Friday, November 25, 2005

What does 말아먹다 mean?

말아먹다 means "to lose all of one's property." Here are some other compound verbs with 먹다:

The above are considered compound verbs because they are made from two verbs linked together, but there are also verb phrases like 씹어_먹다 that have not yet evolved into 1-word combinations, which means you will not find them listed in a Korean dictionary. Also, among the compound verbs, some can still be separated when the writer wants to apply the original meaning of 먹다 (to eat). Consider the two examples that follow:

  1. 남의 돈을 떼어먹고 달아났다.
    (He) cheated people out of their money and ran away.
  2. 접시에 붙어 있는 엿을 억지로 떼어 먹었다.
    (He) peeled off the taffy stuck to the plate and ate it.

In the Sentence 1, 떼어먹다 is a compound verb that means "to cheat someone out of his or her money," which has nothing to do with "eating." In Sentence 2, 떼어_먹다 is a verb phrase that means "to peel off and eat."

Here is a list of verb phrases with 먹다. (The phrases in red can also be joined to form compound verbs:

  • 누워서 먹는다. lie down and eat
  • 서서 먹는다. stand and eat
  • 앉아서 먹는다. sit and eat
  • 쭈그리고 앉아서 먹는다. squat and eat
  • 까 먹는다. peel and eat
  • 구워 먹는다. roast and eat
  • 끓여 먹는다. boil (liquid) and eat
  • 덥혀 먹는다. heat and eat
  • 떼어 먹는다. peel off and eat
  • 말려 먹는다. dry and eat
  • 쪄 먹는다. steam and eat
  • 볶아 먹는다. stir-fry and eat
  • 비벼 먹는다. mix and eat
  • 삶아 먹는다. boil (cook in boiling water) and eat
  • 싸 먹는다. wrap and eat
  • 씻어 먹는다. clean and eat
  • 튀겨 먹는다. deep-fry and eat
  • 깨물어 먹는다. gnaw and eat
  • 뜯어 먹는다. bite off and eat
  • 빨아 먹는다. suck and eat
  • 씹어 먹는다. chew and eat
  • 핥아 먹는다. lick and eat
  • 뒤져 먹는다. rummage and eat
  • 찾아 먹는다. find and eat
  • 훔쳐 먹는다. steal and eat
  • 방바닥에 내려놓고 먹는다. eat on the floor
  • 손에 들고 먹는다. hold and eat

참고: 이익섭(2005), "한국어 문법," 서울대학교출판부, pp. 312-317


  1. why the particle 는 follows after 먹 in this sentence 철수는 먹는다. please help me..

  2. My grammar dictionary is at home, but I would bet that the in front of is for .... are you ready? EMPHASIS !! big surprise there...

    I'll check at home later.

    Jerry, you only mentioned this in passing, but I would like to offer a comment on the 1-word combination forms of 먹다 by venturing to say that ~먹다 is simply a pejorative of 하다 when combined with the verb, and doesn't have the original meaning of eat
    as in the following:

    "야, 맛은 좋지만 우리 이래도 되는 거냐? 너 때문에 정말 중노릇 제대로 못해 먹겠다."

    This is a conversation between two monks drinking soju and enjoying sushi.


    잘못하면 과장광고로 징계를 먹는 수가 있겠어.

    if we fail, we could be considered guilty and get reprimanded.

    not sure, but given my limited exposure to example sentences, that has been my conclusion, if you have any other idea please explain as this is an interesting topic

  3. Hi, Jisaeng.

    The "는" indicates "present continuous," which means that 철수 is in the process of eating, so 철수는 먹는다 is translated as follows:

    철수는 먹는다.
    Cheol-su is eating.

    는 is used because 먹 ends in a consonant. When the verb ends in a vowel, you would use ㄴ. See the following example:

    철수는 간다.
    Cheol-su is going.

    You do not use 는/ㄴ with adjectives because present continuous is not used with adjectives. See the example:

    철수는 크다.
    Cheol-su is big.

    철수는 작다.
    Cheol-su is small.


    In your first example, 먹다 is just being used to mean "eat." In the second example, it is being used to mean "suffer," which is one of the definitions of 먹다.

    Here is a link to 먹다 combination verbs:

    먹다 Verbs

  4. 분명히 '는다'는 현재형이고 제가 실수했어요.

    이런 문법 줄문이 언제나 째밌다는 이유는 의견이 다양하는 데이 있어요.

    Gerry설명으로는 밑문장...

    중노릇 제대로 못해 먹겠다

    의 뜻이 스님을 먹다는 뜻이에요?

  5. Joseph,

    "Yeah, it tastes good, but should we be doing this? I will eat it, but because of you, I am unable to live like a true monk."

    The monks were eating something that tastes delicious. The sentence does not say what they were eating, but we can assume it was meat because monks are generally not supposed to eat meat. The one monk is complaining about the other monk being a bad influence on him.

  6. ohha. a lot of thanks for the answer. but can i ask another simple q but i just don't get the rhythm T_T . how to differ when to use 나는 or 저는 ?

  7. Jisaeng,

    나는 and 저는 both mean "I," but 저는 is the "humble I" and is used to show respect to the person you are talking to.

    Since Koreans respect elders, they use it when talking to people older than them and to people whose position they respect, such as teachers. Also, you can use it to show respect to strangers whose age and social position you do not know.


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