Indonesian proverbs

A collection of proverbs and sayings in Indonesian.

Kuman di seberang lautan tampak, gajah di pelupuk mata tak tampak.
The bacterium across the sea is seen, but the elephant on the eyelid is not seen.
Means: The faults of others are easier to see than our own faults.

Bagai pungguk merindukan bulan.
Like an owl missing/pining for the moon
Means: To wish for something impossible.

Buruk muka cermin dibelah.
An ugly face breaks the mirror.
Means: It is one person's fault but the others are involved.

Dimana bumi dipijak disana langit dijunjung.
Where the land is stepped, there the sky is upheld.
Means: Every community has its own unique traditions that have to be followed by members of that community.

Bagai pinang dibelah dua.
Like a betel nut split in half
Means: identical

Ada asap ada api.
There's no smoke without fire.
Means: Everything must have a cause.

Alah bisa karena biasa.
One gains immunity against poison when exposed to it regularly.
Means: Pain (hardship) becomes ordinary the more you experience it.

Ada gula ada semut.
Where there's sugar there's ants.
Means: Common people are attracted to interesting events.

Tak ada rotan akar pun jadi.
If there's no rattan roots can be used.
Means: If you can't find the thing you need, use something else.

Bagai air di daun talas.
As the water is above the taro leaf.
Means: Describes a volatile person who can't be trusted.

Menepuk air di dulang, terpercik ke muka sendiri.
Strike water in a tray and it will splash in your face.
Means: If somebody talks about his family's faults, his name will be tainted.

Anak beruk di rimba disusukan, anak orang ditinggalkan.
The young ape in the jungle is given milk, but the children aren't.
Means: A man who cares more for strangers than his own relatives.

Anjing menggonggong khafilah berlalu.
A dog barking at a passing caravan
Means: Futile protest.

Hendak memeluk gunung, apa daya tangan tak sampai.
Deciding to hug the mount, but the hands can't reach it.
Means: Aiming too high.

Habis manis sepah dibuang.
When the sweetness is gone, the pulp is thrown out (refers to chewing of sugarcane).
Means: When something is no use anymore, it is disposed of.

Gajah mati meninggalkan gading, harimau mati meninggalkan belang, manusia mati meninggalkan nama.
When an elephant dies it leaves its ivory, a tiger leaves its stripes and a man his name.
Means: The things you do in life are remembered after you're gone.

Guru kencing berdiri, murid kencing berlari.
A teacher pees standing up, and pupils pee on the run.
Means: Every person, especially the parents and teachers, is the teacher of younger people. So if the teacher is bad, the youngsters are worse.

Kapal satu nahkoda dua.
One ship with two captains.
Means: Two leaders are two too many - too many chiefs (and not enough Indians).

Lempar batu sembunyi tangan.
The hand that throws the stone is hidden.
Means: Not taking responsiblity for one's own deeds.

Mulutmu harimaumu.
Your mouth is your tiger.
Means: It is important to control every word we say, because words are reflection of ourselves.

Proverbs provided by Ali Aulia Ghozali


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