Have you ever wondered what “555” means?

And why Thai people use “555” in comments or in any online conversations like text, LINE, Facebook, or other places informal Thai is written? Is it an abbreviation or acronym of Thai internet slang?

This is actually a useful thing to know. If you have talked to Thai people via emails, chatting programs or social networking websites, you might have seen “555” or “555555+” characters, but not known what it all meant or why we used it, maybe until you learned the numbers in Thai.

The use of “555” is especially common with Thai women. It’s one of the main communication skills we have to easily express our amusement: the number “5”  is all that is required. You see, “555” /hâa hâa hâa/ (ห้า ห้า ห้า) is onomatopoeic for the sound of laughter. Etymologically-speaking, the number five in Thai is the homophone of /hâa/ (ฮ่า) which is also the laughing sound because the Thai pronunciation for five is also /hâa/ (ห้า) (but spelled differently).

           – Numbers: “555” => /hâa hâa hâa/ (ห้า ห้า ห้า)

           – Laughing sound: “HA-HA-HA” => /hâa hâa hâa/ (ฮ่า ฮ่า ฮ่า)

As you can see, the habit of using “555”  when texting comes from how the number “5” is pronounced. It’s the Thai equivalent of “LOL”; when you see “555” /hâa hâa hâa/ (ห้า ห้า ห้า) in Thailand it means “funny” and “laughing out loud”. Occasionally, we will add a plus sign to the fives in order to indicate that the laugh is longer than typed and express a higher level of amusement, e.g. “555555” or just “555+”.

In the Thai language, we have so many letters, vowels and tones. To form a single word, we need to take the time to combine (and type) the consonant+vowel+tone, so it’s no wonder the Thai keyboard has so many letters flying around! That’s probably why we prefer to use “555” rather than typing something out in full (if you were to write “LOL” using regular Thai script, it would be “ฮ่าฮ่าฮ่า”). It’s much easier to quickly press a creative “word” choice like “555” on the keypad, continue laughing, and hit Enter.

Note: There are many onomatopoeia for the sound of laughing in Thai. Other ways of spelling out laughter include: “ อิอิ”, “ ฮิฮิ”, “ ฮา ฮา”, “ เห อ  เห  อ” and so forth. And if you’ve ever chatted with Thai women, you might have seen some strange words like “อิอิ”, “หุหุ”, “งุงิ” or “คริ คริ”, which are more onomatopoetic forms of chuckling.

That’s all for today’s lesson, guys. We hope it helps you to understand Thai people better and benefit somehow. Open your mind and take some time to learn Thai; we’re sure it will help make your stay here more enjoyable as you will better understand Thai culture. Overall the quality of your life in Thailand will be significantly increased if you can read and speak Thai, which in turn will put a huge range of information and entertainment options at your disposal.