koreanwikiproject states that '인마' is short for '이놈아', and is usually used towards males (which would make sense as '놈' is an impolite way of saying 'man'). Is there a female equivalent, or is there only this form of the word?

2 Answers 2


I once thought about what would be the closest English word to '인마' in terms of its connotation and usage and the one I came up with is 'You, little bastard' when it is used between close friends.

'인마' could be an offensive word when it is used in argument. However, it could also be used among close friends and a male senior (in a higher position) can use it to his male junior. For example, when a sergeant in the army calls a private or a CEO or director of a company calls their subordinates, '인마' could be used in both friendly and unfriendly ways.

I personally heard '인마' used among females (it is very rare though) and whatever they meant by it, it didn't mean '이놈아' as the opposite term '이년아' exists.

I wouldn't say there is a female equivalent of '인마'. '이년아' is used when females engage in argument. But strangely enough, '이놈아' is not broadly used when males argue or fight. It is rather used more broadly by seniors when they address juniors both in friendly and offensive (belittling) tone.

축하한다, 인마. 정말 잘 했어. Congratulations, you little bastard. You did a great job.

야 인마. 왜 반말이야? Hey, you bastard. Why do you talk down to me?

I hope you see the clear difference in the examples.

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    Apparently these kinds of words are called "vocatives," by the way. "Little bastard" is brilliant. Not many words work in both positive and negative contexts like that. There is a 3-letter F-word that actually mimics the meaning of this Korean word very, very closely, but only on 4chan. In case anyone here also frequents that universe. Jul 18, 2016 at 8:11

Basically, in Korean, there is no word with gender. When you say "놈" in your context, it means a "person", not a "man".

Therefore, "인마 (or 임마)" as the short form of "이놈아", can be likely interpreted to "dude" (not sure if this word is gender neutral or not).

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    Interesting that 놈 could mean 'person' in some contexts. (I think it's still fair to say that 년/놈 are a gendered pair though?) Jul 17, 2016 at 10:05
  • 'dude' is somewhat specific to males, hence terms like "dudette" and the song title "dude looks like a lady". But as you say it is context- (and subculture-) dependent. Jul 17, 2016 at 10:07
  • @topomorto You're right. "년/놈" is a gendered pair. What I was trying to say is that, in Korean, there is no word with gendered nature like what many words in English have - eg) ship or ocean is regarded as female.
    – justinyoo
    Jul 17, 2016 at 11:48
  • True, all the dangerous things :) Jul 17, 2016 at 11:50
  • @topomorto The typical usage of using "이놈/이년" would be from historical dramas. If there's an event that an ordinary level man (woman) talks to a upper level person (양반), the man (woman) calls himself (herself) as 이놈(이년).
    – justinyoo
    Jul 17, 2016 at 11:53

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