I've seen many Koreans (especially developers) use the word ‘삽질하다’.

What's the meaning it implies? It doesn't seem to mean ‘to shovel’, which is its original meaning (‘삽’ (shovel) + ‘-질’ (-ing) + ‘-하다’ (to do)).

2 Answers 2


As a slang, it means waste of time, or useless tasks.

This meaning came from "shovelled hard but gained nothing".


See this link in Wikipedia or Namu wiki, which list several situations which may have started/popularized the expression.

I think the military conscription of South Korea might have been the biggest factor, where soldiers' labor was exceedingly cheap, and proper equipment was expensive. Hence, officers would make soldiers dig ditches all day long for nothing, when you should really be calling for a bulldozer. (Or so I've heard.)

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