Basic Thai Words for Political Unrest

Written By: Hugh Leong

Protest: ประท้วง /bprà-túang/. This is the verb “to protest”. A protest “demonstration” of which we are seeing a great deal lately is usually referred to as การประท้วง /gaan-​bprà-túang/, the การ simply changes the verb to a noun.

Rally: ชุมนุม /chum-​num/. This verb normally means to gather or assemble but we are seeing it often now when referring to the large gatherings on the Bangkok streets. When we want to talk about “a rally” we can use ชุมนุมกัน /chum-​num-​gan/. The กัน suffix meaning “together”

March: เดินขบวน /dern-​kà-buan/. This word is made up of two Thai words. เดิน /dern/ meaning “to walk” and ขบวน /kà-buan/ meaning a “parade”, “procession”, and is also use with cars as in “motorcade” and with (a line of ) train cars.

Invade: บุก /bùk/. This word is usually used as in a military movement but lately we see it when a group of people rush into a government building

Election: การเลือกตั้ง /gaan-​lêuak-​dtâng/. This has the word เลือก in it which means “to choose”. ตั้ง can mean “to set up” or “to establish”.

Commission (as in “election”): คณะกรรมการ /ká-ná-​gam-​má-gaan/. คณะ again meaning “group” and กรรมการ /gam-​má-gaan/ is “judge”. This word can also be used to mean “committee”. The word กรรมการ /gam-​má-gaan/ is also used in sports to mean “umpire” or “referee”.

Run for Election: เข้าสมัครรับเลือกตั้ง /kâo-​sà-màk-​ráp-​lêuak-​dtâng/. Of course the Thai word for election is here. The word สมัคร is “to apply for”, รับ is received. The more common word for “to run for election” is หาเสียง /hăa sĭang/ or หา “to look for” and เสียง meaning “sound” or “noise”. The word มีชื่อเสียง /mee chêu-sĭang/ literally means “noisy name” but is used to mean “famous”. So “to run for election” can be translated as “to look to become famous”.

Negotiate: การเจรจา /gaan-​jay-​rá-jaa/. The one thing that could help is if everyone decide to เจรจา /​jay-​rá-jaa/

Reform: ปฏิรูป /bpà-dtì-​rôop/. And everyone seems to want this.


Solve problems: แก้ปัญหา /gâe bpan-hăa/. And this too. แก้ means “to solve” or “to repair” and ปัญหา is “problem”.

Words for Who They Are

Leader: ผู้นำ /pôo-​nam/. The word นำ is “to lead” or “to guide”. The ผู้ makes it “the person who…”. Also heard in this context is หัวหน้า /hŭa nâa/ or “the head” (of a movement). หัว means head”; หน้า can mean “in front”.

Prime Minister: นายกรัฐมนตรี /naa-​yók-​rát-​tà-mon-​dtree/ or usually shortened to /naa-​yók/. The นาย is often used in front of a person’s name to mean “the boss”. The word รัฐมนตรี /rát-​tà-mon-​dtree/ is used for a government “minister”. So the prime minister is the “boss of the ministers”.

Former (prime minister): อดีตนายก /à-dèet naa-​yók/. We are hearing this word lots lately of course. The word อดีต means “the past” or in this case “former”.

Cabinet: คณะรัฐมนตรี /ká-ná-​rát-​tà-mon-​dtree/. The prefix คณะ means “a group of”, the “cabinet” being a group of ministers.

Parliament: รัฐสภา /rát-​tà-sà-paa/ or often shortened to just สภา /sà-paa/. รัฐ normally means “state” but when used as a prefix like it is here usually refers to “government”, รัฐบาล /rát-​tà-baan/.

Military: ทหาร /tá-hăan/. And if used as an adjective ทางทหาร /taang-​tá-hăan/.

Caretaker (government): ผู้ดูแล /pôo-​doo-​lae/. ดูแล meaning “to care for”.

Words for what they’ve done

To support (a particular side): สนับสนุน /sà-nàp-sà-nŭn/. You can สนับสนุนเสื้อขาว /sà-nàp-sà-nŭn sêua kăao/ “support the white shirts” or any color shirt you want.

Call for (as in “change”): เรียกร้อง /rîak-​róng/. เรียก is “to call” and ร้อง is “to cry out”. So เรียกร้องการเปลี่ยนแปลง /rîak-​róng gaan-​bplìan-​bplaeng/ is to call for change (เปลี่ยนแปลง /​bplìan-​bplaeng/ is “to change”).

Ultimatum: คำขาด /kam-​kàat/. คำ is “word” and ขาด is “to run out of”.

Resign: การลาออก /gaan-​laa-​òk/. ลา is to “leave” and ออก is to “go out (away)”.

Dissolve parliament: ยุบสภา /yúp-​sà-paa/. The word ยุบ yúp means to disband (dissolve).

Corruption (as in bribery): การทุจริต /gaan-​tút-​jà-rìt/. ทุจริต by itself can mean “to cheat” or to be “dishonest”. Also used is การกินสินบน /gaan gin sĭn-bon/. This word is made of กิน “to eat” and สินบน “bribe”. Sometimes you will see simply กิน “to eat”.

And the word heard much too often in Thai history

Coup (as in d’état): รัฐประหาร /rát-tà-bprà-hăan/. The prefix for “government” is here coupled with the word ประหาร which usually means “to execute (as in death penalty)”. This is the official word but the one that will be broadcast on the TV after hours of martial and patriotic music will most likely be ปฏิวัติ /bpà-​dtì-​wát/ which also means “revolution”.

Here is wishing that this word will not be used again soon and that the good people of Thailand will solve this current crisis (วิกฤต /​wí-​grìt/) in a peaceful and positive manner.

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