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10 Malaysian Words That Make Absolutely No Sense

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Growing up in Malaysia, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, you will eventually pick up on the local slang. The local slang is what makes Malaysians unique compared to other neighbouring countries *cough cough* Singapore; it is what makes Malaysia truly Asia.

However, there are times when the slang literally makes no damn sense, even to the locals. Although these slangs are incomprehensible, we still use them daily as we have been around long enough to know how to structure a sentence with it and still make absolute sense, in Malaysia anyway. Here are some of the slang you may have heard being thrown around wherever in Malaysia you are!


1. Wei



Pronounced as ‘whey’ (much like the protein drink for those of you who are familiar), we Malaysians use that term when trying to call out to a friend, acquaintance, our girlfriends, and also our wives (why you would dare use that language with your significant other is beyond this writer’s ability to comprehend).

It can be said in a multitude of ways, such as:

i) Calling a friend over
“Wei bro, come on lah let’s go!”

ii) Expressing disbelief
“Wei bro, don’t like that lah!”

iii) Expressing serious disbelief
“Walau wei bro, why you like that?!”

iv) Unsure of a decision
“Wei bro, you sure can do like that?”

v) Being overjoyed
“This nasi lemak damn good wei bro!”

Yes, believe it or not, we Malaysians are thoroughly eloquent when it comes to speaking ‘manglish’.


2. Abuden



We Malaysians are masters when it comes to being sarcastic. Instead of painting a beautiful picture to a particular scenario, which we believe is too taxing on the tongue; we have decided to shorten all of it into three little syllables. Pronounced as ‘ah-boo-then’, this one simple word can say everything you want to say, and more.

Some examples include:

Ah Beng meets Ah Seng at the cinema

AB: “Yo bro, what you doing here?”
AS: “You didn’t know ah bro? My father works here.”
AB: “You serious ah bro? Why never belanja me movie?!”
AS: *stunned silence*
AS: “I come here watch movie also la! Abuden…”

As mentioned above, we don’t need a long and elaborate scheme to be sarcastic; we can do it in one simple word.


3. Gostan



Apparently derived from the nautical term “go astern”, gostan is one of the more popular words among the urban youth of Malaysia. It translates to reverse, but the way the word rolls off your tongue sounds so much more Malaysian than ever before!

An example on how to use it in a sentence should go:

Eh bro, behind there got parking, faster! Gostan! Gostan!

Although it was derived from a nautical term, it takes a Malaysian to create something completely new out of nothing.


4. Cehwah




Used mostly when expressing amazement or wonder, the word ‘cehwah’ has been thrown around for as long as this writer can remember (and he has heard a lot of words thrown around over the years).

On how to properly use this word in a sentence:

Cehwah bro! How you managed to pass that exam wei?

We Malaysians have a weird way of expressing our emotions through words, as you can already tell.

Although it was derived from a nautical term, it takes a Malaysian to create something completely new out of nothing.


5. Jinjang



Although Jinjang is an area located in Kuala Lumpur, it has also been turned into a word which was meant to describe one’s appearance or attitude in a pretty negative way (partly due to the fact of the kind of people who do stay at that particular area of KL).

A perfect way to use this word should be along the lines of:

i) “Eh bro, why your brother dress so jinjang wei?”
ii) “Walao, that fella’s attitude damn jinjang man!”

Not everyone from Jinjang is like that, and not everyone outside from Jinjang is prim and proper. That is what makes Malaysia great.


6. Action



Although the word ‘action’ is used to describe a process of doing something, we Malaysians have turned it into something completely different. We use that word to describe a person who is being arrogant, cocky, and above all, lansi (which means the same exact thing but in Cantonese).

The proper way to use this word in a sentence in Malaysia is:

Walao bro your classmate damn action wei! Think he all that with his iPhone.

However, do not, under any circumstances, throw either of those two words around as we Malaysians are very sensitive (I kid, use it however you want).


7. Cincai



Simply put, ‘cincai’ in a literal sense, means simply or casually. Although you may notice plenty of Malaysians are very high-strung and always on the move, beneath that façade, we are all very laidback.

A typical example of how the word ‘cincai’ can be used can almost always be heard every single day in Malaysia.

Hey baby, what do you feel like eating for dinner?
Anything lah baby. You know I’m very cincai; I eat anything.

Yes, Malaysian girls can never decide on what they would want to eat. In general, Malaysians are very cincai with just about anything.


8. Fong Fei Kei (FFK)



Everyone has that one friend who gets an invite prior to an outing or an event and does not even show up, even after proclaiming they will be attending. In Malaysia, this occurs almost every single damn day. We call this, fong fei kei which means that you just got ditched by that friend.

A good way to use this phrase should be along the lines of:

Eh bro, call Ah Weng and see where is he. Damn late wei.
Already call him bro. Never answer his phone.
Walao he confirm fong fei kei liao.”

So whenever you have that one friend who is always ditching you when you’re going out, simply call him this. Especially in Malaysia, we hate being called this term.

Please don’t sedition this writer; he likes to think he’s funny.


9. Chup



If you ever heard the local advertisement about Coca-cola in Malaysia, you will hear the signature catchphrase, ‘chup’ being thrown around its catchy tune. However, we Malaysians have decided to turn it around to use it in an entirely different matter.

We Malaysians would use to word ‘chup’ when we want to pause anything, from a conversation to any activity.

The proper way to use ‘chup’ goes along the lines of:

i) “That time ah bro, I met this damn hot chick at –
Eh bro wait chup, I need go toilet.

ii) “Wei bro you got book tickets already or not? Movie going to start soon wei!
Chup bro chup, I talking with this chick now.

Another way to say the word ‘chup’ without even saying anything is to hold your hand palm-side front and closing your fingers altogether to form a beak-like shape. Don’t worry, everyone in Malaysia will get it.


10. Kau-kau



Pronounced as ‘kao-kao’, this word is used excessively in Malaysia as it not adds a kick into whatever we’re saying, it also makes us sound cooler and more confident. It can be used in both a positive and negative setting, adding to its versatility.

i) “Bro you should’ve seen the other team’s face when we whack them in football. Kena them kao-kao wei.

ii) “Wah bro, I kena kao-kao from Mrs. Yong earlier for not finishing homework. Die wei.

Yes, we Malaysians are creative when it comes to how much a simple two-syllable word can change an entire meaning to a sentence.


Malaysia Boleh


These are just some of the local words thrown around on a daily basis that makes us unique. If there are more that you feel we have missed out, please don’t hesitate to tell us and set this writer straight!