Picking a name for your precious baby can be both an exciting and overwhelming task – especially for new parents.
To make things easier, it’s great to have some choices… but a list is even better. Especially if you’re considering an Indonesian name. They’re wonderful, unique, exotic yet a bit complicated. No need to worry though, this article will make everything clear and simple, so you can find the best fitting name.
Below, there are 100 popular and culturally rich Indonesian names for boys and girls, along with their meaning. But just before we get to them, let’s talk about the naming structures particular to these beautiful and sunny islands.
Unlike Western and Asian countries, Indonesia doesn’t have a universal naming system, like the typical pattern of first/ (middle) /family name. Here, newborns are given a series of names that rely more on their meaning instead.
There are several possible scenarios:
- Mononymic names: a singular name without any middle or last name. This type of format was prevalent before and during Indonesia’s independence. The birth certificate would say “Name, child of Father and Mother”. Examples of mononymic names are Indonesia’s first and second presidents: Soekarno and Soeharto. (not a perfect comparison, but think Madonna)
- Polynymic names without a family name: a multiple name structure that prioritizes its meaning, rather than its form. For example, Indonesia’s sixth president: Susilo (“righteous” or “good”) Bambang (“knight”) Yudhoyono (from Sanskrit, “yuddha” meaning battle + “yana” meaning journey) (his father’s name was Soekotjo).
- Polynymic names with a family name: closer to Western conventions, a multiple name format that takes the family name, as illustrated by Indonesia’s third president Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie (whose father was Alwi Abdul Jalil Habibie).
- Polynymic names with a patronymic last name: an even more complex composition involving a modified version of the father’s name used as surname. Let’s take Indonesia’s fifth president Megawati Soekarnoputri, as example. She is the daughter of Indonesia’s first president, Soekarno. The suffix “-putri” means daughter. So her last name means “daughter of Soekarno”.
These particular arrangements, especially the mononymic name, have led to various unique situations. In Germany, for example, a one-word name will be used as both a first and a family name. So if Soekarno were to migrate to Germany, his ID card would say “Soekarno Soekarno” or “S. Soekarno.”
Indonesia is an archipelago with over 17,000 islands and more than 300 ethnic groups. With such diversity in culture and ethnicity, there was clearly a need for multiple methods of identification.
Some ethnic groups like Batak and Minahasan use the family names passed down from one generation to the next. Others, like Javanese, Balinese, and Maduranese aren’t familiar with the surname concept.
Exceptions in the family naming system exist among Chinese and Arabic Indonesian. Chinese Indonesians often use a common name along with a native Chinese one, while Arab-Indonesians prefer their own cultural surnames.
Indonesia is a country that was heavily influenced by two other cultures: Hinduism and Islam. The Majapahit, which ruled the majority of the islands from 1293 to 1527, was a Javanese Hindu empire that left behind a significant mark over the language, customs, and lifestyle of current society.
Sometime during Majapahit’s glory days, Muslim culture slowly disseminated at every social level through trades and da’wah (an invitation to embrace Islam). Hence, the majority of popular Indonesian names are derived from either Sanskrit or Arabic language.
These are the fifty best male Indonesian names, complete with their meaning:
- Abimanyu: translates as “one who is with self-respect” or sometimes “heroic”. This is the name of a famed warrior in the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata. It stands for “son of Arjuna”, himself a mighty hero.
- Aditya: one of the names for Surya, the Sun God, a major deity in Hinduism; it also refers to wise and knowledgeable people.
- Agung: means a person with greatness, nobility, and glory. A fitting name for a boy to aspire to. This is also a musical instrument used by several communities, though its origins are Indonesian.
- Ahmad: “an exemplary individual”. A mix of several Arabic roots that roughly translate as “to thank” or “to praise”.
- Aji: a common Indonesian name with royal connotations, suitable for conquerors and winners.
- Ardhi: a short and melodic name that stands for mountain; of Hindu origin, it represents integrity and calmness throughout all situations.
- Arif: from the Arabic language, a name that means an honest, trustworthy, admirable individual.
- Arya: is becoming popular almost everywhere in the world. It suggests a wise, noble, and honorable person. Short and easy to pronounce, it fits both boys and girls.
- Asep: derived from “Kasep”, a Sundanese word meaning “handsome” and “charming”.
- Bagaskara: from Sanskrit, meaning “the warmth of the Sun”. Can be interpreted as a giving spirit with a warm heart.
- Basuki: of Javanese origins, a person who is blessed or safe throughout their life. Something every parent wants for their children.
- Budi: in Indonesia, a name that means noble intentions and commendable attitudes.
- Candra: more common in West Sumatra and along the East and West of Java Island. It means “soft shine of the moon”, from the Sanskrit “chandra”.
- Damar: For Indonesians, it refers to “a guiding light in the dark” and is the name of one of the many islands that form the archipelago.
- Danu: somewhat common in other communities too, under several variations (Dan, Danuj etc.) it stands for the Sanskrit God of prosperity; a literal translation is “river” but can mean “running water that brings life”.
- Darma: likely from the Sanskrit “dharma”, an important concept in religions like Hinduism or Budhism, it translates as “righteousness”, “merit” or “a dutiful person with lifelong kindness”. Can make for an awesome name.
- Dimas: of Greek origin, possibly adopted with the spread of Christianity, from Saint Dimas (commemorated by the Catholic Church on 25 March); this would explain why it can be found in South America as well. It means “a beloved son” and “a setting sun”.
- Fadli: uncommon outside of Indonesia, this is a name coming from Arabic and translates as “a noble, kind, and lighthearted soul”.
- Fajar: refers to daybreak, morning; it hints at a person that brings warmth to their surroundings.
- Gading: a word for “ivory” in Malay, describing a person with a tough personality and solid integrity.
- Gibran: this is a rare name even among the Indonesian islands. May be of Arabic ancestry, from “jabara”, meaning “to restore, to repair, to make parts equal”. Definitely a unique choice.
- Haris: a name with several interpretations, from ancient Greek, meaning “grace” or “God’s gift”/ “a miracle from the Lord”; in Arabic, Haris means “guardian angel”.
- Ilham: the Arabic word for “inspiration” or “intuition”. It can even be taken as “the heart’s whisper”, and is found as first and last name.
- Indra: one of the most important deities in Hindu mythology, King of the Gods. Also associated with rain, thunder, storms, similar to Zeus, Jupiter, or Thor in Western legends. Those who carry this name are considered blessed and wise people.
- Jatmiko: Javanese baby name that means “a polite and well-mannered person”. Even though it’s almost entirely found only in Indonesia, it remains very uncommon. This is definitely a name that will stand out anywhere.
- Luthfi: or Lutfi, from Arabic (“kind, gentle”). It denontes a soft-hearted person with a kind and giving personality. Can be found throughout Southeast Asia and is quite common on Java island.
- Naufal: or Nawfal, a name of Arabic descent, referring to a generous and handsome soul. It also has an archaic meaning of “sea, ocean”.
- Nugraha: In Indonesian, this name is considered a blessing. From Sanskrit, suggesting a gift or a reward for all the kindness.
- Pradana: a name coming from Sanskrit, where “pradhana” is an adjective meaning “the most important”, “chief”, “prime”. A child named Pradana is destined to be a leader.
- Pranadipa: something along the lines of “the meaning of life”; It refers to a person that is brave and loyal.
- Prayoga: the island of Java is the source for this name. In the local dialect, it signifies “a good and kind-hearted person”.
- Putra: a very common name in Indonesia, translating as “son”, “a direct descendant of an important figure” or “prince”. Often times involved in creating new names, as suffix attached to the father’s name. It has a female counterpart, Putri.
- Raka: Raka is a common Indian name, also found in Japan, though less often. It generally describes a full moon, but can also mean an older brother, glory, intellect.
- Raditya: closely linked to Aditya, it shares the meaning of Sun and connotes “a warm person with a giving soul”.
- Reza: a Persian name associated with Ali ar-Ridha, the 9th-century Shia imam descendant of Prophet Muhammad. In Arabic, it means “satisfaction, contentment”.
- Rezvan: Paradise or The Gatekeeper of Paradise is what Rezvan means in Persian. It’s meant to indicate peace, prosperity, and tranquility.
- Rudi: for some European countries, Rudi is a diminutive of Rudolf. In fact, it was borne by several kings and rulers, with the original meaning being “famous wolf”. For Indonesians, it means happiness, honor, and happy marriage. A common variation is Rudy.
- Sakti: derrived from Shakti, the primordial energy of the universe according to Hinduism. This name represents a powerful and skilled person in their craft.
- Satya: Asian cultures are deeply connected with religion and nature. Satya roughly translates to the notion of being a pure, honest, and righteous person. In Yoga, Satya is one of the 5 Yamas, series of teachings which describe how to maintain a balanced and fulfilling life.
- Satria: A name that reflects heroism, the life of an honorable knight.
- Tegar: likely coming from a Buddhist temple perched high in the Tibetan mountains. For Indonesians, it signifies a “tough and unwavering person”.
- Tirta: names with religious associations are prevalent in most languages. From Sanskrit, Tirta means “sacred water, place of pilgrimage”, and represents life and prosperity.
- Wahyu: this could be a wonderful choice for parents looking for a name which has divine connotations. Wahyu means “God’s blessing” and “revelation”.
- Wibowo: perhaps an unusual name in the West, Wibowo encompasses several positive qualities, authority, prestige, and honor.
- Widodo: symbolizes “thriving prosperity”, “everlasting happiness”. The 7th and current president of Indonesia bears this name, proving the name’s association with success.
- Wijaya: one of the more popular names for boys, as it translates to “winner” or “victorious”.
- Wisnu: from Vishnu, Sanskrit God of preservation, one of the major deities in Hinduism. People carrying this name are said to be blessed with lifelong happiness.
- Yoga: a word that has spread around the globe, but few know what it really means. It refers to a set of physical, mental and spiritual practices designed to improve both the body and the mind. For Asian people, the name embodies a person who’s close to God and has an inclination for justice. Could make for an unconventional name.
- Yudha: also Yuda, from the Sanskrit “yuddha”, as in “war” or “battle”. It represents a battle-hardened person that can survive tough situations.
- Zainal: a common compound for Arabic names, it’s meant to suggest beautiful, shiny things like jewelry, or precious people that might be sought by many.
Now that we’ve gone through the male names, let’s get to the best fifty Indonesian girl names:
- Adisty: yet another name derived from the many monikers of Surya, the solar deity. From Sanskrit, a person that brings warmth to others.
- Anindya: newborn babies are just the image of perfection and innocence, and this is what Anindya means. From Sanskrit, it translates as “immaculate, faultless, blameless”.
- Anjani: among the great Hindu pantheon, Hanuman, also known as Anjaneya, holds a central spot. He is often depicted as being a strong and loving figure. Anjani is referred to as “mother of Hanuman”, and stands for imagination, illusion, fantasy.
- Ayu: a common name in Indonesia and Japan. It translates as “beautiful” or “graceful”, and could even be a delightful nickname.
- Bintang: In Malay, one of the languages spoken in Indonesia, Bintang means “star”. A name perhaps destined for an actor or just someone who shines in other’s darkness.
- Batari: or Bethari, names given to a Goddess in Sanskrit legend, who stands for eternal beauty.
- Citra: likely coming from Sanskrit, where it means “image” or “picture”, the name Citra now signifies personification of beauty and perfection.
- Cahya: a variant of Cahaya, it can be interpreted as “a guiding light” in several of the Indonesian dialects.
- Dewi: from “devi” the word for goddess, with “deva” being the male counterpart. Dewi is considered the Hindu Mother Goddess, who can manifest herself as any of the other goddesses. Traditionally, it is considered suitable for a person with a kind heart.
- Diajeng: means “a princess of a Javanese kingdom”. The short form “jeng” has become a word that women use to address each other, especially young close friends. “You look amazing, princess!”
- Farah: along with Farrah, both are popular Arabic names that translate as “happiness”, “joyfulness”, “merriment”. Perhaps you will remember iconic American actress Farrah Fawcett, who starred in classic shows like The Six Million Dollar Man and Charlie’s Angels.
- Fitri: while it means “pure” and “innocent” in both Indonesian and Malay, Fitri is only used as a girl’s name in Indonesia and as a boy’s name in Malaysia. Still, a fitting name either way.
- Gayatri: a name derived from a popular Hindu hymn, which praises Gayatri (Savitri, as she is also known) as a Goddess with three virtues of kindness.
- Hana: in almost every corner of the world, the name Hana can be heard. For Kurds, it signifies hope; for Japanese people and those of Persian descent, it means flower; for the Maori, the word translates as “to shine, glow, give out love”. In Albanian, “Hana” stands for Moon. For Indonesian communities, it represents happiness and grace.
- Harini: “swift and gentle like a deer”. Harini describes a soft and beautiful soul.
- Hasya: Short, melodic and full of positivity, Hasya is a name which suggests a gleeful and lighthearted person.
- Ika: an alternative to Eka, which means “one” or “first” in several languages, including Indian and Sanskrit. Parents often choose this name wishing their child to excel at everything.
- Indah: a popular name in Indonesia, as it literally translates as “beautiful” or “precious”.
- Indri: also spelled Indrie or Indry, means “beauty, splendour”, from the Sanskrit “indira”. Those named Indri are considered thoughtful and big-hearted people.
- Intan: Intan makes for an excellent name. It translates as “diamond”, is both traditional and stylish, and can easily be shortened for a nickname. Indonesians believe it to be a name for a beautiful soul that can survive hardship.
- Juwita: Malay word that means “girl” or “a beloved daughter”.
- Karina: A popular name that has variations in almost every part of the Earth. From the Latin “carus” as in “love”, it can be spelled either with a “c” or “k”. Suits a pure and loving soul, a kind-hearted person.
- Kartika: this name will make your baby a star, as this is the literal translation from Sanskrit. It also refers to a constellation of the Pleiades, and sometimes to a beautiful folk goddess.
- Kirana: In Sanskrit, “kirana” means “ray of light” or “beam of light”. With Kirana, every time you would look at your child, you could say “you are the light of my eyes”.
- Kintan: a name with royal connotations, as it translates as “wearing a crown”, from Sanskrit. Informally, it can mean “princess” or someone noble. Indians often chose it for those born under the birth star Mrugsira (Mars).
- Lakshmi: the goddess of wealth, fortune, power, beauty, and prosperity. She is one of the major deities of Hinduism, wife of Vishnu, who brings good luck and good health. Often times, she is depicted alongside a white lotus, which is her symbol. What else could you wish from a name?
- Larasati: a compound name from the Javanese “laras”, meaning “harmonious, orderly, ideal”, combined with “ati” meaning “heart”. It stands for purity and true intentions of the heart.
- Lestari: “eternal” or “everlasting”, this is a popular name which suggests undying beauty.
- Listia: a lovely name which refers to an energetic person with an irresistible charm.
- Maharani: the Sanskrit word for “empress” or “queen”, with Maharaja as the male form. Maharani are considered queens of all things in the world.
- Melati: is the Indonesian word for Jasmine. Those called Melati are thought to be a gift from God.
- Mustika: among Indonesians, the word “mustika” refers to a talisman or magical stone, that’s why girls who have this name are seen as precious as jewels.
- Nadia: a common name across the world, coming from Arabic and meaning “hope”. Famous Nadia personalities include former tennis player Nadia Petrova, winner of 37 WTA titles; Nadia Comaneci, first gymnast to score a perfect 10 at the Olympics; Nadia Bjorlin, American actress, singer, and model, just to name a few off a long list.
- Nanda: in Sanskrit, it means “joy”, referring to either a beloved son or daughter. This is a name with deep historic and religious meaning, relating to both a half-brother and half-sister of Buddha, and that of various Hindu characters, including Vishna.
- Nindy: a cute name that just sounds fun. It describes a flawless person with an innocent charm.
- Ningrum: means “a daughter that is loved from within the parents’ soul”.
- Paramita: in Buddhism, paramitas are virtues cultivated for purification in order to achieve enlightenment. Something great to aspire to, right?
- Pertiwi: (also Pertiwi) refers to Mother Earth, the one who provides all. An important name for Asian cultures, which always had a strong connection to nature.
- Puspita: the Sanskrit word for “(fragrant) flower” or “blooming”. It symbolizes a woman who has all the qualities of a flower.
- Putri: is the Indonesian word for “daughter” or “princess”. It’s also used as a suffix for creating patronymic names. For example, Soekarnoputri means “daughter of Soekarno”.
- Rahma: an Arabic name which appears frequently in the Quran. It means “mercy, grace, compassion” and indicates a person who receives plenty of blessings and loyalty.
- Ratna: translates as “precious jewel” or “gemstone”. It’s a popular Hindu name representing a beautiful and priceless person.
- Ratih: has several meanings, it refers to the moon, the God of beauty, and alludes to a most charming person.
- Ratu: is an honorific title in the Indonesian vocabulary for queen. A name suitable for a daughter who deserves glory and praise.
- Saraswati: the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, art, speech, wisdom, and learning.
- Sekar: means “flowers” or “song” in Javanese. It’s sometime used to indicate “the daughter of a king”.
- Sukma: the Javanese word for “soul”. This would be a fitting name for a daughter who is genuine and honest.
- Utami: is derived from “utama” meaning “best, main, principal”, a person of priority.
- Widya: or Vidya, refers to the Hindu goddess Saraswati, standing for knowledge, intelligence, and truth.
- Wulan: is the Javanese word for the “moon” or “month”, a person who shines a light in other’s darkness.
Indonesia is a melting pot of ethnicities and cultures, of languages and religions. This melting pot of cultures is reflected in the amazing Indonesian cuisine, its traditions, and of course in the multitude of traditional Indonesian names. Therefore this list only covers the top of the most popular, interesting, unique names that can found among all the different communities. Hopefully, you have found at least some inspiration and a bit of insight into this wonderfully assorted nation.