Indonesian Figure of Speech – Types – Definitions – Examples

In almost any language, there is always figure of speech. In Bahasa Indonesia, figure of speech is known as majas. Majas is a kind of imagery or figurative speech which usually used to strengthen the impression of a sentence both written and speech and trigger imaginative sense for the audiences. Also learn about Indonesian proverbs with English equivalent.

As it is figurative of speech, the meaning of majas is not literal. It is mostly used to add more sense or effect when describing or comparing certain things. In short, majas is used to create connotation or add effect to something. Majas can be found in literature work such as poems, stories, and such.

In bahasa Indonesia, majas is classified into four big groups and each group contains smaller categories.

1. Majas perbandingan (comparison of figure of speech)

As the name suggest, comparison figure of speech evokes sense of comparison to give certain impression or influence for the reader or audience. The main characteristic of comparison figure of speech is there are things to be compared directly and indirectly.

Figure of speech which is included in this category includes majas asosiasi, majas personifikasi, majas metafora, majas simbolik, majas alegori, majas simile, majas metonmia, majas eufimisme, and majas sinekdoke. Below are some examples of those majas.

Majas personifikasi (Personification) 

This figure of speech compares inanimate things as if it has human characteristics and makes it seems alive.


  • Hujan adalah tanda bahwa langit sedang menangis. (The rain is a sign that the sky is crying.)
  • Seperti layang-layang yang merindukan birunya langit. (like a kite misses the blue sky.)
  • Majas metafora

Metaphor figure of speech is used to explain comparison of two different things in an analogic comparison. Also read about Indonesian idioms and expression.

Example of Indonesian figure of speech:

  • Santi adalah keturuanan darah biru. ( Santi is a blue blood heir.)
  • Hati dia seputih salju. (She has a heart as white as the snow.)
  • Majas simbolik

Majas simbolik (symbolic figurative language) is figure of speech which uses animals, plants, and other inanimate things to explain something. The message of the figure of speech is implicit.


  • Dia tahu segalanya seperti kamus berjalan. (She knows everything like a walking resource.)
  • Perbuatan dan perkataannya menyerupai iblis. (His act and speech resemble the devil.) 

2. Majas pertentangan (contention figure of speech)

Contention figure of speech is used to explain the real meaning of things using contradictive term. The figure of speech is aimed to create stringer sense of contention to readers or audience.

This majas pertentangan is classified into some other majas such as majas oksimoron, majas paradox, majas antithesis, majas litotes, majas hiperbola, and majas anakronisme. Also learn about Indonesian popular phrases.

Majas paradoks (Paradox) 

The figure of speech explains two different things even if both are true in reality.

Example of Indonesian figure of speech:

  • Meski berada di keramaian, aku merasa sepi. (Even in the crowd, I feel lonely)
  • Majas antitesis

Majas antithesis explains couple of things with opposite meaning.


  • Masuk surga tidak dijamin berdasarkan kaya atau miskin. (entering the heaven is not considered whether you are rich or poor.)
  • Majas hiperbola

Majas hiperbola is used to explain something in an excessive way than the real meaning.


  • Dia mengguncang dunia dengan sebuah penemuan canggih. (He shakes the world with his brilliant invention.) 

3. Majas penegasan (figure of speech affirmation)

Affirmation figure of speech is applied to explain something in a lucid way to enhance reader or audience’s comprehension.

This figure of speech is also classified into some categories such as majas pleonasme, majas repetisi, majas tautology, majasi retorik, majas palelisme, majas klimaks, and majas antiklimaks. Here are some examples of affirmation figure of speech. Also learn about Indonesian useful expression.

Majas repetisi (Repetition) 

Majas repetisi uses some words repetition in a sentence to stress the meaning.

Example of Indonesian figure of speech:

  • Cinta itu indah, cinta itu rumit, dan cinta itu sakit, maka selalu berhati-hati saat jatuh cinta. (love is beautiful, love is complicated, and love is hurt, thus always be carefull when fall in love.)
  • Majas retorika

Majas retorika is actually a kind of question which does not need to be answered because most people have known the answer.


  • Kapan hari Kemerdekaan Indonesia? (when is Indonesian independence day?)

4. Majas sindiran (satire figure of speech)

As the name suggest, majas sindiran is used to deliver satire of something to the reader and audience. Majas sindiran is also classified into majas ironi, majas sarkasme, majas sinisme, and majas satire.

Majas ironi (Irony) 

Majas ironi is used to explain something which actually is the opposite of the real meaning.

Example of Indonesian figure of speech:

  • Tulisanmu sangat bagus hingga tidak ada satupun yang bisa membacanya. (You have great hand writing, so no one is able to read it. Fact: the handwriting is bad)

The use of figure of speech in bahasa Indonesia is indeed another level, but it is widely used in everyday conversation. You may hear it in TV program, newspaper, books, and more. Be sure to learn figure of speech with Masteringbahasa. Also learn about Indonesian sentences for beginner.