The meaning of ‘Selamat’ in Indonesian

Selamat can be confusing as it is used in different ways. The most common meaning is ‘Congratulations’ and like in English, it is used to congratulate people on their achievements. Let’s look at some other meanings below. 

Selamat Pagi, Siang, Sore, Malam: Greetings for every time of the day

The most common usage of ‘Selamat’ is in greetings, and Indonesians use different variations throughout the day. ‘Selamat pagi’ is good morning, ‘Selamat siang’ is good afternoon, ‘Selamat sore’ is good evening, and ‘Selamat malam’ is good night. It’s a simple yet essential way of greeting people based on the time of day.

Selamat Datang: Welcome to a warm embrace

When you hear ‘Selamat Datang,’ it means you’re being welcomed with open arms. Whether it’s entering a home, a business, or a new place, this phrase reflects the Indonesian spirit of hospitality and friendliness.

Selamat Tinggal: Goodbye with best wishes

Conversely, ‘Selamat tinggal’ is used when bidding farewell. It is used to express a positive outlook while saying goodbye and expressing hope for a safe and pleasant journey. It may even be used for the eternal journey, i.e death.

Selamat Ulang Tahun: Celebrating birthdays with joy

When it’s time to celebrate a birthday, ‘Selamat Ulang Tahun’ is the phrase of choice. Translated as ‘Happy Birthday,’ it encapsulates the joy and best wishes associated with celebrating another year of life.

Selamat Makan: Enjoy your meal

Before sharing a meal, you may hear ‘Selamat makan.’ This phrase extends good wishes for a delicious and satisfying dining experience, like Bon Apetit. It highlights the communal nature of eating in Indonesian culture.

Selamat Jalan: Wishing a safe journey

Similar to ‘Selamat Tinggal,’ ‘Selamat Jalan’ is employed when someone is embarking on a journey. The emphasis here is on wishing the traveler a safe and smooth expedition.

Selamat menempuh hidup baru: Happiness on embarking on a new life

This one is used at weddings, wishing the couple your best as they start their new life. 

Selamat tahun baru – happy new year

Other than for greetings, Selamat could also be used to mean save/safe. Example:

  • Saya berusaha menyelamatkan dia = I’m trying to save him/her.
  • Akhirnya, kita selamat sampai tujuan = We finally arrived safely to our destination.

Want to practice more common words with a professional teacher? Book your Indonesian online now.

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