Hong Kong Removing “Cum” From Trash?

Filed Under: Travel

Hong Kong has long had trash cans which will make any 14-year-old-boy-at-heart giggle.


But I noticed something during my recent trip that I hadn’t been noticed before, as the word “CUM” was covered on many of these dumpsters trash cans.


Anyone know why Hong Kong is removing the word “cum” from the trash?

Inquiring minds want to know…


  1. Cum now, surely you know.

    I assume it was meant to be the Latin word, which means “with”. But that it was brought to the attention of the authorities that few people understood that meaning.

  2. I’ve seen those signs in Hong Kong too. I wonder if it was a bad translation, which is surprising since Hong Kong was a British colony for 99 years. “Cum” as in “magna cum laude” means “with.” Maybe we just discovered a new dialect, Chinglatin (Chinese + English + Latin).

  3. Looks like they covered up the Chinese word for “cum” too. Anyone know what the Chinese word really means that was covered up in that photo?

  4. The use of ‘x cum y’ is actually a classical English language construction that oddly enough, is really only used in Asian countries. (a leftover of the British empire).

    As Carl notes, it means ‘with’, to designate a combination between two objects with different attributes.

    Clearly, the authorities in charge of tourist signage have realized that the word is not well known or has a more prevalent and different meaning and have now changed the signs to fit better with the intended Western audience.

  5. When literally translated the top line (Chinese) into English, it should say “Litter and trash recycle bin”. There is not much difference between “litter” and “trash” in Chinese, so I don’t understand why it says litter and trash here. In English though, they use recyclables. If I were to label it, I would say trash can and recycle bin. (Since the left is for regular trash, and the right is for papers, plastics and metals).

    Now they cover the “and” (Chinese) & “cum” (English) with a backslash sign. So I guess cum = and in old English as RC pointed out.

    Chinese is not like English- English has many single words that describe a phenomenon, habit, action or behavior, but Chinese does not. Chinese people will need to use several characters or one sentence to describe such phenomenon/ habit… For instance, Chinese people may say “this is safe to be microwaved”, but English speakers may say “this is microwavable”.

  6. Goodness, just about all the above is wrong except the part about cum being Latin for “with.” In English it’s not as common as it once was, of course, but it’s still used, especially in literary contexts. There are a fair number of words like that — foreign words used in English as though they weren’t hardly foreign at all — though I have to admit that the only other one I can think of off the top of my head is “sans,” French for “without.” (I’m not counting things like et cetera, which don’t even pretend to be English.) You folks all just need to get out a bit more, really.

  7. ā€Chinese is not like English- English has many single words that describe a phenomenon, habit, action or behavior, but Chinese does not. Chinese people will need to use several characters or one sentence to describe such phenomenon/ habitā€¦ For instance, Chinese people may say ā€œthis is safe to be microwavedā€, but English speakers may say ā€œthis is microwavableā€.ā€œ

    very one-sided, unfamiliar with Chinese language. i wonder how much fluency this guy had in both.

  8. Ben – all fun and games apart – your blogs are increasing becoming boring or useless to read. I’m not trying to be rude and Just making an observation. You provide reasonably good content so useless fillers like these just reduce the strength of your blog….

  9. Another correction: Harold says that “cum” has been replaced with a backslash. It’s been replaced with a (forward) slash. This mark / is a forward slash, or just a slash, and this mark \ is a backslash.

  10. @Harold — When literally translated, the chinese word after trash is actually commonly used to refer to recyclables. The word “cum” that was translated from chinese (in this instance) is “and”.

    I guess they wanted to avoid confusion with other english speaking foreigners and the slash could very well replace the “cum” anyway.

  11. very misleading title cause HKG is not infact removing any ‘cum’ from its trash bins. unless lucky wants to dive in and find proof to the contrary.

    on a serious note: ben this is your blog and everything, but as time goes on it seems like you’re kinda regressing esp in terms of content rather than maturing as you go along and the blog ages with you. I woulda expected these kinda posts when you first started posting on FT.

  12. People should really remove the sticks from their behinds, I do not see the problem with this post. And it is true “cum” is used as “and” in old British English they use it in Singapore too, but mostly with/by people who do not have a good and current grasp of the language.

  13. @Lucky — The official answer from the Hong Kong Department of Sanitation is that due to the recent ebola outbreaks they are no longer accepting biological donations.

  14. I agree with Betsy. Used to enjoy your blog quite a bit more…..lately it is immature and not travel related. Is this the best you can come up with in your favorite city? Why not an article on a custard tart or Victoria Peak..or anything else. credibility continues to dive…….

  15. I thought cum was something you placed all over someone as in bukkake. Nothing like a good bukkake full of cum and jism.

  16. awe come on – – lighten up ye with limited tolerance for a random post not related to the actual butt in seat that’s aimed at squeezing as many bucks out of it as possible.

  17. @Jay is spot on.

    If you are so offended and disappointed, just stop reading. It’s not necessary to be so negative and rude. Does it make you feel high and mighty to be that way? If you truly were, you just would not say anything. Ever heard the old adage, “If don’t have anything nice to say….” It just a light-hearted post.

  18. It’s the difference between and/or
    With cum, it means litter and recyclable, without that, means litter or recyclable
    That’s my thought.

  19. Ben with all those hot towels and lotion from the amenity kit you use while ensconced in your A380 suite instead of “Hong Kong removing cum from trash?” perhaps the question should be “Singapore removing cum from trash?”

  20. Completely agree with D.S. and Jay – come on people, it’s a dang joke! I’m 36 and when we were in HK last month I had my wife take a picture of me with a chuckling grin in front of of one of these signs as she rolled her eyes. Does that make me immature too? Well at least I’m enjoying life and not so uptight (about something that, like or not, many people do find humorous) that I can easily blend into many settings rather than projecting a ‘holier than thou’ attitude like some of these commenters have. When i meet people like that I just shake my head at how alienating their constrained views are.

  21. Lucky is great at flying and writing about first class cabins but is really a naive kid when it comes to cultural awareness.

    Lucky is following the trend of frequent flier bloggers trying to become travel writers and industry analysts now.

    It’s like a car show girl trying to become a F1 driver.

    I really hope these diversions will end and bloggers will focus on what they are good at.

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