10 Most Famous Indonesian Slangs that Can Make You Speak Like a Local

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Bahasa Indonesia is a beautiful language that represents the nation’s vibrant culture. However, if you visit Indonesia you will hear several words in Indonesians daily conversation that is not found in the dictionary. 

Indonesians people enjoy making new words they shorten phrases, some of the words are read backward, syllables twisted around, glued-on prefixes and entirely invented words keep expanding the already long list of daily slang. Here are 10 most famous Indonesian slangs that can make you speak like a local. 

Lebay (le – bye) 

Meaning exaggerated or over the top. For example, you are drinking a vanilla milkshake under the Africa heat. If you begin crying or ranting about your drink, Indonesian people might call your reaction lebay. The other example is you see a group of friends wearing a wedding dress to the mall, don’t you see how lebay their outfit is? Lebay is an exaggerated way to say its root word ‘lebih’ (le-bee), which means more or as the millennials say ‘extra’.

Baper (ba – per)

source: giphy.com

Baper stands for bawa perasaan, which refers to someone that takes everything too personally or getting carried away with their emotions. Indonesians use this slang for any emotion, but lately, the slang has been revolving around romantic feelings. When someone is being attentive to you, do not get too baper or take it as a sign of attraction. Maybe the person is just being friendly and caring.

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Woles (wo – les) 

Woles means slow down. If you pay attention to the word read it from behind it will spell selow, which is a word derived from the English word ‘slow’. Woles is a slang you say to someone to get them to calm down, where normally people would say “chill bro”. 

Alay (al – aye) 

source: giphy.com

Generally, the word Alay is used to describe label someone or something considered tacky or plebeian. As an example, someone’s hair cut could be Alay because the cut or color is off or trying too hard. Or when someone texts you with mix alphabet and symbols and numbers that are considered alay

Alay is also a noun to label someone that does something tacky or alay. Among good friends, calling each other alay is taken as a joke or playful insult, but it’s best not to call someone alay with someone you just met. 

Kepo (ke – po)

When someone asks you too many questions, you can playfully dismiss them by saying kepo. It’s not a harmful word it actually means that the person asking too many questions is being a little bit noisy and should mind his/her business. 

You can say this word or slang among your friends but it would be rude if you say it to your parents or someone older than you. 

Jomblo (jom – blo) 

source: giphy.com

Jomblo does not mean someone is single. It has the connotation of not being able to get a suitable partner instead of being single by choice. 

The slang di originated from a Sundanese word that means ‘spinster’, but in daily conversation among your friends jomblo is very rarely considered offensive. 

Mager (ma – ger)

Mager is a short phrase for males gerak or too lazy to move. If your friends ask you if you would like to go out tonight for a movie. You really want to, but you are just too lazy or mager to leave the comfort of your room. 

We can admit we all have those kinds of days. Instead of wasting brainpower meticulously crafting lies or excuses, you can simply just say mager, and they will understand.

Nongkrong (nong – krong)

source: giphy.com

Nongkrong means hanging out and chilling, getting together with your friends with no specific plan. The whole point is just to catch up and be around your friends; whether you talk about something or nothing important. You can simply invite your Indonesian friends to nongkrong together with you. 

Sotoy (so – toy)

When your friend or someone is being sotoy, it means he or she is acting like an obnoxious know it all. Sotoy is light enough to be said rather playfully without any harm. As an example, when someone says “You must be American “, you might lightly dismiss with, “Sotoy!”, and move on to another topic.

Curhat (cor – haat)

source: giphy.com

Curhat stands for Curhan hati, this word can roughly be translated as vent or rant. However, curhat implies trust and intimacy between the parties taking part in it. It is like pouring your heart out and telling someone you trust about something specific you’re going through. 

Those are the 10 most famous slangs in Indonesia that can make you speak like a local. Want to make it even better? I have a solution for you simply download the Cakap App and you can simply take an Indonesian online course. Go give it a try.

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