Today I Learned... | 오늘 ㅇㅇ 알아냈다 🧐

Inspired by @bungakushoujo‘s study log, I thought it would be fun to share tidbits we’ve learned about the Korean language or culture. :smiley:

TIL that the word for ‘ladybird’/’ladybug’ in Korean is ‘무당벌레’.

무당 = (female) shaman, exorcist (a male shaman is called a 박수)
벌레 = bug, insect

Presumably this is because they resemble the red clothes traditionally worn by 무당:


I love this! Thanks for starting this thread! I may need to move my tidbits over here :thinking:

A shaman bug, huh… :lady_beetle: I like it! :laughing:
Side note but it seems like every language has their own creative way of calling ladybugs :thinking:


Came across a sweet little 속담 today:

콩 한 쪽도 나눠 먹는다

Easy to understand from the context:

콩 한 쪽도 나눠 먹을 정도로 할아버지와 할머니는 사이가 좋았습니다.


(Anyone remember Mickey and the Beanstalk? :rofl:)


:telephone_receiver:Some phone related words I came across today:

우물 정자 (키) → the # button on a phone
우물 means well and this expression comes from the 한자 for well 井, that looks like #
Alternatively there is also “샵 버튼“ from English.

별표 → the star key or asterisk *
For any Japanese friends lurking, the Japanese translation is 米印 ※ because it looks like 米!


TIL 세종대왕 (Sejong the Great) was a 책벌레 (bookworm, lit. “book bug”)! :open_book: :bug:

세종 was known by his 군호 (君號, military title) of 충녕대군 when he was young:

충령(忠靈): 나라에 대한 충성과 절의를 위하여 목숨을 바친 넋.

절의 = integrity, honour

대군(大君)은 고려 시대 및 조선 시대에 왕자들에게 내려진 작호의 일종이다.

작호 = official title

ETA: Just realised I used 충령 instead of 충녕 (although they are homonyms, and it fits 세종 so well! :laughing:)

忠 = 충성 충
寧 = 편안 녕

충성 is what you often hear Korean soldiers shout as they salute.
And the hanja for 녕 is the same one that’s found in 안녕 (安寧).


Today I learned that April Fools Day is called 만우절 (萬愚節)! The 한자 are “ten thousand, many” “foolishness” and “occasion”, so it’s the occasion of many foolishnesses!

萬 happens to be a 한자 that many learners may already be familiar with without knowing it, as it the number ten thousand, as in 삼만원.

Anyone else ever fall down random namu wiki rabbit holes about 한자? Just me…? Ok…
(But omg, 萬 is an alternate/old fashioned version of 万 in Japanese! So cool to learn a new 漢字 while also learning Korean!! :nerd_face:)


Some things I learned from reading the prologue of 책벌레의 하극상 제1부 - 병사의 딸 1 | L30

  • ~더미 - can be attached to (some?) nouns make ‘pile of’. Like 책더미 (book pile). I think it can just be used on it’s own too… in the reading, they also said “산더미처럼 쌓아” (piled like a mountain pile).

  • 서고 - ‘library’. I’m not entirely clear yet how it differs from 도서권, but my impression is that 도서권 refers to the building… like a public library… whereas ‘서고’ is the literal room which houses bookshelves. So, you can have a 서고 in your house? At least, that was my impression.


I learned that a French braid is called 디스코 머리 (disco hair!) :mirror_ball::man_dancing:or 디스코 머리 땋기!
(땋다 = to braid, 땋은 머리 = braided hair)

I am curious about how this hairstyle ended up with such a groovy name in Korean!


I have learned another slang korean shortening, and this one seems very useful!

열공하다 = 열심이 공부하다

Seriously though, is there any other language that loves to slang combine words as much as korean :rofl:. I feel like they think if it’s longer than two blocks, it’s too long.

Was this in 하극상? Totally missed that but did learn about braiding like you did. Also would be quite the anachronism in 하극상 ㅎㅎ


Everyone at natively is 열공하고 있죠 :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

It would be hilarious if I did learn it there as that would be quite the anachronism like you said ㅋㅋ🤣 But no, I encountered it in 쇼코의 미소 | L30?? which I just started over the weekend. :smiling_face:


까치발 and 까치걸음 describe light, boucy movements resembling that of a 까치 (magpie), like hopping or tiptoeing. :feather:


Turns out Duolingo was useful after all, that’s where I learned 까치 and I’d been wondering where I’d ever get the chance to use it :joy:


질세 (jilsae): This word is a slang term derived from the Japanese word “ジルセ” (jiruse), which means “to shout loudly” or “to yell.”

I couldn’t find a definition in naver dictionary*, open dictionary, or the korean learners’ dictionary, although the latter did have an example sentence that seems to support the AI definition above:

백군의 함성 소리에 질세라 청군도 큰 소리로 응원을 하기 시작했다.

* It didn’t fit the context of what I was reading, but 질세 can mean ‘길이’ in (함경남도) dialect.

Wasn’t able to find a Japanese definition of ジルセ in a dictionary or a quick google search, so not sure if the origin is right. :thinking:

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Slang is always so interesting! It’s just verifying the definition and origin that can sometimes be difficult.

This made me want to look at my slang dictionary, and this was too good not to put here. I also learned the word for neologism, 신조어 (新造語), and the hanja here actually makes so much sense! 新 for new, 造 for construct and 語 for language! So, a neologism is a new word construct, that’s basically the definition of the word in the hanja.

Sorry, but again, this is way too funny to me.


Is it a trend among Koreans to switch words to similar sounding vegetables? :joy:

I’m looking at you, 당근이지


Which one do you use? The site I had bookmarked had been deleted when I went to search it. :sob:

I haven’t really figured out a good way to learn hanja, but it’s fun exploring this dictionary!


I use Trend a word. It’s a sort of slang newsletter, so it doesn’t have that many words but the explanations are interesting.

I use that one too! I’ve also been struggling with Hanja. I know a few common ones, and some that I remember from specifically looking up because I misinterpreted the meaning of a word (like 병사, it has the hanja for soldier 兵 instead of 病 for illness, in 병원).

Does knowing Japanese help with hanja?


I recognise a lot of the characters when I look things up, which is useful - what I’d like to work on is connecting the Korean pronunciations with the meanings to make it easier to guess new Sino-Korean words as I come across them. Not that you have to learn hanja to make connections, but it’s more efficient than relying solely on 한글, as your example demonstrates.

We have the ✒ Hanja :: 한자 [ resources & discussion ] thread, but I can’t really think of a good method to learn hanja. :thinking:


천지개벽 (天地開闢) 「명사」 Noun [천지개벽]

  1. creation of the world
    하늘과 땅이 처음으로 열림.
    A state in which the heaven and the earth are created.
  2. big change
    (비유적으로) 자연계에서나 사회에서 큰 변화가 일어남.
    (figurative) A state in which a great change takes place in nature or society.

하늘 천; heaven

땅 지; earth

열 개; [to] open

열 벽; [to] open, widen

I came across this word in the context of the second definition, with an elderly character using it to emphasise how the world has changed since they were young:

내가 어릴 때랑 지금은 세상이 천지개벽할 정도로 변했다고.

Looking at the hanja definitions, the literal meaning seems to be the distance between heaven and earth becoming greater, metaphorically representing an enormous change - in this case between the past and present.

ETA: Another interesting one! :joy:

백년손님 (百年손님)
한평생을 두고 늘 어려운 손님으로 맞이한다는 뜻으로, ‘사위’를 이르는 말.


I feel like I’ve seen this translation before. Not sure whether it was for the same word or not though.

For another interesting expressions, I have “호랑이 담배 피던 시절”, and yes you read that correctly. I didn’t know tigers had ever smoked, but I guess that’s because I’m too young to be born in the time period where tigers smoked. That’s pretty much the meaning of this, a long time ago.

I found it in the following sentence, from a folktale in a graded reader:

호랑이가 담배 피우던 아주 먼 옛날, 동해 바다에는 나이 많은 멸치 한 마리가 있었다.