Malaysian slang words

We Malaysians can get very creative with our word choices. Forget the fancy pants ang moh vocabulary. Not many countries are able to speak a full sentence that combines different languages and still have people understand what they’re saying. But, we Malaysians can. 

We’re so used to speaking rojak English that some of us can’t speak proper English to save our lives. But that’s what makes us so unique, right? Here’s what I’m talking about.

1. Member

malaysian slang friends

Meaning: Member is a common Malaysian slang that refers to friends, as in a “member of the group”. It’s often mixed into a sentence with Malay words. Variations include member-member.

Used in a sentence: Dia itu member abang aku. Or in English, this is my brother’s friend.

2. Jom

malaysian slang - dining

Meaning: Jom is a casual term used to invite someone, but with gusto. It’s loosely translated to “let’s go”.

Used in a sentence: Jom pergi makan seafood. Or in English, “let’s go and eat seafood.”

3. Aduh

malaysian slangs - ache, aduh

Meaning: Aduh is Malaysia’s version of “aiya”. It can be used to describe both physical pain or annoyance.

Used in a sentence:
Aduh kenapa begitu rumit? Or, in English, “Why is this so complicated?”
Aduh, panas! Or, in english, “Ouch, this is hot!”

4. Leng zai (or leng chai) / Leng lui

Leng zai (or leng chai) meaning: Leng zai comes from the Cantonese word 靚仔 which means handsome (boy). Leng zai is more commonly used among Chinese, while leng chai is more commonly used among Malays and Indians, it’s just a matter of pronunciation.

Leng lui meaning: In Cantonese it’s written as 靚女 which means pretty (girl).

malaysian slangs - leng zai
Henry Golding can be considered a true blue Malaysian Leng Chai.

Image credit: @henrygolding

While these words are normally used as a compliment, we Malaysians sometimes call random strangers “ Eh, Leng zai!” or “Eh, you Leng lui over there”,  to get their attention, rather than the usual “excuse me”.

5. Boss

Meaning: Not to be confused with your actual boss at work. It’s what we call either the workers or the customers at your typical mamak stall – yes, it works both ways. Also works between taxi or ride sharing drivers and riders. 

malaysian slangs - eat
Image credit: Pelita

Used in a sentence:
Mamak stall owner: Boss, you cannot sit there, now got MCO.
Customer: Sorry boss. I’ll bungkus instead. 

6. Cincai

Meaning: Pronounced “chin-chai”. Literally means “whatever.” 

malaysian slangs - cow
Image credit:

Used in a sentence:
Customer: Excuse me sir, there are cows lining up outside this bank.

Bank teller: Tak apa, cincai la

7. Yum cha

malaysian slangs - bubble tea, yum cha

Meaning: Yum cha is another word derived from the Cantonese language. Yum cha (饮茶) literally means “drink tea”, it is an act of drinking Chinese tea and having dim sum for the Chinese. Nowadays Malaysians use the word to mean “hang out” or to have a high tea of sorts. 

8. FFK / fong fei kei / fly aeroplane

Meaning: To back out of a previously agreed upon meeting at the last minute. FFK is basically the shortened version of fong fei kei, but since it’s in all caps, it does the job of sounding much angrier.

malaysian slangs - pilot

“Fly aeroplane” is an English way of saying it, as in, our friend must’ve ditched us because he went to fly an aeroplane. 

Used in a sentence:
A: Okay, see you tomorrow okay, don’t Fong Fei Kei me.
B: Yes, so excited to meet you.
A: *Next day* Hey B, I’m here, where are you?
B: Eh sorry, I suddenly can’t make it.
A: FFK la you.

9. Walao / walao eh

Meaning: A word used to describe the feeling of surprise or disbelief.

Used in a sentence:
A: I think I saw a ghost behind you.
B: *Turns around* Walao eh!

malaysian slangs - ghostImage credit: Muhd Urabil Alias

10. Ang moh / guai lou / mat salleh

Meaning: A word used to describe Caucasians. Ang Moh and Guai Lou is more commonly used among Chinese, while Mat Salleh is more commonly used among Malays and Indians.

11. Chup 

Meaning: Chup has 2 meanings: On one hand it means “wait”, and on the other it means “I’ve claimed this.”

Used in sentence:
A: Can you chup this seat for me and help me order a drink?
B: Chup, I need to pick up this call first.

12. Chun 

Meaning: It can be used in several ways, but more or less indicates a stamp of approval. 

malaysian slangs - friends

Used in a sentence:
A: Wah that girl is damn pretty, she’s so chun.
B: I heard she likes you.
A: Chun, I’ll ask her out. 

13. Belanja

Meaning: Belanja is a Malay word that means to treat someone to something – usually a meal or drink.

malaysian slangs - cheers

Most commonly used with buddies who are broke, or if you’re casually trying to ask someone out on a date. 

Used in a sentence:
A: I can’t go out – I spent all my money on bubble tea.
B: It’s okay, I belanja you this time.

14. Perasan

Meaning: Perasan is actually a Malay word that means “notice”, but for some reason it ventured out of its origins and now we Malaysians use it to say “don’t flatter yourself”.

Used in a sentence:
A: Omg that guy can’t stop staring at me!
B: Don’t perasan la

15. Syok / shiok

Meaning: Amazing, or something that feels good. 

Most fondly remembered as the tagline of any neighbourhood ice cream man selling Mat Kool frozen lollies.

malaysian slangs - ice cream
Ice cream on a hot day is truly syok

Image credit: @me.turner

Used in a sentence:
Mat Kool Mat Kool kawanku,
Mari kita ikut Mat Kool,
Main main selalu
Syoknya, syoknya ada Mat Kool

16. Potong stim / potong steam

Meaning: A term used to describe a good moment being ruined, kind of synonymous to the English word “killjoy”. 

Usually used after something syok has been taken away from you.

Used in a sentence:
A: OMG! I see a parking spot up ahead!
A: Damnit it’s a MyVi. Potong stim

17. Kena

Meaning: Literal meaning is “get”. Can be used in pretty much any context, like to get punished, to fall sick, and even to strike the lottery.

But it’s often used for dramatic effect since it sends chills down any misbehaving kid’s spine. 

Used in a sentence: Don’t be naughty, or else you’ll kena

18. Kacau

Meaning: A Malay word that means to tease, disturb or disrupt someone or something. 

Used in a sentence:
Mom: Don’t kacau the cat.
Kid: We’re not. 

cuddling - cat
Things Malaysians are doing while staying at home.

Image credit: @theghrack

19. Mampus / mampos

Meaning: You’re in irreparable trouble and there’s an extremely high likelihood that punishment will follow.

Used in a sentence: The cat tore up mum’s tudung while I was playing with it. Mampuslah when she finds out.

20. Kantoi

Meaning: Kantoi is a word used when someone gets caught red handed, or in other words, busted.

mealImage credit: @thesmartlocalsg

Used in a sentence: I found out you like that girl! Kantoi!

21. Gostan

gostan, car

Meaning: Apparently Gostan is derived from the nautical English phrase “go astern” which means “to go backwards”. Nowadays we Malaysians use it to mean “reverse” (a vehicle).

People just usually shout “Gostan! Gostan! Gostan!” when directing a driver without the need for any other words. 

22. Tapau


Meaning: Tapau comes from the Chinese word 打包 (da bao) which means take away (food). It’s pronounced exactly the way its spelt, and is a universally recognised word in Malaysia, especially when someone stands up during lunch and exclaims, “Tapau, guys?”

23. Geng

Meaning: No one really knows what language geng is derived from. But it’s most understandably a sound that people make when describing something as impressive.

Not to be confused with “gang” – as in gang members. It’s pronounced “g-eh-ng”, which rhymes with ah beng

Image credit: @thesmartlocalsg

Used in a sentence: You scored 98% on your exam? So geng ah you?

24. Bo jio

Meaning: Bo Jio derives from the Hokkien word that means “never invite”, we Malaysians normally use it to people who didn’t invite us to a certain event, outing or gathering. 

Commonly seen on Facebook comments (especially pictures), Twitter and Instagram.

Warning: May cause irritation or annoyance for the other party. Expect a response as such: “Jio you also won’t come lah!”

photoImage credit: kuanyee 

25. Abuden

Meaning: A sarcastic remark to indicate stating the obvious. 

A: I’m so full.
B: Wah, you ate a lot ah?
A: Abuden

Malaysian slang words to learn

Every true blue Malaysian would’ve used their share of these Malaysian slang words in a lifetime. And if you’re not Malaysian, this guide will help you understand how we truly express ourselves – proudly, at that. 

You can also check out our guide to Singlish.

For your next trip to Malaysia, check out:

Original article published on 7th May 2014. Last updated by Kezia Tan on 7th July 2023

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