Ultimate list of Korean Onomatopoeia and mimetic words 

 July 28, 2021

By  Smriti

Onomatopoeia is defined as the formation of a word imitating or suggesting a sound associated with the action or object in question. When we look at the meaning of Onomatopoeia, we think of words like "bang" or "snap". It's easy to understand why these words are formed by using one sound to represent another action. What about other sounds made by animals ? Are they onomatopoeic too?

Stemming from the Latin, ‘onomatopœia’ combines the words, ‘onoma’ (name) and ‘poiesis’ (creation) to describe literary terms which are words whose meanings become distinct through sound.

Onomatopoeia is one of those words that sounds like it should mean something, but also doesn't have a concrete definition. You've probably used it in conversation before — maybe without even realizing it.

Onomatopoeia is a word that sounds like what it represents. It's actually a word that's been around for ages, and many of the words included in this category are commonly used today. But just because these words are frequently used doesn't make them any less of a category of invented words. 

  • 의성어 (weeseongeo) is a term used for Korean Onomatopoeia.
  • 의태어 is a term used for Korean mimetic.

의성어 (weeseongeo) is a term used for Korean Onomatopoeia.

If you're a beginner in Korean, you've probably tried to look up words like 깔깔 (roar of laughter) or ㅋㅋㅋ (haha), but all you can find are their meanings and not their onomatopoeic pronunciations. This is because onomatopoeic expressions usually aren't taught in beginner's classes.

Today we've brought to you the list of onomatopoeia and mimetic words that Koreans often use in their everyday sentences. While it is difficult to define each concept separately, they both share similar traits as seen in Korean language.

HUMAN SOUNDS

No.

English meaning

Korean words

Pronunciation

1

 A crashing sound

ggwang

2

Gulp gulp

꿀꺽꿀꺽

kkulkkeok kkulkkeok

3

Chewing sound

쩝쩝

cheop cheop

4

Yum-yum

냠냠

nyam nyam

5

Throbbing heart

두근두근

dugeun dugeun

6

Breathing of a sleeping baby

새근새근

saegeun saegeun

7

Shh! Hush!

쉿!

swit

8

Whispering

쏙닥쏙닥

ssokdak ssokdak

9

Ouch!

아야

aya

10

Oops!


at

11

Cry of a baby (bawling)

엉엉

eongeong

12

Um…

eum

13

Sound of clap

짝짝짝

chak chak chak

14

Sound of kiss (smack)

jjok

15

Sound of a cough.

콜록콜록

kollok-kollo

16

Achoo!

에취

eh-chwi

ANIMAL SOUNDS

No.

English meaning

Korean words

Pronunciation

17

Ribbit of a frog

개굴개굴

gaegulgaegul

18

Coo of a pigeon

구구

gugu

19

Caw of a crow

까악까악

kkaakkkaak

20

The caw of a raven

깎깎

ggakk-ggakk

21

Cluck of a hen

꼬꼬꼬꼬

kko kko

22

Crow of a rooster.

꼬끼오

kkokkio

23

Oink of a pig

꿀꿀

kkulkkul

24

Bark of a dog

멍멍

meongmeong

25

Hoot of an owl

부엉부엉

bueongbueong

26

Buzz of a bee

붕붕/윙윙

bung bung

27

Chirping of a chick

삐약삐약

ppiyak

28

Meow of a cat

야옹

yaong

29

Baa of a sheep/moo of a cow

음메

eumme

30

Sound made by sparrow

짹짹

chek chek

31

Squeak of a mouse

찍찍

chik-chik

32

Woof

캉캉 멍멍

khang, khang, mung mung

33

Sound made by horse

히잉

hi-ing

OTHER SOUNDS

No.

English meaning

Korean words

Pronunciation

34

 Tip tap tip tap

뚜벅뚜벅

ddubeok ddubeok

35

Acapella

뚬바뚬바

ddumba ddumba

36

Slippery

미끌매끌

mikkeul-maekkeul

37

Glittering or sparkling

반짝반짝

banjjak-banjjak

38

Smile beamingly

방글방글

banggeul-banggeul

39

Soft and cuddly

보들보들

bodeul-bodeul

40

Bubbling of boiling water

부글부글/보글보글

bugeul bugeul/ bogeul bogeul

41

Car engine revving/vroom

부릉부릉

bu-reung-bu-reung

42

Bang of a gun

bbang

43

Clattering sound

달그락 달그락

darkeurak darkeurak

44

Object rolling on the floor

뒹굴뒹굴

dwingul dwingul

45

Snoring

드르렁드르렁

duh-ruh-reong-duh-ruh-reong

46

Ring of a doorbell

딩동

dingdong |

47

A feeling of warmth

따끈따끈

ttaggeun-ttaggeun

48

Phone ringing sound

따르릉

ttareureung

49

Jingle Jingle

딸랑딸랑

ddarrang ddarang

50

Clang Clang

땡땡땡

ddaeng ddaeng ddaeng

51

Knock on a door.

똑똑

ttokttok

52

 Sound of a horn

빵빵

ppangppang

53

Bubbling of boiling water

뽀글뽀글

bogeul-bogeul

54

Poof

poong

55

Squeak Squeak

삐걱삐걱

ppigeok ppigeok

56

Police/fire truck siren

삐뽀삐뽀

bbibbo-bbibbo

57

Gentle breeze

솔솔

sol-sol

58

Colourful

올긋볼긋

olgeut-bolgeut

59

Rumbling of earthquake or landslide

우르릉

oo-ruh-rung

60

Buzz of a bee

윙윙

wingwing

61

Whimpering

잉잉

ing-ing

62

Pitter-patter of rain

후두두

hududu

63

Sound of the wind

휭휭

hwing-hwing

64

Sound of rain pouring down

주룩주룩

jurukjuruk

65

 Sound of footsteps pounding

쿵쿵

kungkung

66

Sound to describe a blazing hot sun

쨍쨍

jjaengjjaeng

67

Soft and chewy food

말랑말랑

mallangmallang

68

Stride

성큼성큼

sungkhum sungkhum

69

Gently

살랑살랑

sallang sallang

70

Gentle/soft blow

설렁설렁

seollong seollong

71

Hesitantly/ indecisively

우물쭈물

umul chumul

72

Back to back

다닥다닥

tadak tadak

73

 Sizzle

지글지글

cigeul cigeul

74

Tick Tick Tick

째깍째깍

jjaekkak jjaekkak

75

Clink of wine glasses

쨍그랑

jjaenggeurang

76

Splash

철썩철썩

cholssok-cholssok

77

Splash of something falling into the water

첨벙

chombong

78

Sound of brushing teeth

치카치카

chika-chika

79

Bang, thump

khwang

80

Sound of a train

칙칙폭폭

chik chik pokpok

I hope you have enjoyed the list of these unique Korean Onomatopoeia and mimetic words.

See also : Nature words vocabulary list in Korean

Ultimate list of fruits in Korean

List of Korean Adverbs


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