Indonesian Proverbs

Every language, every culture has its own proverbs. And so does Indonesian. Let’s see what they’re like, and let’s take some favorites to use in daily conversation. Here they some famous Indonesian proverbs:

  1. Ada gula ada semut. (Where there’s sugar, there’s ant) Means, where there’s fun, there people are gathering.
  2. Ada udang di balik batu. (There’s shrimp behind a rock) Means, there’s someone with hidden intentions.
  3. Bagai duri dalam daging. (Like a thorn in the flesh) Means, a grudge or negative emotion that is kept inside and hurts us because we can’t let go.
  4. Bagai pungguk merindukan bulan. (Like an owl expecting the moon) Means, to want something that’s impossible to get.
  5. Buah jatuh tak jauh dari pohonnya. (Fruits don’t fall far from the tree) Kids will take after the parents.
  6. Habis manis sepah dibuang. (Throwing dregs after its sweetness) Means, forgetting someone’s contributions right after.
  7. Takkan lari gunung dikejar. (The mount won’t run to be after) Means, our goals won’t vanish unless we stop chasing it.
  8. Nasi sudah jadi bubur. (The rice has become porridge) Means, we can’t undo what’s already happened.
  9. Tiada rotan, akar pun jadi. (No rattans, roots would do) Means, when you can’t get the best one, anything would do.
  10. Dunia tak selebar daun kelor. (The world isn’t as wide as a moringa leaf) We use it when we encounter business with our friend’s friend or our relative’s relative.
  11. Cepat kaki ringan tangan. (Quick feet, light hands) Means, very agile and helpful.
  12. Lempar batu sembunyi tangan. (Hiding hands after throwing stones) Means, hiding our bad deeds.
  13. Berat sepikul, ringan sejinjing. (Lifting weights together, carrying the light ones together) Means, sharing sadness and happiness together.
  14. Air beriak tanda tak dalam. (Rippled water isn’t deep) Means, fussiness reflects a shallow mind.
  15. Tong kosong nyaring bunyinya. (Empty barrels are loud) Means, fussiness reflects an empty mind.
  16. Bagai katak dalam tempurung. (Like a frog in a shell) Means, a person with limited knowledge, insight, and experience.
  17. Ibarat padi, makin berisi makin merunduk. (Like the rice tree; the more it’s full, the more it’s facing down) Means, the wiser the humbler.
  18. Jatuh nila setitik, rusak susu sebelanga. (A drop of color ruins a huge barrel of milk) Means, one bad impression ruins the whole reputation.
  19. Sepandai-pandai tupai melompat pasti akan jatuh jua. (No matter how clever squirrels jump, they would eventually fall) Means, no matter how smart liars are, they would eventually be found out.
  20. Semut di seberang lautan tampak, gajah di pelupuk mata tak tampak. (Ants across the sea are visible, but an elephant in front of the eye is not) Means, we can easily see other people’s mistakes but not our own.

That’s all the most popular Indonesian proverbs to add to your list. Try to use it to richen your socializing skills. Good luck!

By Jembatan Bahasa

Jembatan Bahasa is a professional and highly rated Indonesian language school based in Bali, Indonesia. Our teaching team is experienced and certified to teach Indonesian as a foreign language. Some of them have over eight years of teaching experience and have taught in a prestigious international school in Bali. Interested in learning Indonesian with us? WhatsApp us at +6282 145 950 737 or email at