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The 20 Facts About Indonesian Slang Words You Should Know

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So, after talking about the richness of Indonesia in the religion, culture, and history on our previous articles, now we want to take you closer to the life of Indonesian people. Today, we want to give you information about the Indonesian slang words. Seems to be an interesting topic, doesn’t it? Just like any other countries, the slang words in Indonesia are used for informal communication.

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Like if you want to talk with your own friend, best friends even, you’ll most likely to use slang words all the time. You can’t use it to the older people, especially people who way older than you because it’s considered to be a disrespectful behavior. However, there are other facts about Indonesian Slang Words that you can see below, such as :

1 – No one knows at what exact year the first slang word was born

So, let’s start with the first one in facts about Indonesian Slang Words, which is its originality. If you ask someone in Indonesia about how those words were born, many people would scratch their heads in confusion. We’re not learning about it in school, we don’t know whether those words were even born in Indonesia or maybe just an adaption.

Because of that lack of information, the originality of the first Indonesian slang word is still uncertain. But there are theories that may clear your head a bit. The Indonesian slang words “Bokap” (father) and “Nyokap” (mother), believed to be coming from the Chinese traders during the era of colonial.

2 – Different slang words in each region

If you ever visited Indonesia (not only Jakarta and Bali of course), you may realize that most teenagers used the two different kinds of slang word. The first one is the common slang word, which can be heard in all areas of Indonesia, because most people use it on the internet, and then they’re adapting it to their real life.

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And the second one is regional slang word. Yes, these words exist. The slang words that only known by people who live in a certain area, while others clearly have no clue what they’re talking about. For example, in the Javanese language, you can find so many different slang words that most people may not understand, like “Dobol”,  “Loro Pikir”, “Gaplek”, or “Bedhes”.

3 – The common slangwords

After talking about what we call as the regional slang words, now we want to tell you a bit of information about the common slang words. These words are said by basically most people in Indonesia, in all regions basically. These words are the words that most people will understand because they’re familiar with it.

For example, the word “Bokap”, which is the slang word that mostly used in Jakarta is also known in other regions, even the far ones like Kalimantan, Sulawesi, or many other areas outside Jakarta. So if someone says the word “Bokap”, they will understand that person is talking about a father.


4 – Mostly use by teenagers

Another one of the facts about Indonesian Slang Words is the people who are using it. Just like in many other countries around the globe, the slang words, especially the common ones are often used by teenagers when talking with their friends or relatives. Teenagers here are no legal one, even the children know about them.

This is related to the influence of technology and the internet. In almost every day, they use their phone for many things, like social media and game. In those applications, they can see how people communicate with the slang words, and that brings interest to them. Because of that, even the kids at 5 years old will know about the latest slang words.

5 – Not only teenagers using them

But, the thing about Indonesian slang words is the adults are also using it. Most adults will use the slang words that related to their religion, like people in Jakarta would use slang words that common in that city and people who live in Central and East Java province would use the Javanese slang words.

And of course, most adults don’t know about the slang words from English adaption like LOL for example. They simply stick to the words that they’re familiar with because they are easy to use and really practical. Plus, they can get along pretty well with people around them, which is a good thing at work.

6 – The simplicity purpose

Aside from the other reasons behind the usage of slang world in Indonesia, the most popular opinion about it is the simplicity purpose. Almost all the slang words are only using 1 word to represent something. That one word is sure and likely to be used in daily conversation, aside from the other words.

It can save more time to say anything, plus we can more enjoy talking with somebody closer with informal language. An example of this is the word “Moge”, which is the acronym of Motor Gede that means big bike to represent the big motorcycles that used for touring. Also, the slang words sometimes consist of two words that combined into one.

7 – Misunderstanding

Even though people are easy to learn and actually say the slang words nice and perfect, but sometimes they are having issues with the slang words that came from adaptation, like the simplest one “LOL”. LOL basically means Lough Out Loud, a very common and simplest form of slang word we can see every day on the internet.

But, for the people who don’t understand about it, they think that LOL is actually part of an Indonesian word “TOLOL”, which means dumb or stupid. This is clearly wrong, and sadly, they insist on using it not in the right way. Just think that they might be slow learner, someday they learned.

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8 – Adopting foreign slangwords

As mentioned above, we included three different types of slang words, based on our observation. The first one is Common of National Slang Words, that used by basically all people in Indonesia. The second one is Regional Slang Words, words that can be said and understood by certain people in a region. And the last one is Foreign Slang Words.

The last one is mainly used by teenagers who live in big cities, especially the capitals like Surabaya, Bandung, or Jakarta. Even though the slang words rarely said in the real world, but they often use it on social media. The reason behind this is the awkwardness and also the pronunciation.

9 – Not only found in the cities

And the next one in facts about Indonesian Slang Words is the usage of it that not can be found only in a city, but villages as well. People who live in a village also know how to say those words and the meanings behind them. Of course, the reasons behind this are the social media and the television programs that they see every day.

But, the most common slang words used by village people are the regional ones, because they are familiar with them. Plus, because it’s their mother language, it’s more easy for them to say it.

10 – Many foreigners like to learn about it

The unique thing about the slang words is many people would love to learn about it. Many seem to be interested in the whole new language to them and decided to actually try for fun only. For us Indonesians, seeing foreigners talking with Indonesian slang words is sometimes a funny thing to see, especially when they’re clueless.

It’s not because we think that they’re stupid, but we want to appreciate them. Foreigners do talk with Indonesian slang words in order to get closer to the locals, which is a good thing for them. And seeing other people would like to learn about our culture is really heartwarming.

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Now now, after understanding the brief explanation about the world of Indonesian slang words, we want to give you some examples of those words, and showing you how to say it properly. It wouldn’t be really hard if you try it over and over again. So let’s see what are those words that included in our list of facts of Indonesian slang words.

1. Garing (Not Funny)

2. Lebay (Overreact)

3. Meneketehe (Slang for Mana Kutahu which means I Don’t Know)

4. Ajib (Nice, Good)

5. BT/Bete (Boring Total/Total Boring)

6. Agan (Bro)

7. Bangsat (Bad Guy)

8. Bego (Stupid)

9. Cemen (Not Brave, Chicken)

10. Otewe (OTW/On The Way)


So that’s our article about the facts about Indonesian slang words, hope you can get a better understanding of how informal communication in this country. If you happen to be a traveler with a guide, it will be much easier to try those words to your guide in order to get along. We as Indonesians are actually impressed by how foreigners can talk those slang words, even though sometimes we can’t hold our laughter because of the pronunciation.

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Kategori : Socio Cultural