English words that mean something else in Thai language

Lat Phrao road sign in Bangkok
Lat Phrao road sign in Bangkok. Photo: Youtube.
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English words that have a similar pronunciation in Thai language

During my trips to Thailand I was surprised due the similarity between some English and Thai words. Although these words are pronounced in similar or the same manner, they have completely different meanings.

If you travel to Thailand and notice that Thai people look at you in a peculiar way, perhaps you pronounced one of these “similar words” while speaking English. Anyway, Thai people are usually very forgiving of your language mistakes and happy of foreigners’ efforts to learn their language.

Here’s a list of 29 English words that mean something else in Thai language:

1. Madam

The word madam is used to address or refer to a woman in a polite or respectful way, however in Thailand ma dam means ‘black dog’ (ma: ‘dog’, dam: ‘black’). So avoid to call Thai women “madam”.

2. Young

Pronounced Yaang almost like young, this word expresses the future tense, like the English word “will” do.

3. Now

The word now doesn’t mean present time in Thai language, it has a totally different meaning. It means “cold weather”.

4. Yet

The word yet must be used carefully in Thailand. It means have sexual intercourse, the equivalent of the english word f*ck.

5. Door

Adding the prefix “ta” the word door “ta door” means literally penis.

6. May

Altrogh pronounced slighly different, in Thailand the word May doesn’t mean the fifth month of the year but “no”.

7. Yay

In Thailand yay! is not a exclamation indicating approval, congratulation, or triumph. In Thai language “yay” means ‘grandmother’ (mae yay), ‘grandfather’ (po yay) or old woman.

8. Men

In English men is the plural form of “man”, an adult person who is male. In Thai language this word means “menstruation”.

9. Fan

A fan is a device with rotating blades that creates a current of air, but in Thai means ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’.

10. Fun

The equivalent of the word fun (amusement) in Thai is really funny. It means “tooth or teeth”.

11. Pen

The word pen (an instrument for writing or drawing with ink) has two meanings in Thai language. The first one is “it matters” and the second one brush (Pen fun: ‘tooth brushing’).

12. Can

in Thai language the word can is not a cylinder that holds food or drinks but a word that means “itchy”. How to say “can” in Thai? just capong.

13. Lung

In English a lung is a organ which is the principal part of the respiratory system and essential in order to breath. In Thai “lung” means something slightly different: “uncle!”

14. Anny

Pronounced pretty similar than the Hebrew baby name Anny, it means literally “this”.

15. Tony

The American baby name Tony (pronounced tonee) means “here” and/or “belly” in Thai language.

16. Queue

In English a queue is a line of people or vehicles awaiting their turn to be attended, in Thai this word means “hungry”. Queue mai? (are you hungry?).

17. Up

The word up used along with the word nam (water) mean “shower”. Up nam mai? (Did you take a shower?), Up leaw ( I’ve already taken a shower).

18. Put

In Thai language put is not about to move to or place an object in a particular position, it means “speak” or “talk”.

19. Pee

In Thai language the word pee doesn’t mean what you think. In Thai this word means “older”, i.g: pee sao or pee chai (‘older sister’ and ‘older brother’ respectively).

20. Tooth

In English A tooth (plural teeth) is a hard and calcified structure found in the jaws or mouths of vertebrates. This word in Thai language mean “ass” or “gay”.

21. Two

Two is a number or one more than one, but in Thai this word followed by the word yen (cold) two yen means ‘refrigerator’!

22. Do

In Thai “do” doesn’t mean to perform an act or duty but “to see” or “look”.

23. Die

In Thai language “die” has a slightly different meaning than in English. This word mean “allowed” or “acceptable”.

24. Cat

A cat is a small carnivorous felid mammal. In Thai language this word means “bite” ig: yung cat (mosquito bite).

25. Song

A song is a short musical composition of words and music, however in Thai the word “song” is the ‘number two’ (2).

26. Some

“Some” or som means orange in Thai language. I.g.: nam som (orange juice).

27. Who?

The word “who?”, yes with question mark (as if you were asking), doesn’t mean ‘what person or persons’ but ears.

28. What

The word “what” has a complete different meaning than the English word. ‘Wat’ pronounced “what” means temple in Thai.

29. Dead

The word “dead” in Thai language doesn’t mean ‘no longer alive’ but the sun.

This is a small list of words that I’ve compiled during my eleven years of continued trips to The Land of Smiles. If I find any other word or you know some i can’t remember right now, I will include it to this post for sure.

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