Definition of kiasu in English:

kiasu

adjective

SE 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’
    • ‘I think many of the rural people are complex, too shy, too kind to have this kiasu drive.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Alas, we didn't get to make it in the end because we weren't kiasu enough.’

noun

SE Asian
  • A grasping, selfish attitude.

Origin

From Chinese, ‘scared to lose’.

Pronunciation

kiasu

/ˈkjɑːsuː/