List of loanwords in Malay

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The Malay language has many loanwords from Sanskrit, Persian, Tamil, Greek, Latin, Portuguese, Dutch, certain Chinese dialects and more recently, Arabic (in particular many religious terms) and English (in particular many scientific and technological terms). Modern Malay loanwords are now primarily from English, Arabic and Javanese. English is the language of trade and Arabic is the language of religion (Islam), although key words such as surga/ syurga (heaven) and the word "religion" itself (agama) reflect their Sanskrit-Hindu origins. Many Javanese words, including those of Sanskrit origin, are being assimilated into Malay because of the influence of Indonesian.

While based on Malay itself, Indonesian is traditionally more influenced by Javanese and Sundanese, as the Javanese are the largest ethnic group in Indonesia, with Javanese having the largest number of native speakers. Dutch influence over Indonesian vocabulary also is significant, as the Malay language itself was favored and adopted due to its trading benefit during VOC era over the archipelago, leading to mass loanword and influence over the modern Indonesian language. It is known that at least one third of the Indonesian vocabulary grew under Dutch influence.

There are some words in Malay which are spelled exactly the same as in its other language counterparts, e.g. in English – museum (Indonesian), hospital (Malaysian), format, lesbian, transit etc. In contrast, some Malay words have been loaned into other languages, e.g. in English – rice paddy ("Padi"), Orangutan, rattan, babirusa,[1] cockatoo,[2] compound,[3] gong, tuak, sago,[4][5] cootie,[6] amok, durian, agar, rambutan, keris, Pantoum/pantun,[7] "so long",[8] angrecum (anggrek/ anggrik), cassowary,[9] gingham, caddy, camphor (kapur), Gutta-percha (getah perca), launch, parang, sarong, dammar, gambir.

The Malay language has also heavily influenced the forms of colloquial English spoken in Malaysia, also known as Manglish.

Some examples as follows:

Word English translation From language Word
abjad alphabet/alefbet Arabic أبجد / ʾabjad
abolisi abolition Latin abolitia
akta act (law) Latin actus
aktivitas | aktiviti activity English activity
ad interim temporarily Latin ad interim
Ahad Sunday Arabic الأحد / al-ʾaḥad
ahli community, expert Arabic ahlil
agama religion Sanskrit agama/dharma
aksara alphabetic letter, key Sanskrit अक्षर / akṣara
almari (Indonesian: "lemari") cupboard Portuguese armário
almamater revered name for one's university Latin alma mater: wise and nurturing mother
amnesti amnesty, state-granted pardon Latin amnestia
anggur grape Persian انگور / angūr
angkasa outer space, sky (literary) Sanskrit ākāśa "sky"
anugerah award, blessing Sanskrit anugraha अनुग्रह "favour"
apam kind of cake or Hoppers Tamil apam அப்பம்
askar soldier Arabic عسكري / ʿaskarī
asmara love, passion Sanskrit smara
badam almond Persian بادام / bādām
bahasa language Sanskrit bhāṣā, Tami lபாஷை / pAsai
bahaya danger Sanskrit bhaya भय "risk, peril"
baki remainder, leftover Arabic بقية / baqiyaẗ
bakti homage, devotion, service etc. Sanskrit bhakti
baldi (not used in Indonesian) bucket Portuguese balde
bandar port/town Persian بندر / bandr
bangku stool/chairs Portuguese banco
bangsa nation, race Sanskrit वंश vaṃśa "lineage, race" - cf. "wangsa"
bus | bas bus English bus, from Latin "omnibus"
bayu (lit.) wind Sanskrit वायु / vàyu
bendera flag Portuguese bandeira
bendi (in Indonesian, it means "gig", different with "bhendi" in Hindi) okra/lady's finger Hindi भेंडी bhēṇḍī, Tamil vendi / வெண்டி
beta I (as used by royalty) the Moluccan dialect[citation needed]
becak | beca Trishaw Hokkien 馬車,马车 / bé-tshia "horse-cart"
beda | beza difference Sanskrit bheda
biara monastery Sanskrit bihara
bidadari fairy, angel Sanskrit विद्याधरी / vidyàdharī "fay, sprite"
bina to build Sanskrit bhinna different, fresh, new
bihun rice vermicelli Hokkien 米粉 / bí-hún
biola violin Portuguese viola
biskuit | biskut biscuit English biscuit
bohsia sexually active girl Hokkien 無聲 bô siaⁿ 'without voice'
bomba (not used in Indonesian) fire brigade Portuguese bomba, "pump", or bombeiro, "fireman", lit. "pumper"
boneka doll Portuguese boneca
bola ball Portuguese bola
buat do Sanskrit wuat
budi reason, virtue Sanskrit boddhi, related to buddhism
buku book Dutch boek
bumi earth Sanskrit bhūmi "land"
cadar bed linen Persian چادر / chādar "cloak"
cawan cup Mandarin 茶碗,茶碗 / cháwǎn '“tea bowl”
cendana sandalwood Sanskrit चन्दन / candana
cukup enough Mandarin 足够 / zúgòu
dacin | dacing scales Mandarin 台秤 / táichèng
dakwah sermon Arabic دعوه / daʿwah
delima pomegranate, ruby Sanskrit dálima / दाडिम "pomegranate"
demokrasi democracy Greek δημοκρατία / dēmokratía
dekan dean Portuguese decano
denda fine, punishment Sanskrit danda दण्ड
desa countryside Sanskrit deśa देश "country"
dewan hall Persian دیوان / dīvān "administration"
dewi Goddess Sanskrit devi
diam Shut Up Hokkien (MinNan) 恬去 / tiām--khì
dirgahayu "long live" (Dirgahayu Tuanku! - Long live the King!) Sanskrit dirghayu
deskriptif descriptive English descriptive
dobi laundry Hindi धोबी / dhobī "caste of laundrymen who used to wash people's clothes in bygone days"
duka sadness Sanskrit duhkha
dunia world Arabic دنيا / dunyā
durjana evil, wicked, malicious Sanskrit durjana
email | emel email English email
erti (Indonesian variant "arti") meaning Sanskrit arta
falsafah philosophy Arabic Arabic فلسفه / falsafah, from Ancient Greek φιλοσοφία / philosophía
fitnah slander Arabic فتنة / fitnaẗ "upheaval, scandal"
forum forum Latin forum
gajah elephant Sanskrit gaja गज
gandum wheat Persian گندم / gandm
garasi | garaj garage English garage
garpu fork Portuguese garfo
gereja church Portuguese igreja
grafik graphic English graphic
gratis (mainly in Indonesian usage) for free Dutch gratis
guru teacher Sanskrit guru
had limit Arabic حد / ḥadd
halal permitted Arabic حلال / ḥalāl
haram forbidden Arabic حرام / ḥarām
harta asset Sanskrit/Tamil artta/அர்த்தம்
hartal strike/civil disobedience Gujarati હડતાળ / haḍtāḷ, હડતાલ / haḍtāl
hasta hasta (unit) Sanskrit hásta हस्त
hina lowly, inferior Sanskrit hīnna
hisab counting/arithmetic Arabic حساب / ḥisāb
humaniora humanities Latin humaniora
huruf word character/letter Arabic حرف / ḥurf
ilmu knowledge/science Arabic علم / ʿilm
Isnin (Indonesian: "Senin") Monday Arabic الإثنين / al-ʾiṯnayn
istana palace Sanskrit ásthána आस्थान assembly/audience hall
jawab to answer Arabic جواب / jawāb
jelata the masses Sanskrit janatá जनता "community"
jendela (mainly in Indonesian usage) window Portuguese janela
Jumat | Jumaat Friday Arabic الجمعة / al-jumʿaẗ
Kamis | Khamis Thursday Arabic الخميس / al-ḫamīs
kaca glass (material) Sanskrit kāca काच "glass, lens"
kamus dictionary Arabic قاموس / qāmūs
kantata song Latin cantata
kapal boat Tamil kappal கப்பல்
kaunter (Indonesian: konter (alternative of loket)) counter, desk English counter
kedai foodstall Tamil kadai கடை
keju cheese Portuguese queijo
kelas class English class
kemeja shirt Portuguese camisa
kepala head Sanskrit kapāla कपाल "skull"
karena | kerana because Sanskrit karaṇena करणेन
kasihan pity Mandarin 可惜 / kéxī + 遗憾,遺憾 yíhàn
kuli coolies/ port workers English coolie (itself derived from an Indic language)
karton carton (classifier for packaging) English carton
kartun cartoon (animated movie) English cartoon
kereta carriage, car Portuguese carreta
kemah | khemah tent Persian/Urdu خیمه / ḫeymah
kuil temple/shrine Tamil koyil கோயில்
kismis raisin Persian کشمش / kishmish
kolam Pool of water Tamil kulam குளம்
kompromi Compromise The pronunciation (lack of the "s" phoneme) suggests that this was borrowed from French (perhaps via Dutch) compromis
komputer computer English computer
kurkuma (Malaysian: koma-koma) saffron Sanskrit kuṅkuma कुङ्कुम
kongsi share Hokkien kong-si 公司
korban sacrifice Arabic قربان / qurbān
kota fort Tamil கோட்டை / Kottai
kredo creed Latin credo
kucai chives Hokkien 韭菜,韭菜 / kú-tshài
kuda horse Sanskrit kudda
kue | kuih cake Hokkien kué 粿
kualitas | kualiti quality Latin kualitas, through Dutch: kualiteit
kurma date Persian خرما / ḫurma
lancia | lanca rickshaw Hokkien 人車,人车 / lâng-tshia "human drag cart"
lancar launch Portuguese lançar
lemari (Malaysian: "almari") cupboard Portuguese armário
lirik lyrics English lyrics
limau lemon/orange Portuguese limão
lobak carrot Cantonese 萝卜,蘿蔔 / lo4 baak6
lungkang | longkang drain Hokkien 龍江,龙江 / liông-kang
lori truck/lorry English lorry
maaf sorry Arabic معاف / maʿaf
maha great Sanskrit maha
makmal laboratory Arabic معمل / maʿmal
mangga mango Tamil mangkai மாங்காய்
mani Sperm, semen Sanskrit maṇi मणि "bead, jewel, gem"
manusia human being Sanskrit manuṣyá मनुष्य
masjid mosque Arabic مسجد / masjid
maya illusion (religious) Sanskrit maya
mentega butter Portuguese manteiga
mi | mee noodles Hokkien 麵,面 / mī
meja table Portuguese mesa
melati jasmine (jasminum grandiflorum) Sanskrit मालती / mālatī
merana suffering, wasting away Sanskrit māraṇa मारण "death"
merdeka rich, prosperous and powerful Sanskrit Maharddhika
merdu melodious, tuneful Sanskrit मृदु / mṛdu "soft"
mesej (not used in Indonesian) message English message
minggu week Portuguese domingo (domingo means Sunday, "dominus" meaning "Lord" in Latin and "die dominicu" meaning "day of the Lord")
miskin poor Arabic مسكين / miskīn
misi mission Latin misi
mitos myth Greek μύθος / mýthos
muflis bankrupt Arabic مفلس / maflis
mula to start, to begin Sanskrit mūla मूल origin
munafik hypocrite Arabic منافق / munāfq
mungkin maybe, perhaps, possibly Arabic ممكن / mumkin "possible"
mustahil impossible Arabic مستحيل / mustaḥīl.
museum | muzium museum English Derived from Greek, the "um" suffix is Latin museum, from Ancient Greek μουσεῖον / mouseîon and Latin suffix "-um"
nadi pulse, lifeline Sanskrit nāḍī नाडी "artery"
najis excrement Arabic نجس / njis
nama name Sanskrit naama नाम
naratif narrative English narrative
negara country Sanskrit nagara नगर "city"
nanas | nenas pineapple Arabic أناناس / ʾanānās
neraka hell Sanskrit naraka
nihil nil, nothing, zero Latin nihil
nota bene actually, after look carefully, also Latin nota bene: examine closely
nujum astrologer Arabic النجوم / an-nujūm
nila indigo dye Sanskrit nīla नील "blue"
nilam sapphire Sanskrit nīlam नीलं "blue"
nobat royal ensemble music Sanskrit compound nau-, nav(a)- "nine" + bah "combination" = "combination of nine (musical instruments)"
Nusantara archipelago (esp. the Malay Archipelago) Javanese nusantara
oknum authority figure (police, soldier, prosecutor, judge) that perform unlawful or corrupted deed Latin ocnum: name personal
Paderi priest (Christian) Portuguese padre
pahala divine reward Sanskrit phala फल
pahlawan hero/warrior Persian پﮩلوان / bahlvān
pancaragam musical band Sanskrit pañca पञ्च "five" + rāga राग "melody/tune/musical note"
pau steamed bun Portuguese pão (bread). This word is also behind "pau"/"pav" in Indian languages or "bāo" 包 in Chinese)
perkasa mighty Sanskrit prakáśa प्रकाश "enlightened"
perpustakaan library Sanskrit base word "pustaka" is the Sanskrit word for "book"
pesta party Portuguese festa
pasar market, bazaar Persian بازار / bāzār
peta map Tamil Paṭaṁ (படம்)
perdana menteri prime minister Sanskrit pradhānamantri प्रधानमन्त्रिन्
pertama first Sanskrit prathama प्रथम
pertiwi native soil, motherland Sanskrit pṛthivī पृथिवी/pṛthvī पृथ्वी "Prithvi", mother goddess of the earth
piala cup (in the sense of a trophy) Persian پیاله / piyālah
pita tape Portuguese fita
puasa fasting Sanskrit upavasa
puja idolize, worship Sanskrit pūjā पूजा
pura Hindu temple, city Sanskrit pura city/walled enclosure
punya possessive verb Sanskrit punya पुण्य merit, deserving
purnama (of the moon) full Sanskrit root pūrṇa पूर्ण - cf. "sampurna"
putra | putera prince Sanskrit putra "royal son"
purba ancient Sanskrit purva/poorv meaning past
rahasia | rahsia secret Sanskrit rahasya रहस्य "mysterious"
raja king Sanskrit rāja
Rabu Wednesday Arabic الأربعاء / al-ʾarbaʿāʾ
raksasa monster Sanskrit rākṣasa राक्षस demon
rasa taste Sanskrit rasa रस
ratna jewel, gemstone Sanskrit ratna रत्न
renda lace Portuguese renda
risiko risk Dutch risico
roda wheel Portuguese roda
ronda verb, to patrol Portuguese verb, rondar or noun, ronda
rokok cigarette Dutch roken "to smoke"
roti bread Sanskrit rutti
rupa shape, form, appearance Sanskrit rūpa रूप
sabda quote, say Sanskrit śabda शब्द "word"
Sabtu Saturday Arabic السبت / as-sabt
sabun soap Portuguese sabão
sahaja casual, relaxed (e.g. duduk bersahaja "seated casually") Sanskrit sahaja सहज "natural"
sains science English science
sama same Sanskrit/Tamil sama/samam சமம்
samseng gangster Hokkien 三牲 / sam-sing
sakti miraculous power Sanskrit Shakthi
salju | salji snow Arabic ثلجي / ṯaljī
sekolah school Portuguese escola
seks sex English sex, from Latin
selamat safe, well-being Arabic سلامات / salāmāt, used for greeting phrases as 'selamat pagi', etc.
Selasa Tuesday Arabic الثلاثاء / aṯ-ṯulāṯāʾ
sempurna perfect, complete Sanskrit sampūrṇa संपूर्ण complete(d) - cf. "purnama"
sengsara Suffering Sanskrit samsara
Senin (Malaysian: "Isnin") Monday Arabic الإثنين / al-ʾiṯnayn
spanduk | sepanduk banner Dutch spandoek
sekolah school Latin skho·le
sepatu (mainly in Indonesian usage) shoe Portuguese sapato
serigala wolf Sanskrit śṛgāla शृगाल "jackal"
seteru adversary, enemy Sanskrit śatru शत्रु
singa lion Tamil, Sanskrit singam சிங்கம், simha सिंह
sejarah history Arabic syajarah, تواريخ / tawārīḫ
serdadu | soldadu (obsolete) soldier Portuguese soldado
stadion | stadium stadium Greek στάδιον / stádion "running race in the Ancient Olympics"
status status Latin status
sopir | supir (dialectal/Indonesian) driver French chauffeur
syariah Islamic law Arabic الشريعة / aš-šarīʿaẗ
syukur thankful Arabic شكر / šukr
surga | syurga heaven Sanskrit swargam[1]
sistem system English system
suci clean, pure Sanskrit śuci शुचि clean
suka happiness Sanskrit sukha
sula to impale Sanskrit śūla शूल stake, spear, pike
syor (not used in Indonesian) recommendation Mandarin 說,说 / shuō
surya | suria sun Sanskrit surya
takhta throne Persian تخت / taḫt
tali string Sanskrit talli
tangki tank Portuguese tanque
tanglong (not used in Indonesian) lantern Hokkien 燈籠,灯笼 / tanglong
topan | taufan typhoon Cantonese, Mandarin, Arabic, Greek 大風,大风 / daai6 fung1, dàfēng, طوفان / ṭūfān, τυφών / tuphṓn
taoge | taugeh bean sprouts Hokkien 豆芽,豆芽 / tāu-gê
tahu | tauhu bean curd Hokkien 豆腐 / tāu-hū
tarikh date Arabic التاريح / at-tārīḥ
teh O black tea Hokkien 茶乌,茶烏 / tê-oo
teja (archaic) magnificence, splendor, radiance Sanskrit tejas तेजस्
taksi | teksi taxi English taxi
teko teapot Hokkien 茶壺,茶壶 / tê-KO
televisi television Dutch televisie
televisyen television English television
tembaga copper possibly Sanskrit or Spanish tāmra ताम्र (Sanskrit) or tumbaga (Spanish). The Spanish word rather refers to a copper-gold alloy.
tempo | tempoh period Portuguese tempo "time"
topi hat Sanskrit tuppi
tuala towel Portuguese toalha
tukar to exchange Portuguese trocar
universitas | universiti university Latin universitas
unta camel Sanskrit ushtra
utama main Sanskrit uttama उत्तम "principal" (adj.)
utara north Sanskrit uttar(a)
waktu time Arabic وقت / waqt
wangsa dynasty Sanskrit vaṃśa वंश "lineage, race" - cf. "bangsa"
wanita women Tamil/Telugu vanithai (Vanita in Telugu, also thought of came from Spanish word Juanita means women)
warna colour Sanskrit varna
warta news Sanskrit vārttā वार्त्ता
zarafah | zirafah giraffe Arabic and English زرافة / zarāfaẗ

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]