Category Archives: Word of the day

Not that kind of player…

Today I had an Italki lesson which made both of us laugh so many times. One of those moments was when reviewing a bit of vocabulary and she asked me how to say “athlete” in Korean. I confidently replied: 선수.

Only, when 선수 is on its own it has the same meaning as 바람둥이… a player. A womanizer.

You have to combine it with some word related to sports for it to get the meaning of athlete.

운동선수 athlete (sport is unspecified)
축구선수 football player


Word of the day: 양아치

After sending a picture of the list with words related to occupations to someone including a comment about the criminal varieties, I got the following reply:

“ㅋㅋㅋ 거기 리스트에 “양아치”도 넣어야함”

So there you have it:
양아치: bully, gangster

Word of the day: 똘마니

This word I’m pretty sure I learned through an episode of 힐러. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the name under which the female helper (the one with the motorcycle) is saved in the male lead’s phone book.

똘마니: Minion

This is a great thing about dramas: once you start paying attention to the the screen names of the drama characters’ phone contacts, it will undoubtedly add a bit of fun to your life – and vocabulary.

Word of the day: 귀동냥(하다/으로 배우다)

This is one I have just learned today from a chat over Kakaotalk with my veeery first LP.

귀동냥: learning by ear

This does not have any 한자 as far as I can tell.

It came up in a talk about work and how attending department meetings is a good way to learn from others since you “pick up” new knowledge.

This is a quite good word!

Bird of the day or word of the day? Spelling really matters

In order to learn a new word, I need to see it written down for it to really stick. Yesterday while watching an episode of 기황후 I noted down what court lady Soh said when assuring the empress that she thought the candidates for the consort selection were ugly. Or at least I thought I did. Going through my list afterwards and looking up, I realised something was… a little off.

Here is what I thought I heard: 박새

What she really said: 박색

That little 기역 is the difference between a titmouse (a small bird) and an ugly face. Because of the context in which I heard the word, I have to admit I wondered for a short moment whether titmouse was only an animal or also a profanity. Typing it into Naver’s dictionary, however, I could see similar searches and realised I needed just one more letter. Oops…

비밀 or 기밀? That depends on how big a secret it is

While watching 기황후 (there are 51 episodes and we only just finished episode 20, so be prepared for more posts starting like this) I heard the word 기밀 (secret).

Many of you already know the word 비밀, but chances are you are also new to the word 기밀. There is a pretty simple difference: the scale of the secret.

비밀 is what we normally associate with the word “secret”. The one you share with family and friends.
기밀 on the other hand is a large scale secret; State secrets, company secrets, and the like.

As my Korean friend noted, if you’re a spy you’re in the business of 기밀 rather than 비밀.

I don’t think I will ever forget 기밀 after that explanation 😉

친구 or 동무?

While watching 기황후 (Empress Ki) I caught on to the use of the word 동무, and wondered how this differs from the word 친구. Some of you might remember the scene where Wang Yu appears in Seung Nyang’s dream and encourages her to think of the implications for all of the people from Goryo in the palace if she follows through on her urge to kill the emperor. The dialogue goes along the lines of this:

Seung Nyang: It’s not my concern.
Wang Yu: Some of them are your friends!
Seung Nyang: I don’t have friends!
Wang Yu: Who are you kidding?

Cue me going “동무???” and rewinding to double check whether my hearing had failed me completely (my mother must absolutely love watching dramas with me when I do that). It hadn’t. Later I texted one of my language partners asking what was the difference between the two words. It turns out that 동무 used to be used quite frequently in South Korea, but since it took on the meaning of “comrade” in the communist sense in North Korea, South Koreans now say 친구 to express the meaning of “friend” as we know it.

Aha! And then there are people who say that you cannot learn from watching dramas 😉