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Kiasu (Chinese: 驚輸; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: kiaⁿ-su) is a Hokkien and Singlish word that means a grasping, selfish attitude.[1] Its meaning is comparable to the English idiom "dog in a manger".

Etymology and usage[edit]

Kiasu comes from the vernacular Chinese word 怕输, meaning 'fear of losing’. It is used by Hokkien-speaking people in Singapore 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.

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