ang moh


Alternative formsEdit


Borrowed from Min Nan 紅毛红毛 (âng-mô, “person of Western descent”, literally “red hair”).[1]



ang moh (plural ang moh or ang mohs)

  1. (Singapore, Malaysia, informal, possibly mildly derogatory) A white person, especially one perceived as a foreigner rather than a local inhabitant. [from 19th c.]
    • 2001, Neil Humphreys, Notes from an Even Smaller Island, Singapore: Times Books International, →ISBN; republished as Notes from an Even Smaller Island: Singapore through a Young Brit’s Eyes, Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2004 (2005 printing), →ISBN, page 208:
      Apart from skin colour, I have nothing in common with these Caucasians. To be honest, I have very little in common with the expatriates who live in Singapore either. For a start, most of the ang mohs that live here, particularly the ones from Britain, tend to come from the upper-middle classes.
    • 2007, Dawn Farnham, chapter 23, in The Red Thread: A Chinese Tale of Love and Fate in 1830s Singapore (The Straits Quartet; 1), Singapore: Monsoon Books, →ISBN:
      Zhen decided he liked Robert, although the Englishman smiled too much. Perhaps this was the ang mo way. In China, if a man smiled too much he was considered effeminate, but Zhen noticed that Baba Tan was completely at ease with them and laughed and smiled more in their company than when he was with the Chinese.
    • 2010, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, chapter 8, in Joss and Gold, Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, →ISBN, page 254:
      Suyin recognized him immediately—the tall, uncomfortable-looking white man, the ang moh standing guard by the only unoccupied table in the cafe.
    • 2011, Edmund M. Schirmer, “Finding Home Again”, in When there were Tigers in Singapore: A Family Saga of the Japanese Occupation, Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, →ISBN, page 38:
      [H]e attracted the attention of a food vendor and pointed at a pot consisting of different cuts of meat stewed in a dark soy sauce broth, served with flat rice noodles on the side. The food vendors, or hawkers, smiled at each other beatifically while ladling out the hot soup and meat in a bowl. They were probably thinking something on the lines of, "The stupid angmoh doesn't know what he is about to eat!" Angmoh, literally meaning "red hair," is the Hokkien Chinese collective term for Caucasians.
    • 2015 August 1, Wong Wei Han, quoting Stephen Krempl, “One bold move catapulted him to global stage: Man who heads his own HR consulting firm believes his willingness to stand out from the crowd and be counted was key to his success”, in The Straits Times[1], Singapore, archived from the original on 1 September 2015:
      With my kind of career and background, I have the best of both worlds. You can't tell me I'm that ang moh (Caucasian) who doesn't understand. I'm the Asian who's been through the same challenges, and I would show you how to overcome them.
    • 2017, Gwee Li Sui, “England”, in Spiaking Singlish: A Companion to how Singaporeans Communicate, Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, →ISBN, pages 67–68:
      "Ang moh" is still used today with an implicit sense of the cultural power ang mohs wield in postcolonial Singapore, whether we admit it anot.

Usage notesEdit

The term is regarded as mildly derogatory by some, and as neutral by others.




Further readingEdit