9

'가짜' means:

거짓을 참인 것처럼 꾸민 것. (Literally) A lie, untruth, fake disguised as truth.

'진짜' means:

본뜨거나 거짓으로 만들어 낸 것이 아닌 참된 것. (Literally) A real thing that is not copied or fabricated.

'가' in '가짜' uses '假' which is a Chinese character for untruth (lie) or fake and '진' in '진짜' uses '眞' which means truth or verity.

What does '짜' mean in those words? What is its etymology?

7

'짜' is a pure Korean root word meaning "thing; person."

Other words with '짜':

  • 알짜 the best thing; the essence
  • 공짜 a thing obtained without cost; free (of charge)
  • 괴짜 eccentric person
  • 퇴짜 rejection; brushing off

source: Handbook of Korean Vocabulary, pp. 374-375

5

Maybe 짜 is pure korean word. But its meaning is pretty well explained by Leftium. In most case it mean a thing or person. But the Thing is there is a word 子[자] that exactly means thing or person as well.

연산자[演算子][operator]=연산[operating/calculating]+자[thing] (in math)

인자[因子][factor/a thing that draws another phenomenon]=인[cause]+자[thing]

공자[孔子][Confucius]=공[deep & serious (internally)]+자[person]

일자[日子][time/date]=일[day/sun]+자[thing]

The reason I'm saying this is that, 일자 is spoken like 일 for the rule of spelling. So somehow 짜 and 子, I guess, are relevent each other.

I have one more reason for my arguement. I think 8 out of ten korean can guess the meanings closely (I'm Korean) when 짜 is replaced with 子 in some casees above(괴짜, 진짜, 가짜, 퇴짜, 알짜) except for 공자.

  • 子 is a plausible etymology for 짜, even if it's considered pure Korean now. I never considered that. I just remembered seeing these words in my vocabulary book and copied the passages verbatim. I investigated a little more: Naver dictionary sometimes has etymologies (어원) but not for 가짜. Also 者(놈 자) and 字(글자 자) have been suggested as alternate origins for 짜 (in 공짜). – Leftium Aug 21 '16 at 1:54
  • right. actually, I thought somehow 者(놈 자) and 字(글자 자) can be relevant together but I know not any further except they(including 子) have same sound and except some of their usage. – JBL Aug 21 '16 at 3:06

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