70 Words in Bahasa Indonesia and Tagalog That Look the Same

70 Words in Bahasa Indonesia and Tagalog That Have Similar Meanings

How many words can you guess from this list?

Indonesia and the Philippines have a long list of things in common. For starters, they’re both archipelagic countries in Southeast Asia that are filled with tropical beaches and thousands of islands. Both countries have collectivistic cultures that value family and strong social ties. Another important characteristic they share is linguistic diversity: More than 700 indigenous local languages are spoken in Indonesia and over 180 languages are spoken in the Philippines. But despite their differences in inflection and context, did you know that several words in Bahasa Indonesia and Tagalog sound almost exactly alike? 

They don’t always align perfectly. After all, the Philippines was colonised by Spain and the United States for hundreds of years, which explains the heavy influence of English and Spanish in Tagalog. Meanwhile, there are many loanwords in Bahasa Indonesia that can be traced to the Dutch language. 

Still, it’s very common to pick out familiar words from conversations with the locals in Jakarta or Manila, even if you don’t know exactly what they mean. Here, you’ll find a list of similar-sounding words translated from Bahasa Indonesia to Tagalog. Test your vocabulary, and see how many you can guess correctly! 

Also read: 18 Reasons You Should Visit Indonesia

Pronouns that sound similar in Bahasa Indonesia and Tagalog

Bahasa Indonesia Words: "Kami" (We / Us)

In Bahasa Indonesia and Tagalog, “kami” is used when the person you are talking to is excluded from your statement, while “kita” includes the person you are talking to. | Image credit: Odua Images via Canva Pro

1. Me / I

Bahasa Indonesia: “Aku

Tagalog: “Ako

2. We / Us

Bahasa Indonesia: “Kami

Tagalog: “Kami

3. We / Us

Bahasa Indonesia: “Kita

Tagalog: “Kita

Counting numbers

Counting the number five or “lima” is the same in Bahasa Indonesia and Tagalog. | Image credit: ozgurkeser via Canva Pro

4. Four

Bahasa Indonesia: “Empat

Tagalog: “Apat

5. Five

Bahasa Indonesia: “Lima

Tagalog: “Lima

6. Six

Bahasa Indonesia: “Enam

Tagalog: “Anim

7. Forty

Bahasa Indonesia: “Empat puluh”

Tagalog: “Apatnapu”

8. Fifty

Bahasa Indonesia: “Lima puluh

Tagalog: “Limampu”

9. Thousand

Bahasa Indonesia: “Ribu

Tagalog: “Libo” 

Parts of the body

“Mata” refers to “eyes” in Bahasa Indonesia and Tagalog. | Image credit: ooie via Canva Pro

10. Eyes

Bahasa Indonesia: “Mata

Tagalog: “Mata

11. Brain

Bahasa Indonesia: “Otak

Tagalog: “Utak

12. Tongue

Bahasa Indonesia: “Lidah

Tagalog: “Dila

13. Ear

Bahasa Indonesia: “Telinga

Tagalog: “Tainga

Verbs and actions

14. To wake

Bahasa Indonesia: “Bangun

Tagalog: “Bangon

15. To open

Bahasa Indonesia: “Buka

Tagalog: “Buksan

16. To wrap

Bahasa Indonesia: “Balut

Tagalog: “Balot

17. To bargain

Bahasa Indonesia: “Tawar

Tagalog: “Tawad

18. To pay

Bahasa Indonesia: “Bayar

Tagalog: “Bayad

19. To drink

Bahasa Indonesia: “Minum

Tagalog: “Inom

20. To laugh

Bahasa Indonesia: “Tawa” / “Tertawa

Tagalog: “Tawa

21. To sabotage

Bahasa Indonesia: “Sabotase

Tagalog: “Sabotahe

People and professions

Similar Bahasa Indonesia and Tagalog Words: “Anak” (“Child”)

“Anak” (“child”) is spelled the same way in Bahasa Indonesia and Tagalog. | Image credit: DistinctiveImages via Canva Pro

22. Child

Bahasa Indonesia: “Anak

Tagalog: “Anak

23. Youngest child

Bahasa Indonesia: “Bungsu

Tagalog: “Bunso

24. Male

Bahasa Indonesia: “Lelaki

Tagalog: “Lalaki

25. Teacher

Bahasa Indonesia: “Guru

Tagalog: “Guro

26. Judge

Bahasa Indonesia: “Hakim

Tagalog: “Hukom

27. Police

Bahasa Indonesia: “Polisi

Tagalog: “Pulisya

Furniture, household items, instruments, and other objects

“Lampu” translates to “lamp” in Bahasa Indonesia. | Image credit: stevanovicigor via Canva Pro

28. Lamp

Bahasa Indonesia: “Lampu

Tagalog: “Lampara

29. Table

Bahasa Indonesia: “Meja

Tagalog: “Mesa

30. Door

Bahasa Indonesia: “Pintu

Tagalog: “Pinto

31. Ladle

Bahasa Indonesia: “Sendok

Tagalog: “Sandok

32. Scissors

Bahasa Indonesia: “Gunting

Tagalog: “Gunting

33. Ring

Bahasa Indonesia: “Cincin

Tagalog: “Singsing

34. Weapon

Bahasa Indonesia: “Senjata

Tagalog: “Sandata

35. Flag

Bahasa Indonesia: “Bendera

Tagalog: “Bandila

The Tagalog word for “flag” is “bandila.” | Image credit: Krisia Vinzon via Canva Pro

36. Guitar

Bahasa Indonesia: “Gitar

Tagalog: “Gitara

37. Violin

Bahasa Indonesia: “Biola

Tagalog: “Biyolin

38. Shoes

Bahasa Indonesia: “Sepatu

Tagalog: “Sapatos

39. Wooden sandals

Bahasa Indonesia: “Bakiak

Tagalog: “Bakya

40. Rock / Stone

Bahasa Indonesia: “Batu

Tagalog: “Bato

41. Umbrella

Bahasa Indonesia: “Payung

Tagalog: “Payong

Places and geographical locations

Tagalog Words: "Pulo" (Island)

One of the words used to describe an island is the Tagalog word “pulo.” | Image credit: Freeartist via Canva Pro

42. School

Bahasa Indonesia: “Sekolah

Tagalog: “Eskwela

43. Island

Bahasa Indonesia: “Pulau / Kepulauan

Tagalog: “Pulo” / “Kapuluan

44. Nation

Bahasa Indonesia: “Bangsa

Tagalog: “Bansa

Money and the value of things

“Mahal” means “expensive” in both Bahasa Indonesia and Tagalog. | Image credit: johan10 via Canva Pro

45. Price / Value

Bahasa Indonesia: “Harga

Tagalog: “Halaga

46. Debt

Bahasa Indonesia: “Hutang

Tagalog: “Utang

47. Economy

Bahasa Indonesia: “Ekonomi

Tagalog: “Ekonomiya

48. Less / Deficient

Bahasa Indonesia: “Kurang

Tagalog: “Kulang

49. Expensive

Bahasa Indonesia: “Mahal

Tagalog: “Mahal

50. Cheap

Bahasa Indonesia: “Murah

Tagalog: “Mura

Food and drinks

The word for “garlic” in Bahasa Indonesia is “bawang putih.” | Image credit: warrengoldswain via Canva Pro

51. Garlic

Bahasa Indonesia: “Bawang putih

Tagalog: “Bawang

52. Liquor

Bahasa Indonesia: “Arak

Tagalog: “Alak

53. Chocolate

Bahasa Indonesia: “Cokelat

Tagalog: “Tsokolate

54. Sweet

Bahasa Indonesia: “Manis

Tagalog: “Tamis

Animals and nature

“Kuting” in Tagalog usually refers to a kitten, not just any normal-sized cat. | Image credit: Michal Collection via Canva Pro

55. Cat

Bahasa Indonesia: “Kucing

Tagalog: “Kuting

56. Pig

Bahasa Indonesia: “Babi

Tagalog: “Baboy

57. Goat

Bahasa Indonesia: “Kambing

Tagalog: “Kambing

58. Crocodile

Bahasa Indonesia: “Buaya

Tagalog: “Buwaya

“Crocodile” translates to “buaya” in Bahasa Indonesia. | Image credit: sumos via Canva Pro

59. Tree

Bahasa Indonesia: “Pohon

Tagalog: “Puno

60. Sky

Bahasa Indonesia: “Langit

Tagalog: “Langit

61. Moon

Bahasa Indonesia: “Bulan

Tagalog: “Buwan

Colours

Tagalog Words: "Itim" (Black)

“Itim” means “black” in Tagalog. | Image credit: aldarinho via Canva Pro

62. White

Bahasa Indonesia: “Putih

Tagalog: “Puti

63. Black

Bahasa Indonesia: “Hitam

Tagalog: “Itim

Emotions, abstract concepts, and ideas

Bahasa Indonesia to Tagalog Words: "Cinta" = "Sinta" (Love)

In Tagalog, “Sinta” is a romantic term of endearment that means “love” or “loved one.” | Image credit: Nikita Burdenkov via Canva Pro

64. Love (possessive)

Bahasa Indonesia: “Cinta

Tagalog: “Sinta

65. Hope

Bahasa Indonesia: “Asa

Tagalog: “Asa

66. Conscience

Bahasa Indonesia: “Budi

Tagalog: “Budhi

67. Mistake

Bahasa Indonesia: “Kesalahan

Tagalog: “Kasalanan

68. Democracy

Bahasa Indonesia: “Demokrasi

Tagalog: “Demokrasya

69. Revolution

Bahasa Indonesia: “Revolusi

Tagalog: “Rebolusyon

70. Death

Bahasa Indonesia: “Kematian

Tagalog: “Kamatayan

“Kematian” means “death” in Bahasa Indonesia. | Image credit: jeffwasserman via Canva Pro

So, do you think you’re ready to watch a Filipino telenovela or an Indonesian drama without subtitles? Not so fast. While there are certainly many words in Bahasa Indonesia and Tagalog that look the same, some of them couldn’t be more different in translation. 

Saying “mahal kita” means “I love you” in Tagalog, but repeating the same phrase in Indonesia will probably make the locals wonder why you’re calling your relationship expensive. And of course, there’s “selamat pagi,” which stands for “good morning” in Bahasa Indonesia but means “thank you, stingray” in the Philippines. 

Also read: 12 Important Filipino Phrases Every Visitor to the Philippines Must Know

Throughout your travels between Indonesia and the Philippines, you’re likely to come across differences in verb tenses, conjugation, inflection, word order, and sentence structure. That being said, if you recognised most of the words on this list, give yourself a pat on the back! To our Filipino and Indonesian readers, let us know on our official Facebook page if there are any other similar words we missed.


Featured image credit: MicroStockHub via Canva Pro 

About Author

Tiffany Conde
Tiffany Conde

Tiffany is a writer who covers travel, food, and pop culture. She has a soft spot for stories about Japan and Italy. While she waits for her next adventure, she enjoys writing about the coolest places to stay around the world and where to find them.

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