Jook-sing or zuk-sing (竹升) is a Cantonese term for an overseas Chinese person who was born in a Western environment or a Chinese person who more readily or strongly identifies with Western culture than traditional Chinese culture.

Jyutpingzuk1 sing1


The term jook-sing evolved from zuk-gong (竹杠; zhugang in Mandarin) which means a "bamboo pole" or "rod". Since gong (杠) is a Cantonese homophone of the inauspicious word 降 which means "descend" or "downward", it is replaced with sing (升), which means "ascend" or "upward".

The stem of the bamboo plant is hollow and compartmentalized; thus water poured in one end does not flow out of the other end. The metaphor is that jook-sings are not part of either culture; water within the jook-sing does not flow and connect to either end. The term may or may not be derogatory. Use of the term predates World War II.[1]

Modern termEdit

North American usageEdit

In the United States and Canada, the term is pejorative and refers to fully Westernized American-born or Canadian-born Chinese. The term originates from Cantonese slang in the United States. Jook-sing persons are categorized as having Western-centric identities, values and culture. The term also refers to similar Chinese individuals in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and New Zealand.[citation needed]

Related colloquialismsEdit

  • Banana (Chinese: 香蕉人/香蕉仔; pinyin: xiāngjiāo rén / xiāngjiāo zi; Jyutping: hoeng1 ziu1 jan4/hoeng1 ziu1 zi2) (referencing the yellow skin and white insides of the fruit when fully matured) and Twinkie (based on the snack produced by American company Hostess - again, it denotes something that is "yellow" on the outside and "white" on the inside); may be used as a pejorative term or as a non-pejorative term.
  • FOB (Fresh Off the Boat): antonym of jook-sing. Typically meant to indicate a Chinese-born person who propagates excessively Chinese stereotypes while living in the West.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Bamboo Pole or Earth Born". 29 April 2016.


  • Louie, Emma Woo (1998). Chinese American Names; Tradition and Transition. Foreword by Him Mark Lai. Jefferson: McFarland and Company. ISBN 978-0-7864-0418-6. OCLC 37705342.
  • Lee, Douglas W. (1980). Chinese American History and Historiography: The Musings of a Jook-Sing. OCLC 80582576.

External linksEdit