The characters for 점심 (點心) mean something like:

- 'point' or 'dot'
- 'heart'

Those characters have other meanings too, but I can't see from any of them how the characters come to make a word that means 'lunch'?

2 Answers 2


This is perhaps better asked at Chinese StackExchange, but from what I can gather, it is a slang word that first appeared in the Tang Dynasty. E.g.:


夫人 (someone's wife) said to her younger brother: "I haven't finished doing my makeup, and am not ready to dine, you can 點心."

My interpretation is that 點 means something similar to light up/excite, e.g. 點火/점화 (to ignite something) or 點香 (to light/burn incense), so 點心 means to light up the heart -> satisfy one's cravings.

Note that in Chinese, 點心 means snack, and is the word used for the tapas-like food in the Cantonese Yum Cha tradition Dim Sum.


점심 (點心 =putting a point in heart)

1.하루 중에 해가 가장 높이 떠 있는, 정오부터 반나절쯤까지의 동안. from 12 to 1 pm.

  1. 끼니로 먹는 음식. 또는 끼니를 먹는 일. food or eating food.

추가 설명 additional explanation :

동양 사상에는 아침은 제대로 먹고 점심 저녁은 가볍게 서양 사상에는 아침과 점심은 가볍게

저녁은 만찬이라해서 푸짐하게 먹는 습관이 있습니다.

In eastern philosophy we eat breakfast enough but lunch and supper a little.

But in western, we eat breakfast and lunch a little but supper enough, since it is a feast.

동양에서나 서양에서나 점심은 가볍게 먹는 습관을 가졌습니다.

That is, in both, lunch is to eat a little.

그래서 생겨난 말이 점심, 즉 점을 찍듯이 가볍게

먹는 음식이라는 뜻으로 사용하는 말이 되었답니다.

Therefor, we use 점심 for a word whose means eating a little like putting a point.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.