Definition of Dayak in US English:


(also Dyak)


  • 1A member of a group of indigenous peoples inhabiting parts of Borneo, including the Iban (or Sea Dayak) of the north, the Land Dayak of the southwest, and the Punan.

    • ‘In October 1943 the Chinese population, which numbered about 50,000, helped by the indigenous Dyaks, rebelled against the Japanese occupation troops.’
    • ‘Dulhadi said it was important to offer Dayak studies at colleges and universities in West Kalimantan because the province was home to such a large number of Dayaks.’
    • ‘Many sympathised with Dayaks as an indigenous people dispossessed of their forests by rapacious New Order development.’
    • ‘Revolts among Malays, Dayaks and Muslim migrants have got out of hand in West Kalimantan.’
    • ‘Clashes between Dayaks and the economically better-off Madurese have occurred for many years in Borneo.’
    • ‘Along its rivers, which drain into the South China Sea, lived a number of indigenous cultures, collectively known as Dyaks.’
    • ‘The organisation, although big in the peninsula, wields little influence in Sarawak, a state with more than 30 indigenous tribes such as the Ibans, Dayaks, Penans and Melanaus.’
    • ‘Borneo has been rocked by ethnic tension between Dayaks and Madurese for many years.’
    • ‘A Madurese community leader told me how he had been asked by the local government to sign a peace declaration with the Dayaks.’
    • ‘He added that there are many other plants used by the Dayaks for traditional herbal medicines, but not all can be recognized by the botanists.’
    • ‘Clashes between groups of non-Muslim, indigenous Dayaks and migrant Muslim Madurese first erupted Sunday at dawn.’
    • ‘Its traditional market, extending toward the interior, and its unique scenery projected an image of a village typical of the Dayaks.’
    • ‘He became intensely involved with the peoples he studied - the Hmong, the Dyaks and the Fijians.’
    • ‘The annual ritual cycle of the Dayak reflects the mythological sense of the progress of the universe from beginning to end.’
    • ‘Fash said that it had all started with clashes in Karengpangi, Sampit, at which the Dayaks and the Madurese had serious misunderstandings in December.’
    • ‘The local Dyaks regarded him with awe as a demigod imbued with magical powers.’
    • ‘There were studies on the Dyaks, Ba'hais in Iran, and the Kurds.’
  • 2The group of Austronesian languages spoken by the Dayak.

    • ‘At first it was very difficult for him, especially understanding the Dayak language, but now he can speak Dayak fluently.’
    • ‘We don't speak Dayak, but we knew what to do though.’
    • ‘I would love to speak in Dayak.’


  • Relating to the Dayak or their languages.

    • ‘Canadian / American writer Linda Spalding also appeared at the closing event, reading out part of one of her best works, Riska: Memories of a Dayak Girlhood.’
    • ‘The displaced Dayak miners have since the 1990's attempted legal means to gain some redress for their lost livelihoods and lands, with zero result.’
    • ‘Upstream there was only the forest and a few small and very old Dayak villages.’
    • ‘In the following chapter Judith Mayer explores the social, economic and political effects of ecotourism upon a Dayak community in interior Borneo.’
    • ‘The Dyak shaman, who escorts the souls of the deceased to the other world, also takes the form of a bird.’
    • ‘He persisted and worked with 62 children of Malay, Dayak, Chinese and Madurese origins who had experienced conflict in some way or another.’
    • ‘Central Kalimantan Deputy Governor Nashon Taway, accompanied by three leading Dayak figures, went to the site.’
    • ‘The State College for Islamic Studies in Pontianak began offering Dayak studies this September.’


Malay, literally ‘up-country’.