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No, these are not "that little plastic pizza table" or "that thing around the takeaway coffee cup" or "the colourful little-little beads, can eat one". Photos (from left): Unsplash/@arantxa_aniorte, @kalvisuals and @sharonmccutcheon

All These Things Have Proper Names, You Know

In life, there are instances when you don’t really need to know the names of things. Like at the chye png stall where you just point here, point there, or say “this one” and “that one”.

But sometimes, you may want to sound a little more intellectual than your SAP school-going niece so here is a list of everyday things that have real names.

Phew, so you no longer have to say “that thing they wrap around the Starbucks cup because it’s too hot so I can’t hold the cup properly”. (Scroll down all the way for the name of this invention.)


These refer to the metal or plastic tubes on the end of your shoelaces. Why are they crucial? Because without them, your shoelaces would have unravelled long ago.


Box tent

Sure sounds like a big-shot kind of name for the humble little table-like plastic thingie that you find on top of your pizza when it’s delivered to you in a box. Also known as a pizza saver, it does the noble job of holding up the box lid so that your Four-Cheese pizza doesn’t come to you all smashed and wrecked. Yucks.

Photo: Pearlyn Tham

Champignon mushrooms

When your parents send you to the minimart downstairs to get one of those iconic green-and-yellow cans of sliced mushrooms, we bet they never ever say: “Get a can of champignons”. Well, that’s the cheem name of these versatile shrooms which most of us simply call button mushrooms. Try flaunting your new-found trivia knowledge on the minimart uncle next time.

Photo: Pearlyn Tham

Hundreds and Thousands

Yes, that would be the kind of situation we like to see in our PayNow wallet. But this is really the name of those rainbow-coloured, bead-like sugar sprinkles that you find on your cake and donut icing. Well, someone could have come up with a more chio name like Unicorn Magic Dust, for instance, no?


If you are svelte enough to need a belt to hold your clothes up, you may always have thought that the fabric or leather loop through which you slide the belt end is called a loop. It’s not. It’s a belt keeper. So now you know!

Ling Mong Lemon Tablets

Are they candy? Are they breath fresheners? Are they herbal tablets? Nobody really knows but you probably would have eaten one of these weird yet addictive tangy-salty sng buay-like tablets that come in gold-foil-wrapped rolls.


You know that comforting smell of rain or, more accurately, the smell after it rains? Sorry to disappoint you romantics out there but its real name is not poetic at all. Yeah, it’s called petrichor, which is the earthy smell you sometimes get when it pours. And that’s only because the rain mixes with dry soil on the ground. So, theoretically, it’s not really the smell of rain.

Piring Wafer

Those colourful biscuit discs have a not-so-glam name. They are simply called piring wafer.



Nothing religious here, just the industry term for the sides of your spectacles or sunglasses that run along your temples so that’s why they are also called temples lor.



Don’t go around calling every hat, well, a hat. There are berets, beanies, Fedoras… and then there is the toque. It’s the posh (and proper) French name for a white chef’s hat.



It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a bra! Ladies, we have been getting it wrong all this while. The proper name for that band that goes around the side and back of your body is wings.



You can thank us later when you score 7,528 points with this word – because got Z and also F, kaching! – in your next Scrabble challenge. And also you can thank us too when you impress the cute barista by asking for a zarf. It is the cardboard holder that encircles your cup of hot hazelnut latte, btw.

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