Calque of Japanese 彼女(か​のじょ) (ka​nojo), coined by Kim Dong-in[1]. (geu) +‎ 녀(女) (nyeo). The noun meaning was created due to the literary overtones of the pronoun, possibly with influence from Japanese 彼女(か​のじょ) (ka​nojo).


  • (SK Standard/Seoul) IPA(key): [kɯɲʌ̹]
    • (file)
  • Phonetic hangul: []
Revised Romanization?geunyeo
Revised Romanization (translit.)?geunyeo
Yale Romanization?kunye


그녀 (geunyeo) (hanja 그女)

  1. (literary) she
    Synonym: (literary, archaic) 궐녀(厥女) (gwollyeo)
    그녀 으로 이길 없기 다른 방법 강구해야 했다.
    Geunyeo-neun him-euro-neun geu-reul igil su eopgi-e dareun bangbeob-eul gangguhaeya haetda.
    She couldn't beat him with her strength, so she had to figure out another way.
    그녀 에게 어떻게 수영하는 가르쳤다.
    Geunyeo-neun na-ege eotteoke suyeonghaneunji-reul gareucheotda.
    She taught me how to swim.
    그녀의 추억 슬픔 이었다.
    Geunyeoui chueog-eun seulpeum-eul ttin geos-ieotda.
    Her memory was tinged with sorrow.


그녀 (geunyeo) (hanja 그女)

  1. (rather colloquial) girlfriend; crush; a woman that one is romantically interested in
    첫눈 반한 그녀
    cheonnun-e banhan geunyeo
    the girl that I fell in love with at first sight

Usage notesEdit

  • While comparable to Japanese 彼女, 그녀 (geunyeo) is significantly more unnatural in speech, in both pronoun and noun senses. The pronoun in particular is almost never used in speech unless in a deliberately literary register.
  • The pronoun is often followed by the topic marker (neun), which makes it indistinguishable in speech from the vulgar phrase (geunyeon-eun, as for that bitch), which is much more widespread in the spoken language. This may contribute to speakers avoiding the pronoun.


  1. ^ Chae-un Yi (이재운), Ttŭt to morŭgo chaju ssŭnŭn uri mal ŏwŏn 500-kaji (뜻도 모르고 자주 쓰는 우리말 어원 500가지), 2008, →ISBN