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Korean Language: 12 Korean Words With No English Translation

Korean Language: 12 Korean Words With No English Translation

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Korean language is a beautiful, and at the same time a very difficult language to learn. I remember thinking there’s no way I’d ever learn the language. One year of intensive Korean language study, thankfully, I was able to learn and speak it just a bit. Back then, we had no smartphones, so I literally carried my pocket dictionary everywhere I went in case I come across a new word I wasn’t familiar with. But my dictionary wasn’t always helpful. In many cases, I had words I needed accurate translations and English equivalents on and discovered there are tons of Korean words with no English translation and equivalent. Having a handy dictionary will always help you learn the new vocabulary you just came across, but unlike the English language, the same cannot be said for all Korean words.


Here are 12 everyday Korean words that have no specific English translation

1. 애교 – Closest definition – Acting cute. Nope, not in a wow-that’s-a-cute-puppy kind of way. In an extremely difficult way to explain. Here’s a video of what 애교 is.

Some guys find it adorable, some find it disgusting and they get 오글 from it. Which is the next word on the list.

2. 오글 – Closest definition – Cringy, (sometimes) disgusting. Example:

Boyfriend: Hey babe?
Girlfriend: Hey, what you doing?
Boyfriend: Thinking of you?! 
Girlfriend: Lol. Ok then. Where are you?
Boyfriend: Right there with you, in your heart. 
Girlfriend: I’m gonna puke. Can you not talk like that, pls?

The feeling you get from hearing stuff like that is called 오글.

3. 짜증 – Closest definitions – Frustrated, annoyed, in some cases, angry. Example

Reporter: Donald Trump, what is 1 + 1?

Donald Trump: I have to say a lot of people have been asking this question. No, really. A lot of people come up to me and they ask me. They say, ‘What’s 2+2’? And I tell them look, we know what 2+2 is. We’ve had almost eight years of the worst kind of math you can imagine. Oh my God, I can’t believe it. Addition and subtraction of the 1s the 2s and the 3s. It’s terrible. It’s just terrible. Look, if you want to know what 2+2 is, do you want to know what 2+2 is? I’ll tell you. First of all, the number 2, by the way, I love the number 2. It’s probably my favorite number, no it is my favorite number. You know what, it’s probably more like the number two but with a lot of zeros behind it. A lot. If I’m being honest, I mean, if I’m being honest. I like a lot of zeros. Except for Marco Rubio, now he’s a zero that I don’t like. Though, I probably shouldn’t say that. He’s a nice guy but he’s like, ‘10101000101,’ on and on, like that. He’s like a computer! You know what I mean? He’s like a computer. I don’t know. I mean, you know. So, we have all these numbers, and we can add them and subtract them and add them. TIMES them even. Did you know that? We can times them OR divide them, they don’t tell you that, and I’ll tell you, no one is better at the order of operations than me. You wouldn’t believe it. So, we’re gonna be the best on 2+2, believe me.

Reporter: Goddamn it, Donald. Answer the goddamn question directly and cut the BS.

This is a perfect example of getting 짜증 and 답답해. Waiting for something else, then other things like a classic Trump rant getting in the way. Credit: George Tekei

4. 답답해 – Closest definition – Emotionally or physically frustrating and stifling situations, like the above Trump example.

5. 답정너 – Closest definition – Having the intuition to respond and tell someone what they want/need to hear. Example:

Fan: Eminem is the rap God, right? 
Fan’s friend thinking *I don’t even freaking like rap, but I gotta agree with him to stop him from bitching*
Friend: Of course, he’s literally the God of rap. 
*Fan smiles, he’s happy, case closed*

6. 눈치 – Closest definition – Having a good observation and intuitive skill. Example: Tee is in a relationship with Geun-Hye (yup, the president’s name). Geun-Hye is a neat freak and Tee is as messy as they come. One day, Geun-Hye is having a really bad day and tells Tee about it. To not stress her any further, Tee decides to go home early and clean the house, the way Geun-Hye likes it.

Geun-Hye: Wow. You cleaned? You never clean.
Tee: Well, you told me about your day and I wanted to do something you’d like
Geun-Hye: Wow, you’re the best. You have excellent 눈치

7. 삐지다 – Closest definition – To be in between sulking and angry. Weird huh?

8. 언니 – Closest definition – Your older sister, or an older friend/acquaintance, ONLY if you’re female as well.

9. 형 – Closest definition – Your older brother or an older friend/acquaintance, ONLY if you’re male as well

10. 오빠 – Closest definition – Your older brother or an older male friend/acquaintance, if you’re a female.

11. 누나 – Closest definition – Your older sister or an older female friend/acquaintance, if you’re a male.

12. 스킨쉽 – Closest definition – public display of affection, also known as PDA, but in a very loose way. Example – holding hands and hugging is a form of 스킨쉽 in Korea.

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