[Proverb] 누워서 침 뱉기 – To Spit Lying Down 💦

누워서 침 뱉기 - to spit while lying on one's back

누워서 침 뱉기
[nu’wo’seo chim baet’gi]


What does this proverb mean?

Literally, 누워서 침 뱉기 means “to spit saliva while lying down on one’s back.”

누워서 침을 뱉으면 어디로 떨어질 것인가?
남에게 해를 끼치려다가 오히려 자게에게 해가 돌아올 때 쓰는 말.​1​

Picture in your head someone who is lying down on his back and sends a spitball straight up into the air. What goes up must come down. Where does the spit land? Directly on their face.

Figuratively, this expression is used to describe a situation where one means to harm another, but ends up harming themselves in the process.


Grammar and Vocabulary

This saying consists of the following words:

1. 눕다

Verb: To lie down (on one’s back)
Type: Irregular Verb (ㅂ)

How to conjugate 눕다​2​:

TensePolitenessDeferenceConjugation
Declarative PresentInformalLow누워
High누워요
FormalLow눕는다
High눕습니다
Past Base누웠
Declarative PastInformalLow누웠어
High누웠어요
FormalLow누웠다
High누웠습니다
Future Base누울
Declarative FutureInformalLow누울 거야
High누울 거예요
FormalLow누울 거다
High누울 겁니다
Declarative Future Conditional InformalLow눕겠어
High눕겠어요
FormalLow눕겠다
High눕겠습니다
Inquisitive PresentInformalLow누워?
High누워요?
FormalLow눕니?
High눕습니까?
Inquisitive PastInformalLow누웠어?
High누웠어요?
FormalLow누웠니?
High누웠습니까?
Imperative PresentInformalLow누워
High누우세요
FormalLow누워라
High누우십시오
Propositive PresentInformalLow누워
High누워요
FormalLow눕자
High누웁시다
Connective “if”누우면
Connective “and”눕고
Nominal 누움

2. Verb + ~서

~서 is a clause connector that is added to verbs to indicate that one clause happens after the other. In this proverb, (A) one lies down first and then (B) spits. So one is doing the spitting in a state of lying down.

(A)누워 (B)침 뱉기


3. 침

침 is a informal/colloquial noun that means saliva or spit. Its formal counterpart is 타액 (唾液).

타액을 분비하다. To secrete saliva.


4. 뱉다

Verb: To spit out, to spew
Type: Regular Verb

How to conjugate 뱉다​3​:

TensePolitenessDeferenceConjugation
Declarative PresentInformalLow뱉어
High뱉어요
FormalLow뱉어요
High뱉습니다
Past Base뱉었
Declarative PastInformalLow뱉었어
High뱉었어요
FormalLow뱉었다
High뱉었습니다
Future Base뱉을
Declarative FutureInformalLow뱉을 거야
High뱉을 거예요
FormalLow뱉을 거다
High뱉을 겁니다
Declarative Future Conditional InformalLow뱉겠어
High뱉겠어요
FormalLow뱉겠다
High뱉겠습니다
Inquisitive PresentInformalLow뱉어?
High뱉어요?
FormalLow뱉니?
High뱉습니까?
Inquisitive PastInformalLow뱉었어?
High뱉었어요?
FormalLow뱉었니?
High뱉었습니까?
Imperative PresentInformalLow뱉어
High뱉으세요
FormalLow뱉어라
High뱉으십시오
Propositive PresentInformalLow뱉어
High뱉어요
FormalLow뱉자
High뱉읍시다
Connective “if”뱉으면
Connective “and”뱉고
Nominal 뱉음

5. Verb + ~기

Adding ~기 to a verb stem changes the verb into a noun. The word can then be used like a regular noun. The verb stem + ~기 also denotes a state of action or plate. The doing of something. It’s one way to turn a verb in a state of action into a noun.


Click here to see the breakdown of more Korean proverbs.


References

  1. 1.
    이영희, ed. 한손에 잡히는 우리속담. 초록세상; 2006.
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