Same, Same: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 23, 2023

"Same, same" is a phrase commonly heard in Southeast Asia that essentially means "similar." It was likely first used by Thai people learning English to communicate with visitors and has since become a common expression. It's worth noting that the phrase is often extended to "same, same, but different," adding a humorous acknowledgment that while things might be similar, they are not exactly the same.

In short:

  • "Same same" is a phrase used to denote similarity or sameness.
  • It's commonly used in casual conversations, often to overcome language barriers.

What Does "Same Same" Mean?

"Same same" is a popular idiom used informally to assert similarity rather than total sameness. It originated from Southeast Asian syntax but is now globally known. The phrase stresses resemblance through the repetition of "same." It has spread as a casual way to equate things without insisting they are identical. It arose as Thais learning English tried to express likeness between two objects or situations, and it's now a cultural catchphrase known for its charm and humor.

Let's delve into its core meanings and usage:

  • It is often employed in conversation when trying to explain that two things are alike but not identical. This might be used when comparing items, situations, or experiences.
    • For example, a Thai vendor might use the phrase "same, same" when a tourist questions the authenticity of a designer product at a market stall. In this context, the vendor is implying that the product is similar to the original – it may not be genuine, but it closely resembles the real thing.
  • The phrase "same, same" is a linguistic quirk and reflects a significant aspect of Thai culture. The Thai people often use language to avoid confrontation and maintain harmony. So, instead of outright denying the similarity between two things, they might say they are "same, same" to keep the interaction pleasant and conflict-free.
  • While "same, same" does not have a direct English synonym, phrases like "almost identical," "pretty much the same," and "quite alike" carry a similar connotation.

Where Does "Same Same" Come From?

The phrase "same same" is a direct English translation of a phrase used in several Southeast Asian languages, specifically Thai and Vietnamese, to denote similarity. It's an example of how languages can influence each other and create unique linguistic blends, especially in regions with high levels of tourism.

10 Examples of "Same Same" in Sentences

To better illustrate its usage, here are some examples of "same same" in different contexts:

  • She’s been feeling down lately, so I decided to cheer her up with some chocolates. Same, same as always, she smiled and thanked me for being a good friend.
  • Despite the language barrier, she managed to tell the cook, "Same same but no spice."
  • On comparing the local beer brands, he said, "Same same, but this one is cheaper."
  • I want to place an order for delivery, please. Same, same as last time.
  • "Is this original Nike?" "No, but same same," the vendor replied, pointing at the logo.
  • I searched for the best pizza place in town, but they all looked same, same to me.
  • "It seems like this one is better among the three dishes?" "Ah, same same, but this one has chicken."
  • Comparing two-holiday resorts, he said, "Same same but different view."
  • Do you need anything else, or same same as your last order?
  • "How do these two bikes compare?" "Ah, same same, but this one newer."

Examples of "Same Same" in Pop Culture

"Same same" finds its place in pop culture, too, especially in the context of Southeast Asian experiences.

Let's look at a few instances:

  • "Same Same But Different" is a 2009 movie directed by Detlev Buck. The film narrates the true story of a relationship between a German backpacker and a Cambodian prostitute.
  • "Same Same But Different" is a short story by Anne Hayden that explores her travel experiences in Vietnam.
  • "Same Same: A Novel" by Peter Mendelsund, published in 2019, tells the story of a protagonist who discovers a mysterious shop where replicas surpass the original when a mishap leads him there.
  • "Same Same, But Different" by Sally Wootton, released in 2011, recounts the author's travel experiences in various countries, including Greenland, Australia, Southeast Asia, New Zealand, and Colombia.
  • "Same Same" by Ly Nguyen, published in 2012, offers an intimate portrayal of a Vietnamese nail salon worker who maintains strength and resilience despite the challenges she faces.

Other/Different Ways to Say "Same Same"

While "same same" is a colloquial phrase unique to Southeast Asia, other standard English phrases can convey a similar sentiment.

Here are some alternatives:

  • Alike
  • Similar
  • Identical
  • Comparable
  • Equivalent
  • Corresponding
  • Much the same
  • Two of a kind
  • Not dissimilar
  • More or less the same

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Same Same":

  • What does "same same" mean?

"Same same" is a phrase often used in Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand, to indicate that two things are similar or identical.

  • How can I use "same same" in a sentence?

You can use "same same" to point out similarities between two items or situations. For instance, "Kidding aside, the two shirts look 'same same' but one is cheaper."

  • Where does the phrase "same same" come from?

The phrase "same same" originated in Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand, where it is often used by vendors and locals to communicate similarities between objects or situations to English-speaking tourists.

  • Can you use it in professional contexts?

"Same same" is generally considered informal and colloquial, so it's not typically used in professional or formal contexts, particularly outside Southeast Asia.

  • Does "same same" mean exactly the same?

Not necessarily. While "same same" can sometimes indicate that two things are identical, it's often used to express a general similarity rather than an exact match.

  • Is "same same" used outside of Southeast Asia?

While "same same" is a phrase commonly used in Southeast Asia, especially among vendors and locals communicating with tourists, it is less commonly used in other parts of the world.

  • What is the typical response to "same same"?

In many cases, "same same" is used in situations where there's no need for a response. However, if a response is warranted, it could be as simple as acknowledging the similarity with a phrase like "I see" or "Ah, got it."

  • Can "same same" be used to compare people?

Yes, "same same" can be used to compare people, particularly in informal or casual contexts. However, it's important to use it in a respectful and non-derogatory manner.

  • Is "same same" a formal or informal phrase?

"Same same" is generally considered informal and colloquial. It's often used in casual conversation, particularly in tourist areas in Southeast Asia.

  • Does "same same" have any variations?

The most common variation of "same same" is "same same, but different," which is often used to indicate two things are generally similar but have some distinguishing characteristics.

Final Thoughts About "Same Same"

The phrase “same, same” is a unique and interesting expression that originated in Thailand and spread to other Southeast Asian countries. It is a simple and effective way of expressing agreement, affirmation, or equivalence between two things or people. It can also be used to avoid conflict, confusion, or misunderstanding by implying that there is no significant difference or problem.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "Same same" is an informal phrase originating from Southeast Asia, indicating that two things are similar or identical.
  • The phrase can be used in a variety of contexts, from comparing products at a market to noting similarities between people or situations.
  • While it's commonly used in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries, it's less common in other parts of the world.

While the phrase may seem unusual to English speakers from other regions, "same same" is a charming aspect of Southeast Asian English that reflects the area's unique linguistic culture. For one, it symbolizes the Thai tendency to avoid confrontation and maintain social harmony. It reflects the broader Thai philosophy of "mai bpen rai" or "don't worry about it," demonstrating an easygoing approach to life.

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