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Questions tagged [etymology]

Etymology is the history of the origin of words and phrases.

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How come 네 and 아니다 are different “parts of speech?”

"네" and "아니요" are often paired together as opposites ("yes"/"no"). However, I just noticed they are different parts of speech. What I mean is: 아니요 has a verb stem that you can add Korean verb endings ...
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Why does “large hill” make sense as the translation for 대구(大邱)?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daegu states that the name of the City means, literally 'large hill' - from 大 (large) and 邱 (hill). However, the same page also states: Daegu sits in a basin ...
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What is the background of the expression “쩐다!”?

Today I learned about the expression "쩐다!" as a more colorful way of expressing "좋다!" What exactly is the background of this word and how is it different from saying "좋다!"?
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Does the prefix '단' generally mean something like 'awaited' or 'desired'?

I was asking a Korean friend called 단비 what her name meant in Hanja, and she surprised me by explaining that it was a pure Korean name, meaning a rain (비) that has been long-awaited (from naver: 꼭 필요한 ...
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Etymology of Native Korean Numbers and Related Words

So I collected some native Korean numbers and their old forms into a few columns. The last two are words specifically for days. The Roots column is what I observe to be common across the row, not ...
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471 views

Are 손가락 and 발가락 related to 숟가락 and 젓가락?

Does 가락 have any meaning by itself? Are 손가락 and 발가락 related to 숟가락 and 잣가락? I can imagine 숟가락 meaning 'round finger (extension)'and 젓가락 meaning 'long finger (extension)'. At least I'll use that to ...
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111 views

Why is “puppy” a cuss word in korean?

I know that a translation of the word “puppy” can be an insult/cuss word, but does anyone know why exactly?
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What's the etymology of 점심 (點心) meaning 'lunch'?

The characters for 점심 (點心) mean something like: 點 - 'point' or 'dot'心 - '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 ...
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90 views

Money Drinking Hippo? What is a 돈먹는하마?

On Twitter, #돈먹는하마 is trending. I know they are talking about post-olympic stadiums costing a lot of money. What is this use of "hippo/하마" in this phrase? What is this use of "hippo/하마" in this ...
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'센스' vs 'sense'

In Korean, I often hear phrases like '저 남자 참 센스 있다.' which literally translates to 'That man has a real "SENSE"'. However, as far as I understand, although '센스' is a transliteration of the English ...
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115 views

What's the etymology of the expression '맙소사 !'

Apparently '맙소사!' means something like 'oh my God!' Does it refer to 'God' literally? I thought the words for God was '신'. What's the etymology and usage of this expression?
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How did the Hanja-rooted terms for sports such as '축구','야구', '농구' come into being?

As football, baseball, and basketball are all relatively modern things, I might have expected their Korean terms to be transliterations of foreign terms (in the same way that the words 'taxi', '...
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Why in Korean is 언니 used for female by female?

My Chinese friend just used 欧尼, and I looked up the meaning and found out that in Korean, 언니 is used by female, to refer to another woman who is older than the caller. However, the baidu page also ...
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Where did Korean get its reading of 秒?

The Korean reading for "second" (of which there are 60 in a minute) is 초. Is this a native word unrelated to 秒, or is it somehow a reading of 秒? The expected reading would be 묘 and I don't know of ...
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Is it pure coincidence that the words for “reunification” and “German” are so similar (통일 and 독일)?

I once saw a documentary about Korean reunification with voice-over translation, and I wondered why they kept metioning Germany (until I realized what it was that they actually said:통일)
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Etymology of 한눈팔다

What is the etymology of 한눈팔다? I remember it as "one eye sold", which works great as a mnemonic device, but wondering if that's the actual etymology too.
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What does “金三 2:33” mean in etymology?

In the 뉴에이스 국어사전 included with the iOS/MacOS Dictionary app, I noticed the etymology for the word 함부로 showed: 〔➙ᄒᆞᆫ보로(金三 2:33)>함부로〕 What does the 金三 2:33 mean? Looking up the same word in Naver, ...
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1answer
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갈매기살 (lit. seagull meat) pork cut name origin

In Korean there is a cut of pork called 갈매기살, which literally translates into "seagull meat." The first time I heard this, I was shocked and thought they had actual seagull meat on the menu. I was ...
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3answers
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Origin of dictionary form (-다)

What is the origin of the basic -다 "dictionary" form for verbs and adjectives? Does it have any meaning on its own? Is it ever used in actual conversations or writing? There are forms that are similar ...
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How to spot English loanwords and Hanja words in a text?

While studying Japanese, it's very helpful that nearly all words of foreign origin are marked by using katakana (a syllabary separate from the usual mix of hiragana and Chinese characters) and words ...
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Etymology of '하염없이' - was there ever such a thing as a '하염'?

하염하염없이 is translated by naver dic as blankly, vacantly: 그는 하염없이 벽만 바라보았다 - He stared blankly at the wall. or ceaselessly: 하염없이 걷다 - walk endlessly A formation of X-없이 would normally ...
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What is the origin of 바가지를 쓰다?

Where did the idiomatic phrase 바가지(를) 쓰다 (to pay through the nose; to pay for a ripoff) come from? 바가지 itself is orginally a gourd or plastic bowl, but what is the connection between a bowl and a ...
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How can a non-native Korean speaker say “Pure Korean” or “Native Korean” in Korean?

When talking about Korean word origin, there are "Pure/Native Korean" words, "Sino-Korean" (i.e. Hanja) words, and of course other origins like English. I am wondering how to say "Pure Korean" or "...
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118 views

Etymology for 마찬가지 (just the same)

I have a terrible time remembering 마찬가지. Usually I want to use it and kind of remember what the word sounds like, but I can't remember the exact characters. Perhaps understanding the etymology of ...
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Why does the word for kindness, 친절 (親切), include a character meaning 'cut off; to disconnect'?

친(親) - relatives, parents; intimate 절(切) - to cut; to slice; to disconnect How does the second character relate to the meaning of 친절?
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“며느리도 모른다” etymology

As indicated in the article, '혼전 또 혼전' 5강 싸움.. '이젠 며느리도 모른다' (Who will get a wild card in baseball, nobody knows), "며느리도 모른다." is broadly used in Korean to mean Nobody can know (Nobody knows). The ...
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1answer
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Is '양반 (兩班)' a sexist word?

This question was inspired by @topomorto's recent question, If a wife works and her husband stays at home, are 집사람 and 바깥분 still appropriate for “wife” and “husband” respectively? and my answer saying ...
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Etymology of '가짜' and '진짜'

'가짜' means: 거짓을 참인 것처럼 꾸민 것. (Literally) A lie, untruth, fake disguised as truth. '진짜' means: 본뜨거나 거짓으로 만들어 낸 것이 아닌 참된 것. (Literally) A real thing that is not copied or fabricated. '가' ...
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Etymology of '말발'

'말발' is a quite interesting word and according to the linked Naver Korean dictionary, it means: 듣는 이로 하여금 그 말을 따르게 할 수 있는 말의 힘. We often hear "말발이 서다" and "말발을 세우다" and what is the etymology of ...
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Etymology of '띄어쓰기 (word spacing)'

There are some Korean words which use 'ㅢ' in them such as '띄어쓰기 (word spacing)'. What is the etymology of '띄어쓰기'? Why can't it be written as '띠어쓰기' and is there any difference between '띄어쓰기' and '...
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300 views

Can I use 찮다 to express 지 않다

I refer to this question: Etymology of '괜찮다' So words like 귀찮다, 괜찮다, or 편찮다 are actually just the shortened form of 귀하지 않다, 괜하지 않다 and 편하지 않다. And the general rule is, 찮다 is the shortened ...
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Etymology of '괜찮다'

The adjective '괜찮다' means: 형용사 (adjective) 별로 나쁘지 않고 보통 이상이다. Not bad and above average. When you look at the adjective '편찮다', you can know it is from another adjective '편하다' as '편찮다' is a ...
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Etymology and Differences, '나래' and '날개'

There is a sentence 희망의 나래를 편다. (Literally) Spread (Open) your wings of hope. And according to Naver Korean Dictionary, 나래 means 흔히 문학 작품 따위에서, ‘날개’를 이르는 말. ‘날개’보다 부드러운 어감을 준다. How are these ...
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A question about ㄴ/은

How comes that ㄴ/은 expresses present for adjectives and past for verbs? I am particularly interested in etymological reasons from a grammatical point of view. For example, in Japanese the auxiliary (...
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Why is the Korean name 이 often Romanised as 'Lee'?

This was a question from the definition stage of this proposal Why is the Korean name 이 written as Lee in English?
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Why don't Koreans call their country 'Korea'?

The Wikipedia article on Korea states that South Koreans call Korea 한국, while north Koreans call it 조선. Do 'Korea', '한국', and '조선' all refer to the same thing? If so, how did the three different names ...
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When transliterating English words to Korean, why does the first F become a ㅎ?

This is one of the questions from the definition phase and I would like to get asked in the main site. (It has also be asked and answered in Linguistics.se) When transliterating English words to ...