Korean Terms of Endearment

Illustration of couple embracing next to a tree with hearts for leaves

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Do you know Korean terms of endearment for your loved one? In Korea, it’s quite common for people to use words like “honey” and “babe” to refer to your significant other, rather than using their name.

So if you’re learning Korean, married to a Korean, or just want fun words to tease your friends with, let’s learn some Korean terms of endearment.

Illustration of couple embracing next to a tree with hearts for leaves

자기야 (jagiya)

Perhaps the most popular term between couples, it means “honey”, “darling” or “baby”. You can also just shorten it to 자기.

Example Sentences:

자기야, 사랑해. → I love you, darling.

(jagiya, saranghae.)

미안해, 자기야. 용서해줘. → I’m sorry, darling. Forgive me.

(mianhae, jagiya. yongseohaejwo.)

내 사랑 (nae sarang)

This can directly be translated as “my love” and is similar to 자기야 with how couples use it.

Example Sentences:

잘 가요, 내 사랑. → Goodbye, my love.

(jal gayo, nae sarang)

그는 하나뿐인 내 사랑이에요. → He is my only love.

(geuneun hanappunin nae sarangieyo.)

여보 (yeobo)

This translates as “honey” or “darling”. It is used exclusively between married couples.

Example Sentences:

여보, 생일 축하해. → Happy birthday, honey.

(yeobo, saengnil chukahae)

여보, 괜찮아? → Are you okay, honey?

(yeobo, gwaenchana?)

애인 (aein)

“Sweetheart” is the closest translation for this word. It’s gender neutral, so anyone can use it with their partner.

Example Sentences:

애인 있어요? → Do you have a sweetheart?

(aein isseoyo?)

애인 없어요. → I don’t have a sweetheart.

(aein eopseoyo.)

공주님 (gonjunim)

“Princess” is a term of endearment a man can use when speaking with his girlfriend.

Example Sentences:

우리 공주님을 위해서라면 무엇이든. → Anything for my princess.

(uri gongjunimeul wihaeseoramyeon mueosideun.)

오늘따라 예뻐보여요 공주님. → You look pretty today, princess.

(oneulttara yeppeoboyeoyo gongjunim.)

왕자님 (wangjanim)

Like princess for women, “prince” is what some girls and women may use with their boyfriend.

Example Sentences:

당신은 나의 왕자님이에요. → You are my prince.

(dangsineun naui wangjanimieyo.)

우리 왕자님, 너무 멋져보여요. → You look so cool, my prince.

(uri wangjanim, neomu meotjyeoboyeoyo.)

오빠 (oppa)

Although the literal translation for this word is “brother”, it has deeper meaning. It’s also a common word of endearment for girls and women to use with their boyfriends and husbands. It’s used both directly with your partner and when talking about him to others.

Example Sentences:

오빠가 있어서 든든해. → I feel safe/secure to have you.

(oppaga isseoseo deundeunhae.)

오빠가 보고 싶어요. → I miss you.

(oppaga bogo sipeoyo.)

서방님 (seobangnim)

Or 서방 more informally, this term simply translates as “husband”. It has deep historical roots in Korean, although you’ll perhaps hear it more for son-in-laws than husbands in modern day Korea.

Example Sentences:

서방님, 집에 일찍 들어오세요. → (Husband) Please come home early.

(seobangnim, jibe iljjik deureooseyo.)

서방님, 식사하세요. → (Husband) Please eat, your meal is ready.

(seobangnim, siksahaseyo.)

X 엄마 / X 아빠 (X eomma / X appa)

Once a couple has kids, they occasionally start calling them as their child’s mom or dad, the X marking the name of the child. It’s meant to be a bit cute, but also practical. Especially for those outside immediate family, they would refer to them using these terms.

Example Sentences:

영수 엄마는 선생님이에요. → Youngsoo’s mom is a teacher.

(yeongsu eommaneun seonsaengnimieyo.)

영희 아빠, 영희 엄마랑 싸웠어요? → Did you argue with your wife?

(yeonghui appa, yeonghui eommarang ssawosseoyo?)

How to talk about your partner with others?

You wouldn’t use most of the above words when talking about your partner. Instead, you’d simply call them “husband” (남편, nampyeon), “wife” (아내, anae / 와이프, waipeu), “boyfriend” (남친, namchin) and “girlfriend” (여친, yeochin).

 

Now that you’ve learned these Korean terms of endearment, you can shine by showing your significant other what you know! Let us know in the comments which of these terms you’ll be the most excited to use!

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