9 Bizarre Malaysian Proverbs With Meaning

Peribahasa dan Perumpamaan

Also known as Proverbs in English, it is used very often in Malay literature. The old folks love using it to teach a lesson or just for sarcasm towards the society in general. Even in one scene of P.Ramlee movie, they use the phrase ‘kecik kecik tak mahu mampus, dah besar menyusahkan orang‘. Although it is not one of the registered proverbs, it is somehow being used widely by Malaysian nowadays. Anyway, few of these proverbs catch our attention here in Kokonutlist. Below are 9 most bizarre proverbs complete with its meaning!

1) “Mendengar Guruh Di Langit, Air Di Tempayan Dicurahkan”

air di tempayan dicurahkan

Translates: When you hear thunder in the sky, you drain the water storage.

Meaning: It is mainly about news, when you hear a good news coming, you throw away everything to give space to the new stuff. Sadly, it isn’t happening yet, it is just news but you are so eager that you destroy everything you had.


2) “Sendiri Tidak Tahu Menari Dikatakan Lantai Berjongkang-Jongket”

tidak tahu menari peribahasa

Translates: You don’t know how to dance, but you blame the floor is moving.

Meaning: Generally about ego. When someone has less knowledge or simply do not know how to do something, instead of admitting it, they blame someone else or the situation itself.


3) “Hanya Jauhari Yang Mengenal Manikam”

jauhari mengenal manikam

Translates: Only gems experts recognize good gemstones.

Meaning: Only those who are experts in their fields can understand and work with anything related to that field itself. For example; only scientist knows how labs work.


4) “Bagai Katak Hendak Jadi Lembu”

peribahasa melayu berkenaan katak

Translates: A frog wanted to become a cow.

Meaning: When someone with limited abilities and less willingness wanted to do something beyond what he/she can do and become someone else.


5) “Di Mana Kelentung Berbunyi, Di Situ Kerbau Tinggal Diam”

malay proverbs on buffaloes

Translates: The buffalo stays where the bells ding.

Meaning: It is about a kingdom stability and prosperity. Where there is a good ruler, king or government, the people stay there, peaceful and happy. 


6) “Sigai Dua Segeragai”

peribahasa sigai

Translates: A stair leading to several branches

Meaning: Generally about issues or news. Something that is connected to others, an issue that leads to or causes by another. 


7) “Dalam Menunduk Dia Menyonggeng”

malay proverbs on attitude

Translates: Showing buttocks while bowing.

Meaning: Mainly about attitude. Someone who appreciate good advice and opinions but at the same time deny, argue and refuse to listen or accept it.


8) “Umpama Semut Mempersembahkan Paha Belalang Kepada Raja”

bizarre malay proverbs

Translates: An ant giving a grasshopper’s thigh to a King.

Meaning: Generally about giving, contributions or gifts. Someone who give or contributes something that has no value or worthless to the receiver, (individuals or society). 


9) “Bagai Kerbau Terkejut Oleh Gong”

peribahasa tradisi melayu

Translates: A buffalo shocked by a Gong.

Meaning: It is about reactions. When someone is in shock, surprise or astonish about something, an incident, news or even an argument.


There you go, 9 most bizarre proverbs in Malay dictionary. If you go through all the ‘peribahasa’, ‘perumpamaan’ or ‘bidalan’ in the Malay culture, you will see more of it, some does not even make sense at first. But each one of it has a meaning that usually meant to educate the society. That is how wealthy our nation is in literature. Sadly, it is slowly dying. Previously, we have published a quiz about Jawi writings, a political pantun and a general quiz on our homeland, Malaysia. So we at Kokonutlist support any movement or action in preserving the Malay and Malaysians traditional arts and culture!