Learning Indonesian Week 7: Talking About the Weather

The aim of this installment is to introduce some vocabulary that relates to the weather. Rather than just looking at the relevant nouns, I aim to look at some verbs that are used to describe weather events and also to cover likely collocations with the main weather nouns.

1. Angin 

The word for ‘wind’ in Indonesian is angin.

A very common collocation that you will hear, especially when storms are being reported on, is angin kencang, a stiff wind, or perhaps even a gale-force wind.

One verb which is commonly used in conjunction with angin is the verb meniup, which means ‘blow’. Based on this root word meniup, you might also hear the word tiupan, a gust or blast of wind.

Potensi tiupan angin kencang terjadi.

The above sentence (taken from a weather report) means something like, ‘There is the potential / likelihood of stiff winds blowing.”

2. Hujan

A word you will hear a lot in rainy Indonesia is hujan, which means ‘rain’. It also forms the basis of a number of common noun phrases.

The most popular phrase used to refer to heavy rain is hujan deras, though you might also hear of hujan lebat.

Very light rain is most commonly known as hujan rintik-rintik, a phrase which has been turned into the title of a popular song for children.

‘Drizzle’ is known as gerimis or hujan gerimis. It seems that the expressions hujan rintik-rintik and hujan gerimis are pretty much interchangeable.

Another very important Indonesian noun phrase involving the rain is, of course, musim hujan, which refers to the rainy season.

In terms of verbs that are associated with hujan, hujan is normally said to turun, which means ‘to fall’. However, if comes down in a torrential downpour, creating the possibility of a flood (known in Indonesia as banjir), then the rain could be said to mengguyur- to flush, splash or wash the city.

3. Awan

The Indonesian word for ‘cloud’ is awan.

If the sky or weather is cloudy, you could describe it as berawan, which literally means ‘having clouds’.

Storm clouds may be described as awan badai.

If the weather is ‘overcast’, it may be described as mendung. Hari mendung indicates an overcast day.

One weather forecast from a couple of months back was as follows:  “Hari mendung kadang disertai gerimis“.

That translates as something like ‘an overcast day sometimes accompanied by drizzle’.

4. Badai

The Indonesian word for ‘storm’ is badai.

There are some rather dramatic verbs which can be used in conjunction with the verb badai. The verb melanda is often used, which means to ‘strike’ or ‘smash into’. The verb menerpa has a similar meaning. It will often be used in the passive voice as diterpa. 

Palembang sudah diterpa badai hujan ini. (Palembang has already been struck by this rainstorm.)

As seen in the example above, a severe rainstorm could be referred to as a badai hujan. A cyclone is known as a badai siklon. In a similar vein, a snowstorm would be known as badai salju, but you won’t have to worry about encountering one of those on the streets of Indonesia.

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