15 – Get a Room 室

(Originally published April 2014)

The native Korean word for room is 방 (‘bang’) and when talking about ‘rooms’ in general this is the word you would use most often. But many other Korean words related to different types or rooms or places will have the sound 실 (‘shil’) in them. This sound comes from the Chinese character 室 which means ‘Room, house’.

room01

For example the word for ‘classroom’ is 교실 (敎室 – ‘Gyo-Shil’). The first syllable 교 (‘Gyo’) comes from the character 敎 which means ‘teaching’. When combined with 실 (‘Shil’ – room) it literally means ‘teaching-room’.

The word for ‘hospital room’ is 병실 (病室 – ‘Byeong Shil’). The first syllable 병 (‘byeong’) comes from the character 病 which means ‘sick’ or ‘disease’. When combined with 실 (‘Shil’ – room) it literally means ‘disease-room’.

The word 화장실 (化粧室 – ‘Hwa-Jang-Shil’) means ‘bathroom’. It is a combination of 화장 (化粧 – ‘Hwa-Jang’) which is the Korean word for ‘makeup’, and실 (‘Shil’ – room). So in Korean, the word for bathroom literally means “Makeup-room”.

Here are a few more common words with 실 (‘Shil’) in them:

대합실 (待合室 – ‘Dae-hap-shil’): Waiting room

미용실 (美容室 – ‘Mi-yong-shil’): Beauty parlor, hairdresser’s

실험실 (實驗室 – ‘Shil-heom-shil’): Laboratory

연구실 (硏究室 – ‘Yeon-Gu-Shil’): Professor’s office

I’m going to end this article with an easy quiz. The character 寢 (침 – ‘Chim’) means “Sleep”. Can you guess what the word 침실 (‘Chim-Shil’) means? Send your answer to newhanja@gmail.com. A winner will be picked from among the correct answers and will be announced in next month’s article!

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