Definition of kiasu in English:

kiasu

noun

  • A grasping, selfish attitude.

adjective

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

    • ‘I think many of the rural people are complex, too shy, too kind to have this kiasu drive.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’

Origin

From Chinese, ‘scared to lose’.

Pronunciation

kiasu

/ˈkyäˌso͞o/