Daebak !! 26 Korean words added to Oxford English dictionary 

 October 21, 2021

By  Smriti Ekka

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We have seen a dramatic shift of interest among the younger generation in terms of consumption of content as more and more people are getting into K-Pop or K-Drama in recent years. The change is evident in the fields of music, games, skincare and now also in the fields of language as well. 

As we're aware of certain Indian words being recognised by the Oxford English dictionary which are quite evident to the Indian ears which are derived from Indian languages like Yoga, Bungalow, Guru etc. Oxford has now decided to add 26 new Korean words in its list.

Daebak !! 26 Korean words added to Oxford English dictionary

This will not only give a brief introduction to the origin of the words but will also make the Korean language quite accessible to the majority of English speakers. Who knows in a few years down the road saying words like 'Chimaek' and 'fighting' could be used in daily conversation.

Most words are English romanisation of Koreans words and some are a combination of Konglish and portmanteau words ( which is a blend of multiple words to form a new word  eg : smog )

Following is the list of words added in the Oxford English dictionary :

Aegyo

A very famous word among the K-drama watchers. 애교 which means "doing cute things" in called aegyo in Korean. It's a gesture. Just by defining aegyo as ' cute ' will be wrong as there's a different word for cute in Korean which is Kwiyoptta "귀엽다"

Aegyo

Aegyo

Banchan

Korean meal consists of many side dishes which are called Banchan  ' 반찬 '. Those are often served when you visit Korean restaurants by the owners for free.  

Banchan

Banchan

Bulgogi

The fact that Korean BBQ is not called Korean BBQ in Korean but bulgogi. KBBQ is bulgogi in Korean. ' Bul ' means ~fire and ' gogi ' means ~meat. The name suggests how the dish is cooked. Literally the meat is cooked on fire.

Bulgogi

Bulgogi

Chimaek

Yet another portmanteau word. Chimaek is a combination of 'chicken' and 'maekju' ( beer ). 'Chi' from Chicken and 'Maek' from maekju. Chicken is the most liked and consumed combination with beer for Koreans. You should definitely try it when visiting Korea, especially the Korean fried chicken. 

Chimaek

Chimaek

Daebak!!

Daebak is the exclamatory expression used to express surprise. Did you dye your eyebrows ? Daebak~ You bought a Mercedes ? Daebak. The most equivalent expression would be OMG or Awesome in English. 

It's probably the most exploited word by Koreans. You cannot spend an entire day without hearing Daebak from Koreans.

The word has been replaced to "bak bak" "박박" by the younger generations but that another topic for another day. 

Daebak

Daebak

Dongchimi

동치미!!!?? 동치미까지 ? ( Dongchimi !!!?? Do people use Dongchimi that much ? ) This came off as a big surprise. If you are wondering,  Dongchimi is a water kimchi dish made with Korean radish.

Dongchimi is a variety of kimchi consisting of Korean radish, napa cabbage, scallions, pickled green chilli, ginger, Korean pear and watery brine in Korean cuisine. Dong (동) comes from the hanja word which means 'winter' and "치미" means 'kimchi'. 

Dongchimi

Dongchimi

Fighting

No, not what you think it means !! It is used as an expression to encourage someone. For example saying Fighting!! You can do it. All the best for your exam. Fighting!!

It's a Konglish word which is used by Koreans in everyday life. 

Fighting

Fighting

Galbi

갈비 (galbi) is referred to the grilled ribs. Galbi is the Korean word for ribs and is another favourite dish of Koreans. 

Galbi

Galbi

Hallyu

This word is used to refer to the Korean wave~ It is referred to as the phenomenal growth of everything from Korean entertainment, food and Language and pop culture. 

Hallyu

Hallyu

Hanbok

It's the official  traditional attire of Koreans. 'Han' in Hanbok denotes Korean. 

Hanbok is classified according to its purposes as everyday dress, ceremonial dress, and special dress. Ceremonial dresses are worn on formal occasions and special dresses are made for shamans and officials.

Korean Hanbok

Korean Hanbok

Japchae

Like World famous 'ramyeon', japchae is the type of glass noodles dish Koreans love eating a lot. It's a stir-fried glass noodles and vegetables. Dish is made by mixing sweet potato noodles with thin slices of stir-fried various vegetables, meat, etc.

Japchae

Japchae

K-

This syllable is used to form words related to Korean culture, food or Lifestyle like K-food, K-beauty, K-pop, K-culture etc.

K-

K-

K-drama

K-dramas are television series in the Korean language. Partially, the popularity of the Korean dramas is due to the spread of Korean culture, and their widespread availability via streaming services which offer subtitles in multiple languages.

K-drama

K-drama

Konglish

Like Singlish and Hinglish used in Singapore and India, respectively. Korean words which are coined from the English words are called Konglish like fighting and skinship etc. 

Konglish

Konglish

Kimbap

A Korean dish made from vegetables, fish and meats rolled in gim '김' (dried sheets of seaweed) and served in bite-sized portions is called Kimbap.

Kimbap

Kimbap

Korean wave

‘Korean wave’ is the same as Hallyu. It is referred to as the phenomenal growth of everything from Korean entertainment, food and language and pop culture.

Korean wave

Korean wave

Manhwa

Like Manga, Korean webtoon and comics are called Manhwa. It is getting worldwide popularity with the spread of Korean culture and adaptation in some very famous Korean Netflix adaptations. 

You can read Manhwas here. 

Manhwa

Manhwa

Mukbang

Mukbang is nothing but having a ‘ live broadcast while eating food ‘ in which a host consumes various quantities of food while interacting with the audience.

The word is a combination of muk '먹' meaning "to eat" and bang from bangsong '방송' meaning "live broadcast". The popular kind of content of eating food in the form of ASMR or live audiovisual broadcast originated from the Korean live broadcasting community.

먹방

먹방

Noona

Noona (누나) is the term used by guys to call females who are older than them. This term is used by only guys.

This term is also used by guys to refer to their girlfriends or wife who are older than them. 

Noona

Noona

Oppa

Oppa (오빠) is the term used by girls to call males who are older than them. This term is used by only girls . 

This term is also used by girls to refer to their boyfriends or husbands who are older than them.

오빠

오빠

PC bang

Pc bang or 피시방 is the combination of two words. '피시' which is 'PC' and '방' which means 'room' in Korean. PC bangs are typically the cyber cafes where people spend time playing games and doing internet surfing.

You can even order food and beverages while playing games for hours. 

피시방

피시방

Samgyeopsal

It's typically pork belly meat. Samgyeop-sal (삼겹살) literally means "three layer flesh" referring to striations of lean meat and fat in the pork belly that appear as three layers when cut.

삼겹살

삼겹살

Skinship

It's the form of casual physical affection, touch or physical contact shown in Korean dramas among friends or close ones. This form of affection is given a special term in Korean dramas. 

Skinship

Skinship

Tang soo do

Tang Soo Do refers to a Korean martial art based on karate and includes principles from martial arts. 

Tang soo do

Tang soo do

Trot

It's a special type of Korean music which has a fixed rhythm, giving a mellow or sad feeling. 

Unni

Unni (언니) is the term used by girls to call females who are older than them. This term is used by only girls. Even the female friends who are older in age can be referred to as unni in Korean.

언니

언니

Words like Ramyeon and Suju didn't make it to the Oxford English dictionary list. What are your thoughts ? 

How many words were you already aware of ? Do you use these words often in everyday life ? 


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Smriti Ekka


Smriti Ekka graduated in Commerce and Library science, and currently she is working as a content writer at TOPIK Guide website. She is a Korean language and culture enthusiast and has been working across multiple disciplines which broadly addresses narratives of similarities between Korean and Indian culture. Apart from being a content writer at TOPIK Guide she manages Annyeong India website and has had her pieces published in Learn Korean in India website as well. In her other life, she is a singer, rising entrepreneur, life enthusiast and a learner.

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