Welcome to the first lesson in the Advanced Idiomatic Expression series! By studying with this series, you will learn many idiomatic expressions that are based upon a certain Korean word and used in everyday Korean conversation. In order to fully understand and use the expressions introduced in this series, it is essential that you understand the grammatical structure of the sentence. When you come across a grammar point that you are unfamiliar with, please go back and review the related lessons.
눈 = eye
1. 눈이 높다 = to be picky
(높다 = to be high)
→ 눈이 높다 literally means that your “eyes are high”, but in Korean, if you say that your eyes are 높다, it simply means that you have high standards for things or people. When someone is very picky about the type of person they want to date or the kind of things they want to buy, you can say “눈이 높다”.
Ex) 저 눈 안 높아요. 저는 그냥 성격 좋은 사람이면 다 좋아요.
(= I’m not picky. Anyone who has a good personality is fine for me.)
2. 눈 밖에 나다 = to get on one’s bad side
(밖에 = outside of something / 나다 = to get out, to be out)
→ When you have done something to make a person upset with you and that person doesn’t like you very much any longer, you might have some disadvantages compared to other people. In that case, you can say that you are “outside” someone’s eyes, meaning that the person will not be happy to help you or give you any benefit.
Ex) 저는 지각을 많이 해서, 선생님 눈 밖에 났어요.
(= I am frequently late, so my teacher doesn’t like me.)
3. 눈을 붙이다 = to get some sleep; to take a nap
(붙이다 = to paste; to glue things together)
→ When you take a nap, you can use the expression “눈을 붙이다”. The literal translation is “to glue one’s eyes together”, but it is actually closer in meaning to “gluing one’s eyelids shut”, meaning that one sleeps. This is not very commonly used to refer to sleeping at night.
Ex) 피곤하면 눈 좀 붙여요. 나중에 깨워 줄게요.
(= If you are tired, get some sleep. I’ll wake you up later.)
4. 눈빛만 봐도 알 수 있다 = can know with just one glance
(빛 = light, 보다 = to see, 알다 = to know)
→ When you automatically know what a person wants or wants to tell you just by looking at his/her eyes, you can say 눈빛만 봐도 알 수 있다. The word 눈빛 doesn’t literally refer to light that comes out of one’s eyes, but rather the way someone looks at something, or the emotion that you can feel from the eyes.
Ex) 말 안 해도, 눈빛만 봐도 알 수 있어요.
(= Even if you don’t say it, I can know just by looking at your eyes.)
5. 눈 앞이 캄캄하다 = to not know where to start; to have no hope
(앞 = front, 캄캄하다 = to be dark; to be pitch black)
→ When it’s dark in front of your eyes, it means that you can’t see; when you can’t see, you will panic. When you are confronted with a situation where you don’t know what to do or you can’t think of a way to get out of it, you say 눈 앞이 캄캄하다.
Ex) 눈 앞이 캄캄했었는데, 석진 씨가 도와줬어요.
(= I was in panic because I didn’t know how to solve the problem, but 석진 helped me.)
6. 눈썰미가 좋다 = to learn things quickly; to pick up things fast
(좋다 = to be good)
→ 눈썰미 refers to the ability to learn or understand how something is done just by looking at someone else doing it. For example, when someone can learn how to cook a Korean dish mainly by watching others, or when someone can pick up a dance move very quickly by imitating what they saw, you can say that the person has good 눈썰미.
Ex) 한 번만 보고 어떻게 따라해요? 눈썰미가 좋으시네요.
(= How do you follow the moves just by looking at them once? You pick up things very fast!)