in tagalog (the main dialect of the philippines), "kuya", pronounced koo-yah, means "older brother".

like the word "aunt", it can be used nominally. it can literally mean "older brother".

tagalog: "pero alam mo kuya niya"
english: "but you know her / his older brother"

tagalog: "wala pa ang kuya mo?"
english: "your older brother isn't here yet?"

however, it is most often used as a title, appearing before a male's name much in the same way "aunt" does. thus, a child would preface the names of her older male siblings with "kuya". for example, such extended names as kuya anthony and kuya dennis exist under this paradigm. in context, "kuya" can be used exclusively, becoming an abbreviation for the compound name itself.

much like other asian cultures, titles are given while bearing in mind some sort of social hierarchy. the title spoken is in reference to the speaker (Cf: japanese honorofic language, keigo), here indicating a subserviance brought on by age and birth rank. this term can also be used to address older male cousins. there is no title for "little brother".

"kuya" can also be used as a term of affection made to an older male who is not related to the speaker.

In addition to randir's explanation of honorific usage of the tagalog term Kuya for male relatives and non-relatives, Kuya can also be used for a younger male in certain circumstances. In this case, the speaker's older blood relative or close friend has a male significant other younger than the speaker him or herself. The relative's or friend's male partner would be called Kuya regardless of age, especially if he is a husband.

While randir indicates that Kuya can be "used as a term of affection to an older male who is not related to the speaker" some females use it for duplicitous purposes. This may be to warn a fellow female friend or relative that a male in question is taken. For instance, a female speaker's older female cousin may tell her to, "Go show Kuya Jon-Jon the bathroom", as a sly way of indicating that he's not available. Another example of underhanded usage is if an older male friend not already called Kuya apparently has unwelcome amorous intentions, the female might call him Kuya to give him a hint that she is not interested in him in that way. To be called Kuya implies affection and respect but may also be an annoyance.

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