Categories: Culture

10 Indonesian Portmanteaus (Two Words Combined To Make A New Word)

Indonesians are perhaps the most prolific users of portmanteaus in the world.

So what’s a portmanteau? The chances are you’re familiar with the concept but never knew there was a specific word for the phenomenon.

A portmanteau (pronounced as if it rhymed with “sport-fan-cow”) is a linguistic blend of words, in which parts of multiple words, or their sounds and meanings, are combined to create new words.

Here are a few examples in the ever-evolving Bahasa Indonesia…


Kerjasama Indonesia-Jepang

(Indonesia-Japan Cooperation)


Golongan putih

(Voters who abstain from voting, meaning “white” or “blank” party)


Jakarta, Bogor and Ciawi.

(A motorway linking the cities of Jakarta, Bogor and Ciawi)


Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi

(An official and administrative definition of the urban area or megacity surrounding Jakarta)


Asal bunyi

(Carelessly speaking)


Matematika, fisika, kimia

(math, physics, and chemistry, three school subjects that are often related)


Cari perhatian

(Attention seeker)


Roti panggang

(Toasted bread)


Surabaya and Madura

(In the context of the Suramadu Bridge, which connects the two cities)


Malapetaka 15 Januari

(A social riot that happened on 15 January 1974)

Comment below if you can think of any others…

WowShack Team

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