What are good slang words from Malaysia

15 Malaysian Slang Words to Help You Speak Like a Local

From the various languages ​​spoken by Malaysia's diverse population, many Malaysians have developed an unofficial language known as Manglish. It's a unique mix of slang and different words from different languages ​​that can result in a single sentence that sometimes contains three or more languages! Here are some of the most popular slang words to get you started on your journey into this incredibly innovative language.

Yum Cha

Yum Cha (or Yam Cha) comes from the Cantonese language and literally means "to drink tea". Malaysians have taken the words out of their original context to "hang around" over drinks (usually non-alcoholic) or food at the local café or "mamak".


This term, originally referring to Malaysians of Tamil-Muslim origin, is now mainly used to refer to a type of restaurant or stall that usually serves Indian cuisine with some places that offer a fusion of Malaysian cuisine.

These "mamaks" are the main meeting places for Malaysians from all walks of life and can be incredibly lively during major sporting events. Malaysians tend to describe it: "The British have their pubs, we have our mamak shops."

Bo Jio

From the Hokkien word "never invite". Malaysians love to use this word, usually jokingly, when referring to friends they haven't invited to a field trip or gathering.

Don't be surprised if you hear the phrase "why you bo jio?" if you don't invite your Malaysian friends to hang out!


Belanja is a Malay word synonymous with "I've got you covered" and is usually used when someone is doing your bill for you, usually for food and drinks.

If you ever come across a generous Malaysian who tells you you are belanja, it means the food is on them!


Malay slang that basically means "killjoy" which means someone is a wet blanket or that a good moment is ruined.


It's strange. When you are in a restaurant you will hear this term from both waiters and customers.

Waiters tend to refer to their customers as bosses, and customers call for waiters who use the same term.

Tapau / Bungkus

When ordering food in Malaysia this is a handy reminder. Tapau (Cantonese) and "Bungkus" (Malay) are synonyms and are used when ordering take-away from a restaurant.

Aunt uncle

If you are approached by someone younger than you, especially children, it is pretty normal for them to address you as an aunt or uncle. In Malaysian culture, it is a common term of respect to refer to your elders (even if they are not related to you) as such, and almost never by their first names unless directly requested.

Ang Moh / Mat Salleh

These are two terms that locals refer to as "western foreigners".


This is a Malay slang for "caught in the act" and it is widely used when catching someone in a shameful situation.

This term is used quite famously in a song by the Malaysian singer-songwriter Zee Avi when she catches her boyfriend cheating on her.


Hokkien for being shy or embarrassed. Expect this when you ask someone to do something outside of their comfort zone.

Walao Eh!

An exclamation that says "Oh my God!" Corresponds to. The meaning of this phrase differs based on delivery and tone. It can either be an angry statement or one of awe and shock.


Slang for "brother". Malaysians tend to refer to their good friends as 'macha' and it is often viewed as the local equivalent of the English slang 'fam'.


A Malay slang used to express shock, surprise, or frustration. Most Malaysians tend to automatically underline this with a "face palm" for a dramatic effect.


This is the ultimate slang that Malaysians use everywhere. One could argue that if you haven't encountered the famous 'lah', you've never heard real Malaysian entertainment.

There really is no explanation for "lah" as the word itself means nothing, Malaysians use it to add "taste" and "emphasis" to their sentences. Fair warning, using 'lah' can get pretty addicting once you get the hang of it.