7+ Difficult Malay Words For Beginners

These difficult Malay words are sure to give your Malay language skills a boost

Bahasa Melayu is Malaysia’s national language and one of Singapore’s four official languages. For new learners, it is a rich language with a diverse vocabulary. In this article, we will discuss seven unusual Malay words and phrases that may be considered difficult to learn. However, they are important to know for a better understanding of the language. Trust us! These words and phrases will not only expand your vocabulary but also deepen your appreciation of the beauty of the Malay language. Read on to discover these exciting terms!

These difficult Malay words will help you connect better with the culture.

Difficult Malay Words

Kebetulan Bahagia

The Malay phrase “Kebetulan bahagia” beautifully captures the essence of serendipity. Literally translated as “happy coincidence,” it refers to the unexpected and delightful moments that come our way without any planning or effort. This phrase reminds us to appreciate the small things in life and stay open to the possibilities that can come our way when we least expect them.

Used In A Sentence

English: “It was a happy coincidence that we both ended up at the same restaurant yesterday.”

Malay: “Kebetulan bahagia kami berdua sama-sama berada di restoran yang sama semalam.”


Ketabahan” is a powerful word that sums up the idea of being resilient. While its literal translation is “perseverance,” it is about much more than perseverance in the face of adversity. According to the locals, Ketabahan is a valuable quality to have in life because it allows us to overcome obstacles, learn from our mistakes, and grow stronger in the process.

Used In A Sentence

English: “Her resilience in the face of adversity is truly inspiring.”

Malay: “Ketabahannya dalam menghadapi cabaran benar-benar menginspirasi.

These difficult Malay words may be hard for beginners, but can be easy with practice


The Malay word “empati” is a loan word in the Malay dictionary borrowed from the English language. It translates to “empathy,” which is the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings. Despite being a loan word, “empati” is a familiar term in Malay, widely used and understood by native speakers.

The use of loan words in Malay is not uncommon, as the language has borrowed from various other languages over time, including Sanskrit, Greek, and Portuguese. “Empati” is just one example of how languages can influence and enrich each other through translation and borrowing of words.

Used In A Sentence

English: “She showed empathy towards her friend who was going through a tough time.”

Malay: “Dia menunjukkan empati terhadap kawan nya yang sedang mengalami masa yang sukar.”

Amal Jariah

The Malay word “Amal Jariah” is a loanword from Arabic, which means “charity” in English. In Islamic culture, “Amal Jariah” is considered to be a Hadith, or saying, attributed to the Prophet Muhammad. This Hadith emphasizes the importance of charity, not only for the recipient’s benefit but also for the giver. It encompasses a wide range of charitable acts, including giving money or resources to those in need, volunteering time to help others, or even planting trees for the benefit of the environment. Amal Jariah is deeply rooted in Malay (and Indonesian) culture and remains an important part of the daily lives of many Malaysians.

Used In A Sentence

English: “He has been contributing to various charitable organizations for years, as he believes in the importance of Amal Jariah.”

Malay: “Beliau telah menyumbang kepada pelbagai organisasi kebajikan selama bertahun-tahun, kerana beliau percaya dengan pentingnya Amal Jariah.”

Berwibawa is an important quality for influential people.


The Malay word “berwibawa” is a powerful term and is used as a descriptive word for certain types of people. It refers to the ability to speak authoritatively and persuasively. Its English translation is “eloquent,” but its literal translation is “authoritative.” This is a unique word used to describe individuals who have a strong presence and command respect when they speak. Basically, to be a Berwibawa is to have the power to influence and persuade others by communicating clearly and concisely.

Used In A Sentence

English: “The CEO’s Berwibawa presence in the boardroom commanded the attention of all those present.”

Malay: “Kewibawaan CEO di dalam bilik mesyuarat menarik perhatian semua yang hadir.”

Kegandaan Makna

Kegandaan makna” is a pair of Malay words that refers to the quality of being open to more than one interpretation. It translates to “ambiguity” in English, but its literal translation is “double meaning.” The concept is not exclusive to Malays; it is a phenomenon that can be observed in languages and cultures worldwide.

It can be intentional or unintentional and add depth and complexity to the language. However, it can also lead to confusion and miscommunication if not used carefully. When translating from Malay to English or vice versa, the concept of “Kegandaan makna” can pose a challenge, as certain words or phrases may have multiple meanings depending on the context in which they are used.

Used In A Sentence

English: “The use of ‘kegandaan makna‘ in poetry can add layers of meaning and depth to the words.”

Malay: “Penggunaan ‘kegandaan makna’ dalam puisi dapat menambahkan lapisan makna dan kedalaman pada kata-kata.”

Serenity is easy to attain when you understand the meaning of this difficult Malay word.


Ketenteraman” is a term that can translate to “serenity” in English, but its literal translation is “peace of mind.” It is a commonly heard word in the Malay language, used to describe the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled. It is one of the more common words associated with physical surroundings, such as serene landscapes or quiet spaces. Still, it can also refer to a state of mind.

In Malay culture, the concept of “ketenteraman” is highly valued, and many seek to achieve it through various practices, such as meditation, mindfulness, and religious rituals. While “serenity” is the closest translation of “ketenteraman” in English, it does not capture the whole meaning and depth of the word.

Used In A Sentence

English: “This house is very quiet and gives me a sense of serenity.”

Malay: “Rumah ini sangat tenang dan memberikan ketenteraman pada saya.”


“Kecelaruan” is a term commonly used to describe a state of disorder or confusion. Although its direct translation is “delirium,” it is generally understood to refer to a state of disorganization or untidiness. While it is a versatile word that can be applied to various contexts, it generally conveys a negative connotation, so be careful before you use it!

Used In A Sentence

English: “The room is filled with disorder, and I find it difficult to focus on my work.”

Malay: “Bilik itu penuh dengan kecelaruan dan saya sukar untuk fokus pada kerja saya.


The Malaysian word “teka-teki” is a term used to describe a person, object, or situation that is enigmatic, mysterious, or difficult to understand. Although its literal translation is “lies,” it is generally understood to have a connotation of mystery or enigma. “Teka-teki” can refer to many things, including puzzles, mysteries, or enigmatic personalities.

While commonly used in the everyday Malaysian language (and even in places like Singapore), it doesn’t have a direct comparison in English. Examples of teka-teki are riddles with really complex answers, where people have to guess to arrive at the correct conclusion.

Used In A Sentence

English: I enjoy solving puzzles during my free time.

Malay: Saya suka memecahkan teka-teki pada waktu senggang.”

Learn Malay with Ling App

Learn More Malay Words With Ling

Of course, you’ll learn more Malay words if you commit to discovering them for real! If you plan to visit Malaysia and immerse yourself totally in its culture and history, knowing written and spoken Malaysian will help a lot!

That is where the Ling app comes in! With lessons in Malay, French, Spanish, Chinese, and more, you can bring your language skills from zero to hero in no time. All classes are crafted to keep learning fun, engaging, and memorable – perfect for letting you explore more of the world of language.

Download the Ling app for free on Android or iPhone to start your language learning journey.

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