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This is an Advanced Idiomatic Expressions lesson related to 손, the hand. In order to fully understand and use the expressions introduced in this series, it is essential that you understand the grammatical structure of the sentences. When you come across a grammar point that you are unfamiliar with, please go back and review the related TTMIK lessons.


손 = hand

1. 손에 익다 = get accustomed to something

(익다 = to be ripe, to be experienced)

→ You might be familiar with the word 익숙하다, which means “to be used to” something. Here, the verb 익다 has the same meaning as 익숙하다, but with the word 손, the expression is always used in the form 손에 익다. Think of it as a task or skill being “comfortable” or “accustomed” to the hand.

Ex) 아직 일이 손에 익지 않아서, 시간이 오래 걸려요.

= I haven’t become accustomed to the work yet, so it takes me a long time.

2. 손을 씻다 = to be through with something (bad); to quit doing something (bad)

(씻다 = to wash)

→ The verb 씻다 means “to wash,” so the literal meaning of 손을 씻다 is “to wash one’s hands.” While it really is used in that sense, the expression 손을 씻다 can also be used to mean “to quit doing something bad,” such criminal or illegal acts.

Ex) 저는 그 일에서 손 씻은 지 오래 됐어요.

= It’s been a long time since I quit doing that.

3. 손이 크다 = to have an open hand; to be very generous (usually with food that one cooks)

(크다 = to be big)

→ When someone tends to make a lot of food when cooking, you can say that the person is 손이 크다. When this expression is used in an idiomatic way, it has nothing to do with the actual size of the person’s hand. 손이 크다 is often, if not always, used to refer to mothers always cooking more food than necessary.

Ex) 저희 어머니는 손이 커서 항상 음식을 너무 많이 하세요.

= My mother has an open hand, so she always cooks too much food.

4. 손에 땀을 쥐다 = to be thrilled (while experiencing or watching something)

(땀 = sweat, 쥐다 = to grab)

→ Literally, 손에 땀을 쥐다 means to “grab sweat in one’s hand.” The actual meaning of this phrase is that you are so excited and thrilled that your hands start sweating, therefore you have some sweat in your hands. This expression is commonly used in the forms 손에 땀을 쥐고, meaning “while being very thrilled,” and 손에 땀을 쥐게 하는, meaning “to be thrilling.”

Ex) 축구 경기가 너무 재미있어서 정말 손에 땀을 쥐고 봤어요.

The soccer match was a lot of fun, so I felt really thrilled while watching it.

The soccer match was a lot of fun and I was really on the edge of my seat.

5. 손에 안 잡히다 = can’t concentrate on something (usually work)

(잡히다 = to be grabbed, to be caught)

→ When you say that something is 손에 안 잡히다, it literally means that something is “not caught by one’s hands” but the actual meaning behind it is that you can’t get your hands on some task or can’t concentrate on something because you are distracted by other worries or exciting things.

Ex) 걱정돼서 일이 손에 안 잡혀요.

= I can’t concentrate on work because I am worried.

6. 손을 놓다 = to stop working on something; to get one’s hands off something

(놓다 = to let go)

→ When you have your hands off something, it means you are not working on it anymore. You can say 손을 놓다 when you are either distracted or discouraged and not working on something anymore.

Ex) 요즘 비디오 만드는 것에 손을 놓고 있었어요.

= Recently, I haven’t been making any videos.

7. 손이 닳도록 빌다 = to beg as if one’s life depended on it; to beg and plead

(닳다 = to be worn down, 빌다 = to beg, to plead)

→ 빌다 is to beg or to plead, and 손이 닳도록 means “to the point where your hands will be worn out”, so all together, 손이 닳도록 빌다 means to plead or beg as if your life depended on it.

Ex) 손이 닳도록 빌었는데도, 안 된다고 했어요.

= I begged and begged, but he still said no.

8. 손을 떼다 = to pull out of something

(떼다 = to detach)

→ 떼다 means “to detach something off another thing.” So, when you say that you detach your hands off something, it means you’ve stopped doing something. Whereas 손을 놓다, 손을 떼다, and 손을 씻다 have similar meanings, 손을 씻다 usually means to stop doing something that is bad or illegal, 손을 놓다 means “to be too distracted or tired to continue working on something,” and 손을 떼다 means “to decide to stop being involved in something from a certain moment.”

Ex) 저는 이 일에서 손 뗄게요.

= I will pull out of this.

= I will stop being involved in this project.

Direct download: ttmik-l9l1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:17pm JST