These 10+ Korean Words Have Just Been Added To The English Dictionary

These Korean words made it into “the definitive record of the English language!”

South Korean culture continues to rise in popularity all around the world, and the Oxford English Dictionary’s latest update proves it! “The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language,” according to the official website. The OED’s September 2021 update includes over 1,650 new words. Check out this list below of 17 new entries related to Korean culture, both pop and traditional!

1. Aegyo

A true staple of Korean pop culture, aegyo has entered the OED as both an adjective and a noun!

A. n.
Cuteness or charm, esp. of a sort considered characteristic of Korean popular culture. Also: behaviour regarded as cute, charming, or adorable.

B. adj.
Characterized by ‘aegyo,’ cute, charming, adorable.


2. Daebak

Even if you don’t know any Korean, odds are you know this word well! Daebak was entered into the OED as both a noun and an interjection.

A. n.
Something lucrative or desirable, esp. when acquired or found by chance; a windfall, a jackpot.

B. int.
Expressing enthusiastic approval: ‘fantastic!’, ‘amazing!’


3. Fighting

Fighting has taken on a new meaning in Korean culture! This word of encouragement is also written as hwaiting and is used by people all around the world as a means to cheer someone on.

Esp. in Korea and Korean contexts: expressing encouragement, incitement, or support: ‘Go On!’ ‘Go for it!’


4. Hallyu

Considering the rise of Korean culture all around the world, it’s only right that hallyu made it into the English dictionary! Hallyu is also called “Korean wave,” and the two have almost identical definitions in the OED.

The increase in international interest in South Korea and its popular culture, esp. as represented by the global success of South Korean music, film, television, fashion, and food. Also: South Korean popular culture and entertainment itself. Frequently as a modifier, as in hallyu crazehallyu fanhallyu star.


5. Hanbok

Hanbok is beloved internationally for its beauty and cultural significance! It’s often worn for formal occasions, though K-Pop idols also wear modernized versions for performances.

A traditional Korean costume consisting of a long-sleeved jacket or blouse and a long, high-waisted skirt for women or loose-fitting trousers for men, typically worn on formal or ceremonial occasions.


6. K-

The “combining form” K- has made it into the dictionary as well! Its earliest recorded usage was in 1999 when Billboard wrote the word “K-pop” in an article!

Forming nouns relating to South Korea and its (popular) culture, as K-beautyK-cultureK-foodK-style, etc.


Jungkook, Jimin, Jin, RM, V, J-Hope, and Suga of BTS. | HYBE

7. K-drama

Everyone and their mother seems to be obsessed with K-dramas — and who could blame them! With all the drama, suspense, romance, and more, Korean dramas are one of a kind.

A television series in the Korean language and produced in South Korea. Also: such series collectively.


The Top 9 Most Streamed Dramas For The First Half Of 2021 On Korean Paid Platform TVing

8. Konglish

Konglish is a portmanteau of Korean and English. It’s commonly spoken by Koreans, but multilingual people all around the world can totally relate to mixing two languages together in one sentence!

A mixture of Korean and English, esp. and informal hybrid language spoek by Koreans, incorporating elements of Korean and English.


9. Manhwa

The increasing interest in Korean pop culture around the world also extends to its comics!

A Korean genre of cartoons and comic books, often influenced by Japanese manga. Also: a cartoon or comic book in this genre.


8 Webtoons And Manhwas With The Cutest Art Styles That Will Match Your Aesthetic Perfectly

10. Mukbang

Even people who know nothing about South Korean pop culture have most likely heard or seen the word mukbang before! A combination of the words muk (to eat) and bang (from bangsong ie. broadcasting), mukbangs are super popular online.

A video, esp. one that is livestreamed, that features a person eating a large quantity of food and talking to the audience. Also: such videos collectively or as a phenomenon.


11. Noona

Noona is probably one of those words every Korean pop-culture enthusiast has heard before! For an iconic example, take SHINee‘s debut song “Replay,” and its Korean title “Noona Neomu Yeppeo” (Noona, you’re so pretty.)

In Korean-speaking contexts: a boy’s or man’s elder sister. Also as a respectful form of address or term of endearment, and in extended use with reference to an older female friend.


12. Oppa

Similar to noonaoppa is one of those words you can find everywhere when it comes to Korean culture and fandoms. Tons of idols have sung along to the “Oppaya” (“Sweet Heart”) song to show off their aegyo!

In Korean-speaking contexts: a girl’s or woman’s elder brother. Also as a respectful form of address or term of endearment, and in extended use with reference to an older male friend or boyfriend.


13. PC bang

PC bangs are super popular in Asia, and tons of people hope they start gaining popularity in their local areas too! They’re a perfect place to get your game on and also get some delicious food while you’re at it.

In South Korea: an establishment with multiple computer terminals providing access to the internet for a fee, usually for gaming.


6 Things That Surprise Foreigners About Korean Internet Cafes

14. Skinship

Skinship is something almost entirely unique to Japanese and Korean culture, and often surprises people who are exposed to these cultures for the first time! While often used to refer to the physical closeness of celebrities, it also relates to familial relationships.

Esp. in Japanese and Korean contexts: touching or close physical contact between parent and child or (esp. in later use) between lovers or friends, used to express affection or strengthen an emotional bond.


15. Tang soo do

While Taekwondo is probably the most famous Korean martial art, Tang soo do is equally as significant and earned a spot in the OED’s latest update!

A Korean martial art using the hands and feet to deliver and block blows, similar to karate.


16. Trot

Before there was the K-Pop we know today, there was trot! Odds are if you’re a K-Pop stan, you’ve heard an idol sing and dance along to a trot song before. It’s still a well-loved genre of music within South Korea and around the world!

A genre of Korean popular music characterized by repetitive rhythms and emotional lyrics, combining a traditional Korean singing style with influences from Japanese, European, and American popular music. Also (and in earliest use) as a modifier, as in trot musictrot song, etc.


17. Unni

Unni (also written as eonnieonie, and unnie) made it into the OED Third Edition this year as well! For another musical example, take Jessi‘s “SSENUNNI” which means “strong unni.

In Korean-speaking contexts: a girl’s or woman’s elder sister. Also as a respectful form of address or term of endearment, and in extended use with reference to an older female friend or an admired actress or singer.


Bonus: All The Food

In addition to the words above, the OED added 8 words all related to Korean cuisine! These are banchan (side dishes), bulgogi (thin beef or pork), chimaek (fried chicken served with beer), dongchimi (a type of kimchi made with radishes), galbi (beef short ribs), japchae (noodles), kimbap (rice and other ingredients wrapped in seaweed), and samgyeopsal (pork belly). Hungry yet? We definitely are!

Source: OED, OED Blog and OED Third Edition