How To Address Family & Relatives In Indonesian

5 December 2023
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House
Unsplash: Dessy Ilsanty

Imagine this: you are a fly on the kitchen wall of a house somewhere in Indonesia. On this spot, you see and hear things all day and all night long. You see people come and go. You hear people sing songs. You see people cook delicious food. You hear people talk with their mouths full and apologize right away because they know they shouldn’t be doing that.

Fortunately, no one ever noticed you’ve been perched on that wall. Therefore, you are lucky enough to get a special glimpse of this wholesome Indonesian family experience. Despite these never-ending and never-nothing real-life episodes of what happens in an Indonesian household, there is something that you never fail to see and hear, which is the love and laugh and care and affection between all the family members in that particular household.

There is one teeny tiny problem, though. You don’t know who is who because you actually don’t know how family members are addressed in Indonesian. You just hear words like ibu, nenek, ayah and more tossed around. So you really don't know who is who. Well, worry no more because you’re about to find out what ibu, nenek, ayah and more actually mean.

  • family: keluarga (keh-loo-ar-gah)
  • parents: orangtua (oh-rang-too-ah)
  • siblings: saudara (sow-dah-rah)
  • relatives: sanak saudara (sah-nak sow-dah-rah)
  • great-grandparents: buyut (boo-yoot)
  • grandparents: kakek-nenek (kah-kehk neh-nek)
  • grandmother: kakek (kah-kek)
  • grandfather: nenek (neh-nek)
  • father: bapak (bah-pak), ayah (ah-yah)
  • mother: ibu (ee-bu), mama (ma-ma), bunda (bun-dah)
  • children: anak-anak (ah-nak ah-nak)
  • brother: saudara laki-laki (sow-dah-rah lah-kee lah-kee)
  • sister: saudara perempuan (sow-dah-rah peh-rem-poo-an)
  • grandchild: cucu (choo-choo)
  • aunt: bibi (bee-bee)
  • uncle: paman (pah-man)
  • nephew: anak saudara (ah-nak sow-dah-rah)
  • niece: anak saudara (ah-nak sow-dah-rah)
  • son: anak laki-laki (ah-nak la-kee la-kee)
  • daughter: anak perempuan (ah-nak peh-rem-poo-an)