DEFINITION of 'Kiasu'

A Chinese adjective used to describe a person's fear of losing out (to someone else). Kiasu is a traditional Chinese word, but is most popular in Singapore. It translates roughly as "scared to lose".

BREAKING DOWN 'Kiasu'

Kiasu describes being (or a person who is) greedy, unwilling to share, or competitive in order to advance one's self. Examples of Kiasu include driving aggressively to get to the front of a traffic line or registering young children early at top schools, prior even to knowing the child's aptitude. Kiasu describes the idea that one must outdo and outshine all others, have more of any given thing, pay the least amount for items (thereby getting the best deal) and always be the first or best.


This concept has been applied to such financial ideas as marketing campaigns, store sales and understanding market psychology.

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