• Melissa Kartini

10 Hilarious Things That Malaysians Say

It's pretty much established that we Malaysians are a funny bunch. We do a lot of funny things, and we say a lot of funny things. Thanks to our rich cultural heritage, we have a lot of fun mixing and matching things in our conversations. Honestly, with multiple languages at our disposal, it's pretty much fair game. Malay, Chinese, Tamil, English? Bring it on!

Here are a couple that stand out in our daily lives:


You aren't Malaysian unless you end at least one of your sentences with "lah". A charming word that is now deeply ingrained in our culture, "lah" is used to place emphasis in our sentences.

How to use it: Instead of saying, "This is my book", we say, "My book lah! Who else?".


A useful word, "ah" can be used to place emphasis in a sentence (especially if that sentence is a question) or it can be used as a lazy way to say "yes".

How to use in a question: Instead of saying, "Why is it that way?" we say, "Why like that ah?".

How to use as a way to say yes:

Friend A: Hey, you busy ah?

Friend B: Ah.

Friend A: You want me to tapau for you ah?

Friend B: Ah.

Friend A: You want burger ah?

Friend B: Ah.


Who says we can only call our own boss "boss"? (Okay, we don't actually call our own bosses "boss", but still...) In Malaysia, the word "boss" is used to address both the workers and the customers at a mamak place!

How to use it:

Customer: Hello, Boss, milo ais satu.

Worker: Okay, Boss!

Bo jio

"Bo jio" is a Hokkien word that basically means "never invite". You will normally see this word being said to someone who didn't invite them to a certain event. For example, you would see at least one person commenting "bo jio" on their friend's vacation picture.

How to use it:

Friend A: Wow, you go Langkawi with your girlfriend?! Bo jio.

Friend B: Shut up lah you. You don't busybody can or not?


This essentially means "super good". You will commonly hear these words used to describe something a person especially enjoyed.

How to use them: "That movie best giler lah!!" or "Wow, that rollercoaster damn syok!"

Potong stim

Used when something or someone ruins a good moment, "potong stim" can roughly mean "killjoy" or "wet blanket".

How to use it:

Friend A: [Watching football] Whooaaa, GOAAAL!!

A's Mother: [Turns off TV] Makan time.

Friend A: Eh?! Oh my God, Ma! Potong stim laaa.

A's Mother: Don't care. Eat now.

On the way

Also known as the most common lie that Malaysians tell, "on the way" is used to say to someone when you're going to be late for an appointment. For instance, you say this to your friend when you actually just stepped out of the shower. Malaysian timing mah. What else?

How to use it:

Friend A: Eh, where are you, bro? I'm at the mamak dy.

Friend B: Hold on, hold on. I'm on the way!

Where got

Directly translated as "mana ada" in Malay, "where got" roughly means "No way" or "It's not here".

How to use it to say "No way":

Friend A: Wow, you damn smart ah.

Friend B: [Trying to be modest] Where got!

Friend A: Got lah.

How to use it to say "It's not here":

Friend A: Eh, bradder, your bag should be there. I saw you put it there just now.

Friend B: [Looks for it and doesn't find it] Where got!


"Cincai" is our Malaysian version of "whatever".

How to use it:

Friend A: So where do you want to eat?

Friend B: Cincai lah.

Leng Zhai and Leng Lui

Leng Zhai and Leng Lui are both Cantonese words, and they mean "handsome (boy)" and "pretty (girl)" respectively. While these are usually used as compliments, they are sometimes used to address someone we don't know.

Because you know, why bother learning their name when you can get creative?

How to use them:

Person A: Oi, Leng Lui, where's the bathroom ah?

Person B: [Points] There ah.

Written by Crunch's Melissa Kartini

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