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Indonesian honorifics are honorific titles or prefixes used in Indonesia covering formal and informal social, commercial relationships. Family pronouns addressing siblings are used also in informal settings and are usually gender-neutral. Pronouns vary by region/ethnic area and depend on the ethnic group of the person spoken to.[1] In addition to being gender- and ethnic-based, pronouns are often seniority-based and even profession-based.[1][2]

Properly addressing people in Indonesian is important and learnt from an early age. It is common and expected to call people using a pronoun and their first name.[3]


Indonesian royalties use the title "Sri" and "Prabhu" to address the names of kings and monarchs, usually in Indianized kingdoms which had Hindu/Buddhist influence located in the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali, Borneo, and other places. "Sri Baginda" or "Sri Paduka Baginda" is the formal title used to address a king, for example the king of Yogyakarta, Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X. "Prabhu" is also the title used for kings who ruled Indonesia in the Hindu/Buddhist era, such as Prabu Siliwangi and Prabu Bratasena.


Indonesian pronouns (bold more common)[3]
level age male female Comment/Translation
informal friends Kamu, (colloquial lo) you
formal any Anda
formal 30+/married Bapak/Pak Ibu/Bu You, Mister, Ma'am
formal uncommon Saudara Saudari (lit. brother/sister)
casual a bit older Kak/Kakak Older sibling
casual a bit younger Adik/Dek/Ade Younger sibling
casual older Paman/Om Bibi/Tante Uncle/Aunt
casual older Kakek Nenek Grandfather/mother
informal middle age (A)bang, Bung brother, (workers)

Adult men are addressed by Bapak (short Pak) and adult women by Ibu (short Bu).[3] This can be translated to Mr. and Mrs. but can also mean Father/Mother. It can be used in conjunction with their first name or full name. Important to note, Indonesian pronouns can all be used in second and third-person singular and even in first-person. [3]

Example by case:

An informal way to address a significantly older person is to use Om, Paman, Bibi or Tante, which mean "uncle" and "aunt".[3] The terms "Om" and "Tante" are Dutch-influenced and quite commonly used in the big cities.

Indonesian like to speak in an short and effective way so when speaking to someone, omitting the pronoun completely is common (unlike in English).[3] Kapan tiba di Jakarta? (lit. when do [you] arrive in Jakarta).[3]

Reflective Pronoun

Indonesian speakers use enclitic pronouns -ku (1 SG), -mu (2 SG), and -nya (3 SG).[4] The latter may also be used as a polite form for the second person singular. "Siapa namanya?" (What is your name, lit. what is his/her name).

By local language

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In Malay speaking regions, such as Sumatra, some regions of coastal Borneo, and Jakarta, abang is for "older brother" and kakak is for "older sister". In Betawi language (used by the Betawi people of Jakarta), mpok is for "older sister" and is only used to address a Betawi female.


In Javanese and broadly speaking in Java, Mbak is used for "older sister" and Mas is used for "older brother". "Mas" and "Mbak" is also used as formal honorifics for men & women in Java generally.


In Sundanese, i.e. in Bandung, Akang or A'a is used for older brother and Teteh (Tétéh) for older sister.[3]


In Madurese language, younger brother/sister can be called as Ale and for older brother is Chachak and for older sister is the same with Javanese which is Mbak.[5]


In Balinese, older (relative to the speaker) people are addressed as Bli (for "brother") and Mbok (for "sister")


In Papua, men are addressed by Pace, women by Mace (older woman) or Usi (older sister). Uncles and aunts are addressed relative to the parents age, Bapak muda, Bapak tua, Mama muda, Mama tua (younger uncle, older uncle, younger aunt, older aunt respectively).[citation needed]


In the Chinese Indonesian diaspora, Chichi is used to address for "older sister", Koko is used for "older brother".


  1. ^ a b H, Erina (2020-10-03). "The Curious Case of Indonesian Honorifics". Medium. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  2. ^ Street-vendors might be called "bang" but government-workers "bapak/ibu"
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Byrnes, Christopher; Nyimas, Eva (2003). Teach Yourself Indonesian. Chicago: Contemporary Books. pp. 43–44, 53–54, 84. ISBN 0-07-142026-6. OCLC 53834417.
  4. ^ Conners, Thomas J; Brugman, Claudia M; Adams, Nikki B. (30 March 2016). "Reference tracking and non-canonical referring expressions in Indonesian". NUSA. 60: 59–88. doi:10.15026/87444. hdl:10108/87444. S2CID 203600921.
  5. ^ "10 Cara Memanggil Anggota Keluarga dalam Bahasa Madura".