Meaning of kiasu in English:


Pronunciation /ˈkjɑːsuː/


South East Asian
  • (of a person) having a grasping or selfish attitude arising from a fear of missing out on something.

    ‘kiasu parents enrol their kids in more and more tuition classes’
    • ‘people who are materialistic and kiasu’
    • ‘Despite the generally negative connotation of kiasu behaviour, there is also a positive side to it, one which surfaces as diligence and hard work in order to be on top of any situation.’
    • ‘I think many of the rural people are complex, too shy, too kind to have this kiasu drive.’
    • ‘Alas, we didn't get to make it in the end because we weren't kiasu enough.’
    • ‘The examples that you gave show us that it is not that we have no choice but to be kiasu, but most of us are kiasu just because we are able to.’


South East Asian
  • A grasping, selfish attitude.


From Chinese (Hokkien), ‘scared to lose’.