59 – 水 – Watered Down Hanja

Originally published January 2018

This month we are going to look at the character 水 which is pronounced 수(“Su”) in Korean and which means ‘water’. Many common Korean words have this character in them, and learning the meaning of this character will help you remember these words.

Hanja Su Water

For example the word 향수 (香水 – “Hyang-su”) means perfume or cologne.
The first part of the word 향 (香 – “Hyang”) means ‘fragrance’ and the second part 수 (水 – “Su”) means ‘water’. Together the combined word literally means “fragrance-water”.

Example Sentence:
어떤 향수를 쓰세요?
(“Eo-ddeon Hyang-hu-reul Sseu-se-yo?”)
What kind of perfume do you wear?

The word 음료수 (飮料水 – “Eum-ryo-su”) means drink or beverage. The first part of the word 음 (飮 – “Eum”) means ‘drink’. The second part of the word 료 (料 – “Ryo”) means ‘ingredient’ and the final part 수 (水 – “Su”) means ‘water’.

Example Sentence:
음료수 드시겠습니까?
(“Eum-ryo-su Deu-shi-gess-seub-ni-gga?”)
Would you like something to drink?

The word 수영 (水泳 – “Su-yeong”) means swimming. The first part 수 (水 – “Su”) means water and the second part 영 (泳 – “Yeong”) means ‘to swim’.

Example Sentence:
수영 잘 하세요?
(“Su-yeong Jal Ha-se-yo?”)
Do you swim well?

The word 호수 (湖水 – “Ho-su”) means lake. The first part of the word 호 (湖 – “Ho”) means ‘lake’ and the second part 수 (水 – “Su”) means ‘water’.

Example Sentence:
남자가 호수에서 수영하고 있다.
(“Nam-ja-ga Ho-su E-seo Su-yeong Ha-go Iss-da”)
The man is swimming in the lake.

The word 수준 (水準 – “Su-jun”) means ‘level’ or ‘standard’. The first part 수 (水 – “Su”) means ‘water’ and the second part 준 (準 – ‘Jun’) means ‘standard’ or ‘criteria’. This word originally referred to measuring the water level (like of a river) but eventually came to mean ‘level’ or ‘standard’ in general.

Example Sentence:
그 사람 수준에 맞추기는 참 힘들다
(“Geu Sa-ram Su-jun-e Maj-chu-gi-neun Cham Him-deul-da”)
It’s tough to meet his standard.

Finally, the word 풍수(風水 – “Pung-su”) is a word that most westerners know from its Chinese pronunciation: Feng Shui. The first part 풍 (風 – “Pung”) means ‘wind’ and the second part 수 (水 – “Su”) means ‘water’. So Feng Shui literally “Wind+Water”. The use of Feng Shui in Korea dates back to the Three Kingdoms period where it was used to determine the location of houses, palaces, tombs, and even whole towns.

Example Sentence:
그는 풍수에 밝다
(“Geu-neun Pung-su-e Balk-da”)
He’s good at Feng Shui.

Here are some other common Korean words that use this character:

강수량 (降水量 – “Gang-su-ryang”): Amount of rainfall, precipitation
수도꼭지 (水道- – “Su-do-ggok-ji”): Faucet
수돗물 (水道- – “Su-dos-mul”): Tap water
수요일 (水曜日 – “Su-yo-il”): Wednesday
육수 (肉水 – “Yuk-su”) Meat broth
잠수함 (潛水艦 – “Jam-su-ham”): Submarine
홍수 (洪水 – “Hong-su”): Flood, deluge

I hope that learning the meaning of 수 (水 – “Su”) will make learning this vocabulary words easier.

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