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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 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.