Yonsei KLI Idioms and Sayings for Level 6

By Charles Wetzel

This is the sequel to my document on the Level 5 idioms and sayings. Actually, I just prepared this list originally so I could run it through my quiz program and make sure I know all the idioms and sayings for the writing test the next day. However, I figured it might be useful to somebody, so I uploaded it.

I did all these translations myself, but Hwang Yumi (황유미, my language exchange partner who goes to Ewha Women's University) was very helpful in deciphering some of them, and they were originally explained to my class by our teacher, Lee Gye-hyun (이계현). Expect this list to grow as Level 6 rages on.

1. 금이 가다
Cracks form. The terms between people worsen.

2. 맛이 가다
The taste goes. It has spoiled. It's not the usual condition. This can be used in a facetious fashion for someone who has gotten old.

3. 손이 (많이) 가다
The hand goes (a lot). It's labor-intensive.

4. 손을 쓰다
To use your hands. To prepare early for something.

5. 낯을 가리다
To cover one's face. Someone is shy.

6. 가슴에 새기다
To engrave in the chest. You've heard a lesson so many times or something is so important it's practically engraved on your chest.

7. 빛을 보다
To see the [lime]light. To get famous.

8. 얼굴 깎이다 (체면 깎이다)
The face is cut (the honor is cut). One loses face.

9. 낯이 간지럽다
The face tickles. You're embarrassed because of positive things said about you.

10. 이를 갈다
To grit your teeth. To plan revenge.

11. 등을 지다
To turn one's back. To betray.

12. 등을 돌리다
To turn one's back. This idiom is more in line with the English "turn one's back" in that it just means that something pisses you off so you turn your back on it.

13. 눈 감아 주다
Close one's eyes. This has the same meaning as the English "look the other way." For example if you're trying to get out of trouble with the law (for example because you ran a red light) you might say to the police officer "눈 감아 주세요."

14. 달게 받다 / 감수하다
To receive it sweetly / to be ready to suffer. You're going to be punished. Just take your punishment.

15. 감투를 쓰다
To wear the horsehair cap. As most of us know who've studied Korean yangban (aristocrats) wore horsehair caps. So when you "wear the horsehair cap" you are ascending to a high position. For example 이명박은 아주 큰 감투를 쓰셨어요. Lee Myung-bak put on the big horsehair cap. He became president.

16. 손발이 맞다
The hands and the feet agree. The i's are dotted and the t's are crossed. Things are synchronized and made efficient. For example the Yonsei Level 6 book gives this example: 일의 능률을 높이려면 같이 일하는 사람들끼리 손발이 맞아야 한다. If you try to make the efficiency of the work high you have to make the hands and the feet of the people that work together agree.

17. 값을 치르다
To cost a price. You have to pay the price for what you do. This is kind of like "if you do the crime be prepared to do the time."

18. 목에 힘을 주다
To give your neck power. To pretend to be strong. 목에 힘을 주다 is generally not used for people or countries that are actually strong. It is mainly used for small weak people or countries who are pretending to be really tough.

19. 바닥이 나다
The floor occurs. To bottom out. This is a good one to use when going bankrupt.

20. 한 밑천 잡다
Grab one capital. That sounds kind of weird when you translate it -- perhaps a better translation would be "grab capital." You seize an opportunity to grab some cash. This is neither positive nor negative.

21. 거미줄 치다
Spin the spiderweb. To silence.

22. 비위에 거슬리다/ 비위를 거스르다
It is offensive to one's taste/ to offend one's taste. It's offensive to you or at very least not your cup of tea. My language exchange partner gave me a great example. Her mom went to Thailand. Curious to see what all the hype about transgender shows was she attended one. It was offensive to her tastes. I'm amazed that a Korean ajumma would attend a transgender show in the first place but this expression describes how she felt afterward!

23. 거울삼다
To make a thing of the mirror. You decide you WILL live hard and be like a great person (who you idolize). I guess it means you're looking at yourself in the mirror and are imagining seeing this great person that you aspire to become.

24. 물거품이 되다
To become a water bubble. Any importance is lost.

25. 거추장스럽다
To be burdensome. I wish I had some comments for this one but I don't since it's only one word. Why is this considered an idiom by Yonsei?

26. 기를 꺾다 / 기가 꺾이다
To bend one's spirits / the spirits are bent. This is often used in regards to children. Should one bend a misbehaving child's spirits? If they do then the child may be more obedient but they may lose their motivation and be psychologically damaged.

27. 건너짚다
To make an educated guess. Once again I don't know how a single-word "idiom" found its way onto the Yonsei list.

28. 국물도 없다
There isn't even soup broth. I will not forgive you even a little.

29. 걸음마 단계
Toddling step. First step. For example the book gives the example: 한국의 우주공학은 걸음마 단계이다. Korea's space engineering is in its toddling steps.

30. 양다리를 걸치다
To lay across the guy with a girl hanging off of each arm. Best of both worlds but with a negative meaning. North Korea is an example. It relies on China and Russia to keep up its front.

31. 겉 다르고 속 다르다
The surface is different and the inside is different. You cannot believe a person just by looking at them superficially.

32. 겉돌다
To be unmixable/incompatible. For example 기름과 물이 겉돌아요. Oil and water are unmixable.

33. 입에 풀칠하다
Paste it in your mouth. You're so poor you're putting paste in your mouth because you don't have anything to eat. Weird expression.

34. 울며 겨자 먹기
While crying eating wasabi. Doing something because you have to.

Copyright (C) 2008 Charles Wetzel. All rights reserved.