Konglish: The Ultimate List in 2019

Man standing in front of a board with a notebook and backpack

What if we told you that even if you’ve never studied Korean a day in your life, you already know plenty of Korean words!

How is this possible? Perhaps you were a Korean scholar in your past life? Or maybe your roommate has been secretly teaching you in your sleep.

While those may be possibilities, the more likely scenario is because of a good friend of ours—Konglish!

Read on and get all the details below.

Man standing in front of a board with a notebook and backpack

Here’s a free PDF list of Konglish you can download and take the go.

Let’s get to it!

What is Konglish?

Kong—WHAT?! Maybe you’ve never heard this word before.

Konglish (Korean: 콩글리쉬) is the Korean version of English words. 

Korean English Konglish

For some words that weren’t in the traditional Korean language, Koreans simply took the English word and sounded it out in Hangeul (the Korean alphabet).

This is great news for you as a student of Korean, because you can start saying words in Korean from the get-go without having to pick up a single book.

Other Konglish words are made from a combination of Korean and/or English words which are not used in English-speaking countries.

This brings us to the distinction between loan words and true Konglish words.

Konglish vs. Loan Words

Korean words derived from English fall into one of two categories: 1) Loan Words and 2) Konglish Words.

Loan Words

If the meaning of the word or phrase is the same as it is in English, they are loan words.

These words are easier for even native speakers of English to understand because the pronunciation is easily recognizable and the meaning of the word remains the same. Therefore, even without knowing Korean, you may be able to understand these words.

Below we’ll look at some examples. Click on the audio to hear the pronunciation of the words. Look for a yellow speaker icon followed by the word, and click on the yellow speaker. Here’s an example:

Loan Word (한국어)Actual English Translation
cup
fork
chocolate
ice cream
cola
juice
pizza
비타민 (bitamin)vitamin
sandwich
와인 (wain)wine

Konglish Words

If the meaning of the word or phrases changes from its meaning in English, they are Konglish words.

Often, words and phrases that are borrowed from English (and sometimes other languages) are shortened. Slang words in Korean also are often shortened words, but differ from Konglish words.

For native speakers of English, these can be more difficult to understand. Without studying the meanings, in some cases it would be hard to understand what Koreans are referring to—even though they are derived from English! Depending on context, you may be able to decipher the meanings, but still they require a little learning.

Words and phrases borrowed from English or other languages are often shortened if Koreans feel they are too long, and these shortened words account for a large number of Konglish words.

Also, sometimes Konglish words add morphemes or combine English words to create new words. In many cases the word takes on a Korean meaning that is exclusive to Korean speakers and native English speakers may not be able to comprehend its meaning.

Konglish Word (한국어)Meaning in Korean
오바이트 (obaiteu)vomit
comedian
버버리 (beobeori)trench coat

A Note on Pronunciation 

There is one thing you need to take into account when reading both loan words and Konglish words, and that is pronunciation.

Since we’re sounding out English words in Korean, the words may sometimes sound slightly different than the standard English pronunciation. Some will sound identical, and some will sound a bit different to you.

Let’s take a look:

메뉴 (menu)

Pronounced exactly like the English word

오렌지 (orange)

Pronounced similar to “orange”. However, there is an extra syllable in the Korean version. Therefore, the pronunciation sounds like “o-ren-ji”

Yikes! You may be wondering: “How do I know when the pronunciation is slightly  different than English?” Great question!

If you’re looking at the word in Hangeul, then you just follow that pronunciation. 

The other great thing about learning these words is that Koreans will be  impressed with your pronunciation!

They are used to hearing visitors and expats saying “orange”.

So, if you kick things off with the pronunciation “o-ren-ji”, you already get bonus points! Koreans will recognize your language skills, so you will get more Korean speaking opportunities if you want them. Stepping up as King of Konglish reaps many benefits!

Konglish Words

Let’s get our feet wet by going through the most commonly used Konglish vocabulary words. Then we’ll go to the full list.

80/20 Konglish Word List

Now we’re going to cover some of the most frequently used Konglish words. These words follow the “80/20 Principle”, which states that “20% of vocabulary is used 80% of the time.”

While we’ll cover the comprehensive list of Konglish words below, use these 25 to get started with. These are commonly used Konglish words that you should put most of your focus on in the beginning in order to save time and avoid overwhelm.

We’re sure you’re excited to get rolling, so let’s get you started with 25 of the most frequently used Konglish words!

Can't read Korean yet? Click here to learn for free in about 60 minutes!
Konglish Word (한국어)Actual English Translation
air conditioner
아파트 (apateu)apartment
센티 (senti)centimeter
remote control
collared dress shirt
self service
나이트 (naiteu)night club
notebook
health club
dress
bandage/Band-Aid
desk lamp
Sprite (soft drink)
window shopping
핫도그 (hatdogeu)corn dog
더치페이 (deochipei)Dutch treat
mechanical pencil
sale/promotion
원룸 (wollum)bachelor apartment
원샷 (wonsyat)bottom's up
scarf
cell phone
electrical outlet
on the house/free of charge
signature

 

Comprehensive List of Konglish Words

If you’re loving the Konglish vocabulary so far, and want to up your skills, then we’ve got a full list for you right here!

Konglish Word (한국어)Actual English Translation
plastic wrap
텔레비 (tellebi)television
텔레비 프로 (tellebi peuro)television program
lamination
commercial film
레미콘 (remikon)ready-mix concrete truck
white out (correctional liquid)
screwdriver
pool (billiards game)
paper clip
plaster/pain relief patch
crayon
크레파스 (keurepaseu)crayon/pastel
크림 파스타 (keurim paseuta)pasta with cream sauce
magic marker
오므라이스 (omeuraiseu)omelette with rice filling
펑크 (peongkeu)puncture (flat tire)
레포츠 (repocheu)leisure sports
글래머 (geullaemeo)a voluptuous woman
백 댄서 (baek daenseo)backup dancer
백 뮤식 (baek myusik)background music
백 보컬 (baek bokeol)backing vocals
convertible
에로 (ero)erotic movie
perm
demonstration/protest
documentary
homepage
오에이치피 (oeichipi)overhead projector
트로트 (teuroteu)foxtrot (music genre)
트랜스 (teuraenseu)transformer (power)
checkered pattern
physical condition
blind date
motorcycle
underwear (male or female)
cheating
미싱 (mising)sewing machine

How to Use Konglish Words

Now that you’ve got these Konglish words in your vocabulary arsenal, it’s time to put them to use!

Konglish in Everyday Life

The next time you go into a convenience store or supermarket, you can ask for one of the items. Even if you don’t understand Korean yet, that’s fine. Usually you can guess from the context of the situation when someone is asking if you’re looking for something.

Once you hear a question-like sentence, it’s time to spring into action with your newfound Konglish knowledge!

Remember, it’s key to practice the pronunciation of these words. Some of them sound similar to the English pronunciation, but some are quite different.

The sooner you can get in the groove of pronouncing words like a Korean, the better you’ll be understood. The more you are understood, the more motivated you’ll be to learn the language!

Reading and Writing Konglish

You can also get to know these words better by looking out for them as you go about your day. When you’re out shopping or doing errands, try to spot the Hangeul for the words you learned today. Writing them will also be good practice!

Although it may be tempting to use the Romanized version of a word (“menu” instead of “메뉴”), it’s better to get in the habit of writing the Hangeul. You’ll learn faster and Korea will become a more familiar place much quicker!

It’s exciting to know that it’s possible to learn Korean quickly if you focus on the right parts of the language, and make it FUN.

What your favorite Konglish word? Let us know in the comments below!

    4 replies to "Konglish: The Ultimate List in 2019"

    • SahiraKai ❤

      is there any pure korean word for those konglish?

    • Trail of Dead

      There’s always problems with these lists…. some foreigners assume a word is Konglish when it turns out to be a dialect of English or another European word (like German). My grandma used to say “muffler” and “punc” to mean flat tire is from UK English… and “air con” is nice to say, so if it was Konglish, it isn’t now.

      • 90 Day Korean

        Thanks for the comment! Many of these words have a foreign origin, which is why we consider them Konglish. ^^

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.