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Loan words in Indonesian

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The Indonesian language has absorbed many loanwords from other languages:

  • Early Hindu and Buddhist influence from India results in many Sanskrit words in Indonesian (and especially Javanese). Indian traders may have contributed words as well, in Sanskrit-related languages as well as Tamil.
  • Muslim influence, which came at first through Arabic traders, over a number of centuries results in an extensive Arabic influence.
  • Portuguese contact, trade and colonization in the 16th century was the first contact between Indonesia and European culture, and had an influence that remains today, in spite of the relatively short time period of that influence.
  • Dutch colonization and administration, lasting from the 17th century to the 20th, had an extensive impact on the vocabulary. As Dutch-trained linguists determined the rules for the official Indonesian language, Dutch thus had an impact on the structure of the language as well.
  • Modern Indonesian regularly adapts new words from other languages, particularly English.

Indonesian differs from the Malay language in a number of respects, particularly the different influences both languages have.


List of loanwords

Word Meaning Language of origin
agama religion Sanskrit
aksara letter Sanskrit
bahasa language Sanskrit
bakti, bhakti homage, devotion, service etc. Sanskrit
berita news Sanskrit
budi reason Sanskrit
bumi earth Sanskrit
cahaya light Sanskrit
cakram, cakra disk, sphere etc. Sanskrit
cakrawala horizon Sanskrit
dana donation, funds Sanskrit
dharma, darma duty, good deeds (i.e. charity), truth etc. Sanskrit
desa village Sanskrit
gajah elephant Sanskrit
genta bell Sanskrit
guna utilize, use, purpose Sanskrit
guru teacher, guru Sanskrit
jasa merit, service etc. Sanskrit
karma karma (Hindu origin) Sanskrit
karya work, oeuvre Sanskrit
kepala head Sanskrit
kerja work (same origin as karya) Sanskrit
mantra mantra Sanskrit
menteri minister (head of a government department) Sanskrit
nama name Sanskrit
negara country Sanskrit
negeri city (lit.) Sanskrit
pahala merit, reward (for moral conduct) Sanskrit
paksa to force Sanskrit
pustaka book Sanskrit
rasa emotion, feeling, taste Sanskrit
sastra literature Sanskrit
seteru enemy Sanskrit
topi hat Sanskrit
utara north Sanskrit
warna colour Sanskrit
warta news (same origin as berita) Sanskrit
warta berita news broadcast Sanskrit
apam kind of cake Tamil
kedai foodstall Tamil
abdi servant (Ar. Abd ) Arabic
akal reason (Ar. 'aqlun) Arabic
akhir end (Ar. akhirun) Arabic
akhlak moral ( Ar. akhlaqun) Arabic
akhirat hereafter (Ar. akhiratun) Arabic
anda you (formal) (Ar. anta) Arabic
awal beginning (Ar. awwalun) Arabic
badan body Arabic
berkah, barokah bless, barakah (Ar. barkatun) Arabic
daftar list (Ar. daftarun) Arabic
dunia world (Ar. dun-yaa`) Arabic
kitab book (Ar. kitabun) Arabic
kursi chair (Ar. kursiyyun) Arabic
halal lawful Arabic
haram unlawful Arabic
lisan mouthly, mouth (Ar. litsanun) Arabic
maaf sorry, to apologise Arabic
maksud meaning, purpose Arabic
majelis assembly, majlis (Ar. majlis) Arabic
masjid mosque (Ar. masjid) Arabic
mubazir useless (Ar. mubazir) Arabic
muflis bankrupt Arabic
murtad apostate (Ar. murtad) Arabic
musim season Arabic
pikir to think (Ar. fikr) Arabic
sedekah gift, shodaqoh (Ar. shadaqatun) Arabic
senin monday (Ar. ttsnain) Arabic
selasa tuesday (Ar. tsalasa) Arabic
rabu wednesday (Ar. arba'a) Arabic
kamis thursday (Ar. khams) Arabic
jumat friday (Ar. jum'ah) Arabic
sabar patience (Ar. sabr) Arabic
sabtu saturday (Ar. sabtu) Arabic
siasat trick Arabic
surat letter Arabic
waktu time (Ar. waqtun) Arabic
wilayah region, area Arabic
zakat alms (Ar. zakkatun) Arabic
zaman / jaman era Arabic
administrasi administration (Dutch administratie) Dutch
arde ground (Dutch = aarde = earth) Dutch
arbei strawberry (Dutch =aardbei) Dutch
ban tire (Dutch = band) Dutch
baskom, waskom washbasin (Dutch = waskom) Dutch
bengkel workplace (Dutch = winkel: store, originally angle) Dutch
besuk visiting (Dutch = bezoeken) Dutch
bioskop cinema (Dutch = bioscoop) Dutch
buncis green beans (Dutch = boontjes) Dutch
bruder Roman Catholic friar (Dutch broeder = brother) Dutch
buku book (Dutch = boek) Dutch
dak roof (Dutch = dak) Dutch
dasi necktie (Dutch = das(je)) Dutch
ember bucket (Dutch = emmer) Dutch
engsel hinges (Dutch = hengsel) Dutch
handuk towel (Dutch = handdoek) Dutch
hanger hanger Dutch
kabel cable (Dutch = Kabel) Dutch
kamar room (Dutch = kamer) Dutch
kantor office (Dutch = kantoor) Dutch
karcis ticket (Dutch = kaartjes: plural for diminutive of kaart, card or ticket) Dutch
kartu card (Dutch=kaart) Dutch
kelar ready, finished (Dutch = klaar) Dutch
knalpot (or kenalpot) exhaust (on a car) Dutch
kulkas refrigator (Dutch = koelkast) Dutch
kusen window frame (Dutch = kozijn) Dutch
laci deskdrawer (Dutch = laatje: diminutive form of la(de)) Dutch
lampu lamp Dutch
mantel coat Dutch
migrasi migration (Dutch = migratie) Dutch
mises sprinkles (Dutch = muisjes) Dutch
mur/baut nut/bolt (Dutch = moer/bout) Dutch
oom / om uncle (Dutch = oom) Dutch
pabrik factory (Dutch = fabriek) Dutch
pensil pencil (Dutch penseel (brush)) Dutch
plafon ceiling (Dutch = plafond, from French) Dutch
potlot pencil (Dutch = potlood) Dutch
rekening account (Dutch = rekening) Dutch
resleting zipper (Dutch = ritssluiting) Dutch
ribewis driving licence (Dutch = rijbewijs) Dutch
sekrup screw (Dutch = schroef) Dutch
sepeda bicycle (most probably from French velocipede) Dutch
sirkulasi circulation (Dutch circulatie) Dutch
slang water hose Dutch
solusi solution (Dutch solutie) Dutch
stopkontak power socket (Dutch stopcontact) Dutch
tante aunt (Dutch = tante, from French) Dutch
tas bag Dutch
tegel floor tile Dutch
telat (too) late (Dutch = te laat) Dutch
wastafel sink Dutch
wortel carrot Dutch
zuster, suster nun, nurse, sister Dutch
amoi Chinese girl (from Port of Amoy, China) Chinese
angpao gift money for Chinese New Year Chinese
bakmie meat noodle Chinese
bakso meatball Chinese
dacin balance scale Chinese
duit money (Chinese = lui) Chinese
gua/gue me (slang) Chinese
hoki luck, lucky Chinese
kecap soybean sauce, (ketchup is 'saus tomat', it is not the kecap of soybean) Chinese
loteng 2nd storey of a house Chinese
mak comblang match maker Chinese
mesiu gunpowder (not clear whether of Chinese descent or not) Chinese
micin MSG (flavouring for cooking) Chinese
pasar market Chinese
singkek Chinese newcomer (derogative), pure blooded Chinese, i.e. not of mixed ancestry Chinese
tahu tofu Chinese
teh tea Chinese
tionghoa Chinese Chinese
tiongkok China Chinese
justru (just) true English
gosip gossip English
target target English
kado gift (Fr. cadeau, Dutch kado/cadeau) French
kudeta coup d'état French
supir driver (Fr. chauffeur) French
aku I, me Javanese
armada fleet (Port. armada) Portuguese
belanda Dutch, Holland, any westerner (Port. Holanda) Portuguese
bendera flag (Port. bandeira) Portuguese
beranda verandah (Port. varanda) Portuguese
biola violin (Port. viola) Portuguese
boneka doll (Port. boneca) Portuguese
dansa dance (Port. danca) Portuguese
gereja church (Port. igreja) Portuguese
keju cheese (Port. queijo) Portuguese
kemeja shirt (Port. camisa) Portuguese
kereta chariot/car (Port. carreta) Portuguese
lemari closet (Port. armário) Portuguese
meja table (Port. mesa) Portuguese
mentega butter (Port. manteiga) Portuguese
minggu Sunday (Port. domingo) Portuguese
nona young woman (Port. donha) Portuguese
pesta party (Port. festa) Portuguese
sekolah school (Port. escola) Portuguese
sepatu shoe (Port. sapato) Portuguese
serdadu army (Port. soldado) Portuguese
tempo time (Port. tempo) Portuguese
terigu wheat (Port. trigo) Portuguese
frambus raspberry (Dutch Framboos, Port. framboesa) Portuguese/Dutch
kakus toilet (Dutch verb kakken/noun kakhuis) Portuguese/Dutch
gardu to guard, watch post (Dutch Garde, Port. guarda) Portuguese/Dutch
gubernur governor (Dutch Gouverneur, Port. governador) Portuguese/Dutch
gratis free (not having to pay) Portuguese/French/Dutch/Spanish
topik topic (Port. tópico) Portuguese/Dutch
pengaruh influence Sundanese
amburadul mess, something out of order Sundanese
anjangsana high official visiting Sundanese
anjungan pavilion Minangkabau (W. Sumatra)
nan which, who (connecting word) Minangkabau
anda you (respectful) Nias (island W. of Sumatra)
awak you (regional) Riau (eastern province of Sumatra)
beta I, me, myself Maluku
abang older brother Sumatran Malay
pasti surely Manado Malay
bandar port Persian
cadar veil Persian
gandum eheat Persian
pahlawan hero Persian
piyama pajamas Persian
pesona charm Persian
nakhoda captain of a ship Persian
takhta throne Persian
sihir magic Persian
syahbandar portmaster Persian
zirah armor Persian
ebi dried shrimp Japanese
kempeitai gendarme Japanese
jibaku struggle Japanese
romusha enslaved worker Japanese
taisho physical exercise Japanese
toko shop Japanese

Almost all loan words in Indonesian with Chinese origin comes from Hokkien dialect. Loan words in Indonesian with Chinese origins.


  • de Vries, Jan W., Grijns, C.D. and Santa Maria, L. 1983 Indonesian : a check-list of words of European origin in Bahasa Indonesia and traditional Malay Leiden : Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde. ISBN 90-6718-004-1.

External links

See also


Published - February 2009

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