Many Indonesians use only one name. When they have two names the family name is second Nicknames are popualr. Almost all politician and major celebrities have nicknames. In general, Indonesian names fall into one of the following categories (in order of popularity): 1) A single name, such as Sukarno and Suharto; 2) Two (or more) names without a family name, such as Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono; 3) Two (or more) names with a family name such as Abdul Haris Nasution or Mahyadi Panggabean; 4) Two (or more) names with a patronymic, such as Megawati Sukarnoputri or Abdurrahman Wahid.

Indonesians do not generally use the Western naming practice of a given first name and a family last name. The majority of Indonesians do not have family names as westerners would understand them, but such names as are given are geographically and culturally specific. For instance, names beginning with "Su" in Indonesian spelling ("Soe" in Dutch orthography), or ending with an "o" are usually Javanese, for example Suprapto/Soeprapto, Joko. Balinese names are quite distinct, as they have a naming system which denotes birth order (Wayan: first born, Made: second born, etc.) and caste (I Gusti for Kshatriya, etc.), as well as gender beside personal names. Sitompul and Rajagukguk are clan names usually found in people with Batak or North Sumatran heritage. [Source: Wikipedia]

Until recently, most Indonesians did not have family names. Their 'surname' was merely another personal name. Usually, both men and women have a given name and take the name of their father. Some married Indonesian women take the last/family name of their husband, but not all, and this name is usually added after their own 'last' name. Therefore, it is not uncommon for married couples to have different last/family names. Naming also differs around the country, with many Javanese having only one name; North Sumatrans have clan names instead of family names; and some Chinese Indonesians have Chinese-style names. In Indonesian telephone directories, names are listed under first/given names, not under family names.

Countries often modify the official Indonesian name to conform to their typical naming standards. This is most apparent where individuals normally have a family name.In the U.S., there are generally three ways to deal with person with only single-word name. 1) Use his/her name as his/her surname, then the official records (ID or Driving Licenses or school records) added FNU (or Fnu) as their first name. This can lead to a false belief that Fnu is a common Indonesian first name. 2) Use his/her name as his/her first name, then the official records (ID or Driving Licenses or school records) added LNU (or Lnu) as their surname. This can also lead to another false belief that Lnu is a common Indonesian surname. In some cases "FNU" will be added after the name, then standing for "Family Name Unknown". 3) Use his/her name as his/her first name and surname, such as Gema Gema.

Types of Names in Indonesia

Mononymic names: Example: Child's name: Gema; Father's name: Suparman; Mother's name: Wulandari. On the birth certificate, the child's name would be written as: Gema child of Suparman and Wulandari The birth certificate of an extramarital child would bear only the mother's name. On a school diploma, the child's name would be written as: Gema child of Suparman On all other official documents (ID card, driver's license, and passport), only the child's name would appear: Gema. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Polynymic names without family name: Example: Child's name: Gema Pertiwi; Father's name: Suparman Perkasa; Mother's name: Wening Wulandari. On the birth certificate, the child's name would be written as: Gema Pertiwi child of Suparman Perkasa and Wening Wulandari On all other official documents, the child's name would be written as: Gema Pertiwi. Polynymic names with family name. As in Example 1 above, only the child's name will appear on official documents. If the parents want a family name (or surname) to appear on these documents, the family name should be included in the child's official name. Example: Child's name: Gema Alatas; Father's name: Suparman Alatas; Mother's name: Wening Wulandari Asegaff. On the birth certificate, the child's name would be written as: Gema Alatas child of Suparman Alatas and Wening Wulandari Asegaff On all other official documents, the child's name would be written as: Gema Alatas.

Polynymic names with patronymic family name: The family name is usually constructed from the father's name, with the word putra (for males, means "son" in Sanskrit) or putri (for females, means "daughter" in Sanskrit) appended. Example: Child's name: Gema Suparmanputra; Father's name: Suparman; Mother's name: Wulandari. On the birth certificate, the child's name would be written as: Gema Suparmanputra child of Suparman and Wulandari On all other official documents, the child's name would be written as: Gema Suparmanputra.

Origin of Family Names in Indonesia

Sanskrit-derived names: Indonesians of various religions, especially among Javanese, Sundanese and Balinese ethnicities, have names strongly derived from Sanskrit. Hindu mythologies are seen as part of the Indonesian culture and are not associated with the religion only. As a result, it is common to find Muslim or Christian Indonesians with seemingly Hindu names. Unlike Sanskrit-derived names in Thai and Khmer, the pronunciation of such names in either Javanese or Indonesian is similar to the original Indian pronunciation, except that the 'v' is changed to 'w'. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Some common names derived from Sanskrit, including names of Indian Hindu gods or heroes, are: Indra, Krisna, Wisnu (from Vishnu), Surya, Dharma, Rama, Lakshmana, Sudarto (Javanese for Siddharta), Dewi, Pertiwi (from Pritvi), Sri, Shinta (Javanese for Sita), Ratna, Paramitha, and Kumala. For example, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesian president, has a Sanskrit-derived name: Susilo from sushila (good character); Yudhoyono from yudha (war or battle); and yana (epic story). Sukarno is derived from Sanskrit su (good) and karno (from Karna, a warrior in the Mahabharata). Many Indonesians use Sanskrit-derived names to indicate their position among siblings (birth order). The first-born child might bear the name Eka or Eko (mostly Javanese), the second-born child might be named Dwi, the third-born Tri, the fourth-born Catur, and the fifth-born Panca or Ponco (usually Javanese). Some examples are Eko Yuli Irawan, Rizky Dwi Ramadhana, Triyaningsih, Catur Pamungkas. +

Some of these Sanskrit-derived names might be used by ningrat or menak (noble) families, especially among Javanese and Sundanese, in much the same way as some family names in western culture indicate lineage and nobility. Examples are: Adiningrat, Notonegoro, Suryasumantri, Dharmokusumo, Wongsoatmodjo, Natalegawa, Kusumaatmadja, Kartadibrata, Kartapranata and Kartasasmita. For example, Marty Natalegawa, Indonesian Foreign Minister: Marty is his first name, indicating his birth in March, while Natalegawa is his family name, which indicates that he is from a Sundanese noble family. +

Arabic names: As Islam is the largest religion in Indonesia, it is quite common to find Arabic first names or words. Popular Arabic names include Muhammad or Mohammad, Abdul, Ali, Amir, Annisa, Aisyah, Aziz, Ahmad, Hassan, Habibie, Hidayat, Ibrahim, Nur, Nurul, Rahman, Taufik and Umar, all being used by Indonesians not of Arab descent, both as first names and as surnames. Ethnic groups with strong Islamic influence, such as the Acehnese, Malay, Minangkabau, Betawi and Bugis, tend to use Islamic names. For example, Indonesian politicians Teuku Muhammad Hasan (from Aceh) and Mohammad Hatta (from Minangkabau) have Arabic names. Arabs settled in Indonesia many generations ago, and their descendants still use their family names (e.g. Assegaf, Alhabsyi, Shihab). +

Chinese names: Under President Suharto, Indonesia attempted to deconstruct organisations and groups that might represent an internal security threat. As a part of the policy to limit the influence of the Chinese Communists and to encourage the ethnic Chinese to assimilate, the state required Chinese Indonesian individuals to change their names. This was a difficult balance because while the names were changed, laws continued to identify them as 'different' from indigenous Indonesian groups. Indonesian businessman Liem Sioe Liong, for example, had his name changed to Sudono Salim. With Suharto's downfall came new laws, one of which allowed the Chinese to revert to Chinese family names. Many of the later generations have kept the Indonesian form of the name. Other Chinese Indonesians, however, maintain their Chinese name as well as their family names. As is customary with Chinese names, the family name (or surname) is traditionally written in front of the given (or first) name. +

In some ethnic groups it is common to include nobility title into formal personal name. Due to various traditions of nobility of each ethnic group, it is difficult for people from outside a particular ethnic group to discern nobility title from the personal name. Therefore, the titles are usually perceived as personal names as well. Example: Acehnese have titles such as Teuku (male) and Cut (female). Celebrities with such titles are e.g. Teuku Ryan, Teuku Wisnu, Cut Tari. Bantenese have titles such as Tubagus (male) and Ratu (female). People with such titles, e.g. Tubagus Ismail, Ratu Atut Khosiyah. Bugis and Makassar people have titles such as Daeng and Andi. Buton people have titles such as La (male) and Wa (female), e.g. La Nyalla Mattalitti, Wa Ode Nurhayati.

Nicknames and Western Names in Indonesia

It is uncommon - even rude - to refer to an Indonesian by their full first name, unless that name has only one or two syllables. Former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid, for example, had the 'Abdurrahman' shortened to 'Dur'; it would sound excessively formal to call him 'Abdurrahman'. Many Indonesians use a different name altogether; a woman born as 'Khadijah' may be known as 'Ida' or 'Ijah' to all her friends and family. [Source: Wikipedia +]

In Sundanese culture it is common that the nickname or calling name later would become integrated as the first name. For example someone was born with the name Komariah, Gunawan or Suryana written in their birth certificate. Later they acquired nicknames such as Kokom for Komariah, Gugun or Wawan for Gunawan, and Yaya or Nana for Suryana; as the result the nickname become the first name thus creating rhyming names such as Kokom Komariah, Wawan Gunawan, and Nana Suryana. +

It is also common for Indonesian to have somewhat western-derived nicknames. Many Indonesian might have western names such as Kevin, Kenny, Tommy (Tomi), Jimmy, Ricky, Dicky, Bob, Nicky, Nico, Susy, Taty, Lucy (Lusi), Nancy, Marry (Maria) etc. It does not necessarily mean their names are Thomas (for Tommy) or James (for Jimmy). For instance Suharto's son Hutomo Mandalaputra is popularly known as "Tommy Suharto", the "Tommy" here was not derived from "Thomas", but Javanese name "Hutomo" instead. Noble Titles as Part of Personal Name

Western names: Baptismal Latin names (e.g. Antonius, Ignatius, Johannes, Markus, Paulus, Anastasia, Fransiska, Maria, Theresia) are mostly used by Indonesians of Roman Catholic religion, while Protestant adherents tend to choose the English versions (e.g. Anthony, Harry, George, James, John, Paul, Caroline, Eva, Stephanie, Mary, Melinda). Many Indonesian Roman Catholics have some given names similar to Indonesian Muslims: Fatima, Omar, and Soraya. These were given by Portuguese influence and are still common names in Portugal and Spain among Christians, as they, like Indonesia, came under Arab influence for 5-7 centuries. Due to the influence of Western popular culture and celebrities, many non-Christian Indonesians also have shortened Western names (e.g. Courtney, Tony, Julie), so some combinations like Ricky Hidayat (Western-Arabic) or Lucy Wiryono (Western-Javanese) are to be found as well.

Western-derived names may indicate the month of birth, as shown by examples below: 1) January: Januri (m), Yanuar (m). Example: Yanuar Tri Firmanda. 2) February: usually identified from suffix Febr-. Example: Febriyanto Wijaya. 3) March: Marti (derived from Maret, Indonesian word for March, which in turn is derived from Dutch Maart). Example: Marty Natalegawa. 4) April: usually identified from suffix Afri- or Apri-. Example: Aprilia Yuswandari. 5) May: Mei or its derivations such as Meilanie, Meiliana, Meiliani (all are feminine). Example: Meiliana Jauhari. 6) June: Yuni (f) or its derivations such as Yuniar (f), Yuniarti (f), Yuniarto (m). Example: Yuni Shara. 7) July: usually identified from suffix Juli- or Yuli-. Example: Alvent Yulianto. 8) August: Agus (n) or its derivations such as Agustin (n), Agustina (f), Agustinus (m, usually borne by Indonesian Catholic). Example: Agus Ngaimin. 9) September: usually identified from suffix Seft- or Sept-. Example: Seftia Hadi. 10) October: usually identified from suffix Oct- or Okt-. Example: Yati Octavia. 11) November: usually identified from suffix Nov-. Example: Novita Dewi. 12) December: Deasy, Desi, Dessy (all are feminine). Example: Desi Anwar.

Traditionally, there are few Indonesian ethnic groups or tribes whose people maintain family names. These include: 1) The Bataks of Sumatra; 2) The Minangkabau of Sumatra; 3)Minahasa people from Manado and other parts of North Sulawesi; 4) People from Ambon and the Molucca Islands; 5) Tribes in the East Nusa Tenggara; 6) Tribes in the islands off the west of Sumatra (mainly Nias).

Indonesian Insults and Swearing

Calling someone gila is a pretty severe insult but a certain gesture lessens the impact: “You need a frontal lobotomy!” “Pakai otak, bukan pakai dengkul” is commonly said to people who do stupid things without thinking – their common sense comes up to the height of their knee, rather than the height of their brain! [Source: Bahasa Indonesia Lima, Our Indonesian Language Hub: 5 Schools Bekerja-sama]

Indonesian Swearing — English Translation: Bangsat — Bastard; Bule — Caucasian; Gila — Crazy; Sinting — Crazy; Isep kontol gua — Suck my dick; Kontol — Penis; Peler — Penis; Titit — Penis; Monyet — Monkey; Ngentot — Fuck; Ngentot lu — Fuck you; Jancuk — Fuck you; Ngehe loe — Fuck you; Ngewe — Fucking; Memek / Puki / Pepe — Pussy; Pentil — Nipple; Toket — Breast; Toket besar — Big breast; Jembut — Pubic hair; Biji — Testicles; Pentil — Nipple; Palaji — Foreskin; Mandipantat — Mother fucker; Tollo — Idiot; Blo'on — Idiot; Otak udang — Shrimp brain; Tai babi — Pig shit; Martole jonjong emahi — Standing fuck; Lobang pantat — Asshole; Kunyuk — Monkey; Kura kura — Turtle; Tai kucing — Bullshit! (lit. Cat shit); Goblok — Stupid; Anjing — Dog; Tai — Shit; Mukamu jelek sekali — You have a very ugly face!; Ngepet — Shit; Babi — Pig; Tai lu — You're bullshitting (lit: your shit); Meki — Pussy; Colli — Masturbation; Bego — Stupid. [Source:]

Puki — Pussy; Puki mak lu (pukima) — Your mother's pussy; Edan — Crazy; Sinting — Crazy; Muka kontol — Dick Face; Kontol Peluh — Impotent; Bencong Bertitit — Dicky Faggot; Kontol Kecil — Mini dick; Nyokap lo perek — Your mom is a slut; Muka Memek — Pussy Face; Makan tai — Eat shit; Kontol Buduk — Maggoty dick; Nyokap lo bencong — Your mom is a she-male; Nyokap lo pembokat — Your mom is a worthless maid; Biji lo botak — Hairless ball; Biji kodok — Frog's ball; Otak Memek — Pussy Brain; Tai anjing — Dog shit; Tai babi — Pig shit; Mati aja lo — Drop dead; Bokong — Ass; Aurat — Penis, Cock, Dick; Lonte — Whore; Lonte arab — Arabic whore; Tiembokne — Pussy; Slangkangan — Pussy; Wingkeng — Pussy; Ciak wingkeng — Licking pussy; Lonte — Bitch; Mamak kau lonte — Your mom is a bitch; Germo — Pimp; Muka jamban — Toilet bowl face; Jahanam — Bastard; Keparat — Bastard; Minta gue gampar? — Are you asking to be beat up?; Setan! — Damn (lit. Satan); Nnientot ibu kamu — Fuck your mother.

Brengsek — Damn; Mulut lu penuh tai — Your mouth is full of shit; Banci (pronounced Ban-chee) — Transvestite/gay; Kamu mata sapi — You are a fried egg; Memek lu licin banget. — Your Pussy is so slippery; Mamah mu murah sekali. — Your mum is very cheap; Muka anjing — Dog face; Otak segede biji kacang — Peanut sized brain; Jamput — Damn; Gatal — Horny (lit: itch); Jangkrik — Grasshopper; Makmu sempakan seng — Your mother wore metal underwear; Senuk — Whore; Nyenuk — Fucking; Di ancuk jaran — Fucked by a horse; Wandu — Gay; Sundel — Whore; Kongkek — Fucking; Disambar geledek — Struck by lightning; Pepek — Pussy; Zakar lu terlalu pendek — Your dick is too short; Kontol loe saking busuknya, diisèp-isèpin ama kècoa ngèrès! — Your dick smells so bad, horny cockroaches like to lick it and suck it!; Pantat besar — Big ass; Pantat — Ass; Babi Bunting — Pregnant Pig; Sepong kontol gue — Suck my dick; Ngocok — Masturbate.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.

Last updated June 2015

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