When talking about Korean word origin, there are "Pure/Native Korean" words, "Sino-Korean" (i.e. Hanja) words, and of course other origins like English. I am wondering how to say "Pure Korean" or "Native Korean" in Korean. I have heard "순한글" before talking about the numbers, but when I used it more generally, I was corrected and told to say "순우리말"; however, that obviously doesn't work well coming from a foreigner. I suggested "순한국말" or "순한국어" as alternatives, but supposedly that was awkward too. What should I call Pure/Native Korean words in Korean?

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    I was doing more research on this, and found that Naver Dictionary does in fact have 순 우리말 단어. I also asked around to Koreans, and 고유어 is another possible candidate. Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 3:20
  • I'd rather say and stick to “고유어.” That's how I was taught in school, a widely used term in the academic realm. The term referring to a native Korean word doesn't have to be one, amirite? =P Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 6:32

1 Answer 1


순우리말: I think this would be fine coming from a non-Korean. While being a Korean speaker or learner, you can consider it yours. Also the sense of 우리 in 순우리말 (without any spaces in it) has become attenuated.

순 한글: This may be problematic because 한글 is supposed to mean the Korean script. So a Sino-Korean word written in 한글 would be 순 한글. Text incorporating Chinese characters would be not 순 한글. Also I don't know that writing 순한글 (without spacing) is acceptable.

순 한국말, 순 한국어: This too should serve your purpose. Only, I don't know that writing these expressions without a space in them is acceptable.

As an aside, some people seem to question the idea of some words being more "pure" Korean than others.

  • Thank you for the detailed answer. I like that you said, "While being a Korean speaker or learner, you can consider it yours." I hadn't thought of it that way before. Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 3:17

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