Bali fun facts: What’s in a shop name?

Warteg are known in Bali as “warung Jawa”

Warteg are known in Bali as “warung Jawa”


Lately, I remembered a friend of mine going to China and telling me “I never know what shop to enter, all the names are in Mandarin and I couldn’t sort out their meanings to save my life”.
When I first came to Bali, my impression was somewhat similar. Yes, here it’s way easier to find out what’s being sold, but really, what do all those names mean? After all I see them everywhere.

It turns out that, actually, there is a sort of naming tradition in Indonesia (and in Bali) when it comes to stores. For instance, building material stores will often be comprehend “Abadi” in their name, since it’s means “eternal”, which is a good quality for a newly built house.

But there are many more, and if you’re curious about it, I’ve made a little list:


  • Rumah: A house. Note that “rumah makan (eat)” isn’t a place to eat a house, but a restaurant.
  • Toko: Shop
  • Warung: Small restaurant
  • Wisma: Center, as in the first shop of a chain.
  • Pusat: Center, too as in “the place where you find a lot of…”
  • Griya: Building.
  • Arjuna/Pandawa/Krisna/Ganesa: These are names of divinities or mythological figures.
  • Wayan, Made/Kadek, Nyoman, Putu: These are common Balinese given names for ther first, second, third and forth child.
  • Asri: Fresh and one with nature. Often found in city centers.
  • Bagus: Good. Well, you don’t want to call you shop “jelek” (ugly) anyway, right?
  • Bintang: Star. Yup, it has nothing to do with the beer.
  • Cahaya: Light. Not exclusive to lighting shops, though.
  • Dewa/Dewi/Dewata: God, Godess, Gods.
  • Jaya: Successful. Now, on our way to “Bagus Jaya Abadi” and limitless riches!
  • Lalapan: The side dish of greens and tofu/tempe served with fried fish and chicken. A warung lalapan serves just that.
  • Pondok: A place to stay, a shelter.
  • Murni: Pure. Can also be a person’s given name.
  • Nirmala: Clean, from the sanskrit for ‘not dirty’. Murni’s berst friend.
  • Nirvana: Nirvana. It would take a while to explain, if you don’t know about it, here’s more.
  • Pura/Puri: Temples.
  • Semeton: Kin, in Balinese language.
  • Terima Kost/Kost-kosan: Rooms for rent, definitely not a shop, but you’ll see it everywhere!


The list is much longer, so if you’re wondering about the meaning of this or that shop name, let me know in the comments, I’ll tell you what it means!

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