Ubet, Ngliwet: Another Javanese Spirit of Optimism

Another Javanese expression that has similar meaning to obah, mamah is ubet, ngliwet. Not only are they similar in meaning, but also presented in ngoko language. Ngoko is the lowest level of expression in the three degrees of politeness in Javanese. Ngoko is the most widely used by peers or people with no social attributes that require veneration.


Ubet literally means to exert oneself, to make every possible effort that matters. The word involves hard work to the level one can no longer imagine. Ngliwet means to cook some rice simply with boiling it in water instead of steaming it. While the result is not exactly the same, ngliwet may be the most popular as it does not need further process or energy.

Getting more relevant

Cooked rice by liwet is always special among Javenese and this constitutes energy and optimism. 


During the pandemic ubet, ngliwet has become even more relevant. It is probably difficult to make a living today but one should be assured that one million opportunities are available out there. Economy may be collapsing, as shown by imminent recession, but we cannot give in without doing our best. More people are laid off and forced to do odd jobs in order to feed their family. Competition is getting more fiercer while needs remain unchanged. 


However, please do not underestimate yourself since you were born a victor and will always find a way out of crisis. The Javanese expression sometimes appear in different version with sopo preceding the word ubet: Sopo ubet, ngliwet!. The addition, however, does not change the fundamental meaning of the expression as sopo ubet, ngliwet means he who ubets, ngliwet


Still another version appears as ora ubet, ora ngliwet that clearly states: he who doesn't ubet won't be able to ngliwet! The three versions thus have similar meaning in essence. They strongly imply that hard work (and optimism) is of vital importance. The words signify how mindset is actually a series of complex attitude. Javanese people have long recognized that there's always a way when you have a will, as evidently imprinted by ubet, ngliwet.

24 comments:

  1. Wah, saya baru denger istilah ini. Cuma tahu, ora obah, ora mamah. Tapi emang sih, istilah Jawa itu penuh filosofi dan penuh makna. Meski sederhana tapi relevan dimasukan dalam berbagai macam aspek kehidupan. Terima kasih sharingnya, Mas. Jadi nambah kosa kata istilah bahasa Jawa saya.

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    1. Ya, Mbak. Biasanya disambung dengan obah mamah, tapi spiritnya memang bagus. Buat kita semangat dan optimis ya bahwa selalu ada jalan kalau kita mau berusaha apa saja.

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  2. Yup, I/ve heard this. ora ubet ora ngliwet means we need to struggle to get what we want like daily goods, food, and other things. I love this quuotes as well since Javanese people are taught to be optimistic all the time.

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    1. Definitely, Miss. As long as we make every effort, things will likely be better and easier to access. Stay optimistic!

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  3. Filosofi orang jawa itu mendalam. Sekedar bahasa sehari-hari juga banyak yang punya makna dalam.

    Ngliwet sekarang sudah biasa sih. Jika dulu kita masak nasi dengan dikukus, sekarang setiap masak nasi diliwet. Hihi

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    1. Betul, Mbak Iim. Bahasa ngoko pun punya ekspresi dengan muatan yang bertenaga. Jangan menyerah selama wabah, tentu ada peluang yang bisa kita manfaatkan kalau kita berupaya.

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  4. Bahasanya cukup sederhana ya tapi artinya dalam sekali. Zaman sulit skrg memang pas dengan ungkapan ini. Kalau istilah di tempat saya gak ada piti gak ngebul :)

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    1. Mirip ya Bun, tak ada uang tak bisa masak. Intinya jangan menyerah karena peluang selalu ada asal kita ga berhenti berusaha. Semangat!

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  5. Ngeliwet jaman skr pakainya rice cocoker :) Aku pingin bisa juga tuh ngeliwet pakai cara tradisional.
    Peluang mencari penghasilan masih ada asalkan bisa melihat peluang itu ya

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    1. Iya, Mbak Lid. Aku juga kalau ngliwet sendiri ya langsung cemplung-cemplung aja bumbu ke dalam rice cooker. Tradisional juga gampang kok sebenarnya. Yang penting cari duitnya buat bisa masak, hehe.

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  6. Bhs Jawa kaya yah, bisa direka bikin quote dan maknanya filosofis, dalem. Kalo dikumpulin bisa bikin kamus kayaknya.
    Btw...aku salfok ama minuman bunga telangnya tuh...

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    1. Iya, Mbak Hani. banyak pelajaran penting lewat ungkapan berbahasa Jawa. Ayo bikin teh telang juga Mbak!

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  7. Meski saya asli orang Jawa, tapi saya baru tahu nih istilah ubet ngeliwet.

    Setuju banget, di masa pandemi begini, rasanya apapun kerjanya yang penting halal dan bisa mencukupi kebutuhan sehari-hari. Banyak yang banting stir karena PHK. :(

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    1. Semoga wabah cepat pergi dan ekonomi balik lagi ya Mbak. Jangan berhenti ubet biar bisa terus ngliwet -- semangat terus!

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  8. Waduh, mas. Artikelnya kok mak jleb banget di aku. Terasa banget sekarang kudu makin ubet ben iso ngliwet. Dari dulu aku udah pakek filosofi ini sih, Obah Mamah, Ubet Ngliwet. Tapi sekarang, jan, terasa bener butuh lebih struggle. Tetap semangat, mugi Gusti Allah paring berkah.AMiin

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    1. Makjleb juga buat saya kok, Mbak. Ya memang zaman serbasusah, ekonomi sedang lesu. Banyak orang kesulitan cari makan, makanya saya tulis ungkapan ini buat menyemangati diri sendiri dan banyak orang di dunia maya. Semangat, insyaallah semua akan lebih baik.

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  9. Jadi kangen makan nasi liwet
    Enak banget kalau dikasih oncom dan jambal
    Sambal terasi jangan lupa.duh lidahku menari

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  10. Istilah baru nih, awalnya artikel ini saya pikir akan bahas resep nasi liwet loh :) ternyata bukan.
    Filosofi mendalam dari sebuah kata yang bikin kita tambah semangat menjalani hidup

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    1. Iya, Kak. Tapi memang nasi liwet enak juga kok buat menemani ngeblog, hehe. Setidaknya ngingetin kita bahwa selalu ada solusi di saat pandemi.

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  11. mengaasah potensi diri itu kudu banget ya mas, biar semakin mudah bekerja dan berjalan pada track nya. kita sibuk dengan keberhasilan orang lain sampe lupa dengan keberhasilan sendiri

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    1. Betul, Mas. Punya skill apa pun bisa diasah dan dikembangkan biar menghasilkan duit saat masa sulit begini. Semangat!

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  12. wah liwet + kembang telang = perfect combination <3

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    1. Perfecto! They drive us to grow more energy, don't they?

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