Five Decades of Evolution


With nothing better to do at 3:00 am on a Saturday night Sunday morning – and being a perennial nostalgia junkie – I thought about how some concepts have evolved over the decades. Here are some examples:

Current usage: Awek
In the ’70s/’80s: Makwe / Minah
In the ’60s: Kodok (How many of you remember this one?)

Current usage: Cun!
In the ’70s/’80s: Cute!
In the ’60s: Bergetah! (Really! They actually used this word)

Current usage: Nerdy/Geeky
In the ’70s/’80s: Belia/Boria
In the ’60s: Budak hingusan

Current usage: Skodeng
In the ’70s/’80s: Merendek
In the ’60s: Menutuh

Current usage: “Let’s go clubbing”
In the ’70s/’80s: “Jom pi enjoy”
In the ’60s: Ronggeng!

Current usage: Domestic help
In the ’70s/’80s: Servant
In the ’60s: Orang gaji

Current usage: Anak ikan
In the ’70s/’80s: Balak
In the ’60s: Boyfriend

Current usage: She-who-must-be-obeyed
In the ’70s/’80s: Wife / isteri
In the ’60s: Orang rumah

Current usage: Idiot-who-pays-the-bills
In the ’70s/’80s: Partner
In the ’60s: Husband

Current usage: IPTS
In the ’70s/’80s: College
In the ’60s: Sekolah prebet

Current usage: Nyah
In the ’70s/’80s: Pondan
In the ’60s: Khunsa

Current usage: Dadah
In the ’70s/’80s: Candu
In the ’60s: Madat

That’s about all I can think of right now. I’m sure I’ll be able to recall a few more after I’ve had my first cigarette when I wake-up later. Can you think of any other?


In the ’60s:  Bercium
In the ’70s/’80s:  Cemolot / Melat
Current usage:  (Don’t know what they call it now)

In the ’60s:  (can’t remember)
In the ’70s/’80s:  “Tak rugged lah, beb!”
Current usage:  “That’s soooo not cool!”

36 thoughts on “Five Decades of Evolution

  1. I remember the only swear words I ever heard while growing up were “blardy baaasket!” we kids would close our mouths in horror when bapak swore …nowadays the F word rolls off one’s tongue so very easily…

    puteri kamaliah

    I can’t really understand why the younger generation considers it cool to interspace every other word with the F-word.

    Come to think of it, I never really understood why “baaasket!” was considered derogatory. Maybe they were thinking of the other word that sounds almost like ‘”baasket”‘ and alludes to illegitimate children

    A lot of things I don’t understand, eh?

  2. Mamak,

    Kak Putri,

    ‘blardy bassaket’kira ok how about ‘……..kau nak mampus’ real my late tok wak shouted in stern voice.
    or ‘budak !!dihentam hawau…kau!!!’ or

    ‘tak habis-habis mentah kedarah kau!!

    or 70’s
    ‘…..alah….. lu palat!!!!’

    or ‘…lu stemke atau mabuk'”

    hehehe…lu ni mamak kalau pasal menyakat,kalau tak menangis tak kan berhenti!!

    Good Sunday mamak.

  3. My boyfriend still uses the word ‘bergetah’. The first time I heard it, I had no idea what it meant. But I was convinced it meant ‘mantap’ or ‘montok’.

    Current usage: Nerdy/Geeky
    In the ’70s/’80s: Belia/Boria
    In the ’60s: Budak hingusan
    What I call them: Skema!



    He still uses the word ‘bergetah’?! I think we can be good friends, your boyfriend and I.

    ‘Skema’? Never heard that one before. Has a nice ring to it, tho.

  4. current usage : ‘tak dan’

    60’s :’pegi telokop’
    70’s :’hancus’

    Pak tuo

    And do you remember ‘hapraq’ from the ’80s? And ‘ampeh’ from about the same time?

  5. Let me try.. dulu2 ‘kepala hotak engkau!” and now still used to mean ‘you stupid fool!”
    Then “berbulu’ which means “bengang”
    still frequently used..”jambu” meaning “cantik” ..


    Ah, yes! ‘berbulu’ was one of the most used from that era. I never figured out what ‘berbulu’ had to do with being ‘bengang’

    And in MCKK, ‘jambu’ took on w whole new meaning, too – not just to mean ‘cantik’. We at MRSM didn’t need ‘jambus’: We had the real thing – girls!

  6. Salam Mat,
    Talking about “generation/cohort gap”, I remember coming across “LOL” in blog comments & e-mails from my daughters… guess what? I thought it was a short form for “TOLOL”! I was asking my daughters why they use such a language in their e-mails!? Hahaha!! I was two light years away from their world! And now they are using “sms language” in their e-mails and it took me a while to figure things out… apa nak jadi?

    Dhahran Sea

    Sometimes I’m convinced that the younger ones are speaking a totally different language. But ‘lol’ is short for ‘tolol’? That’s a good one!

  7. Current Usage : Poyo
    70’s/80’s : Toye (e tanda)
    60’s : I was still too pure and innocent…do you mind?!

    Current Usage : Mat Rempits
    70’s/80’s : Hippie
    60’s : I was still too pure and innocent…still, do y0u mind?!

    tok milla

    But I am STILL pure and innocent – even today! Ok, maybe not so pure… but still very ‘toye’ 🙂

  8. Sir,

    I remember those days when they always used this word ‘mangkuk ayun’. However, I don’t know what is the latest version of that words.


    Yes! “Mangkuk hayun” – now there’s a good one. Closely related: “Kepala hangguk”…

  9. Mat-san,

    He!He! I`m a bit lost myself today with all those rocker terms, which are what I keep hearing everywhere, the office included.Understand the younger set find them so handy for text messaging and e-mails/chat-mails and skyping.
    Goes something like this:- “Gua ok 2nite.If u ok,
    jom jalan2 sikit `pas opis.Kita 2 jer,ok?”/Reply:
    “Errk! U serious ker ni?OK!Jam berapa ah?C U!”

    BTW, Mat-san, “Mat Skema” tu refers to a person who is overly systematic…the go-strictly-by-the book and rule-kind of person.Definitely a boring character.

    Me?Definitely still the old fashioned romantic and chivalrous gentleman.I tell the younger ones
    (and some of these liberated ladies) that the way I was brought up, the man always opens the car door for the lady to step in or get out, I pull slightly the chair for the lady to sit at the dining table,I`ll walk the lady to the washroom if she needs to “powder her nose” etc,and wait patiently near the door to walk her back to the dinner table, and the man always picks up the bill on a date,etc, etc.

    But I know this…we`re a dying breed,Mat-san, especially here in our homeland.These younger people today definitely need to go out and see the world (especially the UK and Europe)to get a dose of what gallantry and good gentlemanly behaviour is all about.And, they need liberal sprinklings of Shakespeare, Keats,Milton,James Joyce,Wordsworth,WS Rendra,Confucius, Zaaba,VS Naipul,Bach, Beethoven, Da Vinci,Van Gogh,John Carpenter, Latiff Mohideen, Ib Hussin etc to give them that foundation in the arts, literature and appreciation, for I strongly believe one who can appreciate such masterpieces of creativity will always have refinement and class running in their veins.



    How right you are, sir. We are a dying breed. And how perceptive you are, too, about the issue of ‘class’. Class is not a function of how much money we have in the bank; its really about how much we are able to appreciate creativity and refinement (in thoughts and ideas). Money can buy any Joe out there truckloads branded good. But material possessions alone is no measure of class; its going to take a lot more than just money, won’t it?

    Gentlemanly and chivalrous conduct may be dying out, too. And this isn’t necessarily the man’s fault. Sometime when I try to walk a female companion to the ‘powder room’, she is apt to think I’m a pervert. “No, I will not go in with you…” I would protest. She just finds this hard to believe. And the last time I tried to open the car door for a woman, she blatantly said, “Hey, I’m not an invalid, you know…”

    Sometimes I just feel like the world has moved on and have left people like us behind…

  10. In the ’60s: “Kepala hotak kau berjambul!”
    In the ’70s/’80s: “Tak rugged lah, beb!”
    Current usage: “That’s soooo not cool!”

    Ha ha..

    Current Usage : Juice
    70’s/80’s : Sen
    60’s : Fulus/Duit


    Of course! “Sen” was very kutu at the time. Here’s how a typical conversation would go:

    Question: “Brader, lu ada ‘sen’ tak?”
    Answer: “Mana ada, beb. Gua tengah ‘kelopak salak’ ni!”

  11. In the ’60s: Bercium
    In the ’70s/’80s: Cemolot / Melat
    now i call it as ‘tonkey’ – short for ‘tonsil hockey’

    i find it to have such a ‘deeper’ meaning to it, if you what i mean. heh..heh


    Nice pun, cekodok. ‘Tonsil hockey’, eh?

    Maybe I’m clueless, but I think, for much more fun, I will use an appendage much longer than my tongue to play ‘tonsil hockey’ – if you know what I mean… 🙂

    Thanks for visiting, cekodokmencilok.

  12. Tell you what, I actually learned many new words in MRSM. Like, ‘gipang’ (pronounced as G-pang) is a short-form for ‘gila pangkat’, can be applied for those students who love to bolot every single post in school.

    My mom says, ‘gebar’, I say, ‘selimut’, ‘blanket’ or ‘Toto’, now I call it ‘duvet’…Hahaha…

    Anyway, higashi-san and Bangkai-san, could you teach your sons to be like gentlemen so I could date them! My boyfriend never treats me like that. His excuse is he doesn’t know because he is not exposed to this culture. When I complaint, he always says, “I am not a US/UK graduate”. Lame, I know…

    I suruh dia tengok TV cerita orang putih but he shy shy pulak nak execute what he sees on TV. How-lah? Hard to teach an old dog…Haha!


    You were MRSM, too? I didn’t know that. Which one may I ask? MRSM Seremban (my batch) will be having a reunion at the Renaissance KL on 28th Feb. House rules for the reunion: spouses and children are NOT invited. How cool is that? 🙂

    Don’t worry, dear, your boyfriend will soon learn the ways of the gentleman. Just give him time. These things are a bit difficult to implement – especially for the first time. I imagine this: if your b/f asks you to learn and adopt the ways of the geisha for when you are with him, would you be so ready and willing to change? Same difference, kan?

    But for what its worth, I think your b/f is a good man. And yes, I am training my sons in the ways of the gentleman – but they don’t seem to want to learn as fast as I would like them to :-Z

  13. Mat,

    Re: Spouses & children are NOT allowed to your reunion

    Hah! Who are you bringing then? You bad boy, MB (but please don’t bring A Voice as your date, I believe you could do better. Love you too A Voice!)



    We can’t bring spouses, children – or anyone else! We are getting to be very insular in our old age, right?. But I think the rationale is that so we can spend some quality time with each other. God knows there might not be much time left for us flower children from the ’60s.

    No I can’t bring A Voice; he is not from my batch. And hey, this is an MRSM reunion, not an MCKK one – same sex partners are frowned upon 🙂

  14. minah karan back in the 80’s, what is the term now?

    wasn’t merendek also referred to as beromen or buat projek?

    mat rempit –> mat motor?


    Hmmm… I don’t think there’s an equivalent of ‘Minah Karan’ today. And yes, ‘merendek’ was also known as ‘beromen’, although I think ‘buat projek’ came on the scene only a bit later on. And there was also ‘Mat Tiarap’ – a rather unflattering term for soldiers.

  15. Mat-san,

    Just want to keep it short and sweet…same sex partners are also a big No-No at our MCKK reunions.Goodness!…please don`t put ideas into Elviza` head(or any of those petite visitors here).Mtks, my friend!


    First of all, I must apologise to you and other MCCK folk. In my haste to pull a ‘fast one’ on my MCKK friends, I had forgotten that other people also went to MCKK – and that they might not appreciate what I wrote. I am sorry.

    And to put the record straight, I do not personally know of any MCKK guys who are gays. Urban legend might want you to think otherwise, but I do not personally know of a single MCKK who is gay.

  16. Hi MB,

    How’s the reunion? Hope the turn up is good. I’m from MRSM Seremban too. Our batch reunion will be held sometime in Jun/Jul.


    Your reunion in Jun/Jul? Good for you. But exactly which batch are you from? Are you my senior, or my junior?

  17. Mat-san,

    Terribly gracious of you.Fact is, no apology is warranted,except that these days,we keep hearing “MCKK” being continually mispronounced as “MC-Gay-Gay”(Sigh!).That “you-know-who” vis-a-vis that Saiful character certainly didn`t help our cause very much, either.

    Don`t worry too much ,my friend.I`m pretty sure Mat Salo & I are walking testimonies that we are pretty normal,red-blooded males, chivalrous and gentleman-to-the-core( to boot), though we`ve been confined like Peking ducks for a good number of years during that period of childish innocence,within those hallowed corridors of the “Eaton of the East” in that Perak royal town.

    Cheers to MRSM too, mate.I know,today, so many wonderful alumni members who spent their “wonder years” there.


    I have no doubt about both you and Mat Salo – or of the vast majority of people from MCKK (which also includes my boss). Its just that because of one high-profile MCKK guy with dubious sexual pedigree that the rest have had to deal with a bum rap. Don’t envy you guys.

  18. Mintak lalu Mat,

    Dear higashi-san sir,

    I stand corrected. For the record, I do know a lot of Macoba boys who are as straight as a lamp post and charming as heaven.

    I also know a few who are – how do I say this? – not so charming and straight. 🙂

    To each his own, hey?

  19. Mat,

    I tgk citer P.Ramlee and notice that lelaki yg gatal di panggil “jantan miang” (in the 60’s). Then in 70’s, it is called “laki gatal”. Then “buaya darat” in the 80/90’s. Nowadays “kaki seks” lak. What say u?

    Oh ya! Are u one of the above? Jawab mat, jangan tak jawab! Hehehehehe!


    And to take it one step further – ‘perogol bersiri’

    Am I what? A ‘kaki seks’? ‘Buaya darat’? ‘laki gatal’? ‘Jantan miang’? All of the above?

    No lah… I’m none of the above. Lebai Bangkai is quite harmless, I assure you 🙂

  20. Actually, ‘anak ikan’ refers to toy boys hehe.

    Another word that has evolved is ‘belah’. Dictionary meaning, ‘to slice / to part (hair).

    Street meaning then: Go eff yourself / pergi mampus ie Belahlah..tak de cermin ke?

    Street meaning now: Cannot take it / tak tahan/tak sanggup: ie Aku tak boleh bla tengok David Beckham pakai pink nail polish.


    I stand corrected. But in a way, ‘anak ikan’ is also a kind of boyfriend, too – boyfriend to ‘mak datins’!

    Yes! I completely forgot about ‘belah!’. And Lily, are you familiar with ‘anak lord’? I guess its self-explanatory.

    But ma’am, why have you taken your blog private?

  21. Mat-san,

    Sumiimasen! Chotto shitsurei shimasu!(“Sorry!Kindly excuse me”)

    Dear Elviza,

    I shall be the last to deny the truism of that 2nd last para of yours.Put a group of boys, or, girls together(for that matter, even men, or ladies, together,like they do in prisons)24/7 for a number of years, and some do develop some queer tendencies.It`s natural, attributable perhaps to prolonged deprivation of what should be natural human instincts to love and be loved,to touch and be touched,etc ,or, the failing of the mind to the heart…I really and honestly am not sure.

    The point is, there is this inclination to paint boarding school boys(and girls) with the same paint brush.MCKK, probably due to the fact that many who have walked through its corridors previously have gone on to be distinguished luminaries in our society, suffers more from this perception than other boarding schools.

    I was just pointing this out to MB,who, as you surely know, share the same frequency with me on most matters,and it was all really in jest.

    Anyway, Elviza, I`m profoundly grateful that you have also highlighted that you personally know some pretty normal MCOBA boys.Kindly let me assure you that most of us belong to this category.

    Have a Good Day!

    And Mat-san, ..Doomo Arigatoo Gozaimashita!(“Thank You Very Much!”)


    You’re welcome.

  22. i find slang very fascinating.

    didn’t know bergetah was from the 60s, a lot of my peers still use it, maybe it rubbed off from the elders, and as it is used by my peers i also use it sometimes, i think it sounds really nice and extremely imaginative.

    ronggeng also some of my peers have used it before. i think in an ironic manner though.

    orang gaji i guess is considered derogatory nowadays.

    actually looking at those slang words from the past, some of us still use dem words, example back in the 90’s we still used makwe although now awek is more socially acceptable and lessens the chances of not being chuckled at.

    still, i guess it’s most def really dope to have a lotta slang at your disposal from various eras. (do you understand the word “dope” though mr. bangkai, i think it meant someone stupid back in your days, sorry we took it an turned it into a word of maximum praise).

    and umm, yeah. fuck.


    Wow! I thought ‘bergetah’ fell into disuse together with Brylcreem and narrow belts with ‘007’ logos.

    BTW, in my day, ‘dope’ also referred to cannabis: Not that I have ever used the stuff, that is… 🙂

  23. Dear MB,

    I was in Form 1 when you’re in Form 5, the all-girls batch!



    Ah, yes! I remember your batch. I just hope I am not already to old to remember which one you are.

    BTW, which one are you?

    Let’s see, from your batch I seem to recall Siti Harlina (of course I remember her – her brother married my sister), Rocky (can’t remember her real name; she married Saidfudin from my batch, I think), Azni (because she played the piano), Hasni Zarina (met her recently but much to my embarrassment, I didn’t know who she was), and also a few others whose names escape me right now.

  24. Higashi-san,

    I like you a lot, sir, especially your witty comments. MB likes you too (not in a biblical sense tough!), he told me as much.

    And MB,

    Penyangak uses “f” word in the blog. *Gasp*


    He did, didn’t he?

    Tut! Tut! You naughty boy, penyangak… 🙂

  25. grandma elviza, you are being such a mat pot (from which era did this term come from i don’t know, means titter tattle btw).

    sorry mr. bangkai this is what you get for having a bimbo young reader from another generation, or dimension, even.

    is this a chatroom or woot. lalz.

  26. Hi MB,

    It is not that you are too old to remember which one’s me. I don’t expect you to know each and everyone of us 200 girls, plus the fact that I was one of the shyiest one 🙂 Went to Mat Salo’s to find a photo of you during the bloggers meet but I don’t recognise the MB that I know of 30 years ago!hahaha.

    Some of the kakak-kakak and abang-abang from your batch that I remember are Kak Bab(Bahiyah), Anne (ingatkan Melayu), handsome Praba :), Taufik (sis same batch as me), Amiruddin (now ADUN?).

    Hasni Zarina is a friend since primary school in Kuala Kangsar. Azni is from Kuale too.

    Have been a loyal reader of your blog and a fan too. Your mention of places and things in London bring back memories of my student days in England.

    warmest regards


    Of course you wouldn’t be able to recognise me – I’ve grown sideways (a lot)!

    But handsome Prabha is working in the USA (i think) and Taufiq is running alround loose in Seremban (the last time I looked).

    I am so proud that you are a fan. Let’s reminisce about London some more…

  27. just to add to higashi-san and elvira’s comments:

    my brother (ancient mariner) and i (altho different political beliefs) are as ‘normal’ as can be, despite being ex-mckk boys.


    kassim ahmad

    I have no doubt that both of you are. As I said, it is a bit unfortunate that because of a single high profile individual, MCKK graduates have had to bear the stigma. But I don’t think anybody takes these pokes at MCKK boys very seriously 🙂

  28. Ayat yang akan kita pelajari hari ini adalah ‘MAIN’

    …m a ‘ i n
    perkataan seerti dengan nya ialah senda.
    dalam Bahasa Inggeris ialah ‘play’

    Konstructife Ayat :

    1.Dia main kayu tiga

    terjemahan nya

    He play three stick.

    2.En.Singh bermain-main.

    terjemahannay:Mr.Singh play-play

    3.Raju kena main.

    terjemahannya: Raju was played atau Raju is f..k.

    4.Mari kita main pondok-pondok?
    terjemahannya: Lets play house-house?

    5.Jangan main-main sama saya!
    terjemahannya: Dont play-play with me.

    oiii..what name?
    whose name?
    who give name?
    since when you got name?
    name the game?
    what play?
    who play where?,front or back?
    when play?
    why play?


    Ada betul tak tada betul…..!
    Kalau betul cakap betul betul..
    Apa main belakang.
    Siapa belakang taruk?

  29. “pokes at MCKK boys? Now, now, watch out where.

    No worry mate, the boys are broad minded and
    can take a a few jabs here n there.

    Dy Humour

    Whoa! I missed that unintended pun altogther. Must be getting slow in my old age 🙂

  30. I should have added that I am ex-MCKK and I don’t mind.

    Hostels, monasteries, nunneries, Sodom, Gemorrah.

    But not in Bangsar when you an impatient politician.

    Dry Humour

    ‘Impatient politician’? Hmmm… I wonder who that might be… 😉

  31. Re: Kassim Ahmad’s comment above

    What do you think, Mat? Elvira for a change? Sounds old and twisted. 🙂

    Elviza (Elvira?)

    Elvira is that sexy vampire, isn’t she?

  32. Mat,

    Here’s another one –

    Hell has no fury like a woman scorned.

    And a husband who cheats.

    This ex-MCKK fellow hopes to get a few votes from the ladies.

  33. Mat-san,

    Hmm, now you`re getting some Etonians(the M`sian version,at least) dropping by.

    And, believe it or not, I`m presently not exhausting all avenues to try to get a staff`s son a place in MRSM, i/o in MCKK (as the son was offerred originally).That straight A`s boy deserves all the help he can get, I feel(and I`m the guy supposedly with right contacts in all the right places…so they think!)

    BTW, Elviza & Mat-san, that Kassim Ahmad(who`s my senior) may have a slight problem with his “z”`s and “r”`s , but give him a piano, and even the great Liberace himself would go “ga-ga”!

    And Elviza, would highly appreciate if you can drop the suffix “Sir” from my name.”San” is already too much for me,but that`s in keeping with my Zen adherence!At the end of the day, I`m just a simple guy who`s hoping against hope that time will always been kind enough to him to delay the coming of senility as late as possible!



    And how nice it is to be visited by the ‘Etonians’.

    And good luck with the placement for your staff’s son. I’d offer to help but my influence with the selection committee – considering my track-record with MARA – would be less than considerable. In fact, I would say it would be detrimental for the applicant’s case if my name were to be mentioned at any point along the selection process 😦

  34. sorry elviza but somehow you’ve always been elvira to me since that old fart mariner introduced me to your blog. i was trying to bluff my way thru and say that it was a typo error when i realized how far the ‘z’ and ‘r’ were on the keyboard.

    higashi-san, den dah lamo tak main piano dah. piano kat rumah pun dah berhabok. biar oghang mudo-mudo ni main. jang, kau ni sapo?

    sorry mat. to hijack your blog/thread, i’m sure you don’t mind a 60-year old with a heart condition.


    kassim ahmad

    kassim ahmad

    No, sir. I don’t mind at all. Mi casa su casa…

  35. higashi-san

    You have a yen for the zen, honto desu ka?

    But I always have a yen for the yen.

    I hope you have some luck with your staff’s son’s preferred school. I wonder why MRSM i/o MCKK, though. You lucky devil, Mat.


  36. Hehe. Sangat kelakar, entry ini. Masa di MRSM dulu SKODENG adalah aktiviti kegemaran ramai pelajar lelaki. Masa tu kena tangkap was not called KANTOI…it’s called KANTOL (with an L). 🙂 And RAMBO is keluar tanpa kebenaran.


    Er… you ex-MRSM, too?

    Yes, in those days the proper form was KANTOL (not KANTOI). And during my days skodeng had not yet been coined; it was called something else. Can’t remember what because I never did it. And keluar tanpa kebenaran was LIAU. I am older generation MRSM, you see: during the time when we didn’t have to wear uniforms.

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