30+ Best Korean Onomatopoeia And Mimetic Words

Korean Onomatopoeia And Mimetic Words

There are lots of buzzwords going around in Korea and you might be thinking, “how come I haven’t heard of this word before?” Sometimes these buzzwords come from Korean onomatopoeia and mimetic words.

Do you know the right words to describe a certain action or sound in the Korean language? Are you aware of the difference between Korean onomatopoeia and mimetic words? In this blog post, we will walk you through all these important constructs and provide proper examples for you to learn from. Let’s get started!

Does Korean Have Onomatopoeia?

Onomatopoeia and mimetic words are the words that represent sounds. Onomatopoeia and mimetic words are similar somewhat, but mimetic words are used more to describe movements, while onomatopoeia is particularly for sounds. These words are found in every language and add beauty to it. In Korean, these words are a part of Hangul which are Korean alphabet.

Here we are going to discuss Korean mimetic words and Korean onomatopoeia words. These words are a unique kind of vocabulary that adds specialty to Korean. Witae is a Korean word for them. And it is called 의태어 (Witaeeo).

Korean onomatopoeia is the word for the sounds of animals and objects as well. Korean mimetic words and Korean onomatopoeia also help in learning the Korean language as these words contain Korean dialects.

English Vs Korean Onomatopoeia And Mimetic Words

Difference between Korean onomatopoeia and English mimetic words

These fun Korean words are different from English onomatopoeia words, example sentences would be the sound of a dog which is woof woof in English, and Mekong Mekong in Korean.

An example sentence would more clear the concept if you say that I heard a few bikes pass by doing vroom vroom in my street. In this sentence, vroom is an English mimetic indicating the sound of bikes. However, Koreans would indicate the bike’s vrooming differently i.e 부릉 부릉 (Bureung Bureung).

Mimetics and onomatopoeia have one main difference, which is, that onomatopoeia describes sounds, but mimetic words are found to describe movement. An example would solve the remaining knots in your mind. Imagine a street mime that got stuck in some box. He has movements but can’t speak, so those motions are described by mimetics. Korean onomatopoeia is very cool to listen to as well.

One unique fact about Korean onomatopoeia

Nature has given lots of unique facts to Korea and one of them is their mimetic words. These mimetic words and onomatopoeia are so catchy because of their richness, that they are also called colorful words as they add many colors to the words, sounds, and movements. 

Captivating information

Koreans who have to explain these onomatopoeic words to foreigners, find it tough to describe the meaning and pronunciation of these words.

Mimetic words

의태어 (Witaeeo) is the Korean word used to describe Korean mimetics. Following are some mimetic words used in Korea.

반짝반짝 (banjjak banjjak)

This is the word that describes twinkling or glittering. Mostly associated with sparkling things. When you observe and hear such things you realize this sound. It describes also the sound of Jewelry.

두근두근 (dugeun dugeun)

This is used to describe heart throbbing, for example, if you see your crush in your college and whenever you have the feeling that the person is around, your heart starts throbbing. Moreover, in conversation with the person you love and during a kiss as well, you observe this sound.

주룩주룩 (Juruk Juruk)

This is the sound that describes rain pouring. This one is associated with the sound of dripping and is also written as a churok churok in Korean.

쿵쿵 (keung keung)

This word describes thump notices, like the sound of your shoes while going upstairs. This Korean alphabet also describes the sound of dripping anything on the floor.

쨍쨍 (jjaeng jjaeng)

This one describes the blazing hot sun.

솔솔 (sol sol)

This is a mimetic word for a gentle breeze. This is a Korean letter for demonstration of softness and gentleness.

말랑말랑 (mallang mallang)

This is for the description of chewy food like snacks etc. Chewy food makes a sound and Koreans demonstrated this sound through the onomatopoeia MallangMallang.

Korean Onomatopoeia And Mimetic Words Different Sounds

 Korean mimetic words for different sounds

  • When the horse hoofs, he makes a clattering sound, the Korean mimetic word for this sound is 하이잉 (Haiing) and English speakers call this Neigh.
  • The crashing sound of anything like a car, plane, etc. have Korean onomatopoeia pronounced as 쾅 (Kwang). So whenever you want to use the crashing sound use the word 쾅 (Kwang).
  • The breathing of a sleeping baby has the mimetic 새근새근 (Saedeun Saedeun).
  • The sound of a car engine sounds like 부릉 부릉 (Bureung Bureung) in Korean.
  • The Bang of a gun sounds like a 빵 (Bbang).
  • 우루룽 (Woorurung) is a sound for a landslide or earthquake.
  • 엉엉 (Eong Eong) is for whimpering.
  • The mimetic for brushing teeth is 치카치카 (Chika Chika).
  • 쾅 (Kwang) is for bang or thumb.
  • 아야 (A Ya) is for ouch.
  • 에취 (E Chwi) is for Achoo.
  • The clapping sound is 짝짝짝 (Jjak Jjak Jjak).
  • 쨍그랑 (Jjaengg Keu Rang) is the sound of wine glasses.

All these words are a romanticized form to read Korean and make it easy for the people who want to learn Korean.

Korean Animal Sounds

There are Korean onomatopoeic words for animal sounds as well.

  • The hoot of an owl sounds like 부엉부엉 (Bueong Bueong) in Korean.
  • 삐약 (Ppi Yak) is a mimetic for the chirping sounds of animals.
  • The dog is an animal that barks and makes a sound like 메콩메콩 (Mekong Mekong).
  • Another animal pig does 쿨쿨쿨쿨 (Kkul Kkul Kkul).

Onomatopoeic words for objects

  • Mimetic words for objects are also there in the Korean language like the sound of the clock is tick-tock.
  • Doorbells make sounds like 딩동 (Ding Dong) in Korean.
  • Knocking on the door sounds like 뚝딱뚝딱 (Ttuk Ttak Ttuk Ttak).
  • The words in Korean to describe falling raindrops are 추록추록 (Chu Rok Chu Rok)

Learning these words enhances your vocabulary and is a fun activity as well. Korean comics help with learning Korean as well. You can’t be an expert on the first day and sometimes people make fun and comment in the beginning on the pronunciation specifically, but you need to just enjoy the language rather than focusing on the demotivators.

Korean words describing actions

Here is a list of some Korean words which can be used to describe the actions.

Action in EnglishAction in KoreanRomanized HangulKorean MimeticRomanized HangulSound
Eating Happily행복하게 먹기haengboghage meoggi냠냠냠nyam nyam nyam
Knock노크nokeu똑똑똑ttok ttok ttok
Crying울음소리ul-eumsoli엉엉eong eong
Mumble중얼중얼jung eol jung eol중얼중얼jung eol jung eol
Clap박수bagsu짝짝jjak jjak
Snoring쿨쿨kulkul쿨쿨kul kul
Tap수도꼭지sudokkogji톡톡tok tok
Confused혼란스러운honlanseuleoun헐레 벌떡heolle beol tteok
warmth따뜻함ttatteusham따끈따끈ttakkeun ttakkeun
Hornppul빵빵bbang bbang
Police Siren경찰 사이렌gyeongchal sailen삐뽀삐뽀bbi bbo bbi boo
Dripping water떨어지는 물tteol eojineun mul뚜벅뚜벅ttubeok ttubeok

Learn Sounds With Poems

One way which works the best is by learning through the poems and one such poem to learn the Korean onomatopoeia and mimetic words in Korean is 멋쟁이 토마토 (meosjaeng-i tomato) which is known as A Stylish Tomato.

Below are the lines from the poems which you can learn from.

나는야 주스 될거야 꿀꺽 (Naneunya juseu doelgeoya kkulkkeok)

나는야 케첩 될거야 찍 (Naneunya kecheob doelgeoya jjik)

나는야 춤을 출거야 헤이 (Naneun-ya chumeul chulgeoya hei)

뽐내는 토마토 토마토 (Ppomnaeneun tomato tomato)

The direct translations of the first three lines are

I’m gonna be the juice gulp

I’m gonna be ketchup

I’m gonna dance hey

Flamboyant tomato tomato

꿀꺽 (Kkul Kkeok) is a Korean word for the sound of a gulp. You can use it while you describe drinking anything. 찍 (Jjik) is a word that is used to describe the sound of a liquid coming out of a bottle or tube-like ketchup.

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Learn More Korean Words With The Ling App

We are happy to educate you about the Korean onomatopoeia and mimetic words and now you should be aware of the different sounds in Korean! Ling app brings you wonderful opportunities of learning the Korean language more effectively. You should learn the Korean letters and the basic phrases in Korean if you haven’t started already! You can also learn about the endearing phrases and saying cheers in Korea.

What are you waiting for? If you’re really determined to learn more about Korean and become fluent soon, download the Ling app on the Play Store or App Store now! It’s filled with 60+ languages with 200+ lessons right at your fingertips. Let’s make this year better by using a language learning app to enhance your memory retention and even make you master Korean!

Updated by: Gwyn

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