(Originally published February 2016)
This month we are going to take a look at the character 心 which means heart and is pronounced 심 (“shim”) in Korean. Just like in English, the ‘heart’ can refer to the internal organ that pumps blood, or it can mean the mind, feelings, or consciousness.
For example, the word 심장 (心臟 – “Shim-jang”) means heart as in the organ that pumps blood. The first character 心 (심 – “Shim”) means heart, and the second character 臟 (장 – “Jang”) means internal organ. The two characters combine to form the word ‘heart-organ’.
The word 결심 (決心 – “Gyeol-Shim”) means decision. The first part 결 (決 – “Gyeol”) means to decide or conclude. The second part 심 (心 – “Shim”) means heart but in the figurative sense of emotion or sense. Together the word gives a sense of ‘making up your mind’.
Similarly, the word 관심 (關心 – “Gwan-Shim”) means interest, as in to have an interest in something. The first part 관 (關 – “Gwan”) means to have some kind of relation, or ‘to be related to’. The second part 심 (心 – “Shim”) means feeling or emotion. So when combined the word implies having a feeling of relation to something, or an interest.
The word 심리 (心理 – “Shim-Ni”) means psychology. The first part 심 (心 – “Shim”) means feeling or emotion. The second part 리 (理 – “Ri/Ni”) means logic. Combined, the word 심리 (心理 – “Shim-Ni”) forms a meaning of ‘the logic of emotions’ which is a great word for psychology.
The word 열심히 (熱心- “Yeol-Shim-Hi”) means hard, diligently, or enthusiastically. The first part 열 (熱 – “Yeol”) means heat, excitement, or fever. The second part 심 (心 – “Shim”) means feeling or emotion. Combined, the implication is a feeling or sense of fever and excitement to whatever is being done. The third part 히 (“Hi”) is not Hanja, it is simply a grammatical addition to make an adverb (just like adding “ly” to the end of a verb in English).
Here are some other common words that use the character 心 (심 -“shim”)
욕심 (欲心 – “Yok-Shim”): Greed
의심 (疑心 – “Eui-Shim”): Doubt, suspicion
자부심 (自負心 – “Ja-Bu-Shim”): Self-respect, pride, self-esteem
조심하다 (操心 – “Jo-Shim Ha-da”): Careful, cautious
진심 (眞心 – “Jin-Shim”): Sincerity
I hope that knowing the meaning of 심 (心 – “Shim”) makes learning these vocabulary words easier. Have a word or character that you would like to know more about? Leave a question or comment in the comments.