Indonesian Idiomatic Expression Commonly Heard Daily

ilustrasion Idiomatic Expression in Indonesian (gesah idiom)

JAKARTA, GESAHKITA COM–Let’s  start new Indonesian Language  issue..! As explained at  previous lessons you have learned Indonesian Idioms and Proverbs as well as Indonesian Expressions for Foreigners. Now, let’s step forward and know several Indonesian Idiomatic Expressions.

Because it’s idiomatic, you won’t translate it word by word (but I’ll give you the literal meaning so you could learn new vocabulary). It also depends on socio-cultural context of a nation. Before we start, take a look of these following articles.

Common Indonesian Idiomatic Expressions

Here are several most common expressions and how to use it in a sentence

Anak Semata Wayang (One-eyed puppet child) – the only child
e.g. Ibunya sangat menyanyangi Andi. Dia kan anak semata wayang (His mother really love Andi. Of course, he is her only child)
P. S.: It comes from Indonesian culture (wayang) that only has one eye.

Segede Gaban (As big as ‘gaban’) – tremendously huge
e.g. Perut kucingku segede gaban (My cat stomach is huge)

Katak dalam Tempurung/Sumur (Frog in a shell/well)
*person with narrow perspective because lack of experience or willingness to go outside his/her box

e.g. Percuma kau berdebat dengannya. Dia itu cuma katak dalam tempurung (It is useless to debate him, he has narrow perspective [could not understand])

Cintaku sedalam samudra, setinggi langit di angkasa (My love is as deep as the ocean, as high as the sky) – very deep love

Langit ketujuh (Seventh heaven) – very high or deep/impossible
e.g. Cintaku padamu sampai langit ketujuh (My love for you is very deep)

Lebaran Kuda (Horse zodiac Muslim’s new year) – forever, expressing impossibility (a period yet could not be determined)
e.g. Sampai lebaran kuda pun, kamu gak akan lulus (You are impossible to graduate until forever)

cinta bertepuk sebelah tangan (literally: love which clap in one hand) – unrequited love
e.g. Dia tidak menyerah walaupun cintanya bertepuk sebelah tangan (He has not gave up despite his unrequited love)

Kacang lupa kulit (Peanut which forgot its nutshell) – ungrateful (forget someone who helped at the past)
e.g. Ia sudah sukses tapi bagai kacang lupa kulitnya (He is a successful man, but forget his root)

Juru kunci (master of the key) – undertaker/a person or group that placed at the bottom of group standings
e.g. Lucas adalah juru kunci makam (Lucas is an undertaker)

makan hati (eat liver/heart) – feeling tired because has been disappointed
e.g. Aku sudah lelah. Pekerjaan ini bikin makan hati (I am tired. This work made me disappointed)

makan teman (eat friend) – traitor/cheat to your friend/take advantages from your friend
e.g. Dasar teman makan teman. Sekalinya gak ketemu kamu tusuk dari belakang (Friends traitor! If I weren’t here, you stabbed me at the back)
P.S. : stabbed at the back has equal translation as ‘menusuk dari belakang’

Jauh di mata, dekat di hati (Far from the eyes, near in the heart) – always in my heart
e.g. Meskipun kamu jauh di mata, tapi tetap dekat di hati (Even though you’re far away, but’ you’ll always in my heart)

Cinta lama bersemi kembali/CLBK (Old love blossoms again) – reconcile (in terms of dating)
e.g. Gara-gara pertemuan kemarin, sepertinya ada yang CLBK (Because yesterday meeting, it seems like there’s a love reconciliation)

kepala batu (rock head)/keras kepala (hard head) – stubborn
e.g. Susah mengubah keputusannya. Ia kepala batu (It’s hard to change his mind. He’s stubborn)

Bukan zaman Sitti Nurbaya (It’s not Sitti Nurbaya’ era anymore) – freedom of love (right to choose)
e.g. Aku gak mau dijodohkan. Ini bukan zaman Sitti Nurbaya. (I don’t want to be betrothed. I’m free to choose the one I love)

kids zaman now (nowadays kids)

It could means modern (positive/neutral) or alay/cheesy (negative) and its refer to Z generation that fulfilled with sophisticated technologies such as gadget. In contrast, there is kids zaman old (old-days-kids), which usually compare the situation between what were in the past (e.g. traditional game, behavior or technology) with what kids/teenager do at this period.
e.g. Ya harus bisa dong, kids zaman now (Of course I can, I’m kids zaman now [modern kids])

e.g. Kasihan kids zaman now mah ga ngerti asyiknya main congklak (Poor nowadays kids [Gen-Z], they do not understand the excitement of playing congklak [traditional games])

Makan gak makan yang penting ngumpul (Dinner or not, the most important thing is to gather)
It is simply translated as ‘family time’ or ‘let’s meet’.
Sebagai keluarga sudah seharusnya kita makan gak makan yang penting ngumpul (As a family, we should has family time)

Okay, those are common Indonesian Idiomatic Expressions. If you are still curious to learn more about idiomatic and contextual languages, here are several useful articles to you. Good luck and happy practice..!


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