First attested in the Gwonyyeom yorok (勸念要錄 / 권념요록), 1637, as Early Modern Korean 므슨 (Yale: musun), probably a hypercorrection of Middle Korean 므슴〮 (Yale: mùsúm) that was motivated by the adnominal suffix (-eun) common in determiners.

Variants of 므슴〮 (Yale: mùsúm) with final (m), e.g. 무슴 (museum) and 무삼 (musam), remained more common than 므슨 or 무슨 until the mid-nineteenth century and are still used by some older speakers of Gyeongsang dialect.


  • (SK Standard/Seoul) IPA(key): [musʰɯn]
    • (file)
  • Phonetic hangul: []
Revised Romanization?museun
Revised Romanization (translit.)?museun
Yale Romanization?musun


무슨 (museun)

  1. (in questions) what, what kind of
    무슨 하세요?
    museun ir-eul haseyo?
    What kind of work do you do?
  2. (in statements) a certain, some; some kind of
    무슨 어서 왔어.
    Museun ir-i iss-eoseo mot wasseo.
    He couldn't come because he had some sort of work [to do].
  3. what kind of; used for emphasis in a rhetorical question.
    무슨 사람 되는 ?
    nae-ga geu jis-eul ha-myeon museun saram-i doeneun geo-gess-eo?
    If I did that, what kind of person would I be?

Usage notesEdit

  • (mwon) and 무슨 (museun) are both common in speech. In written form, only the latter is accepted.

Alternative formsEdit

  • (mwon)contraction
  • 무신 (musin), 므슨 (meuseun), 무순 (musun)southern dialectal
  • 므슴 (meuseum), 무슴 (museum), 무삼 (musam)Early Modern, sometimes in contemporary Gyeongsang

Related termsEdit


  • 이광호 (Yi Gwang-ho) (2009), “'므스'와 '므슥/므슴/므슷'의 의미특성 및 형태변화”, in Gugeo gungmunhak, volume 151, pages 35—57
  • 장요한 (Jang Yo-han) (2013), “중세국어 의문사 '므스'류의 교체 양상과 단일화”, in Eoneowa jeongbo sahoe, volume 20, pages 235—259