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Questions tagged [etymology]

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

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Does Korean have native words corresponding to 형 and 동생?

Korean sibling terms are quite interesting but also a little odd. While terms like eonni, nuna and oppa seem to be native, hyeong and and dongsaeng are Sino-Korean. What would be the reason for this? ...
Vun-Hugh Vaw's user avatar
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1 answer
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What is the etymology of the informal (vulgar) prefix 처~?

I was listening to a rap song with Korean lyrics where one of the lines uses the prefix 처 in a way I hadn't seen before: 돈 자랑, 몸 자랑, 인맥 자랑, 네 자랑, 잠이나 처자라 From my understanding, 처 can be affixed to ...
cidercookies's user avatar
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Why didn't Korean rulers ever use the title 황제 (皇帝) until the Korean Empire in the late 19th century?

Ever since Qin Shi Huangdi ("First Huangdi of the Qin") made up the title 皇帝 (huangdi), Vietnamese and Japanese rulers quite consistently claimed to be "emperors" as well. The ...
Vun-Hugh Vaw's user avatar
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In the Korean word for elevator, "엘리베이터", coming from the English word "elevator", why are there two 'l'-s (ㄹ-s) in the beginning of the word?

In the Korean word for elevator, "엘리베이터", coming from the English word "elevator", why are there two 'l'-s (ㄹ-s) in the beginning of the word?  The 'l' in the English word is ...
FlatAssembler's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
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Is there a reason for there to be so many words ending with ㅇ+이 (like 고양이, 올챙이 etc)?

I´ve noticed a pattern of many words ending with ㅇ+ 이 고양이 올챙이 호랑이 달팽이 ...and the list goes on. Is there any etymological reason why we have so many of these words? And is there a name for that? Also,...
Charles Reis Ribeiro's user avatar
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1 answer
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What does 꿈치 in 팔꿈치/앞꿈치/뒤꿈치 mean?

The dictionaries I have access to, either list no etymology or simply ‘Of Native Korean origin’ for the words listed in the question. Their definitions are as follows: 팔꿈치: elbow 앞꿈치: in the ITF ...
Canned Man's user avatar
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1 answer
194 views

What is the etymology of the question ending `ㄴ가`/`는가`/`ㄹ가(ㄹ까)`?

Since for the ending ㄴ가/는가/ㄹ가(ㄹ까), there is an obligatorily incorporated "relativiser-looking" particle (ㄴ/는/ㄹ), I am wondering whether this expression has evolved from a "relative ...
FSY's user avatar
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What is the morphemic analysis of "헤엄치다"?

I am curious whether 헤엄치다 and 헤다 are related. However, if they really are related, where does that 어 in 헤엄치다 come from?
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오늘따라 - what is 따라 derived from?

As I understand 오늘따라 means roughly "especially today", but it's hard to find the source of 따라. I assumed it was a suffix derived from 따르다 (to follow), but I can't see how "especially&...
aaa90210's user avatar
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For 막— , how does "rough, low quality" semantically appertain to "last, final"?

The meanings of "rough, low quality" and "last, final" feel UNrelated to me. What semantic field underlies these meanings? Just because something is "last, final" doesn't ...
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Why are 댜 뱌 챠 탸 퍄 햐 됴 툐 not used?

I am learning Hangeul and found this image on the Internet (I cannot locate the original source): It seems like some of the syllable blocks are greyed out, which I think means it's not used. There's ...
d4nyll's user avatar
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1 answer
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Where does 나름 come from?

The word 나름, as in ~기 나름이다 or 나름대로, appears to be formed by nominalizing 나르다. Is this the correct etymology or does 나름 come from something else?
Okoyos's user avatar
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Etymology of 하십시오체 sentence endings

What is the etymology of the 하십시오체 sentence endings? ~습니다 ~습니까 ~읍시오 Some conjecture on my part: The spelling of the indicative and interrogative endings makes me think that 습 and 니다/니까 were once ...
angelsl's user avatar
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Meaning of 코딱지만하다

I'm was watching a drama and came across '코딱지만하다'. I've found out that this means 'tiny' but what is the origin of this word? From what I know, 코딱지 = booger and 만하다 = to be worthy of, but how would ...
KrJpnLinguistNoob's user avatar
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1 answer
223 views

What is written in that big bracket?

I was looking up the Korean word for “together”, when I came across its entry in the pure Korean dictionary on my iPhone. There’s this big bracket which seems to provide the etymology of the word. I ...
Axel Tong's user avatar
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The true meaning of Korean workplace titles

I was referring to words such as 사원, 주임, 대리, 과장, 차장, 부장, 실장, 수석부장, 이사, 상무, 전무, 사장, 회장 So it was always bothering me what the true meaning of these workplace titles mean and what's their etymology. ...
eugen's user avatar
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What's the meaning of 패(牌) in the word 깡패 (gangster)?

The second character of 깡패 is 牌 - which I thought meant 'signboard', 'card'. Arch Chinese gives the meaning as cards, game pieces, signboard, placard, plate, tablet How is this relevant to the ...
Нет войне's user avatar
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3 answers
270 views

What is the correct etymology of 백정?

According to the 백정 Wikipedia article, the etymology of 백정 is: It consists of "Baek"(Korean: 백, Hanja: 白), which means 'no', and "Jeong(Korean: 정, Hanja: 丁)", which means a person without land. In ...
Johan88's user avatar
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Why is "outside" used for the maternal side?

We can use 외할아버지 to refer to a maternal grandfather. Here 외 comes from hanja 外, meaning "outside". It is the same 외 that is used in 외국어 (foreign language), for example. What is the logic behind ...
kuchitsu's user avatar
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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 ...
Leftium's user avatar
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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 ...
Нет войне's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
3k views

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!"?
vievievie's user avatar
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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 ...
Нет войне's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
2k views

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 ...
Kevin Li's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
Sydney's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
930 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?
Bright Holly's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
541 views

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 ...
Нет войне's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
511 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 ...
제이 죤스톤's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
4k views

'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 ...
Memming's user avatar
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2 votes
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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?
Нет войне's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
236 views

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', '...
Нет войне's user avatar
3 votes
3 answers
482 views

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 ...
Blaszard's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
190 views

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 ...
jogloran's user avatar
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1 answer
152 views

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)
wegendem's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
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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.
ryanbrainard's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
189 views

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, ...
ryanbrainard's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
3k views

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 ...
ryanbrainard's user avatar
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9 votes
3 answers
2k views

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 ...
ryanbrainard's user avatar
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9 votes
3 answers
411 views

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 ...
Dominik's user avatar
  • 233
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1 answer
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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 ...
Нет войне's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
654 views

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 ...
ryanbrainard's user avatar
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14 votes
1 answer
1k views

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 "...
ryanbrainard's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
542 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 ...
Leftium's user avatar
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4 votes
3 answers
317 views

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?
Нет войне's user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
249 views

"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 ...
user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
1k views

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 ...
user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
731 views

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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6 votes
2 answers
328 views

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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6 votes
1 answer
540 views

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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5 votes
1 answer
927 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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