Guide to Thai slang
For anyone trying to learn Thai, you may have noticed that it is one hilariously specific language, with idioms appropriate for almost all situations.
Hence, here we are with a list of Thai expressions and slangs that will not only spice up your vocabulary and help you to better communicate with locals, but are also guaranteed to help you understand Thai culture a little better.
More about Thai language culture:
- Useful Thai phrases
- Subtle Thai traits only locals do
- Questions Thai aunties like to ask during family gatherings
– Common Thai idioms and expressions –
Before you go through, it’s important to note that the majority of the terms are slang and therefore should not be used outside of your immediate circle of peers.
We’re starting off with the classic ones; those that have been with us since MSN Messenger was the thing.
This is basically the Thai version of “lol”. Since the word for number five in Thai sounds like “ha”, 5’s are used to suggest that something is funny. Only used in texting – the funnier something is, the more fives you can type.
Tips: go from “55” or “lol”, to “555” or “hahaha”, to “55555” and more for bigger laughs if you’re not sure where to start.
Used in a sentence:
Girl 1: I just got caught taking a picture of a hot guy on the train. SEND HELP.
Girl 2: Lol, how?
Girl 1: My flash was on…
Girl 2: 55555 poor you.
Almost a decade ago, Thais started saying “fin” to describe any and all things that “hit the spot” or are “beyond satisfactory”. The term is thought to have derived from the word “finished”, “endorphine” and “finale”.
Fin is typically used at the end of a sentence, with a maak to emphasise that it is “very fin”. For example, noodle fin maak which translates to “these noodles really hit the spot”. At other times, it’s used to describe a blissful moment.
Used in a sentence:
A: Hey, guess what!
A: I just got to talk to my crush, fin maak.
Put simply, satu is the Buddhist equivalent of “Amen”. Thais use a single “satu” when receiving well-wishes or compliments, as if to manifest the kind words into existence.
Image credit: Sista Cafe
It is sometimes followed by a wai gesture, which is the pressing of both palms while bowing your head a little to create a prayer-like movement, before using your hands to “work” in the magic on your head and neck.
Used in a sentence:
A: I hope you get that job you’ve been wanting!
“Zab” is an Isan term, which is a Northeastern dialect, that means “delicious”. However, the meaning of the word got lost in translation on its way to Bangkok and has been used to describe food – or gossip – as “spicy” and attractive individuals as “hot”.
Alternative spelling: Zap
Example of zab as “delicious” or “spicy”:
A: How does this papaya salad taste?
B: Zab lai! (Very delicious or spicy!)
Example of zab as “hot” and/or “sexy”:
Girl 1: Hey, how do I look in this outfit?
Girl 2: Zab maak kaa! (Girl, you look hot!)
Another example of a girl looking bomb and a comment saying “you’re looking zap in short hair”.
Image credit: @thanyarita
5. Kam kam
Kam kam literally means “funny” or “hilarious”, but is often used to mean “just for fun” or “just for laughs”. For example, uploading a funny picture of you and your friends, or even entering a competition just for fun.
Used in a sentence:
A: Hey, there’s a badminton competition next week. You up?
B: Meh, I don’t think so. I’m not that good.
A: Come on, kam kam. Don’t need to win.
B: Fine, let’s just do it for fun!
Try googling “lamyai” in Thai and you’ll see a page full of longan fruit, as that is its dictionary definition. Very similar to the term lamkarn which means “annoyed”, Thais use lamyai to express annoyance, dislike or frustration; you can even call someone a lamyai if they happen to be annoying you, specifically when they’re being a slowpoke. However, the word can also be used in a lighthearted way.
Used in a sentence:
Girl 1: *Calls boyfriend to ask how he is doing*
Girl 2: Oh, you and your boyfriend are so sweet, like all the time. Lamyai!
– Thai Gen-Z slang –
This generation seems to have created a whole new set of terms that capture their values. Here are a couple of new expressions used among Thai teens and younger adults that make communication more creative than it has ever been.
7. Ai tao
“Ai tao” is a recent slang that came into being a few years ago. Deriving from the word “ai jao” or “you” in English, it is used to lead a sentence that expresses adoration, or to add softness and cuteness to the noun or adjective that usually comes after.
Two common examples are ai tao auan and ai tao khwam rak, which translates to “fatty” and “love” in a gentle, loving way.
Although you can use it with anything that you find cute, like chubby animals, the best person to use this with is no one other than your bae who deserves that extra affection.
Used in a sentence:
A: *Sees a cute cat* Ai taooo.
Pro-tip: We Thais like to drag the last consonant of a word out.
8. “Tip” or “noun + tip”
The word “tip” itself means “divine”, but to Thai netizens, tip is used to mean “an imaginary of something” or “to imagine something up”. An example would be fan tip which translates to “imaginary boyfriend/girlfriend”; it could be referring to a person you like and want as your boyfriend, but it could be an imagined boyfriend who doesn’t exist as well.
Rich tip – saying you’re rich even when it’s only in your imagination.
Another example would be tiew tip, which means “imaginary trip”, saying you’re on vacation even though you really aren’t.
Used in a sentence:
A: Hi, I just want to tell you that Jungkook is my new boyfriend.
B: Jungkook from BTS?
B: Lol. I think you mean boyfriend tip.
9. “Kang” or “don kang”
Recently, “kang” became widely used among Thai teens and young adults to mean “got played”.
It originates from the words “tom toon”, which has the same meaning of tricking or fooling. The two words literally translate to “boil” (tom) and “stew” (toon), hence why the word is replaced with kang meaning “curry” in English; seeing that curry is made that way – boiled and stewed.
In short, kang is just the hip version of tom toon.
Grammatical tip: Kang is used as a verb whereas “don kang” is its passive form.
Used in a sentence:
A: *Rushes into the office at 9AM*
B: Hey, what are you doing here so early?
A: What? I thought the meeting was at 9AM. C told me that.
A: Lol. You just don kang man.
10. “Pang” or “sud pang”
“Sud pang” is a more recent version of “pang”, which is a Thai onomatopoeia of explosive fireworks.
In social contexts, however, it is used to describe anything as “excellent”, “majestic”, “stunning” and coincidentally “the bomb”. Sud pang has become popular ever since it was featured in a song by a famous Thai female rapper called MILLI released just last year in August.
An IG post of a dance video teaser.
Image credit: @beamhoneyb
Comment 1: “Very pang sister”.
Comment 2: “God, so pang, looking forward to the video”.
Used in a sentence:
A: Have you seen the latest dance video by Lisa, BLACKPINK?
B: Yeah! It was so pang!
Head in the water
While there are several other expressions and slangs for you to learn about, it is safe to say that you’re no longer at the tip of the iceberg but deep down in the water getting closer to Kwarm Pen Thai or what it’s like to be Thai.
More on Thai culture:
- Thailand has phone number fortune telling website
- How Thais avoid CNY misfortune
- Scary Thai superstitions
- ‘Minor wife’ culture
- Thai university hazing culture
Cover image adapted from: Cookpad (Left), Siam Dara (Centre)
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What does Lamyai mean in Thai slang? ›
Very similar to the term lamkarn which means “annoyed”, Thais use lamyai to express annoyance, dislike or frustration; you can even call someone a lamyai if they happen to be annoying you, specifically when they're being a slowpoke. However, the word can also be used in a lighthearted way.What is cool in Thai slang? ›
Something that is jaap is cool, awesome or pretty great. It's used to show appreciation and admiration and is mainly used by younger Thai people.What does Jing Jing mean in Thai? ›
จริงๆ – Jing-jing
Meaning: This is used when you're being earnest. It is similar to “Really!” or “Seriously!” or “I'm telling the truth!” and you use it when you really mean something.
kiss = jup. like = chob. you are very beautiful = khun sway mak. you are very pretty = khun na rak mak.What does susu naka mean in Thai? ›
สู้ means to fight, it is similar when you are saying "Fight! Don't give up!" When you want to cheer someone up you can say.. สู้ๆนะครับ -> Susu na khrap (male speaker) สู้ๆนะคะ -> Susu na kha (female speaker) #Susu #TEPWordOfTheDay #TEP2020 | Facebook.What is Thai slang for girlfriend? ›
Literally, แฟน (faaen) means “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” in Thai.What does Wan Jai mean in Thai? ›
waan = sweet. jai = heart. pak or bpak = mouth. waan jai = sweetheart.What does Jai Dee mean Thai? ›
In Thai, they do not have a word that literally translates to 'kind'; instead they said 'jai dee' meaning 'good heart' which is perhaps the most apt phrasing considering the sheer humanity and compassion we have received from total strangers in this country. And this was simply the beginning!What does Mak Mak mean in Thai? ›
aroi mak mak means delicious in Thai.What does Sui Mak Mak mean? ›
You're very pretty. Khun suay mak mak. You're cute.
What does choop mean in Thai? ›
This Thai word simply means ”kiss kiss!” It is actually the written form of how a kiss sounds in the Thai language. Thai people say choop-choop when they give kisses to their partners, kids, or pets.What does mai pen rai mean? ›
Mai Pen Rai (It's ok / It doesn't matter)What does Yin Dee Kah mean? ›
9. Yin dee kah, Yin dee krub - You are welcome (girl), you are welcome (girl).What does Nung mean in Thai? ›
: a Thai-speaking group of peoples known by a variety of names with slight phonetic variations and mainly found in Kwangsi province of China but also in northern Vietnam compare giai. : a Tibeto-Burman people related to the Chingpaw in north Burma but having a more archaic language. : a member of such people.What does Swasdi mean in Thai? ›
Sawasdee Thailand Project
Have you ever wondered what "Sawasdee" means? Sawasdee is the word Thai people use for greetings; simply means either "Hello" or "Goodbye". To make it even more polite, you can say "Sawasdee Khrap" if you are male, and "Sawasdee Kha" if you are female.
1. pudgy, fat and cute. 2. Pook; Poog [a common Thai female nickname] pronunciation guide.What does Chok Dee mean in Thai? ›
“Chok Dee Na”, which means “Good Luck”, is a common blessing among Thais. People say it to those who make a new start or a new journey. Such well-wishing message may be short and basic. Yet, it means much more emotionally. While all of us know “Lady Luck” is beyond control, we do hope that we and our beloved are lucky.What does Fah Sai mean in Thai? ›
Fahsai. The Fun One. Fahsai, meaning “clear sky” in Thai, is currently the pride and joy of the Sappraiwan herd.What does pee Nong mean? ›
The respect for elders within Thai culture is something that is lacking within Western culture. The proper term of address for anyone who is older is Pee (placed before their name), which literally translates as older brother or sister, and anyone younger is Nong, which translates as younger brother or sister.What does Bua mean Thai? ›
Bua means lotus in Thai, in recognition to our country. In Thailand the lotus represents Thai culture and buddhism.
What is Thai kisses? ›
The traditional Thai word for kiss (hăwm) also means “pleasant smelling,” so it makes sense that this type of Thai kissing is a sniff kiss. A Thai sniff kiss is done by placing your nose on the other person's cheek or neck and inhaling. How deeply a Thai person inhales is often a measure of their affection.What is cute in Thai slang? ›
25) ตั้ลล้าก (dtân-láak) / Cute
This is the shorter version of น่ารัก (nâa-rák) which means cute in Thai.
Mai Dai – Can not. Mai pen rai – Nevermind. ( politeful one, most used)What does Baan mean in Thai? ›
Baan is the Thai word for home.What does Sanaeha mean in Thai? ›
Translated from Thai, the word saneha means passion, with a twist of sophistication, playfulness and.What does Muk Muk mean in Thai? ›
Muk is the Thai word for pearl, so Ko Muk means Pearl Island.What does Chan Rak Khun Mak Mak mean? ›
Chan Rak Khun" means I love you in. Thai! 💕What is a Tootsie Thai slang? ›
A Thai slang term for transvestite or effeminate man, toot (ตุ๊ด), comes from the first syllable of Tootsie.What does Mai Lai mean in Thai? ›
Mai pen lai – “Never mind”
Calm them down with mai pen lai, a Thai phrase that means “never mind.” Just make sure not to get too angry or loud. Speaking in a forceful tone is often seen as impolite in Thai culture, and will often aggravate the issue on hand.
Ka/krub (rhymes with ha/scrub) – This tiny little syllable is vital if you want to show respect and appreciation when you come to Thailand. If you're a female, you say “ka” and if you're a male, you say “krub”. It is basically the universal word for 'please' and 'thank you', and all politeness in general tied into one.
What does ka ka mean in Thai? ›
'ka' which is also spelt as 'kha' is a polite ending particle for females. For normal sentences, it has a falling tone (written khâ /ค่ะ) and for questions, it has a high tone (written khá / คะ)Why do Thai always say Ka? ›
In the Thai Royal Institute Dictionary, the words “ka” and “krub” are both defined as “an ending word to suggest the politeness of the message.” In my own translation, they are filler words that don't mean anything.What is the Thai word kiss? ›
There are two types of kisses in Thailand: the traditional Thai sniff kiss and a kiss with the lips. A sniff kiss in Thailand is called hăwm (หอม) and a lips kiss jòop (จูบ). The traditional Thai word for kiss (hăwm) also means “pleasant smelling,” so it makes sense that this type of Thai kissing is a sniff kiss.What does mai ped mean in Thai? ›
Kin talay mai dai – I can't eat seafood. Mai ped – Not spicy. Ped mak mak – Very spicy. Mai sai prik – No chili.What does Ja mean in love? ›
ja = term of endearment which equates to 'dear' in English. So, if your girlfriend is called Lek, call her 'Lek ja' from time to time. She may call you bpakwaan but it will get you a smile. phlawt rak = in love.What is Thai slang for boyfriend? ›
|Ex boyfriend/girlfriend||แฟนเก่า||fan gào|
🍓”Strawberry” is an insult disguised in a cute word. It is a slang for “ตอแหล” /tor-lae/, used in describing a person's words that are shameless lies or their shamelessly fake actions.How do Thai laugh in text? ›
In Thai, the number 5 is pronounced "ha" -- so instead of saying "hahahahaha," Thai speakers will sometimes write "55555."
very good = di mak.What does fan di mean in Thai? ›
[spoken gently and politely by a female] "Sweet dreams!"
components. ฝันดี fanR deeM. a sweet dream; a pleasant dream — "Sweet dreams!"
Why do Thai laugh in 5? ›
Etymologically-speaking, the number five in Thai is the homophone of /hâa/ (ฮ่า) which is also the laughing sound because the Thai pronunciation for five is also /hâa/ (ห้า) (but spelled differently). As you can see, the habit of using “555” when texting comes from how the number “5” is pronounced.What does Ching mean in Thai? ›
Ching (also spelled Chheng, Khmer: ឈិង or Chhing, Thai: ฉิ่ง) are finger cymbals played in Cambodian and Thai theater and dance ensembles.