Jook-sing is a Cantonese term used to describe an Overseas Chinese person who has grown up in a Western environment.


"Jook-sing" means a grain-measuring container made of bamboo (compare the term senk1 daw2 (升斗), daw2 being a kind of rice measurer). Bamboo is hollow and compartmentalized, thus water poured in one end does not flow out of the other end. The metaphor is that "jook-sing"s are not part of either culture: water within the jook-sing does not flow and connect to either end. It may or may not be derogatory. Use of the term predates World War II .

Alternatively, Jook-sing is another term for a bamboo stick in Cantonese. While the original Cantonese term jook-gon (竹竿, bamboo stick) sounds like 竹乾 (dry bamboo) or 竹降 (fallen bamboo) (which also means "unfortunate" to Cantonese people) Cantonese speakers use Jook-sing (rising bamboo) instead. The implication is that a person is Chinese outside, hollow inside.

Modern term

North American usage

In the United States and Canada, the term is pejorative and is used to describe Westernized American-born or Canadian-born Chinese. The term originates from Cantonese slang in the United States. Jook-sing are categorised as having Western-centric identities, values and culture. These traits may be viewed as positive or negative.

Related colloquialisms

  • Banana (Jyutping: heong1 ziu1 zay2) and Twinkie (based on the snack produced by American company Hostess): often pejorative
  • FOB (Fresh Off the Boat): antonym of Jook-sing
  • YASP (Yellow "Anglo-Saxon Protestant") A rare term, usually refers to very preppy Asians who are grads of prep schools and live what many outsiders would see as a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant lifestyle. They or their parents are generally from places like Hong Kong or Singapore. Plays golf and/or tennis.

See also


  • Emma Woo Louie, Chinese American Names, McFarland & Company, 1998, ISBN 0-7864-0418-3
  • Douglas W Lee, Chinese American history and historiography: The musings of a Jook-Sing, 1980.

External links

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