150 Indonesian Words That We Use in English – Meaning

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If long time ago, words are absorbed into a language by expedition or colonialism, through globalization, borders of the nation became eventually vanished. Shared culture, art and even language become undoubtedly possible and effortless. It is also happened between Bahasa Indonesia and English. Not only Bahasa Indonesia absorbed English vocabulary to enrich its language, it also applied reversely.

Therefore, a language turned to be more flexible and rich at the same time. In this opportunity let’s break down Indonesian Word that We Use in English, as well as its meaning. Moreover, as a strong-cultural country like others Asian, most of the loanwords are endemic animals or plants, as well as our art and cultural.

Before we start our exploration please also check List of English Words from Indonesian Origin

Indonesian Words Appeared in Hollywood Movie

Have you watched Fast and Furious 6?o or Minions? or The Accountant? You may noticed there are some of Indonesian words. Here they are!

  • Terima kasih – Thank you (Minions)
  • Kemari – Come here (Minions)
  • Boleh kita masuk? – May we come in? (Minions)
  • Santai – Relax (Minions)
  • Paduka Raja – Your Majesty/Your (Royal) Highness (Minions)
  • Hantam mereka! = Hit them! (Fast and Furious 6)
  • Tidak apa-apa. Lanjutkan saja – Never mind. Just continue it (The Accountant)

Learn more in Indonesian Words in Minions

After having fun with a little bit Hollywood class. Now let’s move to Indonesian Words that use in English. Mostly, it happened because it is part of Untranslatable Indonesian Words with No English Equivalent or cultural heritage. Check it out!

  • Durian = smelly fruit with sharp thorns hard shell
  • Cempedak = also smelly fruit, has physical appearance similar like jackfruit
  • Salak = a fruit that looks like a mosque dome, has  big seeds in the center of it and a look-like snake skin with brown color
  • Rambutan = hairy round-shaped red fruit (rambut = hair, -an = suffix means many, check Indonesian Suffix -an)
  • Papaya (from papaya) = tropical fruit shaped like an elongated melon, with edible orange flesh and small black seeds
  • Babirusa = deer-pigs, Sulawesi endemic animal
  • Banteng = some species of wild cattle
  • Bantam = a species small fowl (usually refer to chicken)
  • Cassowary (from kasuari) = paradise bird, endemic bird from Papua
  • Cockatoo/cacatua (from kakatua) = a white parrot, some has crest (some is pets, majority are protected)
  • Komodo dragon = some kind of very big lizard from East Nusa Tenggara (Komodo Island), Indonesia (very protected)
  • Orangutan = big brown apes species, only found in Sumatra and Borneo (very protected)
  • Siamang = arboreal black-furred gibbon native to the forests of Indonesia (very protected)
  • Tapir = pig-sized mammals that have nose trunk
  • Tokay (from tokek) = a gecko
  • Trepang (from teripang) = sea cucumber

Further reading: Indonesian Words for Animals and Indonesian Words for Fruits

More Indonesian Word We Use in English

Here’s the Indonesian words that we use in English:

  • Bahasa = refer to Indonesian language, shorten for Bahasa Indonesia
    *instead say ‘I don’t speak Indonesian’, people tend to use ‘I don’t speak Bahasa’
  • cajuput (from kayu putih) = literally translated as white wood, an aromatic medicinal oil (herbal)
  • Rattan (from rotan) = he thin pliable stems of a palm, used to make furniture (or beating)
  • Sago/sagoo (from sagu) = a stereotypically known as Eastern of Indonesia staple food
  • Lahar = lava which has reached the ground
  • Batik = technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to whole cloth, or cloth made using this technique originated from Indonesia (mostly refer to the latter one, also recognized as world cultural heritage by UNESCO)
  • Canting = a pen-like tool used to apply liquid hot wax, usually for batik-pattern drawing  
  • Songket = traditional fabric, originally from Melayu and Minangkabau tradition
  • Sarung (from sarung) = large tube or length of fabric to wrapped around the waist and under
  • Angklung = Sundanese musical instrument, made of a varying number of bamboo tubes attached to a bamboo
  • Gamelan = traditional ensemble music of Java and Bali in Indonesia, made up predominantly of percussive instruments
  • Gong = circular metal plate instrument (part of gamelan for ending part), that produced ‘gong’ sound.
  • Agar-agar = some kind of less-chewy jelly from algae
  • Sambal = spicy sauce (both processed and home-made, many variation)
  • Satay (from sate) = seasoned, skewered and grilled meat, served with a sauce (mostly peanut sauce + ketchup)
  • Tempeh (from tempe) = fermentes soybeans, a very well-known Indonesian vegetable rich-protein
  • Gado-gado/lotek = Indonesian salad
  • Rendang = spicy meat dish (originally from Minangkabau) that went national even global
  • Nasi goreng = fried rice (one of Indonesian typical food)
  • Mi goreng = fried noodle (one of Indonesian typical food)
  • Lontong = dish made of compressed rice cake in the form of a cylinder wrapped inside a banana leaf, usually served alongside satay and peanut butter sauce + ketchup
  • Indomie = Indonesian very well-known instant noodle brand (usually refer as Indonesian instant noodle)
  • Amok (from amuk) = attacking furiously, a violently raging, wild, or uncontrolled manner
  • Latah = uncontrolled behavior when people suddenly repeated words they heard when they were shocked/pranked
  • Junk (from jong) = a ship type were used as seagoing vessels
  • Silat = a type of martial arts from Southeast Asia (pencak silat is one of Indonesian most well-known one)
  • Kris (from keris) = a traditional weapon from Indonesia culture (usually related to pride and status)

Read also: Indonesian Words for Food and Rice Vocabulary

Now you have known that there are Indonesian words that we use in English and it is mostly very cultural. Before you leave, you could read these following articles. Good luck and see you really soon!