Learn Cantonese slang: Do I look like an idiot? Phrases for when you’re being ripped off and taken advantage of

  • Here’s how to talk about people abusing their power and exploiting others
  • Don’t you just hate it when people steal your brilliant ideas?
Yanni Chow |

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Don’t be a dai-haa-sai! A little kindness goes a long way. Photo: Shutterstock

Have you ever been in a situation where you thought someone was a friend, only to discover they were just using you? Do you know older students who always boss around their juniors? We’ve all been there.

No matter the situation, you can learn from it and be more cautious next time. Here are some Cantonese terms and their English counterparts to describe these bad behaviours.

Hate playing monkey in the middle when friends argue? Here are 5 Cantonese phrases to describe how you feel

To exploit; to take advantage of

Cantonese slang: 攞著數 lo2 jeuk6 sou3 (lor-jeuk-so)

Literal translation: “Get jetso”

Meaning: to take advantage of someone or something for your own benefit. Commonly used in Hong Kong for good shopping deals, “jetso” is actually a phonetic transcription of the Cantonese phrase jeuk-so, meaning profit or freebie. But the phrase lor-jeuk-so can come with a slightly negative connotation.

Example: Sandy always knows how to lor-jeuk-so when she asks her classmates for answers to the assignments.

Don’t be the kind of person who takes advantage of others! Photo: Shutterstock

To rip somebody off; to take somebody for an idiot

Cantonese slang: 搵笨 wan2 ban6 (wen-bun)

Literal translation: “Find stupid”

Meaning: to cheat someone by scamming them and making them pay too much money for something

Example: Harry paid much less than we did for tickets to the concert – I think we’ve been wen-bun.

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To abuse your power

Cantonese slang: 大蝦細 daai6 haa1 sai3 (dai-haa-sai)

Literal translation: “Big bully small”

Meaning: to abuse your position, authority or strength by bullying others

Example: Andrew, the team captain, always dai-haa-sai by forcing the younger players to do his work for him.

Too many people are willing to step on others to get themselves ahead. Photo: Shutterstock

To hijack; to take over

Cantonese slang: 騎劫 ke4 gip3 (kie-gip)

Literal translation: “Ride robbery”

Meaning: to take over something and use it for a different purpose, or to take it over and claim it as your own. This phrase can be used when others hijack the work you have done.

Example: After I had spent months developing this project, Samuel suddenly kie-gip and said it was all his effort. What should I do?

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