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Malaysian slangs

Top 10 slangs only Malaysians would say

How to speak like a local and make Malaysian friends


1. Best/Syok
Which means superlatively good. Add ‘giler’ at the end of the sentence to connote ‘craaaaaazilly good’.
How to use: ‘Fuah, this Milo Dinosaur best giler’. Or, ‘Watching “Interstellar” on IMAX is damn syok.’

2. Bo jio
‘Bo jio’ is coming up as one of our favourite phrases, which translates as ‘never invite’ in Hokkien. You don’t really have to mean it to say ‘bo jio’ – it can be used to annoy your friends who are having a better time than you.
How to use:‘You’re holidaying at Langkawi with your girlfriend ah? Bo jio!’

3. Boss
‘Boss’ here doesn’t really refer to your manager. You call someone ‘boss’ when you don’t know his/her name. Or when you need to suck up to get into the person’s good books. Or when you need to order at the mamak.
How to use:‘Boss, teh tarik satu’ [at the mamak]; ‘Okay boss, I’ll do everything you say’ [to suck up].

4. Cincai
It really just means ‘whatever’ but you can also use it to describe an action where one does anything casually or as one pleases.
How to use: ‘Eat what? Cincai lah’ or ‘I cincai order for you, okay?’

5. Gostan
Our local ministers say it. The taxi driver says it. Your grandfather says it. Who cares if ‘gostan’ stems from the term ‘go astern’ as long as you know it means ‘to reverse’?
How to use: ‘Eh, don’t gostan into the longkang!’

6. Mempersiasuikan
If a portmanteau between a Malay and English word can exist in Malaysia, there’s no way we can’t do the same with other dialects, like this Hokkien verb, ‘sia sui’, which means ‘to embarrass’.
How to use: ‘You don’t mempersiasuikan the human race can or not?’

7. Yum cha
Yum cha is a Cantonese phrase, which means ‘go have tea’. But this favourite slang has been adapted by most Malaysians to ask their friends to hang out.
How to use:‘Jom, we yum cha at Bangsar tonight.’

8. Potong stim
A buzzkill that ruins your high, like how your friends flaked out on you at a Taylor Swift concert. Or that scene when Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike stepped into the shower in ‘Gone Girl’ but the Malaysian cinemas… well, you know what happened next.
How to use: ‘Wah, Ben Affleck is stark naked and he’s gonna… Oi! Why fast forward? Damn potong stim lah!’

9. On the way
To be used when you’re late for an appointment, wedding or yum cha session but you’re actually still in the shower. Malaysian timing mah.
How to use: ‘Ah? You wedding now ah? Okay, on the way… on the way’ [still napping at home].

10. Then/Abuden?
As a nation fond of short cuts, we strive to be as economical as possible with our words. ‘Then/Abuden’ is a sarcastic reply to indicate ‘What else did you expect?
How to use: ‘Abuden? You think this company is going to give you a raise ah?’

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