(Originally published June 2016)
This month we are going to look at the character 全 which means entire or all. The etymology is said to be a picture of one’s belongings under a roof. The pointy part at the top of the character is the roof and the 3 crossed lines below would be the belongings. This character is pronounced 전 (“Jeon”) in Korean and can be found in many common Korean words. Knowing the meaning of this character will help you learn these words.
For example, the Korean word 전국 (全國 – “Jeon-Guk”) means the whole country. The first character 全 (전 – “Jeon”) means entire. The second character 國 (국 – “Guk”) means nation or country.
한파가 전국을 덮쳤다 (“Han-Pa Ga Jeon-Guk-eul Deop-chyeoss-da”)
A cold wave hit the whole country
The word 완전 (完全 – “Wan-Jeon”) means complete, full, entire. The first character 完 (완 – “Wan”) means complete or whole and the second character 全 (전 – “Jeon”) means entire. Both of the characters have a similar meaning.
완전한 문장 (“Wan-Jeon-Han Mun-Jang”)
A complete sentence
The Korean word for safety is 안전 (安全 – “An-Jeon”). The first character 安 (안 – “An”) means peace and calm, and has a secondary meaning of safe. The second character 全 (전 – “Jeon”) means entire.
안전벨트 (“An-Jeong-Bel-Teuh”) -Safety belt.
안전핀 (“An-Jeon-Pin”) – Safety pin.
The word 전부 (全部 – “Jeon-Bu”) means all or whole. The first character 全 (전 – “Jeon”) means entire and the second character 部 (부 – “Bu”) means part. Combined it means all the parts, of the sum of the parts.
학생 전부 (“Hak-seng Jeon-Bu”)
All of the students
Finally, the word 전혀 (全- “Jeon-Hyeoh”) means “totally (not)”. The first character 全 (전 – “Jeon”) means entire, and this time the second sound 혀 (“Hyeoh”) doesn’t come from Chinese, so this is one of those interesting half Chinese half Korean words.
난 전혀 신경 안 써. (“Nan Jeon-Hyeoh Shin-Gyeong An Sseoh”)
I totally don’t care at all.