Definition of Malay in English:



  • 1A member of a people inhabiting Malaysia and Indonesia.

    • ‘To investigate the Papuan sample, we therefore constructed a phylogenetic network of the Papuans including the Malay.’
    • ‘Chinese, Thais, Malays and Indonesians, for example, love the display of multiple forms, shapes, and colours.’
    • ‘Many Malays and Indonesians have been economically successful and feel secure in their faith and position in the community.’
    • ‘Malaysia's population is an ethnic mosaic of Malays, Chinese and Indians.’
    • ‘Original settlers included Thais, Malays, Indians and Chinese - and their influences are very apparent in the food.’
    1. 1.1A person of Malay descent.
  • 2[mass noun] The Austronesian language of the Malays, closely related to Indonesian and spoken by about 20 million people.

    • ‘The population of Indonesia is 228,000,000 and their languages are Malay, English and Dutch.’
    • ‘Most Malaysian children learn in the national language - Malay - and take English as a compulsory subject.’
    • ‘They have strong ties to Malaysia, speak a dialect of Malay and identify themselves as Pattanis rather than Thais.’
    • ‘Most were in Arabic, but some were in French, Farsi, English or Malay, written in an elliptical and evolving system of code words.’
    • ‘Thai is the official language of the country, with English the most widely spoken second language; Chinese and Malay are also spoken.’


  • Relating to the Malays or their language.

    • ‘The year 1931 was a benchmark in the church's history as the first mass in the Malay language was held.’
    • ‘But many Malay parents, regardless of income and class, are opting to give their children a religious education these days.’
    • ‘During the general elections, at least half of Malay voters, the country's politically strongest ethnic group, supported the opposition.’
    • ‘A group of elderly Malay women chattered animatedly behind me.’
    • ‘He developed an exquisite style and precise vocabulary that are unique to his Malay writings and language.’


From Malay Malayu (now Melayu).