In Koreanoppa (오빠) literally means “older brother of a female person”, but the meaning of oppa changed over time and now can refer to female person’s
- older brother,
- very close friend who is older (but not much older!),
- romantic interest, boyfriend, and sometimes even husband, if they are older.
Addressing other people in Korean language is never simple. To truly understand the meaning of the word oppa and know when it is appropriate to use it, you must understand a bit about Korean culture.
For Koreans, it is really important to observe the relationship between the speaker and the subject of the sentence and the speaker and the audience. That’s just a fancy way to say you must be careful who you are speaking about and who is listening. That sounds paranoid, haha, but it’s actually all about showing respect to those with higher status than you.
And who has higher status?
Anyone in your family who is older than you, any stranger of equal or greater age, employer, customer, teacher, etc.
If a person holds superior status to you, whether by age, or function at a company or rank in the military, you should never use their name or say “you”. You need to use honorific titles, one of which is oppa.
Who can I call oppa?
오빠야~ = Oppaaa
See more Korean emoji
You can say oppa ONLY to an older male. Older person is anyone who was born in the year prior to the year of your birth. So, even if he is a few months older, but born in the same year* as you, he is not oppa – meaning, while you are free to say what you want, you won’t be using that word properly.
If you are the same age you might call each other chingu (친구), if you are older you are nuna(누나) to him.
The upper limit on the age difference between you and oppa would be roughly 10 years. If someone is more than 10 years older than you then you would use a different title to refer to them.Also, it can be strange calling men over a certain age oppa. That age is not strictly defined, but probably somewhere over 30.
And most importantly, you have to be close to that person. Don’t say oppa in an official or businesses settings.
*Sometimes, some people use the Lunar calendar, or year of starting school if they are students, but this is rare and I’ve seen Koreans get confused over this too.
How to write oppa in Korean Hangul
To write 오빠 by hand, start at the top of the circle and move counter-clockwise. Follow the movements as shown in the animation below. Be sure to match the stroke order to make letters look more natural, the way native Koreans write them.
I suggest you learn how to write whole Korean alphabet Hangul, not just the word oppa. It will only take a few hours to learn the basics, and you will instantly know how to write much more than oppa. Most importantly, you will understand what you are writing, not just mindlessly copying lines.
If you want to type oppa on Korean keyboard press ㅇ ㅗ ㅃ ㅏ one after the other (depending on the keyboard you use you may have to press SHIFT + ㅂ to get ㅃ.)
I wrote a lot about setting up Korean keyboard on different devices and showed Korean keyboard layout so if you have Android or iOS try this, I like MoAKey for Android as well, and also check out how to set up Korean keyboard on Windows 10.
How to pronounce oppa?
Using IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) the sounds would be represented as[op̕a]. If you are not familiar with IPA you can hear correct Korean pronunciation of oppa onNaver dictionaryby pressing the speaker icon. The most important point you need to pay attention to in order to pronounce oppa correctly would probably be tensing your throat at the “pp” sound (note that you don’t say p twice, it’s just double to remind you of this tensing).
If you want to get your pronunciation just right check out the best Korean pronunciation textbook reviews.
Why do Korean guys like to be called oppa?
Even though calling aguy oppa can be no more exciting than calling an older woman ajumma, if said with the right tone of voice, it indicates that you like a guy as more than just a friend. And who doesn’t like being liked? It’s flirtatious, and flirting is usually exciting.
That being said, not all Korean guys like being called oppa. Some don’t care, some actively dislike it. If you are close enough to a guy to call him oppa, you are close enough to ask him if he likes it.
Do Korean guys dislike when non-Korean girls call them oppa?
Some Korean guys say ‘yes’ some say ‘no’. But I believe it’s not that simple. It all depends on the intent. First, realize that word itself doesn’t have any magical powers. The magic comes from the person using it. If a foreign girl is going around squealing oppa at every guy she barely knows I can see how that can be a turnoff. But if you wait until you develop a more intimate relationship, and use it sincerely, I’m sure the guy would be pleasantly surprised.
I rarely use oppa with Kimchi Man. It just sounds unnatural to throw in a random Korean word when speaking English. But once I start speaking Koreanwith my boyfriend(and hopefully that will be before he becomes ajusshi) I would probably naturally switch to calling him oppa.
Does oppa mean boyfriend?
Oppa doesn’t mean boyfriend. A three-year-old girl can call her four-year-old brother oppa. Oppa meaning boyfriend would of course make that situation impossible.
Korean word for a boyfriend is 남자친구 (rom.nam-ja-chin-gu IPA namdzatsʰingu). 남자 means man and 친구 means friend so it’s similar to English, except it’s more adult-sounding “manfriend” rather than “boyfriend”. However, oppa indeed is a word one can use to call and refer to their boyfriend, it just doesn’t mean boyfriend.
Can guys say oppa?
Not in public ;)
An equivalent to oppa for guys would be
• 형 (rom. hyeong; IPA [hyʌŋ]) male person referring to an older male person
• 누나 (rom. nu-na; IPA [nuna]) male person referring to an older female person
Since 형 is a very commonly used word it retained its older romanized form hyung even though its official romanization now is hyeong.
I have already been Kimchi Man’s girlfriend for a few weeks when I realized I don’t know his parents’ names! Feeling like a bad girlfriend, I asked him what their names were. Instead of an answer I just got a few grunts and then silence. Thinking he didn’t understand, which is not a rare occurrence considering neither of us is a native speaker of English, I asked again.
After more prodding, I finally realized what the problem was. And it wasn’t until I explained that I would just like to have that as an information and promised never to say their name in front of them, that he finally told me their names.
And if that is not curious enough, I recently read an article stating that there used to be women in Korean villages who didn’t even know their own names! All their lives theyhad beencalled sister, daughter, Ms., mother, wife, and they never needed to use their names.
Even if you don’t speak Korean, if you have watched Korean dramas you are probably already familiar with some of these terms: hyung (hyeong), ajusshi (ajeossi), ajumma (ajuma), seonsaengnim, noona, sunbae (seonbae)… Everyone has their title.
Did you know that ajusshi and ajumma used to be terms reserved just for family, meaning aunt and uncle? Well, same thing happened with the definition of oppa: it used to be exclusively a family term meaning older brother, but its meaning expanded to mean an unrelated older male who you have somewhat close relationship with. What ithasn’t changedisimplied respect and superiority of the person you are addressing, and that is something most non-Korean women using this term don’t understand.
(Note thatorabeoni (오라버니) is an honorific form of oppa (오빠) and orabeonim (오라버님) an even higher honorific. One usually refers to one’s own brother as orabeoni and other people’s brother as orabeonim. I only ever heard these used in Korean historical dramas known as sageuks (사극))
It also implies that, while you in the position of showing respect and deference, even a level of trust, oppa is in the position where he should protect you and take care of you. This is also important to remember, as some women might be uncomfortable with this power-dynamic.
Still, human relationships are complex, and sometimes a word is just a word. It’s possible to agree to call someone oppa if you’re not female, if they’re not male, if you’re not younger and so on, but it’s good to know Korean culture and why Koreans say oppa in a certain situation. There is a culturally agreed upon meaning.
And how do you say oppa in English?
Sometimes things can’t be translated from one language to another, just explained. English does not have an equivalent word, and it certainly does not have Korean social structure that would give rise to such words.
And if you ever catch yourself thinking it’s strange to use the same word to refer to one’s older brother and boyfriend, just think how strange it is to use the same word for a newborn human and romantic partner. “Baby”.
And that’s all you need to knowto give a correcttranslation of oppa.
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Etymology. Borrowed from Korean 오빠 (oppa, “elder brother or close elder male friend (of a female)”).Does oppa mean boyfriend? ›
Oppa simply refers to an older brother/man in a friendly tone. It can also mean a boyfriend or husband.Does oppa mean daddy in Korean? ›
The word 아빠 (appa) has a similar meaning to “dad” in English. This should only be used to refer to your own dad.Why do Korean guys like being called oppa? ›
Why do Korean guys like to be called oppa? Even though calling a guy oppa can be no more exciting than calling an older woman ajumma, if said with the right tone of voice, it indicates that you like a guy as more than just a friend. And who doesn't like being liked? It's flirtatious, and flirting is usually exciting.What is the female version of oppa? ›
The female equivalent of “Oppa” is “Noona” if you are male and are referring to a woman older than you and “Unni”, if you are a female.What do Koreans call their boyfriends? ›
남자친구 — Boyfriend
Again, not really a term of endearment, but this is the standard Korean word for “boyfriend.” 남자 means “man,” and 친구 means “friend.” The whole term can be contracted as 남친 , where you just take the first syllables of “namja” and “chingu.”
Uri gangaji – “Our puppy” or “My puppy” Typically, boyfriends will use this Korean term of endearment when addressing their girlfriends. It is a pet name to call your special person or loved one. As a matter of fact, it's quite common for parents to use this phrase to refer to their children as well.Is Oppa flirtatious? ›
Is Oppa Flirty? The word 'Oppa' (오빠) is not inherently flirty and just because a Korean woman calls you 'Oppa' doesn't mean they are flirting with you. That being said, 'Oppa' can be used flirtatiously. It all depends on the intonation and intention of the speaker.What do you call lover in Korean? ›
There are two words you can use to express sweetheart in Korean. The first word is 애인 (aein) and the second word is 연인 (yeonin). Both 애인 (aein) and 연인 (yeonin) can also be used for “lover.”What does Papi mean in Korean? ›
/appa/ daddy. family noun. Children often call their father daddy.
오빠 (oppa, "older brother"), used by females to address a slightly elder male. 형 (hyeong, "older brother"), used by males to address a slightly elder male.What is the opposite of oppa? ›
Nuna is the opposite of oppa. While oppa is used exclusively by females when addressing older males, nuna is used exclusively by males when addressing older females. You may also see 누나 spelled as “Nuna.” Nuna is used in place of a person's name.What Noona means? ›
Noona (누나): This is a term for older sisters of boys, but can also be used for an older female friend and even a girlfriend, who is older than the boy.What is Oppa vs Noona? ›
The words oppa (오빠) and hyung (형) mean “older brother.” Meanwhile, the Korean words noona (누나) and unnie (언니) mean “older sister.”How to say pretty girl in Korea? ›
There are two ways to say 'beautiful' in Korean. The first way is to use the word 아름답다 (areumdapda). The second way is to use the word 예쁘다 (yeppeuda), which means 'pretty.How do Koreans flirt? ›
Flirting in Korean culture is pretty much like what you see in Korean dramas. They use romantic, sweet, and cute phrases to touch the heart of the person they like. Aside from romantic phrases, they also flirt by acting cute, called aegyo (애교).What is Korean slang for girlfriend? ›
Combine 여자 (yeoja) and 친구 (chingu) together, and you get the Korean word for girlfriend, 여자친구 (yeojachingu)!
애교 (aegyo) – “Cute”
애교 (aegyo) is more a way of dressing and speaking than a slang term itself. But it means “lovely” or “cute.” Cuteness in Korean has its own culture, where you speak in aegyo with long drawn out syllables and exaggeratedly cute mannerisms. This is popular among Korean idols especially.
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Some guys go the "classic" route with names like "angel," "darling," and "sweetheart"; some prefer food-inspired nicknames, like "cookie" and "cupcake"; and some straight-up worship their partners with loving names like "queen," "goddess," and "light of my life."
사랑해요 (saranghaeyo) is a respectful way to say “I love you”. Because it's respectful, this phrase often said to parents. In this type of situation, you're not only saying “I love you”, but you're also expressing gratitude for all they do. You could also say 사랑해요 (saranghaeyo) to confess your feelings to someone.Is kissing a big deal in Korea? ›
In South Korea, passionate kisses and lingering hugs are considered tacky and inappropriate when they occur in public. Rather, they're seen as special, romantic moments that should be shared with your partner in a private setting.Do Korean men touch each other? ›
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Again, not a term of endearment, but just in case you want to know the standard Korean word for husband, it's 남편 (nampyeon).What is Papi Chulo? ›
Getty. A direct translation of papi chulo from Spanish is “pimp daddy,” with papi being a diminutive form of “father” (and used like “baby”) and chulo meaning “pimp” but also “attractive,” “cocky,” or “cool” in colloquial settings.What is Mami? ›
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The Korean word for "mother" is "eomeoni" (어머니). The familiar word for "mother" (something like "mom" or "mommy") is "Umma" (엄마). Read on for pronunciations and context!What do males call younger males in Korea? ›
군 (goon) This honorific is not as common as 씨, but it basically means the same thing. This is used for young, unmarried males in a formal occasion. 군 can be attached after the first or last name.
It is simply a transliteration of the Korean word 오빠(oppa). Oppa is literally an elder brother of a woman. The corresponding Chinese word may be 哥哥(gege). However Korean women often call intimate men oppa.Can I call my idol oppa? ›
if you're directing it to a kpop idol that's totally fine. that's not being a koreaboo. oppa is a korean honorific used a lot of the times between fans and idols. what's not fine is using those linguistics in your daily life on a REGULAR BASIS when they aren't a part of your culture.What countries say oppa? ›
Arabs and Israelis sometimes pronounce it as "obah" (in Arabic, due to the absence of the letter "p" in classical Arabic), and especially use the expression when picking up or playing with children. Opa also appears in Brazil, Portugal, and Spain. A less common variation is "epa".What does Unnie mean in Korean? ›
언니 (eonni; unnie) Literal meaning: “older sister” Is also used to call: A female friend or a female sibling who's older than you (as a female)How do Koreans address each other? ›
When referring to someone else, Koreans don't just call them by their surnames, like 'Mr/Ms. Kim', 'Mr/Ms. Lee' or 'Mr/Ms. Park'. they can call each other simply by using their given names, for example: 'Sung-soo' and 'Soo-mi'.What does Hae mean in Korean? ›
Usually, the word Koreans use when they talk about the sun is 해 (hae). It's not the only word you can use when talking about the sun (more on that in a moment), but 해 (hae) is the more common one to use, especially in your daily life. The other Korean word for 'sun' that you can use is 태양 (taeyang).What do Korean call their younger sister? ›
For younger siblings, the word is the same regardless of your gender: Younger brother: 남동생 (namdongsaeng) Younger sister: 여동생 (yeodongsaeng)Can you call a non Korean oppa? ›
If the person has given you permission or asked that you call him “oppa,” then yes; however, if you're a foreigner and an older Korean guy asks you to call him that, be careful.What is the Korean age system? ›
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noona and unni are basically the same, meaning older sister, but it differs from the speaker. if a boy calls the older sister "noona", the girl calls the older sister "unni". but nowadays people can switch it like the boy can call her unni, and a girl can call a boy older than her as "hyung".
여보 • (yeobo) (my) darling, honey, sweetheart.What is Korean girls beauty secret? ›
When it comes to skincare, Cho says Korean women use “natural skin brighteners such as rice extracts, vitamin C, and licorice, as well as exfoliators. For stubborn brown spots, they will visit the dermatologist to lighten the brown spots using lasers.”What do you call a fake girl in Korean language? ›
This word defines someone who is not real. A fake person. It often uses to refer a woman who behaves timidly or naively around others – people, more specifically man.
- Give your face a steam massage in the shower. ...
- Exfoliate with a washcloth soaked in hot water. ...
- Use a charcoal sheet face mask. ...
- Try blurring to create HD perfect skin. ...
- Apply a facial essence between two layers of moisturizer. ...
- Bring out the natural flush of your lips.
- Eun Ae (grace with love)
- Eun-Hye (grace)
- Hana (my favorite)
- Ha-Yoon (talented or allow)
- Hee-Young (joy and prosperity)
- Hyun-Ok (wise and beautiful pearl)
- Iseul (morning dew)
- Ji-ah (refined wisdom)
애인 (aein) – “Sweetheart” 여보 (yeobo) – “Darling” or “honey” 자기야 (jagiya) – “Baby” 내사랑 (nae sarang) – “My love”What does oppa and Noona mean? ›
Oppa (오빠): This is a term for older brothers of girls, but can also imply either an older male friend and even a boyfriend, who is older than the girl. Noona (누나): This is a term for older sisters of boys, but can also be used for an older female friend and even a girlfriend, who is older than the boy.What does Sunbae mean? ›
Noun. sunbae (plural sunbaes) An upperclassman or senior, in the context of South Korea. quotations ▼ (South Korean idol fandom) An older or more experienced idol, viewed as a veteran, mentor, or predecessor.Who Is Oppa in BTS? ›
Oppa (오빠) - Meaning older brother, “oppa” is only used by females when referring to or speaking to an older male. However, it is best not to call someone “oppa” if you've met them for the first time.What is Appa Korean? ›
Appa means Dad in Korean.
“Saranghae” (사랑해) means “I love you“. You can also find it in its more formal form “saranghaeyo” (사랑해요), but it's not used as often since you usually drop the formalities when talking to your loved one.What is Unnie in Korean? ›
Unnie (언니 in hangul) means “older sister”, but is only used by women. There are other situations where the word is used.What does Jagi mean in Korean? ›
The word 자기 (jagi) is also used to call someone “honey.” Koreans might add the suffix 야 (ya) to call their loved ones or get their attention. As opposed to the term 여보 (yeobo), your relationship status doesn't matter if you use the 자기 (jagi) or 자기야 (jagiya).