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남자답다 was translated in another answer as 'manly'.

What is the underlying construction here? Can I use any noun + 답다?

If I want to describe someone as 'like a snake', can I say '그는 뱀다워요'?

  • I seldom see nouns attached b4 답다 being not human – 짱멋진만찢남 Jun 26 '16 at 9:55
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    답다 is different from 것 같다. 답다 means that someone is X and is like X(because i. e. some are man, but may not look or behave like a man). Only in this case could 답다 be used. – 짱멋진만찢남 Jun 26 '16 at 9:58
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X-답다: be like X, be worthy of X

From my textbook: '-답다'는 명사 뒤에 붙어서 자신의 본래 특성을 잘 가지고 있음을 나타낸다
('-답다' attached to a noun indicates having a characteristic natural to oneself)

The meaning is a bit more than just "be like", which would plainly be 같다 (그는 뱀 같아요). It's usually used to say "as X as a X should be". It includes some kind of judgement, expectation, or even stereotype.

You would usually only use it to describe something or someone that in reality is that thing or tries to be that.

You couldn't say 우리 여동생은 남자다워요 because she isn't actually a man.

Considering that, 그는 뱀다워요 doesn't seem to make much sense.

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  • So you could describe a king with 왕답다 - saying they're 'properly king-like' - but you couldn't say 왕답다 about someone who wasn't a king? – topo Reinstate Monica Jun 26 '16 at 9:57
  • That's how I understand it, but as I'm not a native speaker, I hope somebody else can verify. – 파울울 Jun 26 '16 at 9:58
  • Seems to agree with Super Cool Handsome Gel Boy's comment anyway! – topo Reinstate Monica Jun 26 '16 at 9:59
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    I'd like to add that ~답다 refers to qualities that are expected of some noun, which is the reason why @topomorto you're example for 왕답다 only works for kings and not other members in his hierarchy. – blimpy Jun 26 '16 at 13:37
  • Also, interesting note that this form isn't restricted only to people. It can be used with places, as well! 도시답다, 회사답다, etc... – blimpy Jun 26 '16 at 13:39
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'뱀답다' never works in Korean.

I am not sure what you are trying to mean by '뱀답다'. Let's change it to a more clear and easy word '여우답다'. Fox is an animal known to be sly and cunning. If you want to describe a person's characteristic, you can't use '여우답다'. You have to use '여우같다'.

The difference between '같다' and '답다' is very difficult to explain, but one noticeable difference is '답다' is used when you describe a situation where the subject acts as it is expected. For example:

그가 위험한 상황에서 그녀를 구한 것은 남자다웠다.

It can be literally translated to

It was manly of him to save her from the risky situation.

But it could also be translated to

His action of saving her from the risky situation was something that you could expect from a man to do.

When you use '같다', it describes an attribute or action that is related with the preceding word. For example:

그녀가 그렇게 행동한 것은 여우같았다.

can be literally translated to

The way she acted was like a fox.

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답다 1) sharing property

꽃답다 be like a flower

그는 꽃다운 나이에 죽었다. He died at an age like a flower (=young)

아름답다 be beautiful

정답다 be friendly

2) sharing affirmative property

어른답다 be like a adult : Usually, adult is responsible, polite, and honest. So whenever he is in any state, like adult or kid, we can say.

그녀는 교수 답다. she is like a professor : That is, she is academic.

3) sharing typical property

이 책은 책답다 This book is really book : That is, it contains a lot of useful information, and it satisfies a lot of properties which should be contained in a book.

이번에 우리 아들이 선생다운 선생을 만났어 At this time, my son met a academic teacher .

@ In general, 답다 is affirmative as a whole. When we use 답다, we must consider high cover, which is outstanding than or equal to him.

So snake is inferior to human so that we can not say 뱀답다.

Hence we can use 왕답다. In my thought, as you know, king is rare so that it seems that we do use use it frequently.

We can use 어른 같어, 왕 같어, 뱀 같어, 교수 같어.

같어=apperance vs 답다=property (Surely we check property through appeared act : 그는 남자 다웠다. He was like a man)

For instance, someone does not give his one to others and he check his profit. He is like a snake. That is, he has a property of snake. Hence when we see his stealing something (property is appeared in outside), we say that 그는 뱀같어.

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