Ang Moh as a Noun
The Singlish term ‘Ang Moh’ is used to refer to a Caucasian or white person in Malaysia and Singapore. Ang moh (simplified Chinese: 红毛; pinyin: hóng máo) is a racial epithet that originates from Hokkien (Min Nan). The literal translation of the Mandarin is “red hair”, although the phrase is now used to refer to any Caucasian, regardless of hair colour.
It may be described as a “racial epithet”, however it’s nowhere near as powerful and charged a word as some racial epithets in the US or UK.
For this reason I have not included the following Hokkien phrases in the list of adjectives further down the page:
- Ang Mo Kow (red-haired monkeys)
- Ang Mo Gui (red-haired devil)
Ang Moh as an Adjective
Ang Moh has entered common usage in Singapore and Malaysia and refers to a Caucasian person or, when used as an adjective, Western culture in general.
The list below would be quite useful for people (Please forward to your Ang Moh friends) who may get a little defensive if they overhear people talk about ‘Ang Moh’, little realising that it could be about something as innocent as soursop.
So here we include some common Ang Moh adjectives:
What it means
Ang Mo Char Bor
|Western Woman||A woman from a Western country|
Ang Mo Hee
|Western Movies||Movies from Western countries|
Ang Mo Kia
|Western child||A child from a Western country|
Ang Mo Lang
|Western People||People from Western countires|
Ang Moh Liu Lian
Ang Moh Pai
|Western Faction||Westernised Chinese Singaporean (or speaks poor Chinese)|
|Western Soya Sauce||Worcester Sauce|
Yi Ka Wa Kong Ang Moh
|He speak western to me||He spoke in a Western (English) language to me|
Cannot Make It (CMI)
These Ang Mo phrases cannot be included in the list above as they are nouns only:
Ang Mo Dan = Western Dan Rambutan
Ang Mo kio = Who Put the Ang Mo in Ang Mo Kio?
Ang Mo Supermarket = Expansiveness and Prosperity (same Chinese characters as Ang Mo Kio) Supermarket
I have not discussed if ang moh is derogatory or not. All I shall say is that in English we may sometimes call groups of people, with affection or without malice, as ‘Asian’ or ‘black’. However it is possible to use ‘Name calling’ for any of these terms and therefore they can be used in a derogatory manner: e.g. something something Ang Moh; something black something; something Asian something etc.