Time for another Sino-Korean number and this time the character the plain-looking 三 [삼]. However, this little hanja is a bit unlike most other numeral hanja. This one is infrequently used in a few common words seemingly not related to numbers or the order of things. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Hanja #32: 三 – 석 삼

The hanja character 三 [삼] is the same as writing the number 3 in a text. Though it ought to be obvious, this character is for the Sino-Korean number 사 only, not the native korean number 셋. Like all the other hanja numerals most of the uses for this one is in regards of counting or ordering things such as months, minutes, etc.

However, like with the hanja 四 [사], there is a use to this word not seemingly related to ordering something. That use we’ve discussed in our very long article on Korean family vocabulary, 삼촌 [三寸], (unmarried) uncle. While in Korean this is still ordering things (see 寸 [촌]), non-Koreans won’t see it as such.

If you happen to know any other word you think has this hanja, let us know in the comments.

Our 三 Vocabulary List

*Meanings written in italics are the meanings when you use the noun as a 하다 verb.


한국어 Meaning 한자어
Three, 3
삼월 March
삼촌 (Unmarried) Uncle
Hanja Word Drill: 三 – 석 삼
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Hanja Word Drill: 三 – 석 삼