Untranslatable Korean words (Language) – April

Interesting Korean Words Not Translatable into English

For this month, we have prepared a list of Korean words that are not translatable into the English language. Here you can learn what they mean and how they are used with the example sentences. In every language there are certain words that are hard to explain and, therefore, translate. Many of these words offer an insight to the country’s culture and tradition. We hope you can learn more about the Korean language and culture through these words.

1.눈치 : nun-chi

Definition: 눈치 is the ability to understand somebody or the context of a problem without explanation. For example, if one were to bring up the topic of love when one of their friends had just gone through a messy break-up, Koreans would say he or she has no 눈치.

Example Sentences:

너 눈치 없구나: neo/nun-chi/eop-guna

You don’t have nunchi do you?

그거 말하지마! 눈치 없어?: geu-geo/mal-ha-ji-ma!/nun-chi/eop-seo?

Don’t say that! Don’t you have nunchi?


2. 정 : jeong

Definition: 정 is a word used for a special kind of love in Korea. At its most basic it can be simply defined as love, but it includes more than that. It is a mixture of compassion, empathy, kindness, attachment, affection, etc. Many people in Korea would recognize an act of kindness towards a stranger as 정.

Example Sentences:

둘이 서로 간에 정이 깊다: du-ri/seo-ro/ga-ne/jeong-i gip-da

They are both deeply attached to each other.

그녀는 정이 많다: geu-nyeo-neun/jeong-i/man-ta

She has a lot of jeong.


3. 삐져서 : ppi-jyeo-seo

Definition: To say that one is 삐져서 suggests that he or she is in a bad mood. They are not necessarily angry, but perhaps a little frustrated and bitter about what somebody did. For example, one could be 삐져서 about somebody taking the last cookie without asking, but one wouldn’t be enraged about it. It is the perfect term to express one’s bitterness without utilizing extremes.

Example Sentences:

나 지금 삐져서: na/ji-geum/ppi-jyeo-seo.

I am sulky right now.

말 시키지마. 나 너한테 삐져서: mal/si-ki-ji-ma./na/neo-han-te ppi-jyeo-seo.

Don’t make me talk. I’m mad at you right now.

Want to learn more?

Our full-length language guides are available in our subscriber-only magazine. Why not subscribe now to the Inspire Me Korea CULTURE box to get the full experience, and to receive a box of goodies sent to your door every month? We ship internationally! Find out more here

Featured Image Source: ©Language, 09-04-19,



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