Like any other language such as English, Arabic, and Spanish, Bahasa Malaysia also has its own local slang. These Malay slangs are socially constructed by the native speakers, forming another unique lingo to the speech community, which in this case, refers to the Malaysians. Today, let’s take a look at some of the famous and latest Malaysian slang words in 2022.
Malaysian Slang Words – The Basics
Before I introduce you to my local linguistic culture, bear in mind a few things. In the long list of these Malaysian slang words, some are adopted in the formal setting. Simply put, we use these slangs even in the professional industry. Why? Because it’s quicker, shorter, and easier. Most importantly, the meaning retains and the slang is universally accepted by Malay speakers, so, why not?
But then, some others aren’t quite appropriate to be spoken or used in the professional ambiance. They’re more on the colloquial part of spoken Malay. We use this particular group of slang a lot with our close friends, family, and on the Internet. Though it’s widely accepted and utilized by the locals, some slang is not meant to be casually used in formal contexts. Don’t worry, I’ll include a remark for which one can be used in the formal setting.
With that being said, I also want to highlight one thing when it comes to my local slang words. To start, you may find a lot of examples of words and vocabularies that list out some of the most famous Malaysian slang on the Internet. HOWEVER, most of them do not actually belong to the Malay language. Yup, they belong to other local tongues used in Malaysia, such as Mandarin, Cantonese, and Hokkien, which are predominantly used by the Malaysian Chinese community.
So, since this topic clearly directs towards Malay slang, which means the slang words in Bahasa Malaysia or Bahasa Melayu, I’ll extensively explain and elaborate to you some of the frequently used words in this Malay informal register. OK? You’re good to go? Let’s start!
Malay Slang Vocabulary – Words Beginners Should Know
Without further ado, let’s straight away dive into some of the most commonly used slangs among Malay speakers and how each of them works in a sentence.
This word comes from Malay pronouns. It’s a pronoun used by the Malay speakers to refer to the first-person collective group, “we“. It is a fusion of kita (we/us) and orang (people). This word does not exist in the Malay dictionary – it’s made up and universally used by everyone, even in the workplace. It’s safe to use among colleagues but let me stop you there. Yup, feel free to use kitorang with your colleagues in the workplace, but not the boss. It’s better to use “kami“, the formal Malay word which translates to “we” in English.
Kitorang nak pergi makan. Kau nak ikut?
We want to go eat. Do you want to come along?
Similar to before, this one was mentioned in the Malay pronouns blog too! It’s a pronoun combined from kau(you) andorang(people). This word carries the same condition as kitorang – it’s ok for you to use it with your colleagues at work, but it’s best to stick to the formal pronouns with your higher officers.
Korang ada nampak Amin tak harini?
Have you guys seen Amin today?
This is one of the most typically used slang in the Malay spoken culture! It was initially adopted decades ago, during the ’90s, and lasted up until today. In the Malay-speaking culture, member is used to referring to a friend. Yup, we Malaysians normally used the word member to refer to our friends.
Dia tu member ayah aku.
That guy is my dad’s friend.
4) Mak ayah
This term literally means mom and dad or parents. Mak in the Malay language means mother while ayah means father. It’s synonymous with ibu and bapa. The only difference between the two is the formality. In the Malay language, the formal word for parents is ibubapa. But in spoken context, the Malay speakers would just say mak ayah. It’s casually used everywhere, even at work. But an intensely formal occasion wouldn’t opt for this phrase. The prime minister would definitely use ibubapa instead of mak ayah when conveying an important related issue through the TV.
Mak ayah saya bekerja di Kuala Lumpur.
My parents work in Kuala Lumpur.
5) Kawan baik
The literal translation of kawan baik is bestfriend. In the Malaysian culture, people either call their best, closest friends as kawan baik or member baik. Yup, that one slang I’ve mentioned before in number 3. This one is universally accepted by anyone and it’s used generally everywhere. If you want to describe that someone is your close friend with your superior, you can use kawan baik. If you’re talking to people you’re close with, feel free to say member baik.
Hamidah tu member baik/kawan baik saya.
Hamidah is my best friend.
6) Pakwe Makwe / Awek
What do you call your boyfriend or girlfriend in Malay? It’s pakwe or makwe. The former is for male (boyfriend) and the latter is for female (girlfriend). These words are definitely informal – you only used them on a casual basis. How about the Malay slang awek? In Malaysia, awek generally refers to a girlfriend or a pretty girl.
Siapa lelaki tu? Oh, dia tu pakwe baru Aina.
Who is that guy? Oh, he is Aina’s new boyfriend.
This one is definitely a common slang in Malaysia. You’ll absolutely hear this one being used by the locals every single day. If you haven’t had the chance to visit Malaysia and see its linguistic culture, you can just go to Youtube – a lot of foreign travelers have visited Malaysia and they did various contents in their vlogs, including the language used in this country. This one is equivalent to the English “let’s”. It’s the word you utter to invite someone to do something together, as simple as go out eating together or hit the cinema.
Jom tengok Kong VS Gorilla hari ini!
Let’s watch Kong VS Gorilla today!
Tapau is the Malaysian slang people use to address that they want to pack food and bring it home. It’s equivalent to take-out and take-away. Simply put, tapau means to take away food.
Boleh saya tapau makanan lebih ni?
Can I take away all this extra food?
9) Best gila
This one is my personal favorite – it is certainly widely used among Malay speakers. Best is an English word – it’s directly borrowed along with its original meaning. Yup, everyone knows that best is an adjective that is used to describe the finest, greatest, and most excellent quality of something. And that same definition is entirely adopted in Malay. Gila, just so you know, means crazy. Simply put, this one means that something is just crazy good or crazy fine! In English, we usually use amazing, incredible, or sick (in a good way). It’s an expression Malaysians always say to fully describe any type of experience.
Konsert semalam best gila!
Yesterday’s concert was truly amazing!
10) Turun padang
Turun padang is a term used when someone (usually with a high position or rank) visits or makes trips to a particular place to do a check-up or to be involved in any sort of event or project.
Menteri Selangor akan turun padang minggu depan untuk periksa kawasan kampung itu.
The Minister of Selangor will come next week to inspect the village area.
Mantap in Bahasa Melayu is an adjective – in the spoken context, it’s used to describe and express something good, great, amazing, and all other synonymous traits. The locals would say and use this one a lot, especially among the youth.
Mantap lah persembahan kau tadi!
Your performance just now was incredible!
Aduh is an interjection – it’s the word the locals utter to express their physical pain. However, today, we use it to also convey the agony, annoyance, and mental pain that someone is giving us. The usage could also be similar to alamak, an expression to convey one’s dismay, shock, disapproval, or annoyance.
Aduh kau ni, aku tunggu kau dua jam tadi.
Geez, bro, I waited for you for two hours.
Kantoi is the exact equivalent of busted, in Bahasa Melayu. It’s a colloquial term, so you can only use it in a conversation with your friend.
Habislah kau kantoi. Cikgu Mamat tahu kau ponteng sekolah semalam.
You’re busted bro. Cikgu Mamat knows you skipped school yesterday.
This is a type of exclamation used by Malay native speakers and it is very popular currently. A lot of the native speakers use it, especially the younger generation. Pergh is often used to portray one’s excitement, thrill, and interest towards something or someone. It’s equivalent to “wow“. Most of the time, people use it when they’re amazed by a hot girl, a jaw-dropping sports car, or a breathtaking scenic view of nature.
Pergh, cantik gila kereta Ferrari tu!
Wow, that Ferrari car is so beautiful!
Fuyoh is exactly like the example before. It’s an exaggerated version of WOW or OMG or wah or wowee. We say it whenever we’re tremendously excited or hype over something.
Fuyoh, ada orang tu beli iPhone baru lah!
Wow, someone bought a new iPhone!
As mentioned before, alamak is an exclamation used to symbolize one’s dismay, shock, disapproval, or annoyance. Most of the time, the Malaysians use alamak to convey shock or alarm. We use it on both formal and informal occasions.
Alamak! Saya tertinggal minit mesyuarat di kedai tadi!
Oh no! I left the meeting minute at the store just now!
17) Bapak ah
This one is an exclamation too (yes, the Malay speakers love exclamations haha). This one is rather colloquial and very informal. It is typically used with a friend you’re close and comfortable with. This term, unlike the others, has two tones to it. It can bear a positive tone as well as a negative one. For the positive side, bapak ah serves the same meaning as “Wow“, “Oh My God” and “no way“. Yup, this phrase is used by the locals when we are extremely delighted or impressed about something.
Bapak ah! Pandainya kau sunting video ni!
Wow! You’re so good at editing this video!
In comparison, we also say bapak ah to express dismay, disapproval, and disbelief
Bapak ah! Kau sepak kucing tu?
No way! Did you kick that cat?
Gempak is an adjective in Malay. It’s similar to best gila and mantap. Like these two adjectives, gempak is extremely casual (and cool) too. I don’t recommend using it in a professional environment. It’s equivalent to awesome, amazing, and other synonymous words you can think of.
Pertunjukan tadi gempak gila!
That show was awesome!
19) Boleh tahan
Boleh tahan means not bad. Yup, as simple as that. Can be casually used in both formal and informal conversations.
Macam mana temu duga tadi? Boleh tahan.
How was the interview? Not bad.
20) Buat bodoh
This is a term the locals utter to mean “doing nothing“. It’s a very casual term and not appropriate to be used on any formal occasion due to the second word of the phrase. In literal terms, buat means make or do, while bodoh means stupid or foolish. But, when put together, it created a new meaning; doing nothing. Still, due to the existent of the negative word in this phrase, it’s highly advisable for you to never use it in a professional setting.
The native speakers use this term either to say “I am doing nothing” or to point the fact that a friend or someone else is ignoring them.
Aku panggil dia tadi tapi dia buat bodoh je!
I called her just now but she just ignored me!
21) Buat taik
Like the one before, this is not suitable for any formal occasions. Since you’ve known the meaning of the first word in this term, allow me to explain the second one. Taik is a slang, originated from the word tahi – which literally means feces. However, the term buat taik means to do wrong or evil towards someone.
Interestingly enough, according to the older generations of Malay speakers, this slang has a deeper meaning. I’ve heard someone of my parents’ age use this term and it means totally different from what I just explained. From there, I discovered that buat taik also refers to people who do drugs.
Awak ada dengar pasal anak Halim? Dia kena tangkap sebab buat taik.
Have you heard about Halim’s child? He was arrested for being on drugs.
Cincai is one of Malaysia’s favorite terms. Those from Singapore or the Chinese Malaysian may tell you it means whatever, which is true according to their cultural usage. However, according to Malay native speakers, cincai is an adjective used to portray a messy or sloppy work or outcome of something. When something is done carelessly and not thorough enough, we call it cincai. This one is a legitimate term – it exists in the Malay dictionary, so feel free to use it anywhere.
Disebabkan kerja dia cincai, dia dapat gred C.
Due to his sloppy work, he was graded a C.
Blur in the local spoken context is used when someone is at a loss, clueless or confused.
Faham tak apa yang saya cakap ni? Kenapa muka awak nampak blur?
Do you understand what I am saying? Why do you seem clueless?
24) Buat dek
This one was very famous back in early 2000. I still freshly remember – it was 2009 and I heard my sister saying this phrase. By then, I know it’s a common slang among Malay speakers. It’s a better way of saying doing nothing or ignoring someone. It’s a cool, decent alternative to the other slang we’ve discussed before. Still, it’s typically used within casual settings only. I always use it with a friend I’m close with.
Aku lalu depan Amin tadi tapi dia buat dek je.
I passed by Amin just now but he just ignored me.
Koyak is a colloquial term that acts as an adjective and used to indicate mental fatigue or exhaustion.
Aku koyak lah kerja dekat syarikat ni. Aku buat keputusan untuk berhenti kerja.
I am so worn out working in this company. I decide to quit my job.
Masyuk is the term we Malaysians use when describing someone loaded. We also typically use it when we know a friend just had his payday.
Wah, masyuk lah orang tu harini! Nak belanja saya makan piza tak?
Wow, someone just had his payday today! Can you treat me a pizza?
Cun, according to the local spoken context, has many meanings. Most of the time, it literally means hot, pretty, or beautiful. Yes, like a hot lady or a pretty girl. It’s also equivalent to OK, alright, or can; a form of agreement.
Boleh tak jumpa saya pukul 2 nanti? Boleh? Okey cun.
Can you meet me later at 2 o’clock? Can you? Alright.
28) Cucuk duit
This phrase is a universally used term – everyone says it especially when they want to withdraw money from the bank or any automated teller machine.
Boleh ke singgah bank sekejap lagi? Saya nak cucuk duit.
Can we stop by the bank after this? I want to withdraw some money.
In Malaysia, we use pokai to indicate that you’re broke at the moment.
Maaf kawan-kawan, saya tak boleh ikut tengok wayang malam ini. Saya tengah pokai.
Sorry friends, I cannot go to the movies tonight. I’m currently broke.
30) Syok sendiri
Syok sendiri literally refers to the condition where a person is full of himself.
Nora tu memang syok sendiri. Dia ingat semua orang sukakan dia.
Nora is so full of herself. She thinks that everyone likes her.
31) Mat Salleh
If you’ve known the Malaysian culture, I’m certain you’ve heard this one before. Mat salleh or mat saleh is a colloquial expression used to define a white person.
Jom ajak mat saleh tu minum dekat mamak.
Let’s invite the white guy to drink at the mamak stall.
32) Padan Muka
Padan muka is the expression we use to say serves you right.
Mia kena marah dengan Cikgu Malek sebab meniru. Padan muka dia!
Mia was scolded by Cikgu Malek because she cheated. Serves her right!
Internet Slang In Malay
|Seres ah?||Malay||serius lah?||seriously/are you serious?|
|Sila meninggal||Malay||sila meninggal||a polite way of saying go to hell|
|Tung ah||Malay||untung lah||lucky you|
|Amenda?||Malay||apa benda||what is it?|
|Katne?||Malay||dekat mana?||where you at?|
|2r2||Malay||itulah tu||I know right|
|Apecer?||Malay||apa cerita?||what’s up?|
|Takleh brain||Malay + English||tidak boleh brain||I don’t get it/understand|
|On tak on?||Malay + English||on tak on?||you up?|
|Gerak lu, pape roger||Malay + English||gerak dahulu, apa-apa bagitahu (roger)||see ya, call/hit me up if there’s anything|
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