I think both mean "to boil" but what is the difference between them? Both seem to be used in the context of cooking.

2 Answers 2


'끓다' is about water. Like, '물을 끓이다'((I) Boil the water.)/'물이 끓다'(Water is boiling).

'삶다' is about something inside water. Like, '감자를 삶다'((I) Boil the potato) or '감자가 삶아지다'(Potato being boiled).

So, sentence like this '물 끓이고 거기에 라면 좀 삶아줘'(Boil water and boil some ramen there) is correct, but '물 삶고 거기에 라면 좀 끓여줘' is wrong. (to be honest, Even though it is wrong, '라면을 끓이다' is large-used idiom.)

In short, '끓이다' is 'to boil liquid', and '삶다' is 'to boil something inside water'.

  • Thanks but what is 삶아지다?
    – Blaszard
    Commented Sep 28, 2019 at 22:04
  • 삶다 + -아(어)지다. It is passive voice of '삶다'. PROTIP : '-아(어)지다' makes thing to passive voice. Like, 던지다(throw) and 던져지다(던지+어지다)(be thrown).
    – LegenDUST
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 0:30
  • Thanks. I wonder why some verbs have a separate entry for the passive verb but others don't. Most dictionaries for example have both 바꾸다 and 바뀌다 but don't have 싦아지다. And I learned that the passive verb is very inconsistent on its form.
    – Blaszard
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 12:32

The way I heard is: if the water/broth is part of the dish, use "끓이다". If you are simply boiling stuff in water (and water is to be discarded), use "삶다."

So, you say "라면을 끓여요" (because the broth is part of the dish) but "국수를 삶아요" (because you only take noodles and discard water).

  • Yes we use 라면을 끓이다 a lot, but 국립국어원 say it is wrong.
    – LegenDUST
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 11:47
  • Are you sure about that? This page seems to disagree: korean.go.kr/front/onlineQna/…
    – jick
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 18:35
  • Even answer of 온라인가나다 changes every time. LIke, if you look at here <korean.go.kr/front/onlineQna/…>, one of question at 2008 says '라면은... 삶다가 맞습니다', and answer says '끓이다는... 내용물을 포함한 것일 수도 있으며...'. So I think anyone can't say one is sure about that.
    – LegenDUST
    Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 3:47
  • 1
    @LegenDUST We should follow their most recent anwsers unless they are wrong about it. They say "'라면'을 끓일 때 물(액체)를 넣어 만들므로 '끓이다'로 표현할 수 있습니다. 한편, '삶다'는 '국수를 삶다'와 같이 쓰일 수 있는데 '라면'에도 '삶다'를 써서 표현하기도 하니 참고하시기 바랍니다." Both 삶다 and 끓이다 can be used for 라면. This is one of their dictionary examples: 야간 작업을 하다가 배가 고프면 라면을 끓여 먹기가 일쑤였다. And this can be found in 우리말샘: 그 라면은 연대급의 병력이 한꺼번에 먹어야 한다는 제약 때문인지 삶아서 주는 것이 아니고 쪄서 주는 것이었다.
    – Klmo
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 20:10

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