What Are The Most Misinterpreted Indonesian Words?

Indonesian language has many words. Even, not all of Indonesian understand all words in Indonesian language. Some of the words are unfamiliar for Indonesian. Even, several familiar words are interpreted and used incorrectly.

Here, we will discuss about the most misinterpreted Indonesian words. Hopefully, after this you can use these words properly.

Below are several of most misinterpreted Indonesian words:


Acuh in English can be translated as “indifferent”. It means careful, pay attention, wary, etc. However, Indonesian people use the word incorrectly. They interpreted the word as “don’t care or not pay attention”.

For example, in one of Indonesian popular song. There is a lyric “kau acuhkan aku, kau diamkan aku”. If translated to English, it become “you care about me, you ignore me”. It become weird and confusing because the lyric use the wrong word.


In English, dirgahayu can be translated as “long live”. However, most of Indonesian people don’t know this.

They interpreted dirgahayu as “happy birhtday” because in Indonesian Independence Day, there are many propaganda that say “Dirgahayu Republik Indonesia”. As a result, they interpreted dirgahayu as happy birthday.


Mengubah can be translated as changing in English. The correct spelling is “mengubah”.

However, Indonesian people usually say and spell it as “merubah.” This is wrong because if translated into English, merubah means changing something into a fox.


Absensi means absence. The word was indeed come from Dutch word absent. However, Indonesian people confused the meaning of the word with presensi (presence).

They usually say absensi instead of presensi. For example, for list of attendance of an event, they call it “daftar absensi kehadiran” or “list of absence presence”. This feels very weird. They should say it as daftar kehadiran or list of presence.  


Actually, the word geming in English means “not moving.” However, Indonesian people most of the times use this word incorrectly. They usually say it as “diam tak bergeming”.

If translated into English, it will become “silent and not not moving”. The meaning become weird and different than it should be.


In Indonesian word, pasca came from Sanskrit. As a result, the word should be spelled pas-ca, not pas-ka. However, Indonesian people usually say it as paska. This is because most of them thought that this word came from an English word.

As we know, usually in English we read “c” as “k”. For example “c” in word “cake”. In Indonesian, pasca means after. For example, pascabencana means after disaster.

Ke luar and keluar

In Indonesian, ke luar and keluar seems like have similar or same meaning. However, the two words actually have different meaning. Ke luar is a direction, means “outside”.

While keluar is a verb, means “go outside”. Indonesian people sometimes use the two words incorrectly.

Read more about Indonesian words:

That’s all about the most misinterpreted Indonesian words. Thank you for reading. I hope the information will be helpful for you.