50 Indonesian Sayings about Life and Meaning

Like it or not, both ancient and popular sayings about life becomes many people motivation in conducting life. Throughout the times, popular sayings become a country’s philosophies and culture.

Indonesian Sayings about Life

Here are some sayings about life in Bahasa Indonesia to give you some motivation.

1. Jangan menilai orang dari luarnya

English equivalent: do not judge a book from its cover

Meaning: everybody is different, so, it is better not to judge them from the outer look but from the characteristic and inner heart.

2. Lidah tidak bertulang

English translation: the tongue knows no restraint

Meaning: to describe (usually with disgust) a person who always keep changing what he/she says, someone who tells lie all the time, someone who has no principle.

3. Jadilah kumbang yang hidup di taman bunga, jangan jadi lalat yang hidup di bukit sampah

English equivalent: life is what you make of it

Meaning: live a good, useful, and positive life because you live only once.

Learn more about Indonesian idioms and expressions.

4. Kepala bisa panas, tapi hati harus dingin

English translation: the head can be heated but the hearts should cool

Meaning: any matter can be resolved with cool heart and open mind.

5. Mulutmu adalah harimaumu

English translation: your mouth is your tiger

Meaning: control every word that you say. It is the reflection of your behaviour and it can also get you in trouble.

6. Hemat pangkal kaya

English equivalent: a penny saved is a penny gained

Meaning: conduct a frugal life, save up more and become rich sooner.

7. Malu bertanya, sesat di jalan

English translation: embarrassed/hesitate to ask results in getting lost.

Meaning: do not hesitate to ask when you do not know about something. It is the only way to learn.

Learn more about Indonesian proverbs with English equivalent

8. Gajah mati meninggalkan gadingnya, macan mati meninggalkan belangnya, dan manusia mati meninggalkan namanya.

English translation: an elephant dies leaving its tusk, a tiger dies leaving its stripes, and man dies leaving his/her name.

Meaning: someone will be remembered for his good or bad deeds during life.

9. Ada gula ada semut

English translation: when there is sugar, there are ants

Meaning: people tend to be attracted to something with most benefits. 

10. Kasih ibu sepanjang masa, kasih anak sepanjang galah

English translation: a mother’s love is as long as time, but child’s love is as long as wood stick.

Meaning: a mother’s love lasts forever.

Also learn more Indonesian popular phrases.

11. Sedia payung sebelm hujan

English equivalent: better late than sorry

Meaning: it is better to be prepared than to be sorry. It is also similar to English saying prevention is better than cure.

12. Surga ada di telapak kaki ibu

English translation: heaven is in the bottom of mother’s foot

Meaning: it is an act to always love your mother unconditionally.

13. Kacang lupa kulitnya

English translation: nuts forget its shell

Meaning: it is an illustration of a person who forget his/her whereabouts such as family, heritage, hometown, and the like.

14. Besar pasak daripada tiang

English equivalent: do not bite off more than you can chew

Meaning: it is a condition when your expense outweighs your salary or when your debt is larger than the income.

15. Jadilah seperti padi, semakin berisi semakin merunduk

English meaning: be like a rice plant, the heavier it contains the more it bow

Meaning: in life, the more knowledge you have it is better to be more humble than arrogant.

16. Semakin tinggi pohon, angina bertiup semakin kencang

English translation: the higher a tree, the wind blows harder

Meaning: the higher position or fame that you obtain meaning more problems or anything annoying approach you.

Learn more about Indonesian words of wisdom and meaning.

17. Pikir dahulu pendaptan, sesal kemudian tiada berguna

English equivalent: look before you leap

Meaning: it is important to always think before act or speak. 

18. Berat sama dipikul ringan sama dijinjing

English equivalent: birds of feather flock together

Meaning: everything will be easier when groups of people do the task together

19. Kesempatan tidak datang dua kali

English equivalent: opportunity never knocks twice at any man’s door.

Meaning: seize your moment because opportunity does not come twice

Also learn about unique Indonesian words.

So, are you notice some sayings that match with your condition? I hope it is the good one. But in general, those phrases have the equivalent English phrases. You can use the phrase to hone your skill in learning Bahasa Indonesia as well as keep you motivated.