Korean nicknames – Terms to use to address your friends

Last Updated on January 12, 2023 by 90 Day Korean
A person holding a sign with a question mark in front of his face

In this article, we will teach you various Korean nicknames. Do you have a nickname? What do you like to be called, and what do others call you if it’s not your birth name? Just like us all, even Koreans like to give each other nicknames.

A person holding a sign with a question mark in front of his face

It can be to show affection, to distinguish two people with the same name from each other, or simply be that someone prefers to be called by a different name than the one on their birth certificate.

How to say “nickname” in Korean

The word for “nickname” in the Korean language is 별명 (byeolmyeong). You may use this Korean word to ask your friends about their nicknames or when you want to ask them to create one.

You might have heard characters in K-dramas call each other by nicknames too. What kinds of nicknames are common and popular in South Korea? And is there a particular way in which they are formed? What kind of a Korean nickname could you give yourself? And are there certain situations where they are more likely to be used? Let’s find out!

How to come up with Korean nicknames

A nickname is formed based on the person’s name but also on other qualities, like appearance, behavior, expression, and personality. Sometimes a nickname may even be based on one’s career! And because you need to have a certain kind of a bond with someone to commonly call them by their first name, a birthname can also be considered a nickname among Koreans.

Depending on the nickname, it can arouse either positive or negative emotions, especially in the person whose nickname it is. Typically the response is positive when the creator of the nickname is the person who is called by it.

However, when it is others who have picked out the nickname, the reaction can become more negative. Especially it may be so if there were malicious or teasing elements behind the nickname’s creation. It is a shame some of them get created in such a manner, as they are ultimately meant to be fun and affectionate nicknames.

List of common Korean nicknames

How you address friends or call a person defines the relationship you have. In the same way, Koreans also give each other nicknames out of affection, among other reasons. As mentioned above, Korean nicknames, just like any other nicknames in the world, have various sources. These are commonly based on someone’s appearance, behavior, expression, and personality.

If you’re looking for Korean terms of endearment used by married couples or those in romantic relationships, then we have an extensive list of the most popular Korean terms of endearment in this article. You’ll find Korean terms like baby, princess, honey, darling, and other sweet words used by Korean couples.

For now, let’s learn the popular Korean nicknames below!

Korean nicknames based on appearance

To start, below are the most popular Korean words used as nicknames which are based on a person’s appearance.

EnglishKorean
Energy poles (for tall people)전봇대 (jeonbotdae)
High legs (for tall people)키다리 (kidari)
Long legs (for tall people)롱다리 (longdari)
Ostrich (for tall people)타조 (tajo)
Peanut (for short people)땅콩 (ttangkong)
Pororo (for people wearing glasses)뽀로로 (ppororo)
Short legs (for short people)숏다리 (syotdari)
Small child (for short people)꼬맹이 (kkomaengi)
Small child (for short people)땅꼬마 (ttangkkoma)

Korean nicknames based on abilities

Below are Korean nicknames that describe a person’s ability.

EnglishKorean
Cheetah (for fast people)치타 (chita)
Laziness (for slow people)느림보 (neurimbo)
Snail (for slow people)달팽이 (dalpaengi)
Turbo (for fast people)터보 (teobo)
Turtle (for slow people)거북이 (geoboki)

Korean nicknames that are cool, funny, or unique

If you’re into the more unique and cute nicknames, below is the list for you.

EnglishKorean
Armful아름 (areum)
Azalea진달래 (jindallae)
Beckoning지호 (jiho)
Butterfly나비 (nabi)
Clove pink카네이션 (kaneisyeon)
Coffin관 (gwan)
Daisy데이지 (deiji)
Dalhia달리아 (dallia)
Dandelion민들레 (mindeulle)
Day하루 (haru)
Our puppy우리 강아지 (uri gangaji)
Pansy팬지 (paenji)
Paper weight서진 (seojin)
Peony모란 (moran)
Poetical friend시우 (siu)
Poppy양귀비 (yanggwibi)
Powerful힘찬 (himchan)
Praise찬미 (chanmi)
Prince왕자님 (wangjanim)
Princess공주님 (gongjunim)
Ruler; idiot치자 (chija)
Runner-up준우 (junu)
Sea, ocean바다 (bada)
Shooter사격수 (sagyeoksu)
Sir, Lord경 (gyeong)
Sky, heaven하늘 (haneul)
Star별 (byeol)
Sunflower해바라기 (haebaragi)
Teardrop이슬 (iseul)
Tree나무 (namu)
Tsunami해일 (haeil)
Tulip튤립 (tyullip)
Violet, purple보라 (bora)

How to create your own Korean nickname

When creating your own nickname, remember that it is a way to identify and describe yourself. So, choose a nickname that is positive and fits you well. It can be based on a personality trait, ability, or a part of your appearance. It could also be a play on your name, for example.

You may go for a unique or cute nickname like some of the ones presented above, but you can also list down some Korean names and choose one to serve as your nickname – and it can double as your Korean name, too! We have an article dedicated to Korean names you can look up for more information.

Oftentimes, when coming up with a Korean name, people choose and create names that resemble their own birth name. However, it is also totally possible for you to create a name and a nickname that is vastly different from your name. If possible, you can also ask your Korean friends for help in creating one or perhaps even have them create it for you.

Wrap Up

Would you, too, like to have a Korean nickname? How wonderful! Now you know the Korean term that you can start calling your best friend, classmate, or older brother, for example. Having one brings you a step closer to experiencing the Korean culture.

We hope that you have the best time with it! Whether you’re thinking of Korean terms of endearment or Korean nicknames, share them with us below in the comments!

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