Hokkien adjective literally meaning, "afraid of losing". A highly pejorative description beloved of Singaporeans. Possibly the defining national characteristic. The nearest English equivalent is "dog in a manger", though even that is pretty mild.
A simple example would be queueing up all night for some "limited offer" stuff. Or, to grab freebies by the dozen, eat enough of the "free food" sample so you don't need dinner, polish off office stationary as if markers are going out of style. And of course, not to buy things which are not on sale. I wouldnt think its not something new - all cultures have our share of kiasu-dom to various degrees, but I guess are not shameless enough to admit it and more so, find a word for it.
I have heard both kiasu-dom and kiasu-ism. I guess because we are kiasu enough not to let go of either of the suffixes.
Here is the A-Z of kiasu-dom/ism:
|Always must win||Never mind what they think|
|Borrow but never return||Outdo everyone you know|
|Cheap is good||Pay only when necessary|
|Don't trust anyone||Quit while you are ahead|
|Everything also must grab!||Rushing and pushing wins the race|
|Free! Free! Free!||Sample are always welcome|
|Grab first talk later||Take but don't give|
|Help yourself to everything||Unless it's free forget it|
|I first, I want, I everything||Vow to be number one|
|Jump queue||Winner takes it ALL! ALL! ALL!|
|Keep coming back for more||Yell if necessary to get what you want|
|Look for discount||Zebras are kiasu because they want to|
|Must not lose face||be both black and white at the same time|