Sageuk Glossary

Do leave your suggestions for words or terms that you think should be added to this list. Questions are also welcomed! 😉

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A

Aba mama (아바마마) – A term of address used by a royal child for his father.

Abanim (아바님) – Archaic term for abeonim (father).

Aega (애가, 哀家) – lit. This Sad House. An archaic term used by Dowager to refer to herself after her spouse’s death.

Aegissi (애기씨) – Another way of addressing agisshi.

Agasshi (아가씨) – Young Lady or Miss; a term of address used by a servant for the unmarried daughter of his master.

Agisshi (아기씨) – His/Her Young Highness; the style used to address a young prince or princess.

Anjeon (안전) –  lit. Inner Palace. A more local term for naejeon. 

Asshi (아씨) – A shortened form of agasshi.

Awoo (아우) – Archaic term for dongsaeng.

B

Bin (빈, 嬪) – Royal Concubine of the First Senior Rank.

Bin-gung (빈궁, 嬪宮) – lit. Consort’s Palace. Another way of addressing a Crown Prince’s Consort.

Bubuin (부부인, 府夫人) – Grand Princess Consort; wife of a Grand Prince.

Budaebuin (부대부인, 府大夫人) – Grand Internal Princess Consort; consort of a Grand Internal Prince.

Buin (부인, 夫人) – Wife.

Buma (부마, 駙馬) – Royal Son-in-law.

Buwongun (부원군, 府院君) – Internal Prince; father of a Queen Consort.

C

Cheong nara (청(清)나라) – Qing Dynasty of China.

Cheoja (처자, 處子) – Maiden or virgin. A young unmarried lady.

Cheonyeo (처녀, 處女) – Maiden or virgin. A young unmarried lady.

Cheop (첩, 妾) – Concubine.

Chonggak (총각, 總角) – Bachelor.

D

Daebi (대비, 大妃) – Queen Dowager; wife of the previous King.

Daegam (대감, 大監) – His/Your Excellency; a term of address used for the First Senior to Second Senior ranks.

Daegun (대군, 大君) – Grand Prince; legitimate son of a King.

Daejang (대장, 大將) – General/Chief/Leader.

Daejeon (대전, 大殿) – lit. The Great Palace. Another way of addressing and referring to a King. [Joseon]

Dae-janggun (대장군, 大將軍) – Great General.

Daewang (대왕, 大王) – Great King; a title used to refer to the current King [pre-Joseon] or the deceased kings.

Daewangdaebi (대왕대비, 大王大妃) – Grand Royal Queen Dowager; former Queen Consort that is more senior than the other two queens dowager.

Daewon-gun (대원군, 大院君) – Grand Internal Prince/Prince Regent; the King’s father who has never reigned as King himself.

Dang nara (당(唐)나라) – Tang Dynasty of China

Dong-gung (동궁, 東宮) – Eastern Palace where a Crown Prince resides. Another way of addressing a Crown Prince. [Joseon]

Doryeong (도령) – Bachelor; less formal form of Young Master.

Doryeon-nim (도련님) – Young Master.

Doseong (도성, 都城) – Capital city.

E

Eolja (얼자, 孼子) – Children of a nobleman with his lowborn concubine (slave).

Eoma mama (어마마마) – A term of address used by a royal child for his mother.

Eomanim (어마님) – Archaic term for eomonim (mother).

Eonni (언니) – Older sister or sibling. Also romanized as unni, it is widely used between female siblings in modern settings.

G

Geumsang (금상, 今上) – One of the titles used to refer to the current King.

Gibang (기방, 妓房) – A courtesan house.

Ginyeo (기녀, 寄) – A female entertainer or courtesan during Joseon Dynasty.

Gisaeng/ Kisaeng (기생, 寄生) – Another name for ginyeo.

Gong (공, 公) – Royal Prince.

Gongju (공주, 公主) – Royal Princess; legitimate daughter of the King.

Gon-gung (곤궁, 坤宮) – Another variation of the term gonjeon.

Gonjeon (곤전, 坤殿) – lit. Queen’s Palace. Another way of addressing a Queen Consort. [Joseon]

Goong/gung (궁, 宮) – Royal Palace.

Goongju/gungju (궁주, 宮主) – lit. Owner of (her) Palace. A title used to refer to the consorts and daughters of the King during Goryeo and early Joseon Dynasties before the system for royal concubines was introduced in Sejong’s 10th year of reign. It was also a way to refer to the illegitimate daughters of the King during King Chungseon’s rule.

Gukbon (국본, 國本) – lit. Nation’s Root. A term used to refer to a Crown Prince. [Joseon]

Gukwang (국왕, 國王) – A nation’s King.

Gukmo (국모, 母) – lit. Nation’s Mother. Another term used to refer to a Queen Consort. [Joseon]

Gun (군, 君) – Prince; illegitimate son of the King; son of a Grand Prince.

Gunbuin (군부인, 郡夫人) – Princess Consort; wife of a Prince.

Gungnyeo (궁녀, 宮女) – Court Lady.

Gunju (군주, 郡主) – Legitimate daughter of a Crown Prince.

Gun-ui (군의, 君尉) – Prince Consort. Consort of a Royal Princess.

Gwa-in / Kwain (과인, 寡人) – lit. Morally Deficient One. A title used by a King to refer to himself during a conversation with his subjects.

Gwi-in / Kwiin (귀인, 貴人) – Royal Concubine of the First Junior Rank.

Gyebi / Kyebi (계비, 繼妃) – Queen consort from the King’s second, third, etc marriage.

Gyusu / Kyusu (규수, 閨秀) – Lady or maiden. An accomplished maiden from a decent background.

H

Halba mama (할바마마) – A term of address used by a royal child for his grandfather.

Halma mama (할마마마) – A term of address used by a royal child for his grandmother the Queen/Queen Dowager/etc.

Han nara (한()나라) – Han Dynasty of China.

Harabanim (하라바님) – Archaic term for harabeonim (grandfather).

Hugung (후궁, 後宮) – Royal Concubine.

Hwanggung (황궁, 皇宮) – Imperial Palace.

Hwanghu (황후, 皇后) – Empress.

Hwangja (황자, 皇子) – Imperial Prince.

Hwangje (황제,  皇帝) – Emperor.

Hwangnyeo (황녀,  皇) – Imperial Princess.

Hwangsang (황상, 皇上) – lit. Radiant Highness. A title used to address the current Emperor by more senior members of the Imperial Family.

Hwangsil (황실, 皇室) – Imperial House (family).

Hwangtaehu (황태후, 皇太后) – Empress Dowager/Grand Empress.

Hwangtaeja (황태자, 皇太子) – Imperial Crown Prince.

Hwangtaejabi (황태자비, 皇太子妃) – Imperial Crown Princess Consort.

Hwangtaeje (황태제, 皇太弟) – Imperial Crown Brother; brother of the current Emperor designated as an heir to the throne.

Hyeong-nim/hyeong (형님/형) – Older brother or older sibling. Nowadays, it is used between male siblings.

Hyeonju (현주, 縣主) – Illegitimate daughter of a Crown Prince.

I

Imgeum (임금) – King.

Imja (임자) – Wife; a way to address a person not familiar to someone; a way of addressing someone’s wife that is older than him.

J

Jaga (자가) – The style used to address a Princess after she gets married. [Joseon]

Jajeon (자전, 慈殿) – lit. Dowager’s Palace. Another way of addressing and referring to the Dowager residing in the palace. [Joseon]

Janggun (장군 將軍) – General.

Jaseon (자선, 聖) – lit. King’s Mother. A term used by the King to refer to his mother, the Dowager. [Joseon]

Jeguk (제국, 帝國) – Empire.

Jeoha (저하, 邸下) – The style used to address a Crown Prince.

Jeongbi (정비, 正妃) – Queen consort from the King’s first marriage; King’s legal wife.

Jeonha (전하, 殿下) – Can be translated as His/Your Majesty. The style used to address the King or an Imperial Crown Prince.

Jewang (제왕, 帝王) – Emperor/King.

Jiabi (지아비) – Archaic term used by women to refer to their husbands.

Jibang (지방) – Province/Countryside.

Jim (짐, 朕) – lit. Royal We. It is used by an Emperor to refer to himself.

Jumo (주모) – Owner of a tavern.

Junggungjeon (중궁전, 中宮殿) – See jungjeon.

Jungjeon (중전, 中殿) – lit. Central Palace. A shortened version of the term junggungjeon. Another way of addressing a Queen Consort. [Joseon]

Jusang (주상, 主上) – The title used to address the King.

Mama (마마, 媽媽) – His/Her/Your Royal Highness.

Ma-nim (마님) – Milady; a term of address used by a servant for the wife of his master.

Mudang (무당) – Shaman.

Myeong nara (명(明)나라) – Ming Dynasty of China.

N

Naejeon (내전, 內殿) – lit. Inner Palace. Another way of addressing and referring to the Queen Consort. [Joseon]

Naeuri (나으리) – A variation of nari.

Nain (나인, 內人) – Palace maid or court attendant.

Nangja (낭자, 娘子) – Lady/ Maiden/ Virgin.

Nangjae (낭재, 郎材) – Bachelor; a young man of marriageable age.

Nanggun (낭군) – Husband; an affectionate term used by a younger wife to address her husband.

Naratnim (나랏님) – Another way of referring to the King.

Nari (나리) : A term used to officially address official of the Third Senior to Ninth Junior ranks. It is also used generally by the commoners or lower class citizens to address the aristocrats.

Nu-i (누이) – Archaic term for nuna.

Nunim/nuna (누님/누나) – Older sister.

O

Ongju (옹주, 翁主) – Illegitimate daughter of the King.

Orabeoni (오라버니) – Archaic term for oppa (older brother).

Orabi (오라비) – A variation of orabeoni,

P

Pyeha (폐하, 陛下) : lit. Bottom of the Steps. The title used to address the Emperor, Empress, Empress Dowager, and King [pre-Joseon].

S

Sadaebu (사대부, 士大夫) – Aristocrats/Noblemen; people of the governing class.

Sabu-nim (사부님) – Master/Teacher; a person who teaches something to someone.

Saekshi (색시) – Maiden/young woman and wife. Also used for new brides, sae saekshi (새 색시).

Sahyeong/ sahyung (사형, 師) – A term used by Confucian scholars to address their seniors, whom they regarded as brothers under the same tutelage. Derived from the Chinese term of the same meaning shige (师哥).

Sanggam (상감) – Another way of referring to the King.

Sanggung (상궁, 尙宮) – Palace Matron/ Chief Court Lady; the highest rank attainable by a court lady.

Sangwang  (상왕, 上王) – King Former. A living king who voluntarily abdicated for the current King to rise to the throne.

Seja (세자, 世子) – Prince Successor; a shortened form of wangseja.

Sejabin (세자빈, 世子嬪) – Princess Successor Consort; a shortened form of wangsejabin.

Seobang-nim (서방님) – Husband.

Seoeol (서얼, 庶孼) – A collective term from seoja and eolja, used for children of a nobleman with his concubines, which made them illegitimate.

Seoja (서자, 庶子) – Children of a nobleman with his freeborn concubine (commoner).

Seonbi (선비) – Scholar.

Seondaewang (선대왕, 先大王) – Great Predecessor King; a title used to refer to a deceased King.

Seongnim (성님) – A dialect from Chungcheondo Province to address one’s older brother or sister.

Seonwang (선왕, 先王) – Predecessor King; a shortened form of seondaewang. 

Seson (세손, 世孫)  – Grand Heir; a shortened form of wangseson.

Sesonbin (세손빈, 世孫嬪) – Grand Heir Consort; a shortened form of wangsesonbin.

Seuseung-nim (스승님) – Master/Teacher; a person who teaches something to someone.

Shincheop (신첩, 臣妾) – A term used by the consorts and concubines of a king to refer to herself when speaking to her husband.

Socheop (소첩, 小妾) – A term used by the wife of an aristocrat to refer to herself when speaking to her husband, or by a royal concubine when speaking with someone with higher rank than her in the palace (Queen or Dowager).

Soin (소인, 小人) – A term used by a man to refer to himself when speaking with the King.

Soja (소자, 小子) – A term used by a young man/prince to refer to himself during a conversation with his parents and/or his teacher.

Sonyeo (소녀, 少女) – lit. girl. A term used by a young girl/daughter/princess to refer to herself when speaking to her parents or anyone with higher status than her.

Song nara (송()나라) – Song Dynasty of China.

Soshin (소신, 小臣) – A term used by a man to refer to himself when speaking with the King.

So-ui (소의, 昭儀) – Royal Concubine of the Second Senior Rank.

So-won (소원, 昭媛) – Royal Concubine of the Fourth Senior Rank.

So-yong (소용, 昭容) – Royal Concubine of the Third Senior Rank.

Suk-ui (숙의, 淑儀) – Royal Concubine of the Second Junior Rank.

Suk-won (숙원, 淑媛) – Royal Concubine of the Fourth Junior Rank.

Suk-yong (숙용, 淑容) – Royal Concubine of the Third Junior Rank.

Swenne (쇤네) – A humble form of soin; used by a servant to refer to himself when talking to someone of higher status.

T

Taeja (태자, 太子) – Crown Prince; a shortened form of hwangtaeja.

Taejabi (태자비, 太子妃) – Crown Princess Consort; a shortened form of hwangtaejabi.

Taeje (태제, 太弟) – Crown Brother; a shortened form of hwangtaeje.

Taenyeo (태녀) – Crown Princess.

Taesangwang (태상왕, 太上王) – Grand King Former. A title used to address an abdicated king that is more senior than sangwang.

U

Uibin (의빈, 儀賓) – Son-in-law of the king.

Utjeon (웃전) – lit. The Upper Palace. A term used to refer to the most senior royal member residing in the palace, most of the time being either the King or a Dowager.

W

Wang (왕, 王) – King.

Wangbi (왕비, 王妃) – Queen Consort.

Wangdaebi (왕대비, 王大妃) – Royal Queen Dowager; a former Queen Consort that is more senior than Queen Dowager.

Wanghu (왕후, 王后) – lit. Queen. The suffix attached to the posthumous name of a Queen Consort.

Wangja (왕자, 王子) – Royal Prince or simply Prince.

Wangnyeo (왕녀, 王女) – Royal Princess or simply Princess.

Wangseja (왕세자, 王世子) – Royal Prince Successor. The official heir to the throne.

Wangsejabin (왕세자빈, 王世子嬪) – Royal Prince Successor Consort. The consort of Royal Prince Successor.

Wangseje (왕세제, 王世弟) – Royal Brother Successor. The brother of the current King who is the official heir to the throne in case the current King has no son of his own.

Wangsejebin (왕세제빈, 王世弟嬪) – Royal Brother Successor’s Consort.

Wangseson (왕세손, 王世孫) – Royal Grandson Heir Apparent. The firstborn son of the Prince Successor and the eldest grandson of the current King. The next in line to the throne after his father.

Wangsesonbin (왕세손빈, 王世孫嬪) – Royal Grandson Heir Apparent’s Consort. The wife of Royal Grandson Heir Apparent.

Wangsil (왕실, 王室) – Royal House (family).

Wangson (왕손, 王孫) – Royal grandson.

Won nara (원(元)나라) – Yuan Dynasty of China.

Wonja (원자, 元子) – First Son/ Prince Royal. The title given to the firstborn son of the current King before his inauguration as the Prince Successor.

Y

Yangban (양반, 兩班) – Aristocrats/Noblemen; elite class of the Joseon Dynasty.

Yeongae (영애, 令愛) – lit. the beautiful and beloved. Used to refer to another person’s daughter, usually of higher position.

Yeonggam (영감) – A title used to address the officers of Second Senior to Third Senior ranks.

Yeowang (여왕, 女王) – Queen Regnant.

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110 thoughts on “Sageuk Glossary

    1. Hi!

      어르신 is a courtesy term used to refer to someone of your parents’ age or even older. It is also used to refer to your friend’s parents. The term can be translated to as ‘elder’. In my opinion, one can use the term to call someone you are familiar or not familiar with in historical setting. However, if one happens to know that the person you are not familiar with holds a certain position within the government, then it might be more appropriate to use 대감/영감/나으리.

    1. 애미 is actually a dialect of the term 어미, which is a version of 어머니 used when one is talking down to someone more junior, in various situations. The term itself is used to refer to:
      – one’s mother when you are more senior than the person you are talking to (for example, when you are the father and talking about your wife with your son)
      – one’s own daughter who is married and with child herself
      – one’s daughter-in-law when you are talking with your son, the husband

      Hope it is not too confusing ^^;

  1. I have visited this post, and several others of yours, many times since I first fell in love with Kdramas (and sageuks most especially) in 2018. Your posts are fascinating and wonderful, and very much appreciated. I apologize if the questions I’m posing here have already been answered.

    My current questions, which I haven’t managed to find answers for in multiple web-searches, are about the titles used for officials at the Joseon court. Specifically, I’m trying to un-confuse myself about taegam, yeonggam and nari. Here goes: Is it only first level officials (senior and junior) who are called taegam? Is yeonggam only for second-level officials, and nari is for third level down to ninth? I’ve been confused about where the cut-off points are for those various titles. Also, would someone higher-ranking use those titles in speech–for instance, would someone who is a taegam himself call someone “yeonggam,” or is that only used in speech by people who are of lower rank than the person they’re speaking to? Do people of the same rank use the title for each other? A related question is sparked by English-language subtitles for “Haechi.” There’s a character who’s referred to in the subtitles as “Junior Second Rank.” This specific character is, I think, the only character referred to that way in the subtitles, so when my family and I watched “Haechi,” we assumed “Junior Second Rank” was something specific to him. But now since learning more, I realize that there must have been hundreds of men at court at that time who were of the Junior Second Rank. Is it likely that in reality, in the show they were just referring to him as “yeonggam”? Or is there something more specific they were calling him?

    –Oh, and another question I almost forgot to ask! What are the titles for different ranks of court eunuchs? I’ve seen many posts about the different rank titles for court ladies, but not for the eunuchs. I’d like to know about all of their rank level titles, but I’m most specifically wondering about the title used for the chief eunuch. That question is inspired by the lovely character of the king’s chief eunuch Han in “Dong Yi;” I’ve been trying to figure out what title people use in addressing him. And thanks so much for your posts!

    1. Thank you so much for visiting and for the questions as well! I totally don’t mind answering questions, so feel free to ask! I’ll try my best to answer or find the answer since it’s also another way of learning something new 😉

      Here’s a quick summary of the titles:
      Daegam (대감): Sr. 2 and above
      Yeonggam (영감): Sr. 3 (upper level) until Jr. 2
      Nari (나리)/ naeuri (나으리): Sr. 3 (lower level) below

      The titles were usually used by the lower-ranked to refer/address the higher-ranked officials. Those of higher rank would usually use the more cordial terms, such as the penname or job title when talking down to their friends of the same rank, juniors, and subordinates.

      As for the exact term in Haechi, I would need more information to check it out myself. If you can provide the exact timestamp and episode, I can provide a clearer answer 😀

      The highest post attainable by a eunuch in Joseon Dynasty was Sangseon of Jr. 2 rank. I think Chief Eunuch would go with the title Sangseon as what is frequently used in sageuk, including Dong Yi. I think I only heard the title Sangda being used in The Crowned Clown as the title used to address Eunuch Jo officially. The complete ranks and titles of Joseon eunuchs are as follow:

      Jr. 2 – Sangseon (상선)
      Sr. 3 – Sangon (상온), Sangda (상다)
      Jr. 3 – Sangyak (상약)
      Sr. 4 – Sangjeon
      Jr. 4 – Sangchaek
      Sr. 5 – Sanggo
      Jr. 5 – Sangtang
      Sr. 6 – Sangse
      Jr. 6 – Sangchok
      Sr. 7 – Sanghwon
      Jr. 7 – Sangseol
      Sr. 8 – Sangje
      Jr. 8 – Sangmun
      Sr. 9 – Sanggyeong
      Jr. 9 – Sangwon

      Hope this helps!

    1. Hello~

      Imperial princess is used for older Korean dynasties, albeit rarely, when the ruler of the country is deemed and Emperor. As for princess, it is the common term referring to a king’s female issues, although the exact Korean terms might differ according to the status of the birth mother (legal wife/secondary wife). Hope this helps!

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