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Indonesian names

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Indonesian names and naming customs reflect the multicultural and the polyglot nature of
Indonesia which is an archipelago of over 17,000 islands. It is the world's fourth most populous
nation comprising about 365 tribal-ethnic groups, containing enormous ethnic, religious, and
linguistic diversity. There are over sixty ethnic groups officially recognized in the country, each
with their own culture, customs, and language, with the Javanese being the largest single group
1 Honorifics
2 Naming forms
3 Indonesian naming system
o 3.1 Mononymic names
o 3.2 Polynymic names without family name
o 3.3 Polynymic names with family name
o 3.4 Polynymic names with patronymic family name
4 Modifications to the name outside of Indonesia
5 Origin of family names in Indonesia
o 5.1 Chinese names
o 5.2 Arabic names
o 5.3 Sanskrit-derived names
o 5.4 Western names
o 5.5 Local family names
o 5.6 Patronymic family names
o 5.7 Matronymic family names
6 Nicknames
7 Noble Titles as Part of Personal Name
8 See also
9 References
10 External links
In addition to the usual ranks and professional titles, it is customary to add Pak or Bapak and
Saudara for addressing men, and Bu or Ibu for addressing women. Pak and Bapak are literally
translated as "father", with Bapak being the more formal and used in speech much like the
English word "sir". Saudara is a term of greater respect and formality, literally translated as
"kinsman". Ibu is literally translated as "mother" and is used in speech much like the English
words "ma'am" and "lady". If a person's name is unknown, one can call an Indonesian man
Bapak or an Indonesian woman Ibu. Another informal way to address significantly older people
is to call them Om and Tante, which mean "uncle" and "aunt". The terms are Dutch-influenced
and quite commonly used in big cities. However, local honorifics continue to be employed
throughout Indonesia, such as the casual general way Kakak is used for older sister/brother; in
Javanese Mbak is used for older sister, but it is also common to call a maid mbak. Mas is used for
older brother; in Sumatran Malay or Minangkabau cultural spheres it corresponds to Abang for
older brother, but it is common to call a becak driver, angkot driver, vegetable vendor,
fishmonger or hawker abang. Additionally, 'Gus' (from bagus), as used to address former
president 'Gus Dur', is usually used exclusively to address honorable Eastern Javanese people
with strong traditional and religious links.
Naming forms
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. In general, Indonesian names fall into one of the following categories (in
order of popularity):
A single name, such as Sukarno and Suharto
Two (or more) names without a family name, such as Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Two (or more) names with a family name such as Abdul Haris Nasution or Mahyadi
Two (or more) names with a patronymic, such as Megawati Sukarnoputri or
Abdurrahman Wahid
These categories of names are described below.
Indonesian naming system
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.
Mononymic names
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
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
Polynymic names without family name
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.
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.
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
This would be somewhat analogous to the practice in Iceland, where mainly patronymics are
Occasionally, the father's name will be used as the surname, without appending putra or putri (in
this case it would be Gema Suparman). This might be done unofficially, i.e. not matching the
birth certificate. Nevertheless, this format sometimes appears on government documents.
Modifications to the name outside of Indonesia
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 Netherlands, for example, a person without an official family name would be given the
surname Onbekend (which means Unknown). Individuals with multiple-word names will often
be given this surname, particularly if the last name on the birth certificate differs from the
father's family name. Individuals with a distinct family name may also be given this surname if it
is recorded differently on the birth certificate.
Referring to the examples above, a Netherlands ID card would record the individual's name as:
Example 1: Gema Onbekend
Example 2: Gema Pertiwi Onbekend
Example 3: Gema Alatas Onbekend or Gema Alatas
Example 4: Gema Suparmanputra Onbekend
In Germany, the one-word name is used as both given name and surname. This is often displayed
on official documents as Gema Gema or G. Gema.
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.
Origin of family names in Indonesia
Chinese names
Under President Suharto, Indonesia attempted to deconstruct organizations 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.
See also: Indonesian-sounding names adopted by Chinese Indonesians
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).
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'.
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
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.
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.
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.
January: Januri (m), Yanuar (m). Example: Yanuar Tri Firmanda.
February: usually identified from suffix Febr-. Example: Febriyanto Wijaya.
March: Marti (derived from Maret, Indonesian word for March, which in turn is derived
from Dutch Maart). Example: Marty Natalegawa.
April: usually identified from suffix Afri- or Apri-. Example: Aprilia Yuswandari.
May: Mei or its derivations such as Meilanie, Meiliana, Meiliani (all are feminine).
Example: Meiliana Jauhari.
June: Yuni (f) or its derivations such as Yuniar (f), Yuniarti (f), Yuniarto (m). Example:
Yuni Shara.
July: usually identified from suffix Juli- or Yuli-. Example: Alvent Yulianto.
August: Agus (n) or its derivations such as Agustin (n), Agustina (f), Agustinus (m,
usually born by Indonesian Catholic). Example: Agus Ngaimin.
September: usually identified from suffix Seft- or Sept-. Example: Seftia Hadi.
October: usually identified from suffix Oct- or Okt-. Example: Yati Octavia.
November: usually identified from suffix Nov-. Example: Novita Dewi.
December: Deasy, Desi, Dessy (all are feminine). Example: Desi Anwar.
Local family names
Traditionally, there are few Indonesian ethnic groups or tribes whose people maintain family
names. These include
The Bataks of Sumatra
The Minangkabau of Sumatra
Minahasa people from Manado and other parts of North Sulawesi
People from Ambon and the Molucca Islands
Tribes in the East Nusa Tenggara
Tribes in the islands off the west of Sumatra (mainly Nias)
Patronymic family names
The Indonesian patronymic family name is usually constructed of the father's name, with the
word putra (for male) or putri (for female) appended. One famous example is former Indonesian
President Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of former President Sukarno. However, it is
common for the father's name alone to form the child's surname (for instance, 'Ali Ahmad' from
the father 'Ahmad Sudharma').
Matronymic family names
Located in Western Sumatra, the Minangkabau are the largest matrilineal culture in the world
and the fourth largest ethnic group in Indonesia. Tribe, clan (or suku) titles, properties and names
are all handed down through the female line. A man's children are not his clan's heirs. Instead,
they are heirs of his wife's clan. When a man dies, he has to leave his possession of clan
properties to the children of his sisters. The grandmother is the ultimate matriarch and a power
figure. Although the Minangkabau are Muslim, their customs are unique and unusual in a state
with a predominantly Muslim culture. Most such matriachial customs are justified by tradition,
although they are sometimes supported by examples from the sira of the Prophet Muhammad,
especially stories revolving around the centrality of Muhammad's first employer and subsequent
wife, Khadija.
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.
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
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.