From Wikipedia: "The Samsung Group (Korean: 삼성)"

I went to Google Translate and pasted the two words:
삼 = three
성 = castle (and other options, none of them being star)

If I paste them together, 삼성, it just says Samsung.

The only place 성 was related to star was here: 별 성; byeol seong (from wiki page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seong)

So, why does Samsung company name means "Three stars" and not "Three castles"?

  • 1
    That 별 성 is the 성 in 삼성三星. – Absol Mar 1 at 15:35
  • You want a real puzzler: Why is the letter "A" in their current logo a pair of slacks?!? (It totally is! Look closely one day, and you'll never be able to un-see it. I call it the "pants logo".) – FeRD Mar 2 at 5:11
  • The name was originally written in Hanja that works the same way Japanese Kanji does; for example the Japanese company name Nintendo is written as 任天堂(임천당) and it means "a house whose fate is left to heaven". – Coconut Mar 2 at 13:09
  • 2
    If I tell you I've met three "stars", how do you know I mean "famous people" and not three astronomical balls of fusion? Context. – J... Mar 2 at 16:13

If you search for "ant" in a small English dictionary, you will only find about the insect. But "Antarctica" is not ant's Arctic, it's "anti-Arctica", i.e., something that's the opposite side of the Arctic. In fact "ant(i)-" is a very common English prefix, even though it's normally not used as an word by itself.

Many Korean words are made of Hanja (Chinese characters) - 星(별 성) is one of them, and a very common one. You won't find the letter used by itself, but it shows up in tons of words whose meaning are related to stars.

Edit: Also, if you're wondering "but how do we know the 성 in 삼성 is 'star' and not some other hanja?" That's a fair question - and the answer is that we know because 삼성 literally used to write its name as 三星, with its brand logo prominently showing three stars. Search "samsung old logo" in Google, for example.


「城」 ( , castle) and 「星」 ( , star) are homophones, but the company started off literally as 「株式會社 三星商會」 (주식회사 삼성상회, Samsung Trading Kabushiki-gaisha). 「三星」 means three stars.

Here's a photo of their old standing building, prominently displaying their original name:

株式會社 三星商會

Old Samsung building

The only place 성 was related to star was here: 별 성; byeol seong (from wiki page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seong)

is in the format of an 音訓 (음훈) dictionary gloss for the character 「星」, where

  • 「별」 is the 訓讀 (훈독, meaning-reading, i.e. native Korean translation) of 「星」.
  • 「성」 is the 音讀 (음독, sound-reading, i.e. Korean sound derived from Middle Chinese).

「별」 means star, and this is the meaning-reading given to the character 「星」, as opposed to the meaning-reading 「재」 given to 「城」 (castle). This is how the characters 「星」 and 「城」 are distinguished, even though both are pronounced (i.e., have a sound-reading of) 「성」.

See also What is 훈음 in a layman's words?.

  • 4
    That... is an awesomely tiny structure to have ever housed any part of (what became) the corporate behemoth that is 21st Century Samsung! 🤩 – FeRD Mar 2 at 5:09

Because 성 means star

From wikipedia:

Samsung native name: 삼성 (三星)

星 = 성 = star

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