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Etymology and usage
Kiasu comes from the vernacular Chinese word 怕输, meaning 'fear of losing’. It is used by Hokkien-speaking people in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan and has been introduced into the English language by speakers of colloquial Singaporean English. It is often used to refer to anxious, selfish behaviour characterised by a fear of missing out.
Kiasu is similar in etymology to Kiasi (literally, fear of death), and both terms are used to describe similar behaviour. Kiasu or Kiasu-ism means to take extreme measures to achieve success, whereas Kiasi or Kiasi-ism means to take extreme measures to avoid risk.
- Leo, David (1995). Kiasu, Kiasi: You Think What?. ISBN 981-204-626-7.
- See, Ee Lin (2005). My Kiasu Teenage Life in Singapore. ISBN 981-05-3016-1.