Miscellaneous

15 Funny Indonesian expressions in English

Although there are many Indonesian tribes with their own languages, Indonesians speak Indonesian language in general, and it is taught in the formal school. Here are fifteen funny Indonesian expressions with their literal English translations.

  1. Indonesians do not buy “souvenirs” for their relatives when they travel, they buy “buah tangan” (hand fruit).

IMG_4483

2.  The “fire” did not burn the house, “jago merah” (red rooster) did.

(Photo credit: http://www.heraldlive.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/fire.jpg)

3. Indonesian is not being “frankly”. He or she “terus terang” (keep shining).

Frankly Speaking

4. Leonardo di Caprio is not a “playboy”, he’s a “buaya darat” (land crocodile).

(Photo credit:https://rossrightangle.files.wordpress.com/)

(Photo credit:https://rossrightangle.files.wordpress.com/)

5. Someone is not “arrogant” in Indonesia, they are “tinggi hati” (high hearted).

(Photo credit: www.clipartsheep.com)

(Photo credit: www.clipartsheep.com)

6. Indonesians do not call people who steal “thieves”, we call them “panjang tangan”  (long hands).

(Photo credit: https://simpulanbahasakids.files.wordpress.com)

(Photo credit: https://simpulanbahasakids.files.wordpress.com)

7. In Indonesia, someone does not  “make the headlines”, they get a  “buah bibir” (fruit lip).

(Photo credit: www.neilpatel.com)

(Photo credit: www.neilpatel.com)

8. In Indonesia,  we say that a “stubborn” person has a “keras kepala”/“kepala batu” (hard head/rock head).

(Photo credit: www.cimblo.com)

(Photo credit: www.cimblo.com)

9. Someone is not “shameless” in Indonesia. They have a “muka tembok” or “kulit badak” (wall face/rhino skin).

(Photo credit: http://linoit.com/entry/image/4338261)

(Photo credit: http://linoit.com/entry/image/4338261)

10. In Indonesia, we don’t call someone “stupid”. We call them “kepala udang” (shrimp head) instead.

(Photo credit: http://qonjamadu.portalsip.com/)

(Photo credit: http://qonjamadu.portalsip.com/)

11. Instead of “speed bumps”, in Indonesia we have “polisi tidur” (sleeping policemen).

(Photo credit: old.qi.com)

(Photo credit: old.qi.com)

12. In Indonesia, “bankrupt” or “penniless” is called “gulung tikar” (roll the mat).

(Photo credit: http://www.radarbangka.co.id/)

(Photo credit: http://www.radarbangka.co.id/)

13. Indonesians don’t “get sick”,” they “masuk angin” (entering wind).

(Photo credit: www.dream.co.id)

(Photo credit: www.dream.co.id)

14. Cindy Crawford does not have “beauty marks” or “moles”, she has “tahi lalat” (fly poos).

(Photo credit: www.getnetworth.net)

(Photo credit: www.getnetworth.net)

15. Indonesians do not “work hard”. They “banting tulang” (slam bones).

(Photo credit: http://guangming-school.com/)

(Photo credit: http://guangming-school.com/)

  1. Haha Fruit lip and shrimp head sounds cute 🙂 By the way in Ukraine we also say “lying policemen” instead of “speed bumps”.

    • Hahaha…. yes, but one does not use “shrimp head” unless he/she is really mad. Also, it is also considered pretty harsh in here. It would be great to see/read Ukraine expressions as well 😉

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Our Correspondent
Cult Indonesia correspondent
Asana - Duri

I was born as Chocolate lovers in Semarang, Capital City of Central Java Province, Java Island, Indonesia. This is one of 17,000 islands that Indonesia has. But currently, i live in Riau Province in Sumatera Island. I love all things bright and beautiful, ...

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Continent: Asia
Capital: Jakarta
Population: 242,968,300
Area: 1,919,440 km2
Currency: Rupiah
Languages: Indonesian

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