Have you ever come across a Line message or Facebook comment that wrote just a series of 5s?
As a foreigner or newcomer to the world of Thailand, you might be wondering what it even means. In this modern world, numbers are a big part of everyone’s life; they are used for communication purposes and are essentially one of the most critical components in entertainment, politics, and social worldview (1).
That’s great, but what does 555 mean in Thailand?
Thai people use 555 as a way to express laughter in their texts. It is a local idiosyncrasy that comes from the Thai word ‘Ha.’ If you put 555 together, it makes ha-ha-ha, equivalent to ‘lol’ in the western world. There are many reasons why Thai people use the number ‘5’ to communicate.
Then again, you might be wondering why ‘555’ in particular? Why not ‘444’ or ‘111’? To solve this mystery, we need first to understand the meaning behind the numbers in Thailand.
Numbers in Thai
Most Thai people use the local language when counting numbers. Below is how to count from 0 to 9 in the Thai language and how to pronounce them in English (1).
0 – ศูนย์ (sǔun)
1 – หนึ่ง (nùeng)
2 – สอง (sǎawng)
3 – สาม (sǎam)
4 – สี่ (sìi)
5 – ห้า (hâa)
6 – หก (hòk)
7 – เจ็ด (jèt)
8 – แปด (bpàaet)
9 – เก้า (gâo)
If you take a careful look at how the number 5 is pronounced in the Thai language, then you will immediately understand why this particular number is used to express laughing sounds.
Yes, that’s right – ‘555’ is not pronounced as ‘Five Five Five’ like many of us were probably thinking.
According to the Thai language, the number 5 is pronounced as ‘ห้า’ or ‘Ha’ in English. By typing ‘555’ or ‘Ha Ha Ha’ in text, it sounds like how one would be saying “hahaha” and laughing in real life.
Number five seems like the easiest and most familiar option, with an already friendly tone to laughing sounds in the western world. Now known as local internet slang, you can send ‘555+’ to your friends to convey an even funnier reaction.
The Origin of ‘555’ in the Social World
The Thai language has forty-four alphabets, twenty-two vowels, and five tones, which means that to write ‘Ha Ha Ha,’ one would need to combine the alphabets, vowels, and tones to form a single phrase would look as such: ‘ฮ่า ฮ่า ฮ่า.’
However, it would take a very long time to correctly type out Thai letters on a keyboard, which is why it is preferred to type in ‘555’ instead (2).
Additionally, with the phenomenon of social media taking over Thailand by storm in the early 2000s, Thai people were getting more into social networking apps and text messaging. Known as one of the top countries with millions of Twitter users, many of today’s tweets include ‘555’ and ‘555+’, as the abbreviation is commonly known among the Thai community.
Moreover, Thai celebrities, idols, foreign fans, and kpop fangirls are also familiar with the term ‘555’ and use the phrase when interacting with local Thai people online.
The Powerful Meaning Behind the Number 5
The number 5 is quite a robust number for many reasons. While the number is used in the entertainment industry as laughter and social connection, it is also deemed profound and meaningful (4).
The number 5 is used in many forms of divine reading, from where it represents exploration, travel, freedom, and change. Additionally, the use of tripe 5 emphasizes and amplifies its power (4).
The number 5 can indicate that change is coming; the beginning of a new period of personal growth or physical change, such as a new job or an exciting new house move. However, if you are in Thailand, it might just mean that you did read something funny on the internet (4).
This can get you thinking about why the number ‘555’ was used in the first place. Well, take a look at the number ‘666’ – altogether, it is the “number of the beast,” a term taken from the Book of Revelation. Although that might sound interesting, it does not represent anything connected to the world of laughter (4).
Thai people have always been superstitious, meaning they take their numbers very seriously. The number nine, for example, is related to long life, prosperity, and progress.
However, in Japan, the number 9 is considered trouble. In the same way, Thailand has its idea of how lucky and unlucky numbers feel to them, and ‘555’ is regarded as one of the positive ones (4).
When and How to Properly Use ‘555’
Thai people love it when their foreign friends learn and use the Thai language when communicating with them. Most significantly, ‘555’ is one of the most straightforward Thai words you can learn and use with your Thai friends and colleagues.
The use of a phrase that has a similar connotation to western abbreviations like ‘lol’ makes it easier to relate to people, and at the same time, not have to learn how to use the complicated Thai keyboard.
As for when to use ‘555’, one can use ‘555’ whenever they see something funny posted on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or when someone says something funny in their text messages.
Put, ‘555’ is the equivalent of ‘LOL’ or ‘ROFL’ in the Thai language, so one can use ‘555’ in the situations they usually use ‘LOL.’ The funnier the post or the conversation is, the longer ‘555’ is!
And just like using ‘LOL’ to lessen the awkwardness or soften the tone in the text, you can use ‘555’ in the same way. Additionally, applications like Line have stickers, gifs, and emojis, linking to ‘555’, which can be used in place of text messages.
However, you do not always have to use ‘555’ to laugh. As several people use the term ‘lol’ to lighten up the mood or tone of the text, young people use ‘555’ in casual conversation, even if the post is not funny.
For example, when texting between close friends, one might say ‘Where are you 5555??’ instead of just writing ‘Where are you?’, which sounds more serious and interrogating to the recipient (3).
Here are some example sentences using ‘555’ so that you can text like a local in Thai and earn more social points among your friends and colleagues!
Person 1: Have you seen this viral meme?
Person 2: Yes, that meme is so funny and on-point 555!
Person 1: Did you see the red light?
Person 2: I did, I didn’t see the policeman
Person 1: 5555555+
Person 1: When are you arriving 55555?
Person 2: I am almost there 555.
Note that 555 is pretty informal usage, so be careful when using it with elders or your boss, even when they are the ones using it first. As much as Thai people love foreigners learning their habits, they are also serious about age and hierarchy.
‘555’ is a powerful phrase used in Thailand for casual and humorous entertainment. Famously known as Thailand’s top internet slang, you can catch locals, teenagers, elders, politicians, and celebrities using the phrase across social media.
However, also note that ‘555’ has an extremely serious and positive connotation; it links to long-term freedom and change, thus linking to prosperity for the future of Thailand. Make sure that when using ‘555’, you carry truthful and courageous energy.
1. ThaiPod101.com. The Best Guide To Learn Thai Numbers For Daily Usage. ThaiPod101.com. [Online] October 24, 2019. https://www.thaipod101.com/blog/2019/10/24/thai-numbers/
2. Sandhanawit, Eshna. Why Do Thai People Text 55555 All The Time. Quora. [Online] 2020. https://www.quora.com/Why-do-Thai-people-text-55555-all-the-time/answer/Eshna-Sandhanawit/.
3. Prasutchai, Haripoom. Why Do Thai People Text 55555 All The Time? Quora. [Online] 2020. https://www.quora.com/Why-do-Thai-people-text-55555-all-the-time/answer/Haripoom-Prasutchai?ch=10&oid=226798694&share=9289248c&target_type=answer/.
4. Dan About Thailand. Why 555 Is No Laughing Matter! Dan About Thailand. [Online] April 11, 2019. [Cited: December 19, 2021.] https://danaboutthailand.com/2019/04/11/why-555-is-no-laughing-matter/.