Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Here are Some Korean Slang Terms

Dear Korean,

Does the Korean have a list of colorful Korean language slang?

Cactus McHarris

This is actually a pretty tough task, because the number of slang terms is huge and the types of slang are ever-changing. For a comprehensive overview, the Korean would recommend As Much As a Rat's Tail: Korean Slang, a solid look of old and new slang expressions in Korean. In addition, KoreaBANG's glossary is a decent collection of the latest Internet-slang in Korea.

But the Korean will not simply abdicate this post to book and website recommendations. Although he could not possibly tally all the slang used in Korean language, he can try listing at least a few of them in this space. To that end, allow the Korean to re-introduce his all-Korean language Twitter account:  https://twitter.com/askakorean. The Korean decided long ago that his Facebook account will be for English language content, while his Twitter account will be for communicating with Korean folks--an arrangement that has worked out fairly well so far. And much like the Internet everywhere else, Korea's Twitterverse is full of hilarious slang and memes.

So here are some Korean slang terms ans expressions that went through the Korean's Timeline in the last several days. Keep in mind that this list is far, far from comprehensive, and may become outdated rather quickly. It only contains random samples of some of the slang that the Korean could see in the last several days before he wrote this post. But for curious people, it could be an interesting sampler of Korean slang terms.

The list of slang terms, after the jump.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

갑이다 (v.) - to be the best. 갑 is the first letter in the old Sino-Korean counting system.

고고씽 (v.) - to move expeditiously; "go-go-ssing," with "ssing" being an onomatopoeia for moving quickly.

관광당하다 (v.) - to be pwned. Distortion of "강간당하다" (Literally, "to be raped".)
  역관광 (n.) - reverse pwnage. 

개고생 (n.) - very arduous endeavor, often unnecessary; literally, "dog endeavor".

개소리 (n.) - an utterly wrong statement; literally, "dog noise".

겁나 (adv.) - very. Contraction of "겁나게". (Literally, "scarily").

게거품 물다 (v.) - to be extremely upset; literally, "to foam at the mouth like a crab" 

괜춘하다 (v.) - to be ok; to be decent. Distorted form of "괜찮다".

까다 (v.) - to criticize; literally, "to kick".

꼰대 (n.) - a pedant; an annoying person who gives condescending lectures.
   Related:  꼰대질 (n.) - being a pedant.

꿀잼 (v.) - to be extremely fun. Contraction of 꿀맛같은 재미 (literally, "fun that tastes like honey").

남주 (n.) - male main character (in a novel, drama, movie, etc.). Contraction of 남자 주인공.
   Antonym:  여주 (n.) - female main character. Contraction of 여자 주인공.

넘 (adv.) - very. Contraction of "너무".

네임드 (adj.) - well-known. Korean pronunciation of "named", originates from MMORPG games that have "named weapons," i.e. unique and particularly strong weapons.

드립 (n.) - a joke. Contraction of "애드립 [ad lib]".
   Related:  드립력 (n.) - the ability to make jokes.
   Related:  드립치다 (v.) - make a joke.
   Related:  개드립 (n.) - a bad joke; literally, a "dog" joke.

땡기다 (v.) - to want. Distortion of "당기다" (literally, "to pull").

레전설 (n.) - a legendary story. Combination of "레전드 [legend]" and 전설.

멘붕 (n.) - (mental) devastation. Contraction of "멘탈 [mental] 붕괴".

뭥미 (int.) - "What?" Distortion of "뭐임?" ["What's this?"]

발리다 (v.) - to be pwned. Literally, "to be smeared (like butter)" or "to be flayed".

부심 (n.) - pride that is often excessive and unnecessary. Contraction of "자부심".
   Related:  슴부심 (n.) - pride held by women with big boobs. Contraction of "가슴 부심".

뻘짓 (n.) - dumb action.
   Related:  뻘트윗 (n.) - a dumb Tweet.

삽질 (n.) - dumb, useless action. Literally, "shoveling".

생축 (n.) - "Happy birthday". Contraction of "생일 축하".

솔까말 (adv.) - "to be completely honest." Contraction of "솔직히 까놓고 말해서".

시전하다 (v.) - to act or demonstrate, usually with mock ceremony

썰 (n.) - a story.
   Related:  썰 풀다 (n.-v.) - to tell a story. Literally, "to unravel a story."

안습 (adj.) - sad, pathetic. Contraction of "안구에 습기" (literally, "humidity in the eyeball", i.e. tearing up.)

야설 (n.) - a pornographic novel. Contraction of "야한 소설" (literally, "obscene novel').

어그로 (n.) - deliberate provocation, usually to spark an argument. Contraction of "aggressive" or "aggression".
   Related:  광역 어그로 (adj.-n.) provocation that aims at a great number of people, either by picking on a sensitive topic or by insulting a large group of people.

오덕후 (n.) - a nerd, with an unusual and specific area of interest (e.g. Japanese animation); Koreanization of "otaku"
   Synonyms:  덕후 (n.); 오덕 (n.); 덕 (n.). Contraction of "오덕후"
   Related:  십덕 (n.) or 씹덕 (n.) - a particularly nerdy nerd. Play on the word "오덕," which can be read as "five 덕" (while 십덕 can be read as "ten 덕").
   Related:  덕력 (n.) - breadth of knowledge in the area of geekery; literally, "nerd power".
   Related:  양덕 (n.) - Western nerd.
   Related:  밀덕 (n.) - nerd focusing on military weaponry. Contraction of "밀리터리 [military] 덕후". 

야매 (n.) - bootleg; fake or black market product.

염장 (n.) - kicking when someone's down; salting the wound. Literally, "salting".

이뭐병 (int.) - "What the hell?". Contraction of "이게 뭐야 병신아" ["What is this, you moron?"]

이빨까다 (v.) - to banter, usually in smart aleck; literally, "to uncover teeth".
   Related:  이빨 (n.) - smart aleck-y banter; literally, "teeth".

잉여 (n.) - a jobless, useless person; literally, "leftover".
   Related:  트잉여 (n.) - a useless person who spends too much time on Twitter. Combination of 트위터 ["Twitter"] and 잉여.

작업 (n.) - flirting. Literally, "work" or "operation".

좆 (n.) - penis.
   Related:  좆같다 (v.) - to be bad (as in quality).
   Related:  좆만하다 (v.) - to be little; literally, "as little as a dick."
   Related:  좆밥 (n.) - an insignificant thing; literally, "dick feed."
   Related:  좆나 (adv.) - very. Also distorted into 존나 or 조낸.
   Related:  좆까 (v.) - to fuck off; literally, "peel a dick." Also distorted into 조까.

재미지다 (v.) - to be fun.  Distortion of "재미있다".

짤방 (n.) - a picture. Contraction of "짤림 방지" (literally, "cut prevention"). Originated from a popular web community called DC Inside, which began as a digital photo sharing site. Because DC Inside would delete a post without a picture (as it was contrary to the purpose of the site,) people who frequent DC Inside to write about topics other than photography began adding just any photo.
   Synonym:  짤 (n.) - contraction of 짤방.
   Related:  혐짤 (n.) - disgusting or gross picture. Contraction of "혐오스러운 짤방" [disgusting 짤방]
   Related:  움짤 (n.) - moving gif. Contraction of "움직이는 짤방" [moving 짤방]
   Related:  먹짤 (n.) - picture of food. Contraction of "먹을 것 짤방" [food 짤방]

쩔다 (v.) - to be awesome, either in quality or scale.

천조국 (n.) - America. Literally, either "heavenly kingdom," a term that old Korea referred to China, to which it was a vassal state, or "the one trillion country," referring to the fact that U.S. annual budget is more than KRW 1 trillion.

최애캐 (n.) - favorite character; favorite person. Contraction of "최고 애정이 가는 캐릭터 [character]", originally used in the context of video games involving a lot of characters.

츤데레 (n.) - a shy and cold person who secretly has a heart of gold. Korean pronunciation of "tsundere."

칼침 (n.) - stabbing; "knife acupuncture".
   Synonym:  칼빵 (n.) - stabbing

케바케 (adj.) - case-by-case. Contraction of "케이스 바이 케이스".

퉁치다 (v.) - to call it even.

후죠시 (n.) - woman who likes gay men; Korean pronunciation of "fujoshi"
   Synonym:  후죠 (n.) - Contraction of "후죠시".
   Related:  후죠물 (n.) - movies, dramas or comics featuring gay men, aimed toward 후죠시 women.

흑역사 (n.) - embarrassing personal stories of the past; "dark history".

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.


  1. Thank you for this priceless sum.
    I bet some readers will ask for transliterations.

  2. Perhaps "대박" would be a good addition?

  3. As I know, "뭥미" is an intended typo of "뭐임".

    1. That's actually correct. I was mixing "뭥미" with "이뭐병." Correction made.

  4. Wow. I'm so out of touch with contemporary Korean language. I only knew a handful of these and mostly from watching movies.

  5. 존잘, 존귀, 존예, among others.

  6. Why is there no "헐" on the list?!

  7. 엄친아, 지못미, 쉴드, 쌤, and 듣보잡 would be a good addition as well.

    I had no idea that 뭥미 meant "뭐야 이 미친 놈아". For some reason, I thought it meant "뭔 meaning?" X-D

    어휴, 쪽팔려...

    Hey! 쪽팔려 would be a good one too.

    1. Turns out I made a mistake about 뭥미--see the comment above. 쪽팔리네요...

  8. 뭥미 actually means 뭐임 but peoples typing keyboard too fast so, make mistake 뭥미. ㅁ ㅜ ㅓ ㅇ ㅣ ㅁ -> ㅁ ㅜ ㅓ ㅇ ㅁㅣ (last ㅁ and ㅣ are incorrect). and peoples accept that new word.

    네임드 come from 'named monster', who have have name(not millions monsters who have same name) in mmorpg 'world of warcraft'. not named weapon.

    1. for example, 이건 뭥미? (이건 뭐임?)

  9. "어그로" is a Korean pronunciation of "aggro", which again comes from World of Warcraft (WoW). This is an imported word from English gaming community. Aggro is a concept not specific to WoW, but Korean WoW communities made this word popular. See http://www.wowwiki.com/Aggro.

    1. To many young Koreans, the word "어그로" means gaining many people's attention by doing or saying something very unpleasant

    2. 'Aggro' did not come from WoW.

      Actually, It is a concept created by Everquest in 1999.

  10. "천조국" comes from Chinese word 천조(天朝, literally "Celestial Dynasty"), a glorified word to call the Chinese government. Before modern era, China and Joseon had a tributary relationship (like many other countries surrounding China). In this system, the tributary country called the Chinese government as 천조, and China as 천조국(天朝國, literally "Celestial Empire"). 천조 was not an everyday word, and was mainly used in diplomatic letters sent to China. 상국(上國, literally "Upper country") is a word with similar usage.

    Then, why do many Koreans call America as 천조국? This has a hidden derogatory meaning against the Korean government. Referring US as the "Celestial empire" or the "Upper country", we are making a criticism against Korean government overly friendly to the United States. I think it's an analog to a Tony Blair's nickname "Bush's poodle".

    1. "This has a hidden derogatory meaning against the Korean government."

      I think this sentiment might be wide spread. I heard at a gathering not too long ago a Korean acquaintance say, "On August 15th, a Japanese colony became an American colony." No one in the room countered his suggestion. Someone even affirmed. I didn't know him too well, so I didn't respond. As for the blog post, I actually thought 천조국 just meant 千兆國 ("one-trillion country") until I read The Korean's blog post.

      Also, I'm surprised there are so many Japanese slang words here. As I covered on my blog, a lot of Koreans on twitter tweeted not to use the word "게양" because it's a Japanese word.

    2. Gee, You've gone too far man.
      No single Korean uses 천조국 as "Celestial Dynasty" or "Celestial Empire", it's all about 'one trillion (military budget-spending) country'.
      They're just homonyms :/

  11. Hello, TK! Interesting post once again.

    Reading the list, I can not help thinking that many of them are rather new and well spread among younger generation.

    Allow me to add some from top of my head.
    And corrections are welcomed.

    머리에 총알 박히다. (get a bullet in one's head)
    = used to express total insanity

    허파에 바람들다. (wind in one's lungs)
    = used to describe someone with too much laughter

    돗자리 깔다. (lay a mat)
    = used to express acute sense of observation and prediction.

    소설을 쓰다. (write a novel)
    = used when one's great volume of lying is detected

    콩 까다. (peel beans)
    = used to express sex

    수박 겉 핥기 (lick outer side of watermelon)
    = used to express work done in fast and almost zero-effort manner.

    1. one more which is my favorite.

      개 풀 뜯어먹는 소리 하다 (Making sound of dog grazing)
      = used to express one's speech is total non sense

    2. 콩 까다 is also used to 'tease the second or the runners (especially who usually lose the final match in the tournament)' adopted from former Korean professional Starcraft player called Hong Jin-ho.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Hi
    Can you tell me the meaning of this 조켓당?


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