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Sembawang

DEFINITION Sembawang is situated in the northern part of Singapore, and is bordered by the Straits of Johor in the north, Simpang in the east, Woodlands in the west, and Mandai on the south. ETYMOLOGY The earliest reference to Sembawang is found in Franklin and Jackson\'s 1830 plan of Singapore. It is said that the Sembawang area is named after the Sembawang Tree. In addition, the Malay term bawang refers to “onions”. In the 19th century and early 20th century,…

Sentosa

DEFINITION An outlying island in Singapore, and a famous tourist attraction. ETYMOLOGY The term is the transliteration of the Malay word Sentosa, which means “peace” and “tranquility”. Sentosa Island was formerly known as Pulau Blakang Mati, which means the “Island of Death Behind” in Malay. This name might have existed even before the nineteenth century. There are different versions of how the island came to acquire this name. One version attributed it to killing and piracy on the island in…

food court

DEFINITION An air-conditioned area where food is sold, usually located in shopping malls. ETYMOLOGY Originated fron the english term food court. In 1985, Singapore’s first food court, “Picnic Food Court” opened at Scotts Shopping Centre. It provided shoppers with affordable cooked food in a pleasant environment and was very popular. Subsequently, more food courts opened in other areas. Most food courts are situated within larger shopping centres or commercial buildings and are mainly self-service. SAMPLE SENTENCE The food court injected…

Clifford Pier

DEFINITION A small pier beside Collyer Quay. The Mandarin name literally translates as “Red Lamp Pier”. ETYMOLOGY Known as “Clifford Pier” in English. Located on the banks of the Singapore River, Clifford Pier is a landing point for early immigrants who travelled across the ocean. It was named after Sir Hugh Clifford, the Governor of the Straits Settlements. After the construction of the pier was completed, a red oil lamp was installed to guide the ships that entered the pier,…

Bukit Ho Swee

DEFINITION A residential estate located in central Singapore, which is bordered by Delta Canal to the north, Tiong Bahru Road to the south, and Delta Road and the lower section of Outram Road to its east and west respectively. ETYMOLOGY Bukit Ho Swee was named in honour of Tay Ho Swee, a 19th century merchant. It is said that this was the first time a location in Singapore was named after a Chinese person. In the early 20th century, Bukit…

coffee shop

colloquially known as kopi tiam DEFINITION A neighbourhood shop that sells hot and cold drinks such as traditional Nanyang coffee and meals, often frequented by locals. Now known as coffee shop. ETYMOLOGY Originating from the Hokkien (Minnan) dialect, kopi is a transliteration of the word coffee. In the early days, most of the kopitiam owners were Hainanese and Fuzhounese, and kopitiams were also known as “tea rooms”. Frequented by locals, these shops mainly sell traditional Nanyang coffee, tea, kaya toast,…

Tiong Bahru

DEFINITION A housing estate in central Singapore, next to Outram and Bukit Ho Swee. ETYMOLOGY There are no records indicating the first use of the name Tiong Bahru. However, the name Tiong Bahru was mentioned in a Straits Times article dated in 1863. “Tiong Bahru” is an amalgamation of Chinese and Malay terms. Tiong meant cemetery in the Hokkien (Minnan) dialect, while bahru is the Malay word for new. The name Tiong Bahru referred to the new cemetery. In the…

Causeway

DEFINITION A Causeway that links the Johor Bahru city of the Malaysian state of Johor and Woodlands in Singapore. ETYMOLOGY Known as “Johor-Singapore Causeway” in full, its foundation was laid in 1919 and completed in 1924. Covering 1.2 km in length, the causeway underwent expansions in 1964 to 1968, and 1991 and 1992. SAMPLE SENTENCE Videos of crocodile sightings along the Johor-Singapore Causeway went viral and sparked heated discussion online. Netizens joked that these crocodiles can help deter illegal immigrants.…

Housing Development Board (HDB) estate

DEFINITION Housing estate composed of apartment flats built by the government. ETYMOLOGY To solve the severe housing crisis, the autonomous Singapore government established the Housing & Development Board (HDB) in 1960. From 1960 to 1965, the HDB launched a Five-Year Building Programme to develop the first HDB housing estate in Queenstown. In February 1964, the Singapore government launched the Home Ownership for the People Scheme to ensure that HDB flats were affordable for citizens. In 2014, about 80% of Singapore\'s…

Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall

DEFINITION An exhibition hall that introduces Sun Yat Sen’s revolutionary activities in Southeast Asia and the 1911 Revolution, with a focus on the Singapore Chinese community. ETYMOLOGY Originally known as Wan Qing Yuan, the building was bought by wealthy Singaporean businessman Teo Eng Hock in 1905 as a residence for his mother to spend her twilight years. The name Wan Qing Yuan signifies the peace and blessings that he wanted for his mother in her twilight years. In February 1906,…