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The term is thought to be derived from the Malay word melaju, a combination of the verbal prefix 'me' and the root word 'laju', meaning "to accelerate", used to describe the accelerating strong current of the river.
The word "Melayu" as an ethnonym, to allude to a clearly different ethnological cluster, is assumed to have been made fashionable throughout the integration of the Malacca Sultanate as a regional power in the 15th century.
The advent of the Malacca Sultanate in the 15th century triggered a major revolution in Malay history, the significance of which lies in its far-reaching political and cultural legacy.
Common definitive markers of a Malayness – the religion of Islam, the Malay language and traditions – are thought to have been promulgated during this era, resulting in the ethnogenesis of the Malay as a major ethnoreligious group in the region.