42 – 電 – It’s Electric!

(Originally published September 2016)

This month we are going to look at the character 電 which means electricity. 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.

Hanja Jeon Electricity

For example, the Korean word 전구 (電球 – “Jeon-Gu”) means light bulb. The first character 電 (전 – “Jeon”) means electricity. The second character 球 (구 – “Gu”) means ball or sphere.  When combined the word literally means “electricity-ball”.

The word 전자 (電子 – “Jeon-Ja”) means electronic.  Again, the  first character 電 (전 – “Jeon”) means electricity.  The second character 子 (자 – “Ja”) in this case means ‘thing’.  So 전자 (電子 – “Jeon-Ja”) means “electric thing”.  Some examples:

전자 기타 (“Jeon-Ja Gi-Tah”)— Electric guitar

전자 상거래 (“Jeon-Ja Sang-Geo-Rae”)  – E-commerce

전자 신문 (“Jeon-Ja Shin-Mun”) – Electronic newspaper

The word 전화 (電話 – “Jeon-Hwa”) means telephone. The first character 電 (전 – “Jeon”) means electricity and the second character 話 (“Hwa”) means speaking.  Together they mean “electronic-speaking”.

The word 전철 (電鐵 – “Jeon-Cheol”) means subway.  The first character 電 (전 – “Jeon”) means electricity. The second character 鐵 (철 – “Cheol”) means iron, but in this case it takes the meaning of ‘rail’. So together it literally means “electric rail”. You may have also heard the word 지하철 (地下鐵 – “Ji-Ha-Cheol”) for subway. In this case the hanja means “under-ground-rail”.

Finally, the word 발전 (發電- “Bal-Jeon”) means electricity generation. The first character  發 (발 – “Bal”) means to issue, generate, or discharge.  The second character 電 (전 – “Jeon”) means electricity. So together it literally means ‘electricity-generation’. Some examples:

수력발전 (“Su-Ryeok Bal-Jeon”)— Hydroelectric power generation

원자력발전(“Won-Ja-Ryeok Bal-Jeon”)— Nuclear power generation

풍력발전 (“Pung-Ryeok Bal-Jeon”)- Wind power generation

화력발전 (“Hwa-Ryeok Bal-Jeon”)- Steam[thermal] power generation

 

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