What does 복사본 mean?

According to Wordreference it means a carbon copy. Does that mean a literal copy made with carbon paper or just an exact copy? Also, according to google translate both 복사 and 사본 mean copy. I’m confused. Can someone help me understand or am I thinking too deeply into this?

  • 1
    사본 is a noun.복사 is used with 하다 as a verb
    – user17915
    Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 7:50

2 Answers 2


According to "우리말 형태소 사전" (2012), the suffix, 본(本), means a book or books and a document and documents.

복사본 (a copy or copies) and 사본 are interchangeable unless 사본 refers to exactly copying the original version of a book, books, a document, or documents. Practically, 사본 and 복사본 refer to the same: It is okay to regard 사본 as a shortened form of 복사본. Now we write something not only by hand but also on computers, so 복사본 and 사본 can also be used to mean a copy or copies produced on computers.

복사 is what you or machines do to make 복사본. 복사 means not only copying or tracing the original version but also making a smaller/larger version of it. With the advent of computers, it is also used to stand for "copy" as in "Copy & Paste." Copy machines are called 복사기.

사본하다 and 복사하다 are the verbs of 사본 and 복사, respectively, but I believe that people rarely use 사본하다.

  • Thank you. This has been very helpful. Just to clarify, 복사본, 사본 and 복사 can all be used with reference to computer copies but 복사본 cannot be used to refer to manual copies while 복사 and 사본 can?
    – Amethyst
    Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 9:54
  • 1
    @Amethyst 복사본 and 사본 can refer to a duplicate produced on a computer. 복사 can refer to "Copy" (not a duplicate but doing an copying action that is duplication). For example, Windows Explorer has "Copy" in its context menu and this "Copy" is translated as 복사. 복사본 and 사본 can also refer to manual copies (duplicates); 복사 cannot mean duplicates. You should do 복사 (duplication) to make 복사본 (a duplicate / duplicates).
    – Klmo
    Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 11:53
  • Thank you so much. That is perfect. I understand now. :)
    – Amethyst
    Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 12:28

사본 is a copy of original document through copy machine, writing (in this case more explicit word is 필사본), rubbing or photo

Nowadays there are several machine : We can copy a computer file. So a copy through copy machine, or a copy of music CD, computer file or movie video are called 복사본


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