What’s in a name?
Have you ever looked at the MRT network map on the train and wonder how all these places in Singapore got their names? We tell you some interesting tales about how some places in the country were named.
In Hokkien, Ang Mo Kio translates to “red-haired man’s bridge” as it was built by an Ang Moh (a colloquial term for a Caucasian person).
There’s also a story of a British woman, Lady Jennifer Windsor, who lost her child at the bridge and she kept vigil there every day because she heard the soul of her daughter crying there. Yikes.
NEXT: Bukit Merah →
According to a local folklore, there was once a smart boy who lived on a hill (“bukit” in Malay) who solved a crisis the rulers were grappling with. Feeling threatened by his intelligence, the authorities murdered him and it is said that the hill is red (“merah” in Malay) as a result of soaking in his blood.
Science says the land in the area is orange-red in colour due to lateritic soil.
NEXT: Tanjong Pagar →
With its origins as a fishing village, Tanjong Pagar (which means “cape of stakes” in Malay) possibly got its name from the presence of kelongs (large offshore platforms built for fishing) in the area.
NEXT: Dhoby Ghaut →
Washerwomen used to do the laundry here at a water source from Sungai Bras Basah (now Stamford Canal). “Dhobi” means laundryman in Hindi while Ghaut is a variation of the term “Ghat” — a flight of steps leading down to a body of water.
NEXT: Bukit Batok →
Meaning “tranquility” in Malay, the popular island went by a different name before it became the state of fun that it is today.
Pulau Belakang Mati roughly translates to “the dead island behind” in Malay as its infertile soil was seen to be harmful for habitation. It was renamed to Sentosa in the 1970s in line with plans to make it the tourist spot that it is today.
NEXT: Toa Payoh and Paya Lebar →
Interestingly, these two places, which are quite a distance from each other, basically have the same meaning — big swamplands. “Toa” means big while “payoh” means swamp in Hokkien. Similarly, “paya” and “lebar” translates to swamp and wide in Malay respectively.
NEXT: Bras Basah →
By Muneerah Bee, July 2016