As football, baseball, and basketball are all relatively modern things, I might have expected their Korean terms to be transliterations of foreign terms (in the same way that the words 'taxi', 'computer', 'coffee', and so on have come into Korean). I find it intriguing that the common terms for these sports are the Hanja-rooted words '축구','야구', and '농구'.

How did these terms enter the Korean language?

  • I'm asking about these terms together as I expect there might be some similarities in the explanations - but happy to split into separate questions. Oct 31, 2017 at 2:21
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    – user17915
    Nov 1, 2017 at 8:40

2 Answers 2


They're Wasei-Kango words imported from Japan during the Japanese colonial occupation of Korea:

  • 蹴球 - Literally kick-ball (not football, which would be 足球/족구), from Japanese 蹴球/しゅうきゅう
  • 野球 - Literally field-ball, from Japanese 野球/やきゅう

  • 籠球 - Literally basket-ball, from Japanese 籠球/ろうきゅう

Interestingly, Japanese only retains the Kanji word 野球 out of the three; the other two have become English transliterations of soccer and basketball.


football: foot is 축 in Hanja. and ball is 구in hanja.
baseball:baseball is a ball played in field. and field is 야 in hanja. and ball is 구in hanja.
basketball:basket is similar to box and box is 농 in hanja. and ball is 구in hanja.
Many Japanese, Korean, Chinese(especially Japanese) changed foreign words to Hanja words at 18th~19th century.

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