Definition of kiasu in English:



SE Asian
  • A grasping, selfish attitude.

    ‘I should have gone two hours earlier: the kiasu in me is growing’


SE Asian
  • (of a person) very anxious not to miss an opportunity; grasping.

    • ‘Alas, we didn't get to make it in the end because we weren't kiasu enough.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’


From Chinese, ‘scared to lose’.