merajuk pada yang sayang

(This post was written for buckie’s benefit)

If you are a Malaysian, you would do good to read Sri Delima’s collection of articles from her columnist stint with NST many years ago. You’d probably heard of it — ‘As I Was Passing’ as MPH recently republished the book into two series.

ANYWAY, one common Malay phrase that was in the book stuck with me for years. “Merajuk pada yang sayang”. Malaysians would know and understand ‘merajuk’ in every sense of the word. In English, the closest definitions would be ‘sulk’ or ‘pout’, which in my opinion are insufficient to convey the essence of ‘merajuk’.

Children sulk and pout when they do not get what they want. Adults merajuk when they do not get their way, maybe in a community service meeting and someone they do not like gets elected as head or something. Lovers, especially those in the female position merajuk for no reason, because they can. Forgive my conventional thinking, but it is their prerogative and the world just got to live with it.

But as Sri Delima puts it, merajuk pada yang sayang; meaning that the third category of merajuk-ing is only reserved to those who love you. Simply put, you do not go up to a stranger or someone you just know and merajuk with him or her. It sounds like an unfair move — why put your loved ones through this misery and make them go through the (sometimes impossible) trouble of cajoling you? Again, hey you chose to be with this person, grit your teeth and live with it.

When the female merajuk, the male is tasked with the responsibility of cajoling her. In Chinese we call it ‘hong’ (å“„), direct translation is to ‘deceive’, to ‘coax’ or ‘cajole’. In Malay, when someone merajuk, you would ‘pujuk’ them. The recent KFC advertisement announcing the availability of ‘kuah sate’ is a perfect depiction of a wife merajuking, with the husband responding in all the appropriate dulcet tones.

A person can sometimes merajuk for no apparent reason. This does not mean that there is anything wrong in the relationship, or that she is thinking of breaking up with you, or that she has fallen out of love with you, or that she has met and decided to be with another person. As a friend of mine puts it, in this case, merajuk is a very manipulative action — you do it to manipulate the other person to come coax, cajole and placate you. I suppose it is a type of ’emo’ (emotional), though in this context the person who merajuk seldom come out of it by him or herself.

And apparently this a very Asian in Asia thing to do. Because I have tried very hard to explain the concept of ‘merajuk’ to non-Asians, and they seem to have a difficult time understanding it. Cultural differences, I guess.

Any input?



  1. Hope I don’t sound racist when I say this..

    But I just got the impression that (some) Filipino girls are even better (worse?) at ‘merajuk’ than Malaysian ladies in general. By comparison our womenfolk come across as stoic and stiff upper-lipped.

    Not very helpful for the purpose of explaining to Buckie, ‘fraid.

  2. I try… but sometimes my bf pretend like duno also!!! Sigh….maybe my merajuk recipe not “kow” kwa… Hmmm… tonight merajuk him again….

    By the way, men also merajuk la… when they merajuk, aiyooo… can die!!!

  3. Yup. I always merajuk just because I feel like merajuk-ing. For no apparent reason. Yup. I am the typical example! But there are positive and negative merajuks. Positive is merajuk to spice up the conversation/activity. 😛

    Negative one is really merajuk(could be due to bad mood, some reason that the bf is too insensitive to see etc) and if nothing is done, then I will get angry. But most of my merajuks are negative one. Hohoho. Tralalala~

  4. With each boyfriend, I merajuk less. My poor first boyfriend had me merajuk-ing more than half of our dates.

    My third (current one) is no fun to merajuk with. If I start pouting, he mockingly imitates me, making me laugh and fall out of my ‘merajuk’ state. Too clever by half.

  5. Imho, the closest word to “merajuk” is “to sulk” lah.

    By the way, I like that KFC kuah sate ads, it’s full with gedik & mengada-ngada action. After all; merajuk pada yang sayang, merindu pada yang kasih & berkasih pada yang sudi 🙂

  6. i’ve always found this fascinating. there is a malay word for such a phenomenon called merajuk, and in cantonese (i think) it’s called ‘teh’, but somehow there is memang no english word that quite measures up to it. pout is but a facial expression, merajuking encompasses a change in voice, facial expression, gestures, and words used. might be able to relate back to certain words originating from certain cultures/ethnicity because they’re more prone to it? e.g. in mandarin there’s ‘yin hang’ demonstrating how important money is in the chinese culture, where else the english word ‘bank’ is derived from the italian ‘banco’, and the closest malay word to bank is ‘syarikat kewangan’, although they still mostly use bank. then there are apparently 15 different eskimo words to describe water. etc etc. am i making any sense? LMAO. sorry!

  7. oh crap! totally digressed. what i wanted to say was, somehow to the angmohs, women are generally more ‘attractive’ if they’re sex bombs ie ‘adult and knowing’ enough, where as in the asian society, the men especially seem to prefer helpless girlies with a kiddish voice and big baby bambi eyes and merajuking is more or less a kiddo thing to do what. it’s all just a strategy to haul in a partner. 😀

  8. Theres no suiting English word for manja either or a variety of others.

  9. I suppose one merajuks only when you know you will get a response from the other party. There’s no point merajuk-ing if the other person couldn’t care less. Girls do it as a way of getting attention, showing displeasure and/or manipulating others. It could also be a way of finding out if the target is interested in you!

    I don’t think I’ve seen a male above the age of 16 merajuk though..

  10. frm my experience, “merajukking” has NO effect, regardless of cultural difference or not, if u are in an online relationship. =P i’ve really learnt how to shed it and communicate civilly! hahaha.. but wait till i move to Sydney lah, then different story proly =P

    being half filipino, i agree with Suertes. LOL!

    for the benefit of ur Oz bloke in question, “merajuk-king” is a physical-emotional game for the benefit of the woman to end up being “manja-ed”. the closest description i can come to is “an affectionate sulk/cajoling” — especially after an argument/disagreement. close to what suanie tried to explain.
    but of course to understand the whole concept, is to understand firstly that the Asian culture of being “kawaii” (cute, adorable, in Japanese) is what makes Asian men/women’s game of the chase and attraction. not your Don Quixote kind of sophisticated seduction.

    do u and lee want to hook up for a lesson on understanding the culture of Malaysian women? LOL!

  11. “Lovers, especially those in the female position merajuk for no reason, because they can. ”

    well said.

    “but of course to understand the whole concept, is to understand firstly that the Asian culture of being “kawaii” (cute, adorable, in Japanese) is what makes Asian men/women’s game of the chase and attraction.”

    agreed.and that is why we Asians don’t have the whole dating but not bf-gf period like the Americans do on TV.Its a whole different approach on getting together for us Asians.

    Merajuk=a physical and half-emotional expression of one’s need to get more attention from another party with fake-d anger and jealousy and all that applies…?

  12. “merajuk pada yang sayang, merindu pada yang kasih & berkasih pada yang sudi”


  13. Suertes: Is it? Is it a cultural or genetic thing? 😛

    NottyGurl: haha yeah but I find men’s merajuk-ness easier to placate than womenfolk

    Valz: You are actually the Queen of Merajuk lmao! Respek 😉

    Erna: But sometimes if he tries to crack jokes, it gets annoying because that’s not how you want it to go! Bad direction lah 😉

    Irwan: Yeah I guess, but you agree that it doesn’t really mean ‘merajuk’, kan? I am trying to get a clip of the KFC ad, then I’ll post it on my blog.

    Chen: I know! But you put it more succintly than me, heh.

    ST: aye. maybe i’ll try to explain manja later, heh

    Alex: Like my friend said, a manipulation 😉 Oh men of all ages merajuk, trust me 😉

    zona: of course it doesn’t work on-line lah lol. dahlah the concept requires massive communication, then added with expressions and tones.. no emoticon does the art of merajuk justice 😉

    weeks: hmmm not really, there are those who just date and date but don’t get into r/s. But I guess VERY generally you may be right 🙂

  14. Suanie…

    Hahaha….yesterday I “baby do it 1 more time” my bf (merajuk la..kan we at this subject), he just look at me and ask me why I so LOA!!!!! Wa wa wa wa… cry..cry…

    Eh,i duno other men la.. but bila my bf merajuk… Wahhh!!! I end up gotta spoil him with cooking his favorite food la, watch his type of movies la… Cheh! no fun also!

  15. Cultural, I’m sure. But seriously, when (some of them) merajuk they do it a lot more seriously. And they do not mind doing it to a new friend either – so the only-old-friend-and-relative rule does not apply…

  16. ….. who say cannot merajuk over the internet? 😛

  17. Who can translate “kerinduan” in English? I know we can use “miss/missing” as “rindu”, but “miss” is a verb (kata kerja). What is the noun for “miss”?

  18. If a beautiful girl “merajuk” with me, than I will say that it has begun,
    but when my boss or police officers merajuk with me,
    than I will say, give my tax money back!!!

  19. Do you have both of the books? I only have one of them and it’s hella good so I was wondering if it’s the same for the other book too.

  20. Notty Gurl : hahha yikes, i think the longer you are in the r/s the less likely one is to merajuk for nothing.

    Suertes: hmmm i wouldn’t have the audacity to merajuk with someone i don’t know well… that kinda defeats the purpose for me…

    Chen: me lol. i just don’t think it translates as good, hence loses its meaning

    irwan: beats me, heh. my tatabahasa = fail

    raja: i nvr encountered a police officer who merajuk with me while on duty, lol

    fazleena: i have the original edition, which MPH divided into 2 parts. so yeah you should get the second part as well 🙂

  21. My girlfriend got pissed with me and told me to find out what “merajuk” means, because she was doing that. Thanks for enlightening this non-Malay speaker, lol. 😀

  22. Tan Chai Heng says:

    Merajuk isn’t wheedling in English meh?


  1. […] Oct 17th, 2007 by pleinelune I learned a new word today: Merajuk. It is a Malay word, apparently expressing a host of meanings which when inadequately translated into English, approximates “sulking”. Used in context, it is merajuk pada yang sayang, used in the context of a loved one. It is apparently an activity relegated to the females of the species, in order to manipulate their partners into some form of cajolement and an appeasing act. I was told to find out what it meant by a certain someone, while she was in the process of expressing this complex emotion. And of course, it lies on me, the non-merajuker, to appease the said merajuker. As I have said often in the past: Rule No. 1 of dating: Always apologise even if you are right. […]

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