In many languages, days of the week are named after words of various etymological origins. English days, for example, have both words from Norse and Roman mythologies. Fortunately, Korean days of the week follow the names of major planets in our solar system. They are very consistent, as shown in the chart below. You only have to memorize the initial syllables and add -요일, or -성, to say the seven days of the week or the major planet names. How nice. It’s like making two friends with one gift, isn’t it?

Speaking of etymology, idioms of traditional origins often sound weird, or sometimes, even gruesome in any language. Here are a few such idioms involving an old Korean word “애” which means “intestines”. Even today, the word “애” is used in some provinces, and it usually refers to the intestines of fish. If you don’t know the etymology of this old word “애”, the following examples may sound too cruel or too anatomical to you. It is because “애” is also a contraction of the more common word “아이” (a child/baby). For example, the second example below, “애를 태우다”, does not mean “burn a baby.” 🙂

  1. 애를 쓰다 (애쓰다) try hard, bend over backwards [Literally, “use one’s intestines”]
  • 야, 너무 애쓰지 마. Hey, don’t try too hard. 
  1. 애를 태우다 (애태우다) fret oneself, worry deeply, be very anxious [Literally, “burn one’s intestines”]

바람이 부는 것은 The reason why the wind blows

더운 내 맘 삭여 주려 Is to calm down my flaming heart;

계절이 다 가도록 Although this season is near the end,

나는 애만 태우네 I just keep fretting myself 

꽃잎 흩날리던 늦봄의 밤 On a late Spring night when flower petals flew around

아직 남은 님의 향기 There was still the scent of my Love

이제나 오시려나 Will he come back now?

나는 애만 태우네 I just keep fretting myself 

김윤아, “야상곡 Nocturne”; 미스터 션샤인 Mr. Sunshine (2018) OST

  1. 애간장을 태우다 worry oneself to death [Literally, “burn one’s intestines and liver”]
  • 그가 사라진 후 그의 가족은 애간장을 태우고 있었다 After he disappeared, his family was worried to death.
  1. 애끓는 desperate and persistent [attributive adjective for nouns such as 그리움, 사랑, 향수, etc.; Literally, “to the extent that one’s intestines boil over” ]
  • 애끓는 향수 desperate homesickness 

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