The Reigning Vocabulary of Thai Colored Politics

……..UPDATE (15 May 2010)……..

See a sequel to this post “Reconciliation Talk” (Thai-Style) & Bullets in the Head (Mafia-Style).

……..UPDATE (2 May 2010)……..

One week since last update, propaganda war between the Reds and government has become clear as day, increasingly fierce and sinister. Rumors of Thaksin’s death were spreading like wild fire for most of the week until he emerged on Twitter , gave an interview yesterday, and as reported by Matichon seemingly alive and well… And just before I posted this update, just after 6pm on Sunday evening Bangkok time, Tulsathit of the Nation reported on Twitter that his colleague had made a phone contact with Mr. Thaksin himself! (But some are still skeptical whether he’s really still alive.)

In the past week, the Red Shirts managed a spectacular PR disaster by storming into Chulalongkorn Hospital to locate the “hidden soldiers”, giving the government an opportunity for a negative PR campaign against the Reds for terrorizing the sick and the weak. Government media promptly bombarded the airwaves and citizens’ sensibilities with images of child, elderly and sick patients who had to be moved from Chula to another hospital. The government gained the upper hand and appeared to be even less inclined to talk to the Reds after it snubbed the Reds’ overture to settle for elections in 90 days after the Silom incident.

As hope for any peaceful resolution dimmed further, the government was very busy closing down hundreds of websites (at least 400-500 last heard) and summoning a number of people suspected to be sympathetic to Reds for a face-to-face talk, including student leaders (see here and here). Several, I don’t know exactly how many, who expressed unseemly views on websites or Facebook weren’t as much asked but hauled to jail for lèse majesté .

Meanwhile, many Thai citizens have also eagerly cooperated in the frenzy, expressing views in all manners and modes of communication. An alarming number seem to even relish in the sport of throwing like darts, insults, curses and death wishes against the enemies all over the web boards, facebook pages, Twitter and airwaves.

Citizens have become increasingly uneasy and are bracing themselves for something terrible to come, while all is still nerve-wreckingly topsy turvy. As of Sunday evening, the Red leaders appear for the first time repentant; they said they were sorry for the Chula Hospital fiasco and willing to accept responsibility and condemnation for their actions from all sides as reported in Thairath. (Surely, they’ve got plenty of condemnations whether they are willing to accept them or not but good to know that they are, finally.) After some negotiation with the police, the Reds cleared their blockade in front of Chula Hospital.

On the government side, it seems the focus is still on getting Red protesters out of the rally zone. Government spokesman said they might send SMS messages to protesters to return home (after fliers and loudspeakers had failed). As for possible solutions, the spokesman said the PM was considering 3 options: (1) political, (2) legal (arrest warrants?), and (3) “taking care of protesting area”. Read it however you will.

I made some edits (not major, just some refinement) and added a couple more words to the list (latest addition in GREEN). A new addition of note is เกี้ยเซี้ย kîia sîia (see under “Political concepts/key words”).

……..UPDATE (23 April 2010)……..

Escalation of war of words and more breakouts of violence in Silom rally site. More than 40 words have been added to the list.

……..UPDATE (20 April 2010)……..

Thanks to your suggestions, I’ve added many more words to the list and rearranged the order a bit with three additional categories: on media; insinuations and epithets; miscellaneous slang terms and expressions. Please note that new additions are integrated into the existing list. I plan to continue to add to the list, so if you don’t see any frequently used words on the list, please do let me know. Thanks in advance.


First off, sorry for a long hiatus. I was snatched and detained by a gang of goblins who made me … but that’s not what interests my readers, I’m sure.

By now, no discerning persons can have any doubt that besides physical violence that has already materialized and is showing signs to worsen, we are in the midst of a psychological warfare in which Thais are pitted against one another with words as weapons and venom. I refrain from lamenting about the dangers of unrestrained emotions, propaganda and incitement of hatred, for many have already done so. Plus one more lamentation by me isn’t going to change a thing.

I have compiled a set of Thai vocabulary in the current political discourse (วาทกรรมการเมือง waa-thá-kam kaan-mueaang) frequently used by protesters of various colors, government officials, mainstream media, and commentators of all stripes in new media platforms. Some expressions have been around for some time, others are new. Some are official, formal concepts and terms, others are new concoctions and slang. The vocabulary is organized in (editorialized) groups as follows:

  • color-shirted players
  • political actions called for/suggested that have not yet come to pass
  • measures attempted and failed
  • law and order measures and actors
  • political concepts/key words
  • on media
  • slogans of Red Shirts
  • slogans of Yellow Shirts and other-colored (non-red) pro-government groups
  • mystery men
  • characterizations, insults, curses and accusations
  • insinuations and epithets
  • miscellaneous slang terms and expressions.

Obviously the list is informal, somewhat subjective and not exhaustive, but I hope the words and their meanings and connotations will speak for themselves and offer a meaningful reflection of today’s Thailand. You can draw your own conclusions.

Note: I provide a Roman transliteration for each word/phrase for those unable to read Thai scripts in gray text. If you are not familiar with the transliteration system, see phonetic guide here.

Color-shirted players

เสื้อแดงsûeaa dEEng = Red Shirt(s), UDD

น.ป.ช. nOO-pOO-chOO (แนวร่วมประชาธิปไตยต่อต้านเผด็จการแห่งชาติ) = National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), anti-government political pressure group aka ‘Red Shirts’, many of whom are supporters of ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra; currently calling for house dissolution and new elections >>see background on Wikipedia

เสื้อเหลือง sûeaa lǔeaang = Yellow Shirt(s), PAD

พันธมิตร pan-thá-mít (พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย (พธม.)) = People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), pro-government, pro-monarchy, anti-Thaksin political pressure group aka ‘Yellow Shirts’ >>see background on Wikipedia

เสื้อน้ำเงิน sûeaa náam-ngooen = Blue Shirt(s), a very small group (not a mass movement) that first emerged in early 2009 with focused, sporadic vigilante actions against Red Shirts, a non-official trained force of young men believed to be associated with the Buriram politician Newin Chidchob >>see background on Thai Wikipedia

เสื้อชมพู sûeaa chom-puu = Pink Shirt(s), new (and so far relatively small) movement clad in pink shirts, first gathered in April 2010 at Lumpini Park – pro-monarchy, pro-government, against Red Shirts and dissolution of parliament<during the few days since the original post, Pink Shirts have started to mix with multicolored shirts

เสื้อหลากสี sûeaa làak sǐi = Multi-colored Shirts, newly emerging group of people wearing different colored shirts (but not red or yellow) right after the emergence of Pink Shirts – pro-government, anti-Red Shirts, anti-house dissolution<on 22 April, a new term ABR (Anything But Red) emerged on Twitter, the movement is also now sometimes dubbed Rainbow

ไม่มีสี mâi-mii-sǐi = No Color (Shirts), same position as Multi-colored and Pink Shirts,

แดงแท้ dEEng tÉE = true Red

แดงเทียม dEEng tiiam แดงปลอม dEEng plOOm = fake Red

แดงสยาม dEEng sà-yǎam = Siam Red, name of Red Shirt faction believed to have Communist ideology led by Surachai Danwattananusorn นายสุรชัย (แซ่ด่าน) ด่านวัฒนานุสรณ์ (and in league with Jakrapob Penkair, former Thaksin’s aide)

สามเกลอ sǎam klooe = The Three Stooges, term widely used to refer to the three principal Red Shirt leaders, Veera Musikapongse วีระ มุสิกพงศ์ (head of UDD), Jatupron Phromphan จตุพร พรหมพันธุ์, and Natthawut Saikuea นายณัฐวุฒิ ใสยเกื้อ

ทหารแตงโม thá-hǎan tEEng-moo = watermelon soldiers (soldiers who are Red sympathizers)

ตำรวจมะเขือเทศ tam-rùat má-khǔeaa-thêet = tomato police (police who are Red)

Political actions called for/suggested that have not yet come to pass (so far)

เลือกตั้ง lûeaak tâng = (general) elections

ยุบสภา yúp sà-phaa = dissolution of parliament

ลาออก laa ÒOk = resignation (of prime minister)

ยุบพรรค yúp phák = dissolution of a political party

รับผิดชอบ ráp phìt chÔOp = take responsibility

หาทางออก hǎa thaang ÒOk = find a solution (lit. ‘find an exit’)

มาตรการทางการเมือง mâat-trà-kaan thaang kaan mueaang = political measure

Measures attempted and failed (so far)

การเจรจา kaan jee-rá-jaa = talk, negotiation

มาตรการทางทหาร mâat-trà-kaan thaang thá-hǎan = military measure

ปฏิบัติการขอคืนพื้นที่ pà-tì-bàt kaan khǑO khuuen phúuen-thîi = operation to reclaim the (protest) area <term used by government and its supporters

สลายการชุมนุม sà-lǎay kaan chum-num สลายม็อบ sà-lǎay móp = disperse demonstrations, disperse mob, crackdown <terms used by demonstrators, media and commentators

จับแกนนำ chàp kEEn nam = arrest core leaders (of the red shirt demonstrators)

Law and order measures and actors

สถานการณ์ฉุกเฉิน sà-thǎa-ná-kaan chùk-chǒoen = State of Emergency

พ.ร.ก. ฉุกเฉิน pOO-rOO-kOO chùk-chǒoen (พระราชกำหนดการบริหารราชการในสถานการณ์ฉุกเฉิน พ.ศ. ๒๕๔๘) = Emergency Decree (2005) <created during Thaksin administration and used in deep south

พ.ร.บ. ความมั่นคงภายใน pOO-rOO-bOO khwaam-mân-khong phaay-nai (พระราชบัญญัติความมั่นคงภายในราชอาณาจักร พ.ศ. ๒๕๕๑) = Internal Security Act (2008) <created during Gen Surayuth junta government after overthrow of Thaksin

ศ.อ.ฉsǑO-OO-chǑO (ศูนย์อำนวยการแก้ไข สถานการณ์ฉุกเฉิน) = Center for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) <special operation unit under Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC); its headquarters are located in the 11th Infantry Regiment, the King’s Guard

ศอรส. sǑO-OO-rOO-sǑO (ศูนย์อำนวยการรักษาความสงบ) = Center for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) <created when the Internal Security Act 2008 was enforced, then later became CRES when the Emergency Decree was announced >>see CAPO website and more background here

ราบ 11 râap-sìp-èt (กรมทหารราบที่ ๑๑ รักษาพระองค์ (ร. 11 อ.)) = 11th Infantry Regiment, the King’s Guard

กอ.รมน. kOO-OO-rOO-mOO-nOO (กองอำนวยการ รักษาความมั่นคงภายใน)  = Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), a military unit responsible for internal national security <successor of CSOC (Communist Suppression Operations Command) created in 1966 with assistance from United States as part of anti-Communist insurgency >>see background on Wikipedia

ทหาร thá-hǎan = soldier (if refers to a person), army/military (if refers to an institution)

ตำรวจปราบจลาจล tam-rùuat pràap jà-laa-jon = riot control police

คอมมานโด khom-maan-doo = (police) commandos

กฎอัยการศึก kòt-ai-yá-kaan-sùk = martial law <increasingly loudly called for by government supports and non-red shirts

Political concepts/key words

ไพร่ phrâi (archaic term) = serf, citizen, peasant, commoner in old Thai feudal system <term used by Red Shirts

อำมาตย์ am-màat (archaic term) = royal adviser/counsel, senior courtier/minister (in absolute monarchy), meaning in recent usage has broadened to general aristocracy (commonly spelled amart or amartaya in English) <term used by Red Shirts

>>for insightful commentary on and historical perspective into phrai and amart discourse, see this article in Matichon by เกษียร เตชะพีระ

อำมาตยาธิปไตย am-màat-tà-yaa-thíp-pà-tai = bureaucratic polity (lit. political system in which aristocrats/bureaucrats rule)

ประชาธิปไตย prà-chaa-thíp-pà-tai = democracy (lit. political system in which the people rule)

ชาติ ศาสนา พระมหากษัตริย์ châat, sàat-sà-nǎa, phrá-má-hǎa-kà-sàt = Nation, Religion, King

ศักดินา sàk-dì-naa = feudalism (spelled sakdina in English)

รากหญ้า râak yâa = grassroots (connotation: rural, poor) <term often used in connection with Red Shirts, especially recently

นิติรัฐ ní-tì-rát = Rechtsstaat (German), European concept, state of law, state of justice, state of rights, i.e. state in which the rule of law reigns supreme and government power is constrained by law and people’s rights, including right to political participation, are guaranteed >>more on definition in Thai, in English.

ความเท่าเทียม khwaam tâw tiiam = equality

ความเหลื่อมล้ำ khwaam lùeaam-lám ความเหลื่อมล้ำต่ำสูง khwaam lùeaam-lám tàm sǔung ความไม่เท่าเทียม khwaam mâi tâw tiiam = inequalities

โครงสร้างพื้นฐาน khoong-sâang phúuen-thǎan = fundamental structure (social, political)

ประชานิยม prà-chaa ní-yom = populism <term often used by critics of Thaksin’s policies

สองมาตรฐาน sǑOng mâat-trà-thǎan = double standards <term used by Red Shirts

ความเป็นธรรม khwaam pen tham = justice, fair treatment

ประท้วง prà-túuang = protest

เดินขบวน dooen khà-buuan = march, demonstrate

การชุมนุม kaan chum-num = rally, demonstration

การชุมนุมประท้วง kaan chum-num prà-túuang = protest rally

ม็อบmóp = mass rally (as used in Thai politics)

อารยะขัดขืน aa-rà-yá khàt-khǔuen = civil disobedience <term heard more often in the early days of the protests, but has faded since

กดดัน kòt dan = pressure

ความรุนแรง khwaam run rEEng = violence

วิกฤติการเมือง wí-krìt kaan mueaang = political crisis

ปฏิวัติ pà-tì-wát = revolution, overthrow of existing regime

รัฐประหาร ràt-thá prà-hǎan = coup d’état (lit. ‘execution of the state’)

สมานฉันท์ sà-mǎan-ná-chǎn = agreement (through compromise and reconciliation) <this term emerged in recent years since color-coded rift has begun to show, most called for by academics, state elders and peace activists

เกี้ยเซี้ย kîia sîia = negotiation, compromise (among the elites to preserve their own respective interests) <a Chinese (Tae chiew) term from early Rattanakosin period for negotiation debt settlement (initially primarily among Chinese merchants); the term later spread outside of the Chinese merchant community and has broadened to mean negotiation and compromise in the business of politics as well, e.g. it has been speculated whether any leading figures in Thai politics might have kîia sîia with Thaksin after he had been overthrown and lived in exile since 2006 >>see a more elaborate explanation of the term by leading Thai political scientist Charnvit Kasetsiri (ชาญวิทย์ เกษตรศิริ)

สันติวิธี sǎn-tì wí-thii = peaceful means

อหิงสา à-hǐng-sǎa = non-violence

พลังเงียบ phá-lang ngîiap = silent majority (lit. silent force) <term used by multi-colored pro-government, anti-Red Shirt groups in reference to themselves (as representatives of the “silent majority”)

จงรักภักดี jong ràk phák dii = to be loyal, to hold in reverence (in reference to the monarchy)

สถาบัน sà-thǎa-ban= lit. institution (code word for ‘monarchy’)

คลั่งชาติ khlâng châat = ultra-nationalism (lit. “crazy for the nation”)

คลั่งเจ้า khlâng jâaw = ultra-royalism (lit. “crazy for royalty”)

สงครามชนชั้น sǒng-khraam chon-chán = class war

สงครามกลางเมือง sǒng-khraam klaang mueaang = civil war, also สงครามประชาชน sǒng-khraam prà-chaa-chon

สงกรานต์เลือด sǒng-kraan lûeaat = bloodied Songkran

วิกฤตินองเลือด wí-krìt nOOng lûeaat = bloody crisis

…since the April 10 bloodied crackdown more of the following are heard…

ก่อวินาศกรรม kÒO wí-nâat-sà-kam = terrorism, violent sabotage

ก่อการร้าย kÒO kaan ráay = terrorism

การเมืองข้างถนน kaan-mueaan khâng thà-nǒn = street politics

ความแตกแยก khwaam tÈEk yÊEk = division, divisiveness, rift

ขบวนการล้มเจ้า khà-buuan kaan lóm jâaw = movement to overthrow the monarchy

เปลี่ยนระบบการปกครองครั้ง ใหญ่ plìian rá-bòp kaan pòk-khrOOng khròng yai = lit. major change in system of government (code word for overthrowing monarchy)

คิดต่าง khít tàang เห็นต่าง hěn tàang = different opinion/point of view

เลือกข้าง thaang lâeaak = to choose side, to side with

เกลียดชัง klìiat chang = to hate

ปะทะ pà-thá = scuffle, skirmish, clash

จลาจล jà-laa-jon = mob, riot

นองเลือด nOOng lûeaat = bloody, bloodletting

ไทยฆ่าไทย thai khâa thai = Thais killing Thais

บ้านเมืองไม่มีขื่อไม่มีแป baan mueaang mâi mii khùue mâi mii pEE = lawlessness

กลียุค kà-lii yúk = chaos, apocalypse

สัตว์การเมือง sàt kaan mueaang = political animal

มิคสัญญี mík-khá-sǎn-yii (old Pali term) = time of great unrest, in which killing is fair game; in Buddhist mythology the term refers to a period of great civil strife (chaos, anarchy and killings)<<see พระมหาชัยวุธ (Buddhist Monk “BM.chaiwut”) explanation on the etymology of the term [in Thai] here.

ปลดล็อก plòt lÓOk = lit. “to unlock”; find a solution to a stalemate or a political deadlock

On media

เป็นกลาง pen klaang = neutral

ไม่เป็นกลาง mâi pen klaang = not neutral

บิดเบือน bìt buuan = distorted

บิดเบือนข้อเท็จจริง bìt buuan khÔOw thét jing = to distort facts

ยั่วยุ yûua yú = to incite, to provoke, to instigate

ข่าวด้านเดียว khàaw dâan diiaw = one sided news/report

ควบคุมสื่อ khwûuab khum sùue = media control

คุกคามสื่อ khùk khaamsùue = media intimidation

เซ็นเซอร์ = borrowed English word “censor”, censorship of media

ปิดสื่อ pìt sùue = close down media <has often happened with specific targets, often critical or anti-government media on various platforms: television, radio, websites, blogs

หมิ่น mìn = (lit. libelous, shortened from หมิ่นประมาท mìn prà-màat) considered to be lèse majesté

หมิ่นสถาบัน mìn sà-thǎa-ban = lèse majesté (lit. libelous against the institution)

เว็บหมิ่น wép mìn = website considered to be lèse majesté

เว็บผิดกฎหมาย wép phìt kòt-mǎay = illegal website

ปลุกระดม plùk-rá-dom = propaganda, propagandize

กระบอกเสียง krà-bÒOk sǐiang = mouthpiece

Slogans of Red Shirts

(only the selected few, as there are too many)

ไพร่ phrâi = “Commoner”, “Serf” <self-identification of Red Shirts

แดงทั้งแผ่นดิน dEEng tháng pÈEn-din = “Red throughout the Land”

โค่นอำมาตย์ khôon am-màat = “Down with the Aristocrats”

ออกไป ÒOk pai = “Get Out!” <in reference to Abhisit government

คืนอำนาจประชาชน khuuen am-nâat prà-chaa-chon = “Return Power to the People”

ยุติธรรม กลับคืนมา yút-tì-tham klàp kuuen maa = “Bring back Justice”

เรารักทักษิณ raw rák thák-sǐn = “We love Thaksin”

รอวันทักษิณกลับมา rOO wan thák-sǐn klàp maa = “Wait for the Day Thaksin Returns”

ไม่ต้องจ้าง กูมาเอง mâi thÔOng jâang kuu maa eeng = “Not hired, I fricking came on my own”

ยุบสภาyúp sà-phaa = “Dissolve Parliament”

>>see a good collection of Red Shirt signs at Women Learn Thai ‘Signs of the Time”

(signs in English)

“We Just Want Democracy”

“No More Puppet + Corrupt Regime”

“Against Coup d’ Etat” / “Againt Cope’ ” [sic]

“Against Dictatorship”

>>see more Red Shirt signs both in Thai and English at New Mandala

ไม่มีสี mâi mii sǐi ไม่มีเส้น mâi mii sên = “No Color, No Connections” <slogan Red Shirt leaders used when the Red-shirt movement decided to shed Red shirts and started wearing different non-red colored shirts in preparation for expected government’s crackdown (which did not come) in late April (and in response to the pro-government groups’ multi-colored tactic)

Slogans of Yellow Shirts and other-colored (non-red) pro-government groups


กู้ชาติ kûu châat = “Save the Nation”

เรารักในหลวง raw rák nai-lǔuang = “We Love the King”

สงครามครั้งสุดท้าย sǒng-khraam khráng sùt-táay = “The Last War”

ตายไม่ตายกูไม่รู้ … แต่กูจะสู้ … เพื่อประเทศไทย taay mâi taay kuu mâi rúu … tÈE kuu jà sǔu … pǔeaa prà-thêet-thai = “[To be] killed or not, I don’t know … But I’ll fight … for Thailand”

๗ ตุลา ตำรวจฆ่าประชาชน jèt tù-laa tam-rùat khâa prà-chaa-chon = “7 October Police Killed the People”

Note: The above were slogans used by Yellow Shirts in late 2008 and early 2009. See more signs and slogans (lots of them in English) of Yellow Shirts on the last day during their occupation of the government house in January 2009 on New Mandala. What follows are slogans used by emerging Pink, No Color and Multi-colored Shirts during April 2010.

ปกป้องแผ่นดิน pòk-pÔOng phÈEn-din = “Protect the Land”

ปกป้องสถาบัน pòk-pÔOng sà-thǎa-ban = “Protect the Institution [monarchy]”

พิทักษ์ชาติ ราชบัลลังก์ pí-ták châat râat-chá-ban-lang = “Safeguard the Nation and the Throne”

เพื่อชาติ ศาสน์ กษัตริย์ phûeaa châat sàat kà-sàt = “For Nation, Religion and King”

แนวร่วมคนรักชาติ nEEw rûam khon rák châat = “United Front of Patriots”

รักชาติยิ่งชีพ rák châat yîng chîip = “Love the Nation More Than Life”

ไม่มีสี แต่มีเสียง และมีสิทธิ์ mâi mii sǐi tÈE mii sǐiang lÈE mii sìt = “Have No Color, But Have Voice and Have Rights”

“Uneducate People” [sic] = sign in English of a pro-government, anti-Red protester seen at Silom rally on April 22 >>see The New York Times


Mystery men


(various terms used to refer to unidentified murky personality/group(s) of consequence in conflict)

ไอ้โม่ง aî-môong = hooded bandit

ชายเสื้อดำ chaay sûeaa dam = black-clad man/men (who neither side seems to want to publicly admit as their friends – both Red Shirt security guards and snipers who shot into the demonstrators on April 10th were black clad)

นักรบโรนิน nák-rób roo-nin = Ronin warriors, another nickname for black-clad men

กองกำลังไม่ทราบฝ่าย kOOng kam-lang mâi sâap fàay = force of unidentified affiliation

ผู้ไม่หวังดีphûu mâi wǎng dii ผู้ไม่ประสงค์ดี phûu mâi prà-sǒng dii = ill-intentioned person(s)

มือที่สาม muue thîi sǎam = the ‘third hand’ (proverbial murky player-instigator, often conveniently fingered perpetrator in Thai affairs)

ผู้ชักใย phûu chák yai = puppet master (lit. ‘strings puller’)

ผู้อยู่เบื้องหลัง phûu yùu bûeaang lǎng ผู้บงการ phûu bong kaan = mastermind

Characterizations, insults, curses and accusations

(sorry, some are extremely vulgar insults and curses but they are often used)

-> by Red Shirts towards the government, the establishment and the military

รัฐบาลอำมาตย์ rat-thá-baan am-màat = aristocrat government

อำมาตย์ชั่ว am-màat chûa = evil aristocrats

ทรราช thOO-rá-râat = tyrant

รัฐบาลทรราช rat-thá-baan = tyrant/tyrannical government

ไม่ชอบธรรม mâi chÔOp tham = illegitimate, lacking legitimacy

ฆาตกร khâat-tà-kOOn thOO-rá-râat = murderer

(ทหาร)ฆ่าประชาชน (thá-hǎan) khâa prà-chaa-chon = (soldiers) killing the people

มือเปื้อนเลือดmuue pûeaan lûeaat = bloodied hands

โกง koong = cheater

ตอแหล tOO-lĚE= liar

-> by anti-Red groups towards Red Shirts

ควายแดง kwaay dEEng = Red water buffalo(s)

ไพร่แดง phrâi dEEng = Red serf(s)/servant(s)

หางแดงhǎang dEEng = Red tail <name of some type of fish, but I guess it is used to mean as some type of lizard, seeเหี้ย /hîa/ below

ไพร่สถุล phrâi sà-tǔn ไพร่เลว phrâi leew = base, low-life serf(s)/servant(s)

โง่ ngôo = stupid

ทาสทักษิณ thâat thák-sǐn = Thaksin’s slaves

แดงไร้เดียงสา dEEng rái-diiang-sǎa = innocent Red (as in simple-minded and gullible)

เถื่อน thùeaan = savage, uncivilized, barbarous

ถูกจูงจมูก thùuk juung jà-mùuk = led by the nose

ถูกจ้าง thùuk jâang = hired, paid (to demonstrate/protest)

รับเงิน ráp ngoen = bribed, paid

กุ๊ย kúy = bum, thuggish bum, punk, goon

ผู้ก่อการร้ายphûu kÒO kaan ráay = terrorist(s) <the term meant “communist insurgent” in the 1960s and 1970s, but in today’s context is understood as terrorist or saboteur

กบฏ kà-bòt = traitor(s)

ล้มเจ้า lóm jâaw = (scheming to) overthrow the monarchy

ไม่รักชาติ mâi rák châat = unpatriotic

ไม่ใช่คนไทย mâi châi khon thai = not Thai

ทรยศชาติ tOO-ra-yot châat = traitorous, betraying the country

ทำลายชาติ tam-laay châat = destroying the country

คนขายชาติ khon khǎay châat = traitor(s)

-> by both sides against one another

กู kuu มึง muueng ไอ้ âi อี ii = vulgar forms of address that are normally considered too vulgar to use in public, respectively ‘I’ and ‘you’ for the first two pronouns, and male and female ‘you’ or he and she for the latter two (as second or third pronouns) which, if intended as insult, are equivalent to ‘(you), bastard [enter name]” and ‘(you), bitch [enter name]’

ชั่ว chûa ชาติชั่ว châat chûa = vile, evil, corrupt, intrinsically evil and corrupt

เลว leew สารเลว sǎa-rá-leew = base, depraved, wicked, abominable, hateful

เลวชาติ leew châat = irredeemably evil, morally corrupt

โจร joon = criminal

สมองหมาปัญญาควาย sà-mǑOng mǎa pan-yaa kwaay = lit. “having brains of a dog and intelligence of a buffalo”, i.e. extremely stupid

เหี้ย hîa =  (lit. ‘water monitor’ like gila monster), equivalent to English curse ‘swine’, also known by euphemism ตัวเงินตัวทอง tua ngoen tua thOOng (lit. “silver and golden creature”)

จัญไรjan-rai เสนียดจัญไร sà-nìat jan-rai อัปปรีย์ àp-prii = damned, damnable, beastly, evil, wicked

ไปตายซะ pai taay sá = Go die!, Drop dead!

พ่อมึงตาย phÔO mueng taay = Your father be dead! (curse)


Insinuations and epithets

เป็นคนไทยหรือเปล่า pen khon thai rǔue plàw = “Are you Thai?” <often used in heated Thai political conflict against those deemed critical or disrespectful of the three pillars: Nation, Religion and King

ระวังจะไม่มีแผ่นดินอยู่ rá-wang jà mâi mii phÈEn-din yùu = “Beware, [you] will not have a land to stand on.” <used against Thaksin by Yellow supporters during the years before the overthrow of his government, now also used with others

อย่าดึงฟ้าลงมาต่ำ yàa dung fáa long maa tàm = “Don’t pull down the sky.” <commonly heard warning by Thais against other Thais deemed to be creating nuisance for or engaging in unbecoming actions involving the monarchy

อย่าพาคนไปตายyàa phaa khon pai taay = “Don’t lead people to their death.” <often used against leaders of demonstrators amidst volatile crisis, in reference to past leaders who led people to death in crackdowns in the 1970s and 1992

หนักแผ่นดินnàk phEEn-din = “Heavy on the land” <title of an old government propaganda song against communists in the 1970s

รกแผ่นดินrók phÈEn-din = “Clutter on the land” <title of a new song currently played on คลื่นปกป้องสถาบันเนวิน (known for short as คลื่นเนวิน or Newin Radio)

Miscellaneous slang terms and expressions

(that don’t fit neatly in any of the above categories or have not been widely used)




รัฐบาลมะเขือเผา ràt-thá-baan má-khǔeaa phǎw = (lit. “grilled eggplant government”) weak, ineffective government

แอบแดง ÈEp dEEng = secret Red sympathizer <some academics are accused by Yellow/non-Red Shirts to be so; sometimes แอ๊บแดง ÉEp dEEngis also used in this context

แอ๊บกลาง ÉEp klaang = fake neutral, pretend to be neutral (not associating with any particular color) although suspected not to be really neutral, also แอ๊บขาว ÉEp khǎaw (fake White)

แอ๊บแดง ÉEp dEEng = fake Red, Red pretender, i.e. not really Red

แอ๊บไพร่ ÉEp phrâi = fake phrai (serf), phrai wannabe/pretender, first widely heard on government television channel NBT (National Broadcasting of Thailand). The coiner of the term is believed to be Chermsak Pinthong เจิมศักดิ์ ปิ่นทอง, TV host, political commentator and writer who wrote a series of books on Thaksin. The term implies that Thaksin is not phrai but pretends to be one, although he is among the wealthy ruling class who benefited from the amart system.

เหวง wěeng = to be verbose, long winded and/or bullsh*t, often used in the negative อย่ามาเหวง yàa maa wěeng (“Don’t wěeng!”). The slang has its origin in the name of one of the Red Shirt leaders, Dr. Weng Tojirakarn นายแพทย์เหวง โตจิราการ who was verbose and long winded (and confusing, according to the Thai youth who coined the term) during the first and second rounds of the talk between Red Shirts and the government broadcast live on television before Songkran 2010. The slang emerged in Twitter and Facebook and became quickly mainstream.

(ปล่อย)เกียร์ว่าง (plÒOy) kiia wâang = (to be) on neutral gear, i.e. to be hands-off, indifferent, not enthusiastic, proactive or doing one’s job serious <accusation often aimed at police and sometimes also military leadership vis-a-vis their role in controlling the on-going unrest

นักวิชาการแอ๊บแม้ว nák wí-chaa-kaan ÉEp mÉEw = academics who are closet Thaksin sympathizers <term used on in multicolored group in reference to academics who have views that benefit Thaksin

ทหารแตกแถว thá-hǎan tÈEk thĚEw = defecting soldier(s) (lit. “out-of-line soldier”)

มีสติ mii sà-tì = to keep one’s head, to use one’s intellect/mindfulness (instead of emotion)

เสียสติ mii sà-tì = to lose one’s head, to succumb to emotions/hysteria

ไร้สติ mii sà-tì = to be in absence of intellect/mindfulness

Anyone have any comments or words/phrases to suggest, please leave a comment or contact me.

19 responses to “The Reigning Vocabulary of Thai Colored Politics

  1. Dear Kaewmala

    That’s a VERY useful Vocabulary you’ve compiled.

    thanks for providing link to it !

    if you’re into it (“psychological warfare” and words used “as weapons and venom”) – then perhaps some day you may consider do a bit more research and discern all those fallacies and demagoguery words used nowadays in Thai politics, which are definitely misleading.

    I give you one example, this is a phrase “silent majority” ! (as I see it is not in your Vocab list yet) I have attempted to debunk this misleading term in one of recent posts on my blog.

    there are MANY more ! as well as less obvious things as fallacies (words jugglery or “playing words”) and even just ordinary cliches.

    I think it may contribute greatly to the self awareness of Thai people (or at least those among them who DO care and shrewd enough to try to find out the truth) and their ability to navigate in this giant ocean of information / psychological warfare unleashed upon them by Media and all other players involved in manipulation of mass mentality.

  2. Thanks Ashley & antipadshist for visiting. I’ll add the word “silent majority” to the list. That one is certainly used often, thanks (and please let me know of the others too, antipadshist). I’m collecting and plan to add more continually.

  3. Kaewmala, great to see you back blogging! Writing/researching for posts takes time (too much at times), so finding a reasonable balance is needed. I haven’t found it…

    I’ve read a number of those terms/words, but I’ll still need to study up as you’ve added a huge chunk that I don’t know.

    My all-time favourite is your translation of ไม่ต้องจ้าง กูมาเอง = “Not hired, I fricking came on my own”.

    I don’t object to them getting paid, but the numbers being quoted are all over the place (300 to 1200 baht – with some only getting half what was promised). Do you know for sure?

    Btw – have you read the post on Mandela about the English used in Red Shirt signs? Some of the comments are interesting.“thailand-want-ยุบสภา”-red-signs-in-english/

    • > I don’t object to them getting paid, but the numbers being quoted are all over the place (300 to 1200 baht – with some only getting half what

      There are lots of samples like this on YouTube, but as one who rarely watches an entire clip I’ll just say that near the start of this one the old fellow says he gets 200 baht per shift, or 400 baht per 24 hours.

      Then there’s this from The Nation today – May 1, 2010

      “A man from Phichit went to the Democrat Party head office Friday and asked the party to help send him and 24 friends back home. …

      “He said he joined the rally on Tuesday and was told he would be paid Bt200 or Bt300 a day.

      “He said he has not received any money so he and 24 friends decided to go home but they did not have money. …”

      It’s worth noting that where we live in Uttaradit, about 200 km north of Phichit, the going rate for a day’s field or construction labor is just Bt130.

  4. Hello P’Keawmala : ) : )

    I’ve just seen your blog from P’Cat’s blog. Very informative. I love it.

    Just followed you on twitter…


  5. Cat, Thanks much for the New Mandala link – yes, comments on NW are usually interesting, some are downright hilarious. With the vocab, not sure what I’m taking on but it’s getting obsessive.

    Jessi! How nice to you see here. What a surprise. Thanks for coming by and following me on Twitter. Hope you and Colin and the dogs are doing well. 🙂

  6. Kaewmala, this is a most excellent post. Great work.

    I fly back to Thailand soon. I’m hoping it’s still there to come back to. :-\

    (P.S. teensy weensy correction: there’s a typo in ถูงจูงจมูก -> ถูกจูงจมูก.)

  7. Thanks, Rikker for stopping by and catching the little typo. Have a safe trip back! And though things don’t look too good, we’ll muddle along, some how.

  8. Dear Kaewmala

    here are few more words for you, I think quite useful :

    and the fresh typical examples of such things all over Thai Media now are :

    No color” what does that suppose to mean ? something like what scientists call “dark matter” – where light is absent and thus no any colors can be visible ? this is plainly stupid ! 😀 however Thai MSM say that this group includes thai academics ! are academics SO STUPID ? LOL
    also, it is too obviously contradicting the fact that people who attend such rallies wear predominantly pink color – so, how can it be called “No color” ? 😉


    “Multicolor” (some say “rainbow”) – however this is also self-contradictory, since obviously these people HATE red-shirts so much that even if someone as much as with red flag pass by, they will beat him up (it has happened few times already). thus some of them on internet (especially on Twitter) have invented all sorts of other terms, one of which I guess would be more correct and HONEST to describe their color code :

    ARB (“Anything But Red“)

    in other words, “multicolored minus red” or “rainbow without red”

    well, with such childish (yet often SCARY) moods, soon enough I think these people will start to take out their own blood and try to change its pigmentation ! because, you know – blood is red after all, the very color they HATE so much now !

    that’s why I think adding those words “Demagoguery” and “Oxymoron” would be useful to your Vocab here: because as we can see from these examples, Demagoguery is too dangerous !

    Cheers ! 🙂

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  12. The only word that matters (and nothing else) which is not written here.

    “Phuak Ru Kwam Chring / Phuak Mai Ru” i.e., “Those who know the truth / Those who don’t”.

  13. You might want to edit the ไม่มีสี to denote the ‘new red’ and not the multi colorz.

    Last time I checked their new catch phrase was:
    ไม่มีสี ไม่มีเส้น, some reds also add in the phrase ไม่มีกลิ่น.

    However it’s been is my experience after hanging around them a couple of house the (the redz) really seem much more เหม็นขี้เต่า than ไม่มีกลิ่น

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