Not to be confused with four-letter words, these are words of Chinese origin used idiomatically for linguistic efficiency. A few examples:

십중팔구(十中八九) lit. meaning: 8 or 9 out of 10; use: “most likely”

세면도구 (洗面道具) lit. meaning: syllables of various personal hygiene activities; use: “toiletries”

유구무언 (有口無言) lit. meaning: to have nothing to say; use: “offer no excuse”

천지차이 (天地差異) lit. meaning: the difference between the sky and the earth; use: “to be worlds apart”

일석이조 (一石二鳥) lit. meaning: one stone two birds; use: same as the English “hit two birds with one stone”

춘하추동 (春夏秋冬) lit. meaning: spring, summer, autumn, winter; use: “the four seasons”

산천초목 (山川草木) lit. meaning: mountains, streams, plants, grass; use: “nature”


      • Once you get the hang of some of the hanja, things just click. Last week I caught myself before writing 수백명 in my lecture notes for “several hundred people” because I remembered that I promised someone copies of my notes so I couldn’t just write random Korean words in the middle of sentences.

        I just came home from Sicily and I’m actually looking forward to just sitting at my desk reading obscure articles about contract law and insurance terms since that will probably be less strenuous than the trip we had 😀


      • ㅋㅋㅋ that would probably not have caused any confusion at all. I actually do the same in my Econ books when I see a technical term where I know the Korean equivalent. So if someone were to borrow them they’d be met with a lot of 소비자, 균형

        Liked by 1 person

      • By the way Sicily sounds awesome and only slightly stressful. Plus Fiumicino is not the most exciting airport to be stuck in. Glad to hear that your Korean drama came to the rescue 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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