Acronyms: From Borrowing Coins To The Usage Of Canes, We’ve Got It All

Singaporean authorities are known for their penchant for acronyms.

From HDB to SMRT, it’s been a love affair that has stood the test of time.

And of course, there have been numerous parodies of acronyms from all walks of life.

In our typical fashion, nearly all of them are satirical or critical.

DISCLAIMER: This piece is purely for entertainment and do not in any way reflect the views of MSN or any of their writers.

Now let’s get into it.


What it means: Only Can Borrow Coins

We’re pretty sure that the adage that you can only loan coins from Singapore’s oldest bank is untrue.

Barring that little bit of truth, it’s still hilarious to think of someone emerging from an OCBC with sacks of spare change under their arms.



What it means: Buy And Throw Away

Most of us have probably owned a pair of footwear from BATA at some point in our lives.

This acronym is 100% true, by the way.

It’s just that there’s a decade-long gap between purchase and throwing away a BATA shoe — a true sign of the brand’s undying commitment to making quality products that will stand the test of time.


3. Sentosa

What it means: So Expensive and Nothing TO See Anyway

Back in the day when the Merlion was all the island resort had to offer, we liked to rib on Sentosa for its prices and lack of sights.

This is where we feel old, because the Sentosa of today has no shortage of sights to see.


4. PUB

What it means: Pay Until Bankupt

With our wallets still smarting from the water hikes in 2017, this is the interpretation of the acronym that many have chosen to believe in.

Remember, every drop counts.

5. WP

What it means: Wayang / Wrong Party

Acronyms are not solely reserved for Government-bashing. Detractors of the Workers’ Party have derided Singapore’s largest Opposition party as being “wayang” for what seems like forever.

To be fair, it might to be hard to get things done in a Parliament where you’re outnumbered nine to 82.

6. ERP

What it means: Every Road Pay / Everyday Rob People 

A bona fide classic. Singaporeans have been complaining about Singapore’s electronic toll collection system since it was introduced.

In anything, the ERP system proves that Singapore has been a Smart Nation™ forever.


What it means: Possibly the Riskiest Option To drive On the road Nowadays

Funny how the most verbose entry on this list mocks a Malaysian export.

Singaporeans don’t just use acronyms solely to ownself complain ownself.

We use them to poke fun at our neighbours too.

The much-maligned car brand isn’t limited to ridicule from Malaysians, either.

Only need to pay for half a car.

8. PhD

What it means: Poly Halfway Dropout

There’s always that one guy in NS who walks around proclaiming that he’s got a PhD.

Only to reveal that it actually stands for Poly Halfway Dropout.

Then again, does this mean that most Singaporeans are above “PhD” level?


9. ITE

What it means: It’s The End

Once though of as the death of a Singaporean child’s education, the ever-increasing number of success stories from ITE graduates have helped to overcome that particular perception.

Oh, and thanks for I Not Stupid, Jack Neo.

10. SBS

What it means: Screwed-up and Bad Service

Screwed-up and Bad Service? These days, it seems like the bus captains are the one that needs protecting from rowdy commuters.

Just look at the multitude of bus fight videos on Youtube. Or, more accurately, amateur remakes of Fight Club.

11. SMRT

What it means: Sometimes Must Ride Taxi

This one has aged well. Though we have a multitude of alternative transport options to choose from now.

Sometimes Must Ride Grab, Uber or Mobike doesn’t have the same ring to it though.

12. SAF

What it means: Serve And Forget / F**k Off

Every Singaporean son has heard this at some point in their full-time NS stints.

This phrase is the easiest counter whenever you hear someone complain about their vocation/unit/commander/guard duty.

13. PSI

What it means: Please Stay Indoors

This particular acronym is more of a PSA, to be used whenever Indonesia decides to bless us with the smoke of many fires.

Thankfully, it seems that we will be spared this year.

14. LTA

What it means: long tio ah (a vehicular accident)

Alright, this is slightly cheating, seeing as ah is basically Singlish punctuation.

Nevertheless, this is a slightly morbid sentiment to express. The saman auntie has a family too, guys.


15. MCE

What it means: Most Congested Expressway

We’ve all experienced this feeling before.

You’ve stuck on a highway, getting outpaced by snails.

You wish that there were less cars on the road.

You immediately feel bad for agreeing with high COE prices.

16. CPF

What it means: Coffin Provision Fund

Ok, so Singaporeans’ sense of humour is a little macabre.

Still, we can’t help but to feel that we’ll be to old to enjoy life by the time we’re able to touch our CPF funds.


17. NTUC

What it means: Not To Use Cane. 

A favourite of kids seeking to escape corporal punishment.

My parents never seemed to get the memo, though.

18. BMW

What it means: Bus, MRT, or Walk

Unlike an actual BMW, two of these three options are constantly available as alternatives to driving.

No prizes for guessing which one’s the odd one out.

19. HDB

What it means: Highly Dangerous Building

Cases of popping floor tiles in January caused many of us to question the safety and quality of our places of residence.

Possibly controversial statement: most people would rather live in a building that isn’t actively trying to kill them.

Boundless creativity

Ok. So that was your short trip down memory lane.

We may not use any of these acronyms in normal conversations anymore, but what’s a little harmless ribbing among countrymen?

Let us know if we’ve missed out any of your favourites.

Featured image from Google Maps.