Even if you’re a foreigner who is relatively new to Jakarta, there’s a good chance you already know some curse words in Bahasa Indonesia. Why, some of you probably know how to pronounce goblok correctly from listening to your taxi driver yell at others in the road, even if you find it difficult to count from satu to sepuluh without twisting your tongue in knots.
But knowing babi, anjing, and kampret is not enough. Since Jakartans are made up of diverse groups of people from all over Indonesia (and abroad) who speak a variety of local languages, Bahasa Indonesia often takes a back seat in day-to-day conversations. The same applies for curse words. More often than not, Jakartans swear in their native tongue rather than in Bahasa Indonesia, and it’s important to know these words, at the very least so you know when you should be offended.
We’ve done extensive research on the subject and are sharing our findings here for the benefit of all. Feel free to impress others with your newfound grasp of pan-Indonesian vulgarity, but do use the following curse words extremely carefully – we take no responsibility if you decide to toss one of these out and end up in the hospital.
(Javanese) Fuck/Buddy (mutually exclusive)
Used in a sentence: “Hey jancuk, wanna go grab a bite?”
Jancuk is essentially the Javanese equivalent for fuck. It can be used with a similar degree of flexibility and appropriateness as fuck.
However, as exemplified above, jancuk (or “cuk” for short) is also a term of endearment used to call somebody you consider a really close friend. Not to be used to address an ordinary friend. That would be really rude, cuk.
Used in a sentence: “I didn’t get a raise even after working my ass off all month, asu!”
Asu is the perfect word to curse out loud when things don’t go your way. It’s practically the Indonesian equivalent of ‘damn’ in terms of offensiveness.
We must warn you that the Javanese are polite, respectful people, so try not to say asu directly at them.
(Manado) The C-word
Used in a sentence: “That cukimai just cut to the front of the line!”
You should only ever say cukimai when somebody has royally pissed you off, like in the scenario above. But if you do, make sure you’re ready for fisticuffs because it’s definitely a fighting word. Seriously, cukimai is as severe and offensive as the English ‘C-word’. And hey, it even starts with a C too!
(Bahasa Melayu) Where you came out of if you had a normal birth.
Used in a sentence: “That pukimak just cut to the front of the line!”
This swear word is like cranking it up to 11. Take cukimai, make it even more personal by having it specifically refer to their mom, and you have pukimak.
Pukimak is often shortened to ‘kimak’ for convenience. Despite its horrible meaning, close friends who speak Bahasa Melayu sometimes address each other as kimak.
Used in a sentence: “Anyiiing, she’s so damn fine!”
This is probably the mildest word in the list, considering that Sundanese is such a soft and sweet language.
There are very rare occasions when you can use the word anying derogatorily. It’s got a humorous sound that gives it a very different connotation to anjing, so it is usually used to express dismay or awe in a somewhat comical fashion.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of regional swear words from Indonesia – just the most commonly used ones in this cultural melting pot that is Jakarta. Again, make sure you know your audience before you use any of these words and we take no responsibility for any injuries that may come as a result of their use.
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