The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) the esteemed authority on the English language, has opened its lexical embrace to accommodate phrases that you might hear in a bustling hawker centre in Singapore, such as “blur like sotong”. This phrase, along with other Singapore English words, has found a home in the OED, further emphasizing the richness and diversity of the English language. The OED is a comprehensive resource, housing the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words—past and present—across the English-speaking world.

Every three months, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) undergoes an update, a meticulous process of revising existing entries and introducing new words to the voluminous lexicon. The March 2016 update to the Oxford English Dictionary sees the inclusion of more than 500 new words, phrases, and meanings, and among the new words are items of Singapore English.

So with the new additions, the following words can be officially used in an English sentence:

  • ang moh
  • blur
  • char siu
  • chilli crab
  • Chinese helicopter
  • hawker centre
  • HDB
  • killer litter
  • lepak (as a noun)
  • lepak (verb)
  • lepaking
  • shiok
  • sabo (noun)
  • sabo (verb)
  • sabo king
  • sotong
  • teh tarik
  • wah
  • wet market

Which makes this sentence, “That ang mo is blur like sotong,” a perfect English sentence. You can view the definitions here.

The OED’s press release further said:
“The OED is also asking for the public to help trace the history of two Singapore English words included in this update: sabo and shiok. Through OED Appeals, a dedicated community space on the OED website, the dictionary’s editors are soliciting help in unearthing new information about the history and usage of these Singaporean words. These appeals enable the public to respond to OED editors by posting evidence online, fostering a collective effort to record the unique contributions of Singapore to the evolving vocabulary of English. Details about the appeals can be found on The appeal is now live and will remain open until 10 June 2016.”

This news showcases the evolving nature of the English language, as well as the unique contributions of Singaporean English, represented by phrases such as “blur like sotong”. It’s an open invitation to dive into the colourful linguistic pool that Singapore offers to the English-speaking world.