that charges motorists for driving into certain areas of the city – think a barcode scanner for vehicles.
Central Expressway/ East Coast Parkway/ Marina Coastal Expressway/ Pan Island Expressway: The key highways that you need to know about; drive safe!
Certificate of Entitlement: The expensive license that you must painstakingly bid for before becoming a proud (and poorer) owner of a vehicle.
Land Transport Authority: The letters you’ll likely see if you’ve been caught parking illegally, driving along the bus lane or having the wrong license – busted.
Services and Associations
Singapore General Hospital: The initials you should know if you desperately need a doc.
4 Digits: The lottery game that many Singaporeans play in hopes of striking big (hint: you don’t wanna go with 4444).
Integrated Resort: The government’s way of concealing the taboo, pro-gambling venue that starts with “c” and ends with “asino”.
Network for Electronic Transfers: The Debit scheme that Singaporeans use whenever they don’t wanna part with their cash, albeit physically.
Singapore Airlines: The country’s flag carrier airline company that’s touted as “a great way to fly”.
Association of Women for Action and Research: The girl-power, non-governmental organisation that you wanna take up arms with whenever gender equality and women’s rights have been breached.
Animal Concerns Research & Education Society: The freedom fighters of animals’ rights in Singapore whom Captain Planet would be proud of.
Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura: The religious council that looks after the interests of the Muslim community in Singapore.
Slangs and Pop Culture
Great Singapore Sale: The shopper’s highlight of the year that gives Black Friday a run for its money.
Owe Money Pay Money: The threat that you will likely see if you borrow money from uncouth loan sharks – don’t.
National Day Parade: The momentous show that happens every year during Singapore’s birthday… in other words, fireworks!
Lee Kuan Yew: The late founding father of Singapore; has claimed that he’ll get up from his grave if he feels that something is going wrong.
Sarong Party Girl: The deprecating stereotype often used to describe Asian gold-diggers who prey after Caucasian men for their money.
Excuse Me: The colloquially Singlish way of getting one’s attention.
Yeah… We’re not even gonna go into these (see: MDA). Just be warned that if someone uses this on you, it’s certainly not a compliment.