Comparison of Standard Malay and Indonesian

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The Malaysian and Indonesian are both standardised registers of Malay language in Malaysia and Indonesia, respectively. Both languages are generally mutually intelligible, yet there are differences in spelling, grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary, as well as the predominant source of loanwords.[1][2][3] The differences can range from those mutually unintelligible with one another, to those having a closer familial resemblance. The regionalised and localised varieties of Malay can become a catalyst for intercultural conflict, especially in higher education.[4][5][6]


To non-native speakers the two varieties may seem identical, but to native speakers the differences are noticeable through both diction and accent. They affect the broadcasting industry with regard to foreign language subtitling, for example, in DVD movies and on cable TV. In order to reach a wider audience, both Indonesian and Malay subtitles are sometimes displayed in a movie, along with other language subtitles. Another example is Malaysian TV providing Malay subtitling on Indonesian sinetrons (TV dramas) aired in Malaysia,[7] and vice versa.[8]

The Malay language in Indonesia and Malaysia also differs in recognition, where in Malaysia it enjoys status as the national language (Malaysian language),[9] while in Indonesia it is considered as a regional language in Malay-speaking areas such as the eastern coast of Sumatra and West Kalimantan.[10][11] The term "Malay language" (Bahasa Melayu) in Indonesia and Malaysia invites different perceptions from its respective people.[12] To Malaysians, the Malay language is generally understood as the national language of Malaysia, with Malaysian language (Bahasa Malaysia) being the standardized register of Malay in the country.[13] Between 1986 and 2007, the term Bahasa Melayu was used instead of Bahasa Malaysia, until the latter was reinstated, in order to instill a sense of belonging among Malaysians of all races, rather than just Malays.[14][15] Therefore, there was no clear distinction between the use of the term Malay (Bahasa Melayu) and the national language of Malaysia (Bahasa Malaysia). In Brunei, where Malay is also an official language, the language is known as Bahasa Melayu and in English as "Malay".[16]

In Indonesia, however, there is a clear distinction between "Malay language" (Bahasa Melayu) and "Indonesian" (Bahasa Indonesia). Indonesian is the national language which serves as the unifying language of Indonesia.[17] The term "Malay" is reserved for the language indigenous to the Malay people. Thus, "Malay" is considered a regional language in Indonesia, enjoying the same status as Javanese, Bataknese, Sundanese, Buginese, Balinese and others.[18] Moreover, to some Indonesians, the term "Malay" is more often associated with Malaysia and the Malaysian national language.[19]

In Malaysia, the terms "Indonesian Malay" and "Malaysian Malay" are sometimes used for Indonesian and Malaysian as spoken in Malaysia. In Indonesia, "Indonesian Malay" refers to the Malay spoken by the Malay peoples of Indonesia, that is, to Malay as a regional language in Sumatra, though it is rarely used.[20] Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Melayu are used interchangeably in reference to Malay in Malaysia.


Before the 20th century, Malay was written in a local modified form of the Arabic alphabet known as Jawi. During the 20th century, Malay written with Roman letters, known as Rumi, almost completely replaced Jawi in everyday life. The romanisations originally used in Malaya (now part of Malaysia) and the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) reflected their past history as British and Dutch colonial possessions respectively. In Malaya, the romanisation of Malay, devised by Richard Wilkinson[21] was influenced by English, whereas in the Dutch East Indies, the system devised by C. A. Van Ophuijsen was influenced by Dutch.[22] As a result, in Indonesia, the vowel in the English word 'moon' was formerly represented oe, as in Dutch, although the official spelling of this sound was changed to u in 1947 when the Republican Spelling System was used.[23]

Similarly, until 1972, the initial consonant of the English 'chin' was represented in Malaysia as ch, whereas in Indonesia, it continued to follow Dutch and used tj. Hence the word for 'grandchild' used to be written as chuchu in Malaysia and tjoetjoe in Indonesia, until a unified spelling system was introduced in 1972 (known in Indonesia as Ejaan Yang Disempurnakan or the 'Perfected Spelling') which removed most differences between the two varieties: Malay ch and Indonesian tj became c: hence cucu.[24] Indonesia abandoned the spelling dj (for the consonant at the beginning of the word 'Jakarta') to conform to the j already in use in Malaysia, while the old Indonesian j for the semivowel at the beginning of the English 'young', was replaced with y as in Malaysia. Likewise, the velar fricative which occurs in many Arabic loanwords, which used to be written 'ch' in Indonesian, became kh in both languages.[24] However, oe was retained in some proper names, such as the name of the first President, Sukarno (written as Soekarno), and his successor Suharto, (written as Soeharto). The ch and dj letter combinations are still encountered in names such as Achmad and Djojo (pronounced as Akhmad and Joyo respectively), although the post-1972 spelling is now favoured.

Although the representations of speech sounds are now largely identical in the Indonesian and Malay standards, a number of minor spelling differences remain, usually for historical reasons. For instance, the word for 'money' is written as wang in Malaysia, but uang in Indonesia, the word for 'try' is written as cuba in Malaysia, but coba in Indonesia, the word for 'because' is written as kerana in Malaysia, but karena in Indonesia, while the word for 'cake' is written as kuih in Malaysia, but kue in Indonesia. One notable difference in punctuation between the two languages is the use of different decimal marks; Indonesian, influenced by Dutch, uses the decimal comma,[25] whereas Malay, influenced by English, uses the decimal point.[26]


Pronunciation also tends to be very different, with East Malaysia, Brunei and East Indonesia pronouncing words in a form called Bahasa Baku,[27] where the words are pronounced as spelt.[28] and enunciation tends to be clipped, staccato and faster than on the Malay Peninsula, which is spoken at a more languorous pace. Many vowels are pronounced (and were formerly spelt) differently in Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Sumatra: tujuh is pronounced (and was spelt) tujoh, pilih as pileh, etc., and many final a's tend to be pronounced as schwas; [e] and [o] are also allophones of /i/ and /u/ in closed final syllables in peninsular Malaysian, Singaporean and Sumatran varieties of Malay.[29][30]


Vocabulary differences[edit]

Indonesian differs from Malaysian in the quantity of loanwords from Javanese, Dutch and other languages. For example, the word for 'post office' in Malaysia is "pejabat pos" (in Indonesia this means 'post officer'), whereas in Indonesia it is "kantor pos", from the Dutch word for office, kantoor. There are also some Portuguese influences: in Indonesia, Christmas is known as "Natal", whereas Malaysia uses "Krismas", derived from English (or in some cases also "Natal", due to Indonesian influence). Pronunciation of some loanwords in Standard Malay follows English, while some in Indonesian follows Dutch, for example Malay "televisyen" (from English: television) and Indonesian "televisi" (from Dutch: televisie), the "-syen" and "-si" also prevail in some other words. There are also instances where the Malaysian version derives from English pronunciation while the Indonesian version takes its cue from Latin. The Latin preference of the (older) Indonesian intellectuals in these instances may be ascribed to the influence of their classical-oriented education when Gymnasium schools were established during the Dutch colonial period : compare Malay kualiti, kuantiti, majoriti, minoriti and universiti with Indonesian kualitas, kuantitas, mayoritas, minoritas and universitas.

Some words which are spelt the same in both languages may even carry entirely different meanings in the other language, potentially leading to humorous or embarrassing situations: while baja means "steel" in Indonesian, in Malaysian it means "fertiliser". Also, whereas the Indonesian word butuh means "require" or "need", in Malaysian, it is a vulgar slang term equivalent to "cunt/cock". Conversely, where the word "banci" seems innocuous enough in Malaysia ("census"), in Indonesia it is a derogatory term for "transvestite".

The relatively large share of Islamic (Arabic or Persian) loan words shared by Malaysian and Indonesian often poses no difficulty in comprehension and usage, although some forms may have developed a (slightly) different meaning or have become obsolete either in Malaysian or in Indonesian, e.g. khidmat, wakil (see below).

Vocabulary comparison[edit]

English Malaysian Indonesian
abolition pemansuhan penghapusan,
abortion pengguguran aborsi,
pengguguran (of a fetus)
abroad luar negara luar negeri
accessibility kebolehcapaian,
account (bank, bills) akaun rekening (from Dutch – only used in the bank),
akun (used in all term of account excluding bank account)
accountability kebertanggungjawapan,
accountant akauntan akuntan
accounting perakaunan akuntansi
accurate tepat tepat,
akurat influenced by Dutch accuraat
administration pentadbiran administrasi
after selepas,
setelah (also used in Malay to indicate consecutive actions)
afternoon petang sore, petang
agent ejen, agen agen
air force tentera udara angkatan udara
airport lapangan terbang ('airfield' in Indonesian) bandar udara (bandara)
Algeria Algeria Aljazair from Arabic al-Jazā'ir
alliance perikatan, persekutuan, pakatan aliansi (influenced by Dutch alliantie),
alloy pancalogam, aloi logam paduan,
logam campuran, aloi
apartment pangsapuri,
rumah pangsa,
rumah kondo (only for 'condominium')
apartemen (influenced by Dutch appartement),
rumah susun (rusun) (public housing for poor family),
application (software) perisian penggunaan, aplikasi perangkat lunak, aplikasi
architecture seni bina arsitektur (influenced by Dutch architectuur)
archive arkib arsip from Dutch archief
area kawasan daerah, area,
armed forces tentera tentara,
angkatan bersenjata
army tentera darat angkatan darat
assembly majlis,
perhimpunan (from the root verb 'himpun' meaning 'to gather/assemble')
assets aset harta,
aktiva (from Dutch activa)
association persatuan asosiasi (from Dutch associatie),
assumption andaian,


astronaut angkasawan antariksawan,


Athens Athens Athena (influenced by Dutch Athene or from native Greek Athina)
athletics (sport) olahraga ('sport' in Indonesian) atletik
auction lelong from Portuguese leilão lelang also from Portuguese leilão
August Ogos Agustus from Dutch augustus
auntie makcik (also used in Riau Malay dialect in Indonesia),
emak saudara,
ibu saudara
tante from Dutch
autobiography autobiografi autobiografi, otobiografi is a substandard spelling
automatic automatik (formerly otomatik) otomatis (derived from Dutch pronunciation of automatisch)
autonomy autonomi otonomi (Self-governing)
awkward janggal;
kekok (of gesture)
kikuk (of gesture)
backpack beg sandang (literally "sling bag") ransel (from Dutch)tas punggung
backstage (of a theater or studio) belakang tabir belakang layar (literally "back screen/behind the screen"),

belakang panggung

bag beg tas from Dutch
baseband jalur asas pita dasar
basin (wash basin/sink) besen wastafel (from Dutch, lit. washing table)
basket (ball) keranjang bola basket
basket (in general) bakul keranjang
because kerana,
bed katil matras influenced by Dutch matras,
tempat tidur,
Belgium Belgium Belgia influenced by Dutch België
Belgrade Belgrade Beograd
belt (of a seat) tali keledar sabuk
bicycle basikal sepeda (influenced by French velocipede)
bill (legislation) rang undang-undang rancangan undang-undang,
billboard papan iklan baliho supposedly from English ballyhoo (in English it means extravagant publicity or fuss)
papan iklan,
papan reklame from Dutch reclame (advertisement)
billion seribu juta, bilion miliar (from Dutch miljard)
binary perduaan biner (from Dutch binaire)
bishop biskop,
board (company) lembaga 'agency' in Indonesian dewan
bonnet, hood (of a car) bonet,
kap from Dutch
boot, trunk (of a car) but bagasi
Britain Britain Britania (influenced by Dutch Brittannië)
Brussels Brussels Brussel (influenced by Dutch)
Bucharest Bucharest Bukarest
bucket; pail baldi ember from Dutch emmer
bus bas bus,
bis substandard, influenced by Dutch pronunciation
bus station stesen bas terminal bus
bus stop perhentian bas pemberhentian bus,

halte bus from Dutch bushalte

business perniagaan,
perniagaan (less commonly used),
Cairo Kaherah from Arabic Al-Qahirah Kairo
Cambodia Kemboja Kamboja
Cameroon Cameroon Kamerun
camp kem kamp (reflects Dutch pronunciation)
campaign kempen kampanye (from Dutch campagne (a French loanword))
can (to be able) boleh,
cancer kanser,
kanker from Dutch
capacitor pemuat,
capital city ibu negara ibu kota
car kereta
(means carriage in Indonesian, commonly used as a shorthand for kereta api, which means train. Malay followed English derivation of car which was a contraction of horseless carriage)
mobil (from Dutch/mid-English automobile)
card kad kartu from Dutch kaart
career kerjaya,
Caribbean Caribbean Karibia
carrot lobak merah wortel from Dutch
case kes kasus,
cash wang tunai uang tunai,
cashier juruwang kasir, from Dutch kassier
juru uang(rare)
cavalry pasukan berkuda pasukan berkuda,
cement simen semen
censor tapisan (means "filter" in Indonesian) sensor
census banci (means "transvestite" in Indonesian) sensus,
centipede lipan kelabang,
central pusat pusat,
chaos (theory) teori kekacauan teori kekacauan
chilli cili, lada ('pepper' in Indonesian), cabai (used in the northern states of Malaysia) cabai,
China China Tionghoa (standard term for Chinese people),
Tiongkok (Republik Rakyat Tiongkok: official name of the People's Republic of China),
Cina (standard, still in common use but discouraged due to possible racist connotations. See Shina for further information.),
China (substandard)
Christmas Krismas,
Natal from Portuguese
cinema panggung wayang bergambar (more popularly abbreviated as pawagam),
panggung wayang
bioskop from Dutch bioscoop
circuit litar sirkuit
city bandar,
bandaraya big city,


civil awam (In Indonesian, it means "not expert"),
claim tuntutan (means "sue" in Indonesian) klaim
clarification penjernihan (to make something, e.g. water, clear in Indonesian) klarifikasi,
clause (legal) fasal (equivalent term in Indonesian is pasal) ayat,
club (association) kelab klub,
perkumpulan infrequent
coach (carriage) koc gerbong
coat kot jas from Dutch jas
cockroach lipas lipas,
kecoa from the Chinese Min Nan ka chuah
college kolej,
Cologne Cologne Köln,
Colombia Colombia Kolombia
comment ulasan,
ulasan (can be including review, interpretation and comment),
komentar (from Dutch commentaar)
commission suruhanjaya komisi (from Dutch commissie)
commissioner pesuruhjaya komisaris (from Dutch commissaris),
committee jawatankuasa komite
commonwealth komanwel persemakmuran
Comoros Comoros Komoro
company syarikat perusahaan,
maskapai (from Dutch maatschappij – almost exclusively used to refer to airline companies, i.e. maskapai penerbangan)
compiler penyusun penyusun,
complaint aduan aduan,
conclusion kesimpulan;
konklusi (rare)
konklusi (from Dutch conclusie)
condensation pemeluwapan,
kondensasi (from Dutch condensatie),
conference persidangan konferensi (from Dutch conferentie),
confirmation pengesahan konfirmasi,
pengesahan of a document,
kepastian of a decision
conflict pertikaian konflik,
Congo Congo Kongo
conservation (movement) pemuliharaan;
konservasi (rare)
pelestarian (of animals and plants)
constitution of a country perlembagaan undang-undang dasar (influenced by Dutch grondwet ("basic law")),
konstitusi (from Dutch constitutie)
construction pembinaan pembangunan (of building),
pembinaan (of moral),
konstruksi (from Dutch constructie)
consumption perbelanjaan konsumsi (from Dutch consumptie),
contamination pencemaran pencemaran,
continuous selanjar berkesinambungan,
conversion penukaran (mean "exchange" in Indonesia) konversi (from Dutch conversie),
corporation perbadanan korporasi (from Dutch corporatie),
badan usaha,
corruption rasuah;
korupsi (rare)
korupsi (from Dutch corruptie),
rasuah (non-standard)
Costa Rica Costa Rica Kosta Rika
counter kaunter loket from Dutch,
konter/kaunter non-standard
country negara negara,
negeri in Malaysia, negeri usually refers to a state within a federation
court mahkamah pengadilan,
cracker keropok kerupuk
criminal jenayah penjahat,
ahli pidana (ahli pidana is criminal law expert)
Croatia Croatia Kroasia
crucial genting krusial,
Cuba Cuba Kuba
cupboard almari (from Portuguese armário) lemari also from armário
current (adjective, of time) semasa saat ini,



aktual (from Dutch actueel)

current affairs hal ehwal semasa aktualitas, peristiwa terkini
curtain langsir (In Indonesian, langsir is train wagon arrangement.),
gorden (from Dutch gordijn)
customs (authority) kastam pabean refers to the administrative institution,
bea dan cukai (bea-cukai) lit. tariff-and-tax, duty
cute comel imut,
Cyprus Cyprus Siprus
Czech Republic Republik Czech (Republik) Ceko
dandruff kelemumur ketombe
December December Desember (influenced by Dutch december)
decimal perpuluhan (In Indonesian, perpuluhan means tithe.) desimal (from Dutch decimale),
persepuluhan (rare)
decree dekri surat keputusan,
dekrit (from Dutch decreet)
degree (of temperature) darjah derajat
delicious, tasty lazat,
democratic demokratik demokratis (from Dutch demokratisch
note: "democratic republic" (in country names) translates as republik demokratik, such as in Republik Demokratik Kongo (Democratic Republic of the Congo))
department jabatan ('occupation' in Indonesian) departemen,
jurusan (for department in university)
departure pelepasan keberangkatan,
depression (psychological) kemurungan (In Indonesian, kemurungan means "sadness".) depresi (from Dutch depressie)
deputy timbalan wakil,
timbalan (rare)
design reka bentuk desain,
kerangka bentuk,
detail terperinci detail,
detil (substandard),
rinci (substandard)
dialect loghat dialek,
detection pengesana pelacakan,
different – difference beza,
berbeza – perbezaan
berbeda – perbedaan
diocese kawasan uskup,
director pengarah direktur from Dutch (and French) directeur,
sutradara (of a film) from Sanskrit (through Javanese),
pengarah (for an event)
discount diskaun,
potongan harga
potongan harga,
korting from Dutch, less frequent
discussion perbincangan,
diskusi (from Dutch discussie)
disinfectant penyahjangkit disinfektan,
domestic dalam negara dalam negeri,
driver pemandu
means guide in Indonesian
sopir from French chauffeur through Dutch, pengemudi formal
driver's license (U.S.)
driving licence (UK)
lesen memandu surat izin mengemudi (SIM)
drugs (illegal) dadah (colloquial use in Indonesia means "goodbye".) narkoba (an acronym for NARKotika dan OBat-obatan terlArang (narcotics and illegal drugs)),
NAPZA (less frequent – an acronym for NArkotika, Psikotropika dan Zat-zat Adiktif (narcotics, psychotropics, and addictive chemical substances))
Dutch East Indies Hindia Timur Belanda Hindia-Belanda
duty (economics) duti,
e-mail e-mel surel (standard, shortened of surat elektronik (electronic mail)),
email(rarely used in everyday spelling, often used on online spelling (e.g. website-based registration or social account))
Easter Easter, Paskah strictly used for Jewish Passover Paskah from Portuguese Pascoa
Ecuador Ecuador Ekuador
editor penyunting editor,
redaktur (from French rédacteur through Dutch – refers to editors of mass printed media)
editorial (board) kakitangan editorial redaksi (from Dutch redactie),editorial
effectiveness keberkesanan keampuhan,
efektivitas (from Dutch effectiviteit)
efficiency kecekapan efisiensi,
Eid ul-Fitr Hari Raya Aidilfitri Hari Raya Idulfitri – Idul Fitri substandard spelling, but common, Lebaran colloquial – from Javanese
eight lapan used as colloquial abbreviation in Indonesian delapan used in Malaysia before the spelling reform
elasticity (economy) keanjalan bingkas, elastisitas
electricity tenaga elektrik lit. electric energy listrik,
setrum (from Dutch stroom)
embargo (political) sekatan (In Indonesian, it means "obstacle" or "room which separated with partition") boikot, embargo
emergency kecemasan (used for anxiety or "too anxious" (condition) in Indonesian.) darurat (from Arabic – also used in Malaysia to express a state of emergency), kegawatan
emperor maharaja kaisar (from Dutch keizer),
maharaja (from Sanskrit)
empire empayar kekaisaran,
enamel enamel email (from Dutch emaille)
energy tenaga energi,
tenaga (for "power")
engine enjin mesin,
motor sub-standard
England negeri Inggeris Inggris
eraser getah pemadam penghapus
erosion hakisan pengikisan,
erosi (from Dutch erosie)
escalator tangga gerak tangga berjalan,
estimation jangkaan,
Europe Eropah Eropa,
Europa (substandard)
evacuation pemindahan (In Indonesian, it means "translocation" or "relocation".) pengungsian,
evakuasi (from Dutch evacuatie)
evaluation penilaian penilaian,
evaluasi (from Dutch evaluatie)
evening teja sore
excess lebihan kelebihan,
excretion perkumuhan ekskresi,
pembuangan kotoran
execution (death sentence) hukuman mati eksekusi (from Dutch executie),
(peng)hukuman mati
exhaust (pipe) ekzos knalpot (from Dutch, in which it also means "muffler")
exploration penjelajahan,
export eksport ekspor
expose pendedahan paparan,
extinct pupus padam (of flame or light),
punah (of species),
pupus (loss of hope)
faculty fakulti fakultas,
fakulteit (obsolete, from Dutch)
facility kemudahan, fasiliti kemudahan,
faction (politics) puak faksi,
fraksi from Dutch fractie
factory kilang ('refinery' in Indonesian) pabrik from Dutch fabriek
federal persekutuan federal
federation persekutuan (related to "alliance" in Indonesian) federasi from Dutch federatie,
fermentation fermentasi,
financial kewangan keuangan,
finansial from Dutch financieel
Finland Finland Finlandia
firefighter squad bomba pemadam kebakaran (lit. fire extinguisher),
branwir (from Dutch brandweer (fire defense))
flash drive pemacu kilat flash drive,
penggerak kilat
floor, level (storey) tingkat may be used in Indonesian to express the number of storeys/levels a building has, e.g. a 5-storey building = gedung bertingkat 5, or to emphasize British floor numbering, e.g. tingkat satu means first floor (UK), second floor (US) in both languages, aras (used to emphasize American floor numbering, e.g. aras dua = tingkat satu lantai also refers to floor as ground surface in both languages, emphasizes American floor numbering, tingkat emphasizes British floor numbering, e.g. lantai dua = tingkat satu
football bola sepak sepakbola
form (document) borang formulir from Dutch formulier, borang(substandard)
free (of charge) percuma in Indonesian means "worthless" gratis from Dutch,
cecuma (substandard)
fungus kulat, fungus fungi (commonly has got misconception as: jamur)
furniture perabot rumah,
perkakas rumah (In Indonesian, perkakas means equipment.
mebel from Dutch meubelen,
perabot rumah tangga,
fusion pelakuran fusi,
gangster samseng geng,
preman from Dutch vrijman (lit. free-man),
gangster from English
garage garaj garasi influenced by Dutch pronunciation
garrison garrison garnisun from Dutch garnizoen
gear gear roda gigi influenced by Dutch tandwiel, literally "tooth wheel"
gearbox kotak gear persneling from Dutch versnelling, girboks, transmisi
general (military) jeneral jenderal from Dutch generaal
ginger halia jahe
Global Positioning System Sistem Kedudukan Sejagat Sistem Pemosisian Global
goal keeper penjaga gol/penjaga gawang kiper,
penjaga gawang
golf club (stick) kayu golf stik golf,
pemukul golf,
tongkat golf
government kerajaan
derived from raja (king) – used in Malaysia and Brunei – in Indonesian means "kingdom"
derived from perintah (order/instruction) – also used in Singapore, which, like Singapore, is a republic
governor gabenor,
Yang di-Pertua Negeri (in Malaysian states)
gubernur from Dutch gouverneur
gradation pemeringkatan gradasi,
pemberian tingkat (pemeringkatan)
graduate siswazah,
grandfather datuk kakek
Greece Greece of recent use, Yunani Yunani from Arabic Yūnān يُونَان
gross financial kasar bruto from Dutch,
group sekumpulan, kumpulan kelompok,
grup from Dutch pronunciation of groep,
guarantee jaminan jaminan,
garansi from Dutch pronunciation of garantie
half past one pukul satu setengah (one thirty) pukul setengah dua (thirty to two)
hammer tukul palu,
martil from Portugue martelo
head office ibu pejabat "ibu" also means "mother" or "ma'am" in both languages. kantor pusat "kantor" – from Dutch kantoor (office)
headscarf, hijab tudung kerudung,
jilbab though these words have different meaning
healthy sihat sehat
herb herba jamu often understood as traditional potion made from rhizomes, also means "guest" ("tamu") and "treat the guest" ("menjamu").,
hexadecimal perenambelasan heksadesimal
hospital hospital rumah sakit influenced by Dutch ziekenhuis ("house of the sick") – This term is still used in Brunei, but in Malaysia, "hospital" has replaced the term completely since the 1960s.
Hungary Hungary Hungaria,
Hongaria substandard, influenced by Dutch Hongarije
hybrid (biology) kacukan blasteran,
I saya,
gue/gua (slang; from Chinese dialects "ua")
ice ais es
Iceland Iceland Islandia
image citra,
imej (of reputation), gambar (pictorial image)
citra (of reputation),
gambar (pictorial image)
imagination imaginasi imajinasi
immigration imigresen imigrasi from Dutch immigratie
import import impor
impotence mati pucuk,
lemah syahwat
impotensi from Dutch impotentie,
lemah syahwat colloquial
impotent kemandulan impotensi,
incineration penunuan pembakaran,
Indian Ocean Lautan Hindi Samudra Hindia
inductor peraruh, induktor (rare) induktor
information maklumat informasi, from Dutch informatie, maklumat ("announcement", "knowledge"), penerangan
injection suntikan suntikan,
ink dakwat from Arabic tinta from Dutch tinte,
dawat (archaic)
installment (payment) ansuran angsuran,
instant segera (means "soon" in Indonesia) seketika,
insurance insurans asuransi from Dutch assurantie
intelligence (spying) risikan (means 'secret investigation' in Indonesia) intelijen, tilik sandi
international antarabangsa internasional, antarnegara, (sometimes used: mancanegara from Javanese meaning: foreign land)
internet café kafe internet,
kafe cyber
warnet an acronym for "WARung interNET" (internet shop/café)
intervention campur tangan,
campur tangan,
introspection kaji diri,
introspeksi (rare)
mawas diri
invasion penyerangan,
penjajahan (means colonialism in Indonesian),
investment pelaburan investasi,
penanaman modal
Iraq Iraq Irak
Ireland Ireland Irlandia
irrigation pengairan irigasi,
Italy Itali Italia from Italian
Japan Jepun from Chinese dialect Jepang,
Jepun (archaic)
Jordan (country) Jordan Yordania from Dutch Jordanië
journalist wartawan wartawan,
July Julai Juli from Dutch juli
June Jun Juni from Dutch juni
ketchup kicap (Indonesian equivalent, kecap, means soy sauce.) saus tomat from French sauce tomate
lane lorong (mean alley in Indonesian) lajur
lawyer peguam advokat from Dutch advocaat,
pengacara (means 'master of ceremony' in Malay.),
peguam (rare)
Lebanon Lubnan from Arabic Lebanon,
Libanon influenced by Dutch
legislative perundangan (In Indonesian, it means legislation.), legislatif legislatif
liability liabiliti kewajiban
licence lesen izin,
lisensi from Dutch licentie
lieutenant leftenan (influenced by British English pronunciation) letnan
lift, elevator lif lift
liquidity (economy) kecairan likuiditas
Lisbon Lisbon Lisboa from Portuguese, Lisabon influenced by Dutch Lissabon
list senarai daftar,
local tempatan lokal,
Luxembourg Luxembourg Luksemburg influenced by Dutch/German Luxemburg
Macau Macau Makau
Macedonia, Republic of Republik Macedonia Republik Makedonia
magistrate majistret hakim from Arabic حَكِم – used in Malaysian to refer to judges, magistrat less common
Maldives Maldives Maladewa
male lelaki,
jantan (for animals, depending on the context, it can mean masculine or used as a derogatory term on men)
jantan (on animals, used on men to describe masculinity)
malfunction kerosakan,
pincang tugas
malpractice penyelewengan (mean "misappropriation" in Indonesian) malapraktik
management pengurusan manajemen,
manager pengurus manajer,
manufacturing pengilangan manufaktur
March (month) Mac Maret influenced by Dutch maart
mass jisim massa,
kelembaman (inertia)
mathematics matematik,
ilmu hisab
ilmu hitung,
ilmu hisab only used in Islamic text book
matter jirim materi
mattress tilam kasur,
mean (verb) bererti berarti
mediation pengantaraan (In Indonesian, it means "broking") penengah,
medicine ubat obat
memory card kad ingatan/kad memori kartu memori
mental arithmetic congak aritmetika cepat,
Mexico Mexico Meksiko
mile batu (mean "stone" in Indonesian) mil
military tentera,
militer (from French militaire through Dutch militair),
minibus bas mini bis mini,
minute minit menit
mobile phone, cellphone telefon bimbit telepon seluler (ponsel),
telepon genggam,
handphone (HP) (colloquial)
Monaco Monaco Monako
Monday Isnin Senin
money wang, duit uang,
duit (colloquial)
Morocco Maghribi from Arabic Maroko
mortgage gadai janji hipotek from Dutch hypotheek,
Moscow Moscow Moskwa, Moskow
motorcycle motosikal sepeda motor lit. "motorized bicycle" – influenced by Dutch motorfiets, motor (informal)
Mozambique Mozambique Mozambik
Mrs. Puan Ibu, Nyonya (Ny.)
music muzik musik
naked bogel, telanjang telanjang, bugil (colloquial)
natural semulajadi alami,
navigation pandu arah,
navy tentera laut angkatan laut
negotiation perundingan perundingan,
network rangkaian (means series in Indonesian) jaringan, jejaring
New Zealand New Zealand Selandia Baru
newspaper surat khabar coined from two Arabic words: ṣūrat – صورة / صورت (form, appearance) and khabar خبر (news) surat kabar (more formal – lit. news letter),
koran (from French courant through Dutch, become Krant in modern Dutch, but Koerant in Afrikaans)
Nicosia Nicosia Nikosia
nil nil nol from Dutch nul
noisy bising,
kecoh in Indonesian means "disturb" or "distract",
Norway Norway Norwegia
number nombor angka,
nomor – nomer substandard spelling from Dutch/German nummer
nurse jururawat perawat,
suster from Dutch zuster
ocean lautan samudra,
Oceania Oceania Oseania
octal perlapanan oktal
office pejabat kantor (from Dutch kantoor)
officer pegawai,
kaki tangan (a negative connotation usually means accomplice in criminal activity in Indonesian)
official (adj.) rasmi (from Arabo-Persian rasmi رَسمِي) resmi (also from rasmi)
Olympic Olimpik Olimpiade
opposition pembangkang opposisi,
pembangkang (in mean of "defiance")
option pilihan, opsyen (rare) pilihan,
orange (colour) jingga,
oranye (from Dutch oranje)
orange (fruit) oren,
order order,
orde (from Dutch)
organization pertubuhan,
oscillation ayunan osilasi,
oven ketuhar oven
Pacific Ocean Lautan Pasifik,
Lautan Teduh
Samudra Pasifik,
Lautan Pasifik
Palestine Palestin Palestina
papaya (buah) betik (buah) pepaya
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea Papua Nugini
parallel selari parallel
parliament parlimen parlemen (from Franco-Dutch parlement)
party (political) parti partai (from Dutch partij)
passport pasport paspor
patient pesakit
In Indonesian, this means convict
patrol ronda patroli (for police and military) (from Dutch patrolie),
ronda (for civilian)
pavement, sidewalk jalan pinggir,
jalur jalan untuk pejalan kaki,
laluan jalan kaki,
kaki lima (In Indonesia, it is used in pedagang kaki lima (street vendor).)
trotoar (from Franco-Dutch trottoir)
penis zakar from Arabic ذَكَر "male"- this word is extremely vulgar in Indonesian, "buah zakar" means testicles,
batang lelaki,
konek (slang)
penis(formal), zakarfrom Arabic, less frequent, pelir, alat kelamin laki-laki(euphemism),
kemaluan lelaki(euphemism),
burung (vulgar),
titit (children's slang like "pee-pee"),
kontol (slang, extremely vulgar)
percent peratus persen,
perfume haruman,
minyak wangi
parfum from Dutch,
minyak wangi,
periodic berkala periodik,
Persia Parsi Persia
pharmacy farmasi apotek (from Dutch apotheek),
farmasi (usually for medicine manufacturers)
photograph gambar (In Indonesian, it means "picture" or "figure".),
foto (literally means photo)
physics fizik (Indonesian equivalent term, fisik, is used for term physical, e.g. aktivitas fisik (physical activity).) fisika
pickpocket noun penyeluk saku copet (contraction of colong dompet- wallet thief),
pig, swine khinzir from Arabic خِنْزِير (khin-zeer) babi
pipe paip pipa
pirate (maritime) lanun bajak laut,
perompak (perompak in Malay, means "robber"),
platform (train) platform peron from Dutch perron
Poland Poland Polandia
police polis (mean "insurance policy" (polis asuransi) in Indonesian) polisi from Dutch politie
pollution pencemaran pencemaran,
portion sebahagian porsi,
sebagian (a portion of...)
post code poskod kode pos
potential keupayaan potensial,
daya berkemampuan
Prague Prague Praha (also used in Malay)
prayer (Islam) solat, sembahyang salat(standard),
sholat (from Arabic, 'sh' is usually pronounced as 's'),
prayer room (Islam) surau surau,
mushollah (from Arabic, 'sh' is usually pronounced as 's')
precipitation (meteorology) kerpasan curah hujan,
prediction ramalan prediksi,
prakiraan (not perkiraan estimation)
pregnant mengandung,
hamil (formal, from Arabic حَامِل),
berbadan dua lit. "two bodied",
bunting for animals
mengandung (formal),
hamil (colloquial),
berbadan dua(poetic),
bunting (informal)
premature pramatang prematur,
Preparation Penyediaan Persiapan
preposition kata sendi naman preposisi,
kata depan
press media massa,
surat khabar (see above)
pers (from Dutch),
media massa
Private Limited Company Sendirian Berhad
abbreviated as Sdn Bhd (suffix), "sendirian" alone means "alone"
Perseroan Terbatas
abbreviated as PT (prefix)
privatization penswastaan privatisasi,
producer produsen produsen,
product keluaran produk (from English and Dutch product), hasil, keluaran more specific term for outcome
programming (computer) pemrograman pemrograman
property harta properti
propulsion perejangan propulsi,
prostitute pelacur,
perempuan sundal (vulgar)
Wanita Tuna Susila (WTS) (Sanskrit, pronounced 'way-tay-es', i.e. "moral-less women"),
Pekerja Seks Komersial (PSK) (formal, pronounced 'pay-es-ka' (commercial sex workers)),
perek (slang)
prostitution pelacuran prostitusi,
province wilayah (used in Indonesian to mean 'area'), daerah (used in Indonesian to mean 'area') provinsi (from Dutch provincie)
publication penerbitan penerbitan,
pulse denyut denyut,
push, to (door) tolak (It used as in tolak peluru (shot put) in Indonesian for this contex, used less primarily in Indonesian to mean 'subtract', it also means 'to refuse/reject', also common meaning in Malay when used in arithmetics) dorong (means "to push" in Malay, but often used to mean "to support")
queue (line) barisan (mean line "formation" in Indonesian) antre
rabbit arnab (from Arabic) kelinci
Random-Access Memory (RAM) Ingatan Capaian Rawak Memori Akses Acak
rape rogol perkosa
raspberry rasberi frambus, frambosen (from Dutch framboos)
ratio nisbah rasio,
Read-Only Memory (ROM) Ingatan Baca Sahaja Memori Hanya Baca
real estate hartanah realestat,
properti tanah
receipt resit, penerimaan kuitansi, kwitansi (substandard, from Dutch kwitantie),
bon from Dutch,
recession (economy) kemelesetan (In Indonesian, it means "mishit") resesi,
kelesuan (ekonomi)
reclamation tebus guna reklamasi
recruitment pergerakan (In Indonesian, it means "movement".),
pengambilan (In Indonesian, it means "taking".)
refraction pembiasan pembiasan,
refrigerator peti sejuk lit. cool box (rarely used in Indonesian) lemari es,
lemari pendingin,
kulkas (from Dutch koelkast)
religion agama,
ugama (widely used before the 80s)
agama, kepercayaan
renovation pengubahsuaian renovasi,
reproduction pembiakan reproduksi,
pembiakan (also mean breeding)
research kajian(mean research or investigation result in Indonesian) penelitian,
responsibility tanggungjawab tanggung jawab, pertanggungjawaban
resistor perintang resistor,
restaurant kedai makan lit. "eating shop", restoran rumah makan lit. "eating house",
warung makan lit. "eating café", restoran
retailing peruncitan ritel,
ring (mathematics) gelanggang ring,
rob rompak (Indonesian for "to commit piracy") rampok,
Rome Rom Roma
room bilik (usually used to mean "compartment" in Indonesian) kamar (from Dutch kamer),
ruang (Javanese, for storage areas etc.)
roundabout (traffic) bulatan
e.g. Bulatan DBP in Kuala Lumpur
pusing keliling (in Brunei)
e.g. Bundaran HI in Jakarta
routing penghalaan routing
royal diraja kerajaan (in Malaysia and Brunei means "kingdom" or "government")
rubber getah may also mean gum or sap or resin in both languages, also figure of speech for "cause of bad deed" karet
rumour khabar angin,
kabar angin,
kabar burung
salty masin asin
Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskerta
sauce sos saus
sausage sosej sosis (from Dutch saucijs)
scenario senario skenario
school (Islamic) sekolah pondok madrasah,
pondok pesantren
science sains ilmu (from Arabic 'ilm) (alam), sains (especially for "natural science")
Scotland Scotland Skotlandia
secret rahsia rahasia
secretary setiausaha Indonesian lit. "loyal to work" sekretaris (from Dutch secretaris)
section seksyen,
seksi (from Dutch sectie),
sensor penderia,
server (computing) pelayan peladen
session sesyen,
sesi (from Dutch sessie)
sewer saluran najis "najis" means dirty in both languages,
saluran kumbahan
parit (means 'ditch' in Malay),
saluran air/pembuangan
sexagesimal perenampuluhan seksagesimal
shampoo syampu (from Anglo-Indian / Hindustani chāmpo, the imperative form of (Hindi) चाँप्ना chāmpnā 'to smear, knead the muscles, massage') sampo
share berkongsi (In Indonesian, it means "creating trading company" or "ploting something bad".) berbagi
shirt baju (also in Indonesian but more generally refers to clothes) kaos, kemeja (from Portuguese camisa, implies collared shirt)
shoe kasut generalized term for any footwear in Indonesian, but usually related to sandals or ancient shoes., sepatu sepatu (understood but less frequently used in Malaysia, from Portuguese sapato)
shop kedai (Means eateries stall in Indonesia) toko
shopping mall pusat beli-belah mal,
pusat perbelanjaan
site laman,
tapak (mean foundation (building) or footprint in Indonesia)
Slovakia Slovakia Slowakia
snow salji (from Arabic thalj) salju (also from thalj)
sodomy liwat (from Arabic) sodomi,
liwat (only used in Islamic text book)
solar solar, suria (from Sanskrit 'surya') surya
solution penyelesaian;
solusi (rare)
sour masam asam,
masam (poetic, usually used in connotative expression: bermuka masam: sour faced (unsatisfied/unhappy expression))
soya beans kacang soya (kacang) kedelai
Spain Sepanyol Spanyol
speak/talk berbicara,
bercakap (means 'to chat' in Indonesian),
berbicara, ngomong (Javanese ngoko, colloquial)
specialist perubatan,
spesialis (in case of specialist doctor), pakar in general, it means expert
spoon sudu sendok
sport sukan olahraga (means "athletics" Malay, from Sanskrit, lit. "to train the body")
spouse pasangan suami-isteri,
kelamin colloquial, in Indonesian means "sex" or "gender"
pasangan (suami-istri),
suami-istri (husband-wife)
stability kestabilan stabilitas,
stadium stadium stadion,
stadiun from Dutch
staff kakitangan (phrase "kaki tangan" mean subordinate with negative image in Indonesian) staff,
personil from Dutch personeel,
stamp setem perangko
standard piawai, standard standar
starfish tapak Sulaiman bintang laut
state (within a federation) negeri negara bagian
station stesen stasiun (formerly spelled "setasiun")
steering wheel roda stereng roda setir from Dutch stuur
stop (verb) berhenti berhenti,
strawberry strawberi stroberi,
arbei from Dutch aardbei
stupid bodoh, bengap, tolol, bangang, bongok (slang) bodoh, dungu, tolol, goblok (slang), very demeaning in Malay, geblek (slang), bego (slang)
sublimation (phase transition) pemejalwapan sublimasi, penyubliman
Sunday Ahad Minggu from Portuguese Domingo which means Lord's Day,
Ahad(only used in Islamic calendar
sunglasses cermin mata gelap (In Indonesia, cermin means "mirror".) kacamata hitam (lit. black glasses),
kacamata riben (from American brand of sunglasses 'Ray-Ban')
supermarket pasar raya supermarket,
pasar swalayan
supervision penyeliaan pengawasan,
survey tinjauan (mean process or result of observation in Indonesian), kaji selidik survei
suspend (hang) menggantung (it means 'hang' in Indonesian) menangguhkan (also 'adjourn' in Malay)
Sweden Sweden Swedia
Switzerland Switzerland Swiss
Syria Syria Suriah (from Arabic)
table (set of facts or figures) jadual (Indonesian equivalent, jadwal, means "schedule".) tabel
tank kereta kebal tank
tap water air paip (piped water) air keran (from Dutch Kraan),
air ledeng ("ledeng" also means "plumbing", from Dutch "leiding")
tapioca ubi kayu as in Indonesian, understood as the tuber cassava itself (tepung) tapioka,
tepung singkong
taxi teksi taksi
teacher cikgu, guru guru
teacher (religious, Islam) ustaz,
ustad (ultimately from Persian اُستَاذ),
ustadzah female
team pasukan used in Indonesian to refer to squad (military) tim
telephone telefon (formerly talipon) telepon
television televisyen, TV televisi (from Dutch televisie) , TV
terrorist pengganas (means rioter" in Indonesian) teroris
terrorism pengganasan terorisme
testicles buah zakar, testis, buah keranjut testis, biji kemaluan, buah zakar (slang, vulgar), kanjut (slang, vulgar)
Thailand Negara Thai, Siam, Thailand Thailand, Siam, Muangthai used in old scripts
The Hague The Hague Den Haag (from Dutch)
ticket tiket tiket, karcis (from Dutch kaartje)
time masa,
waktu from Arabic الوقت (al-Waqt),
masa (can be used for 'at a specific long period of time' in Indonesian)
tire (US)/tyre (UK) tayar ban (from Dutch [auto]band)
tofu tauhu tahu
toilet bilik air, tandas toilet, kamar kecil, WC (pronounced 'we-se') for watercloset
tornado puting beliung puting beliung, angin puyuh, tornado
toothpaste ubat gigi pasta gigi, odol
towel tuala (from Portuguese toalha) handuk (from Dutch handdoek)
traffic jam kesesakan lalulintas, jam (slang) kemacetan, macet
traffic light lampu isyarat (In Indonesian, isyarat means sign.) lampu lalu-lintas
train kereta api, tren kereta (api)
pengangkutan transportasi,
perhubungan (in case of Ministry of Transportation)
transsexual pondan,
bapok (slang), transseksual
waria (polite) a shortened form of wanita-pria , bencong, banci
tree pokok in Indonesian means "principal" or "core" or "staple", in Sundanese poko means authentic, e.g. authentic cuisine, pohon pohon
try Cuba coba
turkey (bird) ayam belanda (ayam) kalkun (from Dutch kalkoen)
turn pusing (means 'to spin' in Indonesian, commonly used to mean dizzy as a short form of kepala pusing), belok belok,
ugly hodoh, teruk, buruk jelek, buruk
Ukraine Ukraine Ukraina
uncle pakcik paman,
oom, om (derived from Dutch, pronounced and sometimes spelt as oom)
union kesatuan (in Indonesian means "unitary") persatuan,
United Arab Emirates Emiriah Arab Bersatu Uni Emirat Arab
United Kingdom United Kingdom Inggris Raya
United Nations Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu Perserikatan Bangsa-Bangsa
United States of America (USA)
United States (US)
Amerika Syarikat Amerika Serikat (AS)
university universiti universitas
until sehingga (mean thus in Indonesian),
vagina faraj (from Arabic, in Indonesian means "vulva"), pepek/pepet (slang) alat kelamin wanita, liang peranakan, vagina, farji, memek (slang, vulgar), pepek (slang, vulgar)
variable (mathematics) pemboleh ubah variabel,
Vatican City Vatican City (Kota) Vatikan
Venice Venice Venesia (influenced by Dutch Venetië )
verb kata kerja kata kerja (influenced by Dutch werkwoord, literally "work word"),
verification pengesahan (mean "validation" in Indonesian) verifikasi
very sangat, amat, sekali sangat, amat, sekali, banget (from Javanese ngoko)
vice (deputy) naib wakil, naib (less common)
victim mangsa in Indonesian means "prey" korban
Vienna Vienna Wina (influenced by Dutch Wenen)
violet (colour) lembayung violet,
lembayung (rarely used)
virgin (anak) dara, (anak) gadis, perawan perawan (formal), gadis, (anak) dara
viscosity kelikatan viskositas,
visit lawatan, pelancongan wisata,
pelancongan, lawatan (to foreign country, sick person or dead person)
volleyball bola tampar bola voli
volume (math) isi padu volume,
voucher baucer voucher
want mahu mau,
warden warden, penjaga penjara sipir (penjara) (from Dutch cipier)
Warsaw Warsaw Warsawa
website laman web, laman sesawang situs web,
laman web
weekend hujung minggu akhir pekan,
akhir minggu
well (water hole) perigi sumur,
perigi (rarely used)
wheelchair kerusi roda kursi roda
when bila, apabila, ketika, bilamana (rarely used) kapan, bilamana, (question word)
bila, ketika
window tingkap, jendela jendela (from Portuguese janela),
tingkap (less common)
windscreen, windshield cermin kereta kaca depan (mobil)
wire dawai,
kawat (e.g. copper wire),
kabel (e.g. electrical wire, cable)
you anda (very formal), awak, kamu, engkau, kau anda (everyday formal), kamu (familiar only), engkau ('kau) (prose), elu/loe (very vulgar Betawi slang, influenced by Chinese dialect leu)
zero sifar nol from Dutch nul
zipper (fastener) zip resleting from Dutch ritssluiting
zone zon daerah,
zoo zoo,
taman haiwan (kebun binatang was also frequently used in Malaysia before the mid-1960s)
kebun binatang (derived from Dutch dierentuin, literally "animal garden"),
taman margasatwa (more formal form for zoological park)

False friends[edit]

Besides vocabulary differences, there are also a number of false friends in both languages. As these words are in quite common use in either or both of the languages, misunderstandings can arise.

Word Malaysian meaning Indonesian meaning
ahli a member (of a group)
(when the word is used by itself) (from Arabo-Persian "ahli" اهلی 'belonging to a group, people, indigenous or sim.'),
expert in a field (from Arabo-Persian "'aqli" عقلی 'belonging to the intellect or mind, intellectual')
expert in a specific field
akta (from Latino-Dutch acta) act (= law) act (= written legal document)
awak you (casual) me / I (Used by speakers from Sumatra mainly Malays, people in Medan, etc),
crew (of transportation)
baja fertilizer steel
Malay: besi waja
banci census (Indonesian: sensus) effeminate, transvestite homosexual (negative connotation)
bandar city port
bangun to develop/ wake up (from sleep) to build
bapa father (male parent) specific to 'Father' (God) in religious context (Christianity)
our Father which art in Heaven = Bapa kami yang di surga
Father in Indonesian is bapak (with an additional 'k' letter')
belanja to treat, giving something for free to shop (note: also carries this meaning in Malay, though in a context more akin to "spend".)
berbagi to give to share (something)
berbual to chat to tell a lie
bercinta in (the essence of) love to make love, have sexual intercourse
beredar From the root word "edar" which can means; to oscillate (planets only), to leave, or to distribute to oscillate, to distribute
berlaku happen, occur apply
biji seed seed, testicles ("balls", offensive)
bila when if, when (older version, almost obsolete)
bina to build to develop
bisa venom can/be able to (also understood but less frequently used in Malay) (same as "boleh" in Malay), venom
bontot/buntut buttock tail ('ekor' as commonly used in Malay, sometimes in Indonesia)
budak kid
Indonesian:anak or bocah
butoh/butuh male genitals, an offensive reference need
cadangan suggestion, opinion, proposal (example: peti cadangan = suggestion box)
reserve, spare (example: ban cadangan = spare tire)
comel cute, pretty (to call) someone who can not keep a secret (example: mulutnya comel= her mouth can't keep a secret)
daripada A preposition that carries 5 meanings; 1. from (to explain the origin of something) 2.than (to do comparison) 3.from (to protect from, to avoid from ) 4. from (to state the sender of something) 5. from (to state the differences) than (comparison)(example: Kamus ini lebih baik daripada yang itu= This dictionary is better than that one)
detik jiffy second
doktor doctor (medical); doctorate (educational title) doctorate (educational title)
In Indonesian, the equivalent for medical doctor is dokter
duduk to sit, a place to live on (only used informally) to sit, to occupy
email electronic mail (recently changed to "emel") enamel
gampang bastard
from 'anak gampang' lit. easy child.
easy (non-negative meaning)
getah rubber, plant sap plant sap
hemat moral excellence frugal, pennywise, save money or something e.g. electricity, gas or water usage
jabatan department position
jawatan position department
jemput to invite, to pick up to pick up
jeruk pickles/preserved fruits or vegetables orange (fruit)
jimat frugal, pennywise, save money or something e.g. electricity amulet (the Malay equivalent is azimat)
kacak handsome ber-kacak pinggang (stands with hands on your hips)
The Malay equivalent is bercekak-pinggang, a phrase to mean that a person is being bossy
kadar rate content, level
kakak elder sister elder sibling (either elder brother or sister)
kakitangan employee subordinate (with negative meaning)
kapan or kafan: Muslim burial shroud (kain kafan/kapan) when (kapan mau pulang?= when do you want to go home?)
karya work of art (karyawan=artists) to work (karyawan= workers)
result of work Karya seni=work of art
to create a piece of art.
kerajaan government
(historical association, most Malay states were governed by monarchs, from Raja = King, now refers to any kind of government)
keranjang 'bola keranjang' = basketball (no other use than for basketball) basket
kereta car vehicle, carriage, cart (kereta api = train, kereta kuda = horse carriage/cart, kereta gantung = cable car)
kesal regret Indonesian:sesal annoyed
khidmat service Indonesian:layanan fully concentrate
koneksi 'konek' = dick (slang/vulgar) (sambungan = connection in Malay) connection
konfeksi A soft solid made by incorporating a medicinal substance or substances with sugar, sirup, or honey clothing industry, any fancy or luxurious women's clothes
(Dutch: confectie. A non-standard spelling sometimes used is: "konveksi")
kurun century a long (time)
lucu funny funny, cute (slang)
mangsa victim prey for animal
mengacau to disturb, to stir Indonesian: mengaduk to disturb
operasi mathematic operational symbol, tactical operation mathematic operational symbol, police operation, operation/surgery (as in Dutch)
pajak to mortgage, pawn tax
paket packet packet, package (normally used for promotion purposes, as in Dutch)
pantas speedily appropriate, 'no wonder'
pantat buttock (Sabahan Malay meaning), vagina/pussy (slang/vulgar) buttock
pelan plan
(associated with architectural work, site map etc. only)
slow (perlahan in Malay)
penyelenggaraan maintenance to organize, organizing
pejabat office high-rank officer/officials
(those who hold office, Malay (pegawai))
pembangkang opposition rebel (noun), insurgent
pemerintah ruler government
pengacara emcee, host
Indonesian: pembawa acara
lawyer (but it has nothing to do with its root word acara which means an event or a TV program in both languages)
pengajian studies
mass recitation of Qur'an, (Islamic) teaching
penganjur organizer promoter
percuma free of charge
percuma can also mean free of charge in Indonesian, but its usage has become obsolete, replaced by cuma-cuma/gratis (taken from Dutch: gratis=free)
useless, not needed
petang afternoon evening
piawai standard; correct
bahasa piawai = standard language
expert; skillful (on something)
pijat bugs
(software bugs i.e. Year 2000 bug and also commonly referring to the bed bugs)
Javanese pijet
pohon tree, to plea or to beg (from basic word: "mohon") tree
pokok tree essential, basic, main kebutuhan pokok = essential necessities
polis police (insurance) policy (as in Dutch)
polisi policy police (as in Dutch)
punggung buttock back Malay: belakang
pupuk to nurture fertilizer (also means 'to nurture' in the metaphorical sense of the word)
pusing to go around a place, circular in motion, to spin/rotate
Indonesian: putar
dizzy, confused, headache
putera prince
Indonesian: Pangeran
rambut hair (for head only) hair
rayuan appeal (neutral) flattery, seduction (emotional or sexual connotation)
saat second jiffy
sederhana medium, normal simple, easy
senang easy happy, relax
seronok good, enjoyable impolite, pornography-related gambar seronok = porn picture
sulit confidential, difficult difficult
tambang fare
mine, rope (as tali tambang)
tandas toilet to explain, to finish
wakil representative vice (for example, 'vice chancellor' and 'vice president'), representative


Word Malaysian syllabification Indonesian syllabification
Starting Mu la i Mu lai
Weather Cua ca Cu a ca

The influence of English[edit]

One of the most important aspect in differences between Malaysian and Indonesian is the degree of influence from English. Apart from being heavily influenced by the Dutch language, Indonesian language also adopted a significant number of English loanwords in its vocabulary, although English didn't play significant role on the Indonesian language and in fact most of these vocabulary are of Dutch origin (note that Dutch and English share a similar Germanic origin). There have been many changes in Indonesian language as a result of its historical development. Words have been freely borrowed from English and only partly assimilated, in many cases, to the Indonesian patterns of structure.[31] By the late 1970s, English words pouring into the language, leading one commentator, writing in 1977, to refer to the "trend towards Indo-Saxonisation".[32] A great many borrowings from English sometimes fulfill no communicative need, expressing concepts adequately covered by existing words. Among the examples are: akurat instead of tepat (accurate), aliansi in the place of sekutu (alliance), eksis rather than ada (exist), kandidat as well as calon (candidate), konklusi instead of kesimpulan (conclusion) kontaminasi in the place of pencemaran (contamination), opini rather than pendapat (opinion) and opsi in the place of pilihan (option). Contrary to its Indonesian counterpart, Malaysian has shown a remarkable resilience, despite being a former colony of British empire.[33]

Some in Indonesia view this trend of excessive borrowings as "language dynamism", while some Malaysian[clarification needed] linguists called it mass "language pollution",[34] and lack of creativity in creating new terms.

These days a widespread use of English in the Malaysian and Indonesian Twittersphere can be observed. Basilectal and mesolectal English usage couched within Malay, and other local language are common. Twitter has, as an example, become extremely widely used by all sections of society and the next twenty years should see a lot of language-rub from which we could expect to see more Anglicisims move into acrolectical or printed Malaysian and Indonesian.[citation needed]


The original text in Indonesian:

[35] Apabila peraturan pakta stabilitas Eropa dihormati sampai ke detailnya, rasio utang publik dibanding produk domestik bruto pada hari krisis akan berada di posisi 10 persentase poin kurang dalam zona euro, katanya.

The same text rendered in Malaysian:

Apabila peraturan pakatan kestabilan Eropah dihormati secara terperinci, nisbah hutang awam berbanding keluaran dalam negara kasar pada zaman krisis akan berada di kedudukan 10 mata peratusan kurang dalam zon euro, kata beliau.

English translation:

If the European stability pact rules had been respected in detail, the ratio of public debt to gross domestic product on the days of crisis would have been at the position 10 percentage points less in the eurozone, he said.

Convergence of vocabulary[edit]

The rift of evolution between the two languages is based more on political nuance and the history of their formation than on cultural reasons. As a result, views regarding each other's languages differ amongst Malaysians and Indonesians. In Malaysia, the national language is Malaysian; in Indonesia, it is Indonesian. Malaysians tend to assert that Malaysian and Indonesian are merely different varieties of the same language, while Indonesians tend to treat them as separate – albeit closely related – languages. The result of this attitude is that the Indonesians feel little need to synchronize their language with Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, whereas the Malaysians are keener to coordinate the evolution of the language with the Indonesians.[36] However, both parties have realized that communication benefits from mutually comprehensible and intelligible languages, which motivated efforts to synchronize the languages' development. The effort to synchronize both languages' evolution to increase their mutual intelligibility has been embarked by imposing standard rules of language. This process is headed by Pusat Bahasa[37] on the Indonesian side and Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka as its Malaysian counterpart.


The following texts are excerpts from the official translations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Malaysian and Indonesian, along with the original declaration in English.

  • Malaysian text sample:[38]
Maka dengan ini,
Perhimpunan Agung mengisytiharkan
PERISYTIHARAN SEJAGAT HAK ASASI MANUSIA ini sebagai suatu ukuran bersama terhadap pencapaian oleh seluruh umat manusia dan kesemua negara dengan tujuan supaya setiap individu dan setiap badan masyarakat, dengan sentiasa mengingati Perisytiharan ini, hendaklah berazam melalui pengajaran dan pendidikan bagi memajukan sanjungan terhadap seluruh hak-hak dan kebebasan ini dan secara langkah-langkah berperingkat-peringkat, di bidang negara dan antarabangsa, bagi menjaminkan pengkitirafan dan pematuhan sejagatnya yang berkesan, kedua-duanya di antara negara-negara anggota masing-masing dan rakyat wilayah-wilayah di bawah bidangkuasa mereka.
Perkara 1.
Semua manusia dilahirkan bebas dan samarata dari segi kemuliaan dan hak-hak. Mereka mempunyai pemikiran dan perasaan hati dan hendaklah bertindak di antara satu sama lain dengan semangat persaudaraan.
  • Indonesian text sample:[39]
Majelis Umum memproklamasikan
PERNYATAAN UMUM TENTANG HAK ASASI MANUSIA sebagai satu standar umum keberhasilan untuk semua bangsa dan negara, dengan tujuan agar setiap orang dan setiap badan dalam masyarakat dengan senantiasa mengingat Pernyataan ini, akan berusaha dengan jalan mengajar dan mendidik untuk menggalakkan penghargaan terhadap hak-hak dan kebebasan-kebebasan tersebut, dan dengan jalan tindakan-tindakan progresif yang bersifat nasional maupun internasional, menjamin pengakuan dan penghormatannya secara universal dan efektif, baik oleh bangsa-bangsa dari negara anggota sendiri maupun oleh bangsa-bangsa dari daerah-daerah yang berada di bawah kekuasaan hukum mereka.
Pasal 1
Semua orang dilahirkan merdeka dan mempunyai martabat dan hak-hak yang sama. Mereka dikaruniai akal dan hati nurani dan hendaknya bergaul sesama lain dalam semangat persaudaraan.
  • The original English version of the text:[40]
Now, therefore,
the General Assembly proclaims
this UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
Article 1
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.


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  37. ^ due to several reorganization in current cabinet, the Indonesian Language Regulator is Badan Pengembangan dan Pembinaan Bahasa, Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan, Republik Indonesia
  38. ^ From
  39. ^ From
  40. ^ From

External links[edit]