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 being the language of trade and technology while Arabic is the language of religion (Islam in the case of this language's concentrated regions), although key words such as surga/ syurga (heaven) and the word "religion" itself (agama) reflect their Sanskrit-Hindu origins. Javanese elements on the other hand are incorporated from the variant of Malay used in Indonesia through the consumption of media from said country.

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 / abjad
abolisi abolition Latin abolitia
akta act (law) Latin (via English) actus
aktivitas | aktiviti activity English activity
ad interim temporarily Latin ad interim
Ahad Sunday Arabic الأحد / al-Aḥad
ahli community, expert Arabic أهل / ahl
agama religion Sanskrit agama
akhbar news Arabic أخبار / akhbār
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 hopper Tamil appam அப்பம்
arnab rabbit Arabic أرنب / ʻarnab
askar soldier Persian عسكرى / ʻaskarī / asker
asmara love, passion Sanskrit smara
badam almond Persian بادام / bādām
bahasa language Sanskrit bhāṣā, Tamil பாஷை / pācai
bahaya danger Sanskrit bhaya भय "risk, peril"
baki remainder, leftover Arabic باقي / bāqī
bakti homage, devotion, service etc. Sanskrit bhakti
baldi bucket Portuguese balde
bandar port/town Persian بندر / bandar
bangku stool/chairs Portuguese banco / bank
bangsa nation, race Sanskrit वंश vaṃśa "lineage, race" - cf. "wangsa"
bus | bas bus English bus, from Latin "omnibus"
bayu (lit.) wind Sanskrit वायु / vāyu
bendera flag Portuguese bandeira
bendi (in Indonesian, it means "gig", different with "bhendi" in Hindi) okra/lady's finger Hindi भेंडी bhēṇḍī, Tamil veṇṭi / 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 vihara
bidadari fairy, angel Sanskrit विद्याधरी / vidyādharī "fay, sprite"
bina to build Arabic بناء / bināʼ / bina 'construction'
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 fire brigade Portuguese bomba, "pump", or bombeiro, "fireman", lit. "pumper"
boneka doll Portuguese boneca
bola ball Portuguese bola
budi reason, virtue Sanskrit bodhi, 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 دعوة / daʻwah
degil headstrong, stubborn Sinhala ඩීගිල් / ḍīgil
delima pomegranate, ruby Sanskrit dāḍima / दाडिम "pomegranate"
demokrasi democracy Greek δημοκρατία / dēmokratía
dekan dean Portuguese decano
denda fine, punishment Sanskrit daṇḍa दण्ड 'rod'
desa countryside Sanskrit deśa देश "country"
dewan hall Persian دیوان / dīvān "administration"
dewi Goddess Sanskrit देवी 'devi'
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 duḥkha
dunia world Arabic دنيا / dunyā / dünya
durjana evil, wicked, malicious Sanskrit durjana
email | emel email English email
erti (Indonesian variant "arti") meaning Sanskrit arta
falsafah philosophy Arabic Arabic فلسفة / falsafah, from Ancient Greek φιλοσοφία / philosophía
fitnah slander Arabic فتنة / fitnah "upheaval, scandal"
forum forum Latin forum
gajah elephant Sanskrit gaja गज
gandum wheat Persian گندم / gandom
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 गुरु guru 'heavy'
had limit Arabic حد / ḥadd
halal permitted Arabic حلال / ḥalāl
haram forbidden Arabic حرام / ḥarām
harta asset Sanskrit/Tamil arttam/அர்த்தம்
hartal strike, civil disobedience Gujarati હડતાળ / haḍtāḷ, હડતાલ / haḍtāl (pronunciation with r via Hindustani ہڑتال)
haiwan animal Arabic حيوان / ḥaywān
hasta hasta (unit) Sanskrit hásta हस्त
hina lowly, inferior Sanskrit hīnna
hisab counting/arithmetic Arabic حساب / ḥisāb
humaniora (mainly Indonesian) humanities Latin humaniora
huruf word character/letter Arabic حرف / ḥarf (plural حروف ḥurūf)
ilmu knowledge/science Arabic علم / ʻilm
Isnin (Indonesian: "Senin") Monday Arabic الإثنين / al-Ithnayn
istana palace Sanskrit āsthāna आस्थान assembly/audience hall
jawab to answer Arabic جواب / jawāb / Cevap
jelata the masses Sanskrit janatā जनता "community"
jendela (mainly in Indonesian usage) window Portuguese janela
Jepun Japan Portuguese Japão
jiran neighbour Arabic jiran جيران
Jumat | Jumaat Friday Arabic الجمعة / al-Jumʿah
Kamis | Khamis Thursday Arabic الخميس / al-Khamīs
kaca glass (material) Sanskrit kāca काच "glass, lens"
kamus dictionary Arabic قاموس / qāmūs / kamus
kantata (mainly Indonesian) song Latin cantata
kapal boat Tamil kappal கப்பல்
kaunter (Indonesian: konter (alternative of loket)) counter, desk English counter
kedai foodstall Tamil kaṭai 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
kuli coolie / port worker Hindustani قُلى qulī (itself derived from a Turkic language)
karton carton (classifier for packaging) English carton
kartun cartoon (animated movie) English cartoon
kereta carriage, car Portuguese carreta
kerusi chair, stool Arabic كرسي kursii
kemah | khemah tent Arabic via Persian خیمة / khaymah
kuil temple/shrine Tamil kōyil கோயில்
kismis raisin Persian کشمش / kishmish
kolam pool of water Tamil kuḷam குளம்
koma-koma saffron Sanskrit कुङ्कुम kuṅkuma
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 saffron, turmeric Sanskrit कुङ्कुम kuṅkuma 'saffron', influenced by Arabic كركم kurkum 'turmeric'
kongsi share Hokkien kong-si 公司
korban sacrifice Arabic قربان / qurbān
kota fort Tamil கோட்டை / kōṭṭai
kredo creed Latin credō
kucai chives Hokkien 韭菜,韭菜 / kú-tshài
kuda horse Tamil கோடை kōṭai < Sanskrit घोट ghoṭa
kue | kuih cake Hokkien kué 粿
kualitas | kualiti quality Latin kualitas, through Dutch: kualiteit
kurma date Persian خرما / khormā
lancia | lanca rickshaw Hokkien 人車,人车 / lâng-tshia "human drag cart"
lelong auction Portuguese leilão (archaic)
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 / muʻāf 'pardoned'
maha great Sanskrit mahā
makmal laboratory Arabic معمل / maʻmal
mangga mango Tamil mangkāy 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 māyā
mentega butter Portuguese manteiga
mi | mee noodles Hokkien 麪 / 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 mahārdhika
merdu melodious, tuneful Sanskrit मृदु / mṛdu "soft"
mesej 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 (via English) missiō
mitos myth Greek μύθος / mýthos
muflis bankrupt Arabic مفلس / muflis
mula to start, to begin Sanskrit mūla मूल root, origin
munafik hypocrite Arabic منافق / munāfiq
mungkin maybe, perhaps, possibly Arabic ممكن / mumkin "possible"
mustahil impossible Arabic مستحيل / mustaḥīl 'impossible, absurd'
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 / najis
nama name Sanskrit nāma नाम
naratif narrative English narrative
negara country Sanskrit nagara नगर "city"
nanas | nenas pineapple Portuguese (itself from the Tupi language) ananás
neraka hell Sanskrit naraka
nihil nil, nothing, zero Latin nihil
nota bene actually, after look carefully, also Latin nota bene: note well, examine closely
nujum (in the compound ahli nujum') astrologer Arabic نجوم nujūm 'stars'
nila indigo dye Sanskrit nīla नील "blue"
nilam sapphire Sanskrit nīlam नीलं "blue"
nisbah ratio Arabic نسبة nisba
nobat royal ensemble music Arabic نَوبة nawbah 'turn; changing of guards; bugle call; troupe of musicians'
Nusantara archipelago (esp. the Malay Archipelago) Javanese nusantara
oknum authority figure (police, soldier, prosecutor, judge) that perform unlawful or corrupted deed Arabic أقنوم uqnūm < Syriac ܩܢܘܡܐ qnoma 'person'
paderi priest (Christian) Portuguese padre
pahala divine reward Sanskrit phala फल 'fruit'
pahlawan hero/warrior Persian پهلوان / pahlavān
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 prakāśa प्रकाश "enlightened"
permaisuri supreme lady, queen Sanskrit परम parama 'supreme' + ईश्वरी īśvarī 'female ruler', via Tamil பரமேஸ்வரி paramēsvari
perpustakaan library Sanskrit base word "pustaka" is the Sanskrit word for "book"
pesta party Portuguese festa
pasar market, bazaar Persian بازار / bāzār / pazar
peta map Tamil paṭam படம் 'cloth; picture'
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
pisau knife Mandarin 匕首 / bi shou
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 puṇya पुण्य merit, deserving
purnama (of the moon) full Sanskrit root pūrṇa पूर्ण - cf. "sampurṇa"
putra | putera prince Sanskrit putra "(royal) son"
purba ancient Sanskrit purva 'past'
rahasia | rahsia secret Sanskrit rahasya रहस्य "mystery"
raja king Sanskrit rājā
Rabu Wednesday Arabic الأربعاء / al-Arbaʻāʼ
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 Hindi रोटी roṭī 'bread'
rupa shape, form, appearance Sanskrit rūpa रूप
sabda quote, say Sanskrit śabda शब्द "word"
Sabtu Saturday Arabic السبت / al-Sabt
sabun soap Arabic صابون ṣābūn < Latin sabão < Portuguese
sahaja casual, relaxed (e.g. duduk bersahaja "seated casually") Sanskrit sahaja सहज "natural"
sains science English science
sama same Sanskrit sama
samseng gangster Hokkien 三牲 / sam-sing
sakti miraculous power Sanskrit शक्ति śakti
salju | salji snow Arabic ثلج thalj
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 / al-Thulāthāʼ
sempurna perfect, complete Sanskrit sampūrṇa संपूर्ण complete(d) - cf. "purnama"
sengsara Suffering Sanskrit saṁsara
Senin (Malaysian: "Isnin") Monday Arabic الإثنين / al-Ithnayn
spanduk | sepanduk banner Dutch spandoek
sekolah school Greek σχολή skholē
sepatu (mainly in Indonesian usage) shoe Portuguese sapato
serigala wolf Sanskrit śṛgāla शृगाल "jackal"
seteru adversary, enemy Sanskrit śatru शत्रु
singa lion Tamil, Sanskrit ciṅgam சிங்கம், siṁha सिंह
sejarah history Arabic شجرة shajarah 'tree'
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 / sharīʻah
syukur thankful Arabic شكر / shukr / Şükür
surga | syurga heaven Sanskrit svargam
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 recommendation Mandarin 說,说 / shuō
surya | suria sun Sanskrit sūrya
takhta throne Persian تخت / takht 'platform'
tangki tank Portuguese tanque
tanglong lantern Hokkien 燈籠,灯笼 / tanglong
topan | taufan typhoon Persian طوفان
taoge | taugeh bean sprouts Hokkien 豆芽,豆芽 / tāu-gê
tahu | tauhu bean curd Hokkien 豆腐 / tāu-hū
tarikh date Arabic تاريح / tārīkh
teh black tea Hokkien 茶乌,茶烏 / tê-oo
teja (archaic) magnificence, splendor, radiance Sanskrit tejas तेजस् 'sharp edge, glow, splendor'
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 Hindi टोपी ṭopī
tuala towel Portuguese toalha
tukar to exchange Portuguese trocar
universitas | universiti university Latin universitas
unta camel Hindi ऊँट ūṇṭ < Sanskrit उष्ट्र uṣṭra
upacara ritual Sanskrit उपचार upacāra 'approach; service'
utama main Sanskrit uttama उत्तम "principal" (adj.)
utara north Sanskrit uttara
waktu time Arabic وقت / waqt
wangsa dynasty Sanskrit vaṃśa वंश "lineage, race" - cf. "bangsa"
wanita woman Sanskrit वनिता vanitā 'wished for, desired; beloved woman'
warna colour Sanskrit varṇa
warta news Sanskrit vārttā वार्त्ता
zarafah | zirafah giraffe Arabic and English زرافة / zarāfah

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Loan Words in Indonesian and Malay languages - Professor J.G. de Casparis
  • Loan Words in Indonesian and Malay — University of Washington Press. ISBN 978-90-6718-304-8