I have been seeing this word 'hea' in YouTube transcriptions involving 'relaxing' or travelling. What is the original word and how has it evolved to 'hea'? (I know it must sound similar to anglicised 'hea', but when did people stop writing the actual Cantonese words code switched?)

2 Answers 2


the actual Cantonese words

well, some argued that it’s 歇 (u+6b47) in toishan “dialect” (台山話)


we just use “hea” to write it, no han-chinese / cantonese character is accepted, as the “original”:

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one of the urban myth in hong kong 🇭🇰


According to this article: Cantonese Slang of the Week: HEA

To put it in the simplest of terms, to Hea means to procrastinate, be lazy, and basically try to kill time. When using ‘hea’ to describe a person, the meaning usually slightly alters to indicate that a person may be unproductive, or that their work is not up to standard. It is said that the word ‘hea’ originated from the English phrase “hang around” or “lounge around”, but some people claim it actually developed from the Hakka Chinese language. This is also one of the many local terms that doesn’t actually have a Chinese character, and is completely made up!

Many Hong Kong Cantonese teams are imported from English or other Chinese dialects. 'HEA' is one of these terms that yet to have an official loan word for it.

My personal opinion: It may even be just a sound effect of how a lazy and unmotivated person makes (too lazy to reply or address a serious question/ discussion and just say:"hea!")

Personally, I would suggest '棄'/hei3/(abandoned/give up) as the sound-alike word for 'hea'

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