“Lo” Meaning in Indonesian – Slang Word – Examples

If you’re visiting Indonesia and especially if you’re staying near the area of Jakarta, you’ll hear the word “lo” often. And if you look for the meaning in your dictionary, there’s a chance you won’t find the meaning of this word.

Yes, “lo” is one of the slangs in Indonesian. Understanding slang means one of the signs you are fluent in this language.

The origin of the word “lo”

Lo is actually not  a slang in the beginning. It’s a Betawi dialect. Betawi is an ethnic group who reside Jakarta and surrounding since centuries ago. Over time, “lo” has evolved into an urban dialect of Jakarta, not just only among Betawi people.

Indonesian called these urban slangs as “Bahasa Gaul”, or roughly translated as “a cool language”.

Lo meaning as a slang

Lo means “you” in English. However, if you’re looking for how people say “you” in Indonesia, you will find the word “Anda” or “Kamu” instead of “lo”. The polite form of you in Bahasa Indonesia is Anda.

The word “Anda” is often used in business and formal situation. “Kamu” is used in a less formal situation, such as between friends, or older people to younger people.

Lo: You

Lo (informal)

Lo/lu/elu – kamu – anda (you)

Variation of “lo”

There is not only one way to say “lo”. Indonesians say “lo” with several variations such as “lu”, “elu”, or “elo”.

All means the same, and there’s no particular difference in meaning either. It’s such a style of speech. It’s the pronunciation that’s different.

Let’s see how each is pronounced:

  • Lo = a clear “lo” with o like how you pronounce “low”.
  • Elo = pronounced ee -lo, the “lo” in elo is pronounced similarly as the single “lo”, “e” is pronounced like how you pronounce “e” in “amber”.
  • Lu = luuw, “u” is like you pronounce “you”
  • Elu = similar with “lu”, and the “e” is pronounced like e in “amber”.

Now let’s see the examples of “lo” and its variations:

  • Hai Toni, gimana kabar elo? (Hi Toni, how are you?)
  • Kakak lo nyariin elo, tuh! (Your brother is looking for you). Learn more about how to say brother in Indonesian.
  • Lo udah nonton Avengers yang baru belum? (Have you watched the new Avengers movie?)
  • Beneran elu mau traktir gue makan? (Really, you will treat me for food?)
  • Lu udah kerjain tugas kemarin, belum? (Have you done homework from yesterday?
  • Sumpe lo? (Are you sure)

If you pay attention to the examples above, you’ll notice that there are so many non-standard Indonesian words used. The word “lo” is almost always used in an informal sentence.

Otherwise Indonesians will tell you how weird it sounds to use “lo” with standard by-the-dictionary words. 

More explanation about each nonstandard word on those examples:

  • Gimana = A short form of “Bagaimana”, means “how”.
  • Nyariin = A non-standard word for “cari” or “mencari”, means “to look for”.
  • Udah = A non-standard form of “sudah”, means “have” or “already”
  • Beneran = can be translated as “seriously” or “is it true”. The standard form of it is “Benarkah”, or simply “Benar”.
  • Gue = A slang for “I”, this is the counterpart of “lo”.
  • Kerjain = a non-standard form of the verb “kerja”/”mengerjakan”, means “to do”.
  • Sumpe lo = it is a slang, translates as “are you sure?”, or “seriously?”.

Now that you learn all these, you might think how difficult it is Bahasa Indonesia since there are so many slangs, standard and non-standard variations. Do not be discouraged, read these materials to help you learn.

Happy learning!