Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Two Sides of Leps Expression

LEPS is a colloquial expression chiefly used by Ilonggo and Cebuano speakers, particularly among those living in Mindanao. The expression, however, varies in meaning among the two linguistic groups.

LEPS the Ilonggo way. Photo credit to

In Ilonggo, it is a shortened form to its word of origin "lipong" that means to faint or simply be out of consciousness. Filipino languages are fond of short cuts, which probably could be the reason. Moreover, the addition of the letter s as suffix to the expression signifies plurality or intensity.

The expression is usually said when one forgets something or does something wrong. In a stronger degree, it may also be harshly said to someone who is dull or slow. For example, when somebody mispronounces a certain word despite correction, a LEPS expression will suffice it all.

On the other hand, when I was in college, the same expression is used in informal conversations among Cebuano speakers, to mean as in "lips" of the human anatomy. The replacement of i to a softer e vowel could be attributed mainly to common blunder of saying the soft one instead of the hard one.

In a figurative context, the expression in Cebuano means being shameless. It is also negatively commented to overconfident people. It is just funny because a year ago, I thought I had the LEPS of an angel in a caption I wrote for an online profile picture where I posed with a pouty lips.

LEPS the Cebuano way. Photo credit to

Now speaking in my Cebuano tongue, I would not know its darker side had I not learned its other meaning from my Ilonggo friends.

LEPS, indeed, either of the two meanings.

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