무엇

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Korean

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Alternative forms

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  • (mwo) (colloquially dominant form)

Etymology

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Originally a contraction of Middle Korean 므스〮 (mùsú, what) + (kès, thing).

First attested in the Sok samgang haengsildo jungganbon (續三綱行實圖 重刊本 / 속삼강행실도 중간본), 1581, as Middle Korean 므엇 (Yale: mues), also given as 무엇 (Yale: mwues) in the same work.

Also attested in the Sohak eonhae (小學諺解 / 소학언해), 1586, as Middle Korean 므섯 (Yale: muses). This is the more conservative form, although it happens to be attested slightly later.

Displaced equivalent Middle Korean pronouns 므스〮 (Yale: mùsú), 므슴〮 (Yale: mùsúm), 므슥〮 (Yale: mùsúk).

Pronunciation

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  • (SK Standard/Seoul) IPA(key): [muʌ̹t̚]
    • Audio:(file)
  • Phonetic hangul: []
Romanizations
Revised Romanization?mueot
Revised Romanization (translit.)?mueos
McCune–Reischauer?muŏt
Yale Romanization?mues
  • South Gyeongsang (Busan) pitch accent: 엇의 / 엇에 / 엇까지

    Syllables in red take high pitch. This word always takes high pitch only on the first syllable, and lowers the pitch of subsequent suffixes.

Pronoun

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무엇 (mueot)

  1. (interrogative pronoun) what - used in questions
    이게 예요?
    ige mwoyeyo?
    What is this?
    라고 했어요?
    mworago haesseoyo?
    What did [you] say?
  2. something, anything
    무엇인가가 실제-와 다른 처럼 주장하거나 행동하다.
    mueosin'ga-ga silje-wa dareun geotcheoreom jujanghageona haengdonghada.
    to claim that or act as if something is different from what it actually is
    먹었어요?
    mwo meogeosseoyo?
    Have [you] eaten something?

Derived terms

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  • 무엇하다 (mueothada, “to be awkward, to be off (euphemistic)”)

References

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  • 이광호 (Yi Gwang-ho) (2009) “'므스'와 '므슥/므슴/므슷'의 의미특성 및 형태변화 [meuseu wa meuseuk/meuseum/meuseut ui uimiteukseong mit hyeongtaebyeonhwa]”, in Gugeo gungmunhak, volume 151, pages 35—57
  • 장요한 (Jang Yo-han) (2013) “중세국어 의문사 '므스'류의 교체 양상과 단일화 [jungsegugeo uimunsa meuseu ryuui gyoche yangsanggwa danilhwa]”, in Eoneowa jeongbo sahoe, volume 20, pages 235—259