어림없다 – Korean Idioms #15

3 Speed Only

With Explanation

If someone does something ridiculously hard, then you might say to her "that's impossible." In Korean, "그건 불가능해" is possible in this situation, but if you want to say it with an idiom, you can use "어림도 없다" as well.

The expression 어림없다 has been used for more than a few hundred years. It is said that it is used in Joseon Dynasty, too. In old Korean, "어리다" doesn't mean "being young" but it meant "being foolish." Old Koreans might have thought "어림없다" as "no foolishness." If I make it longer, it might be "It is not possible to do such a foolish thing," "Do not think that such a foolish thing is possible."

In comtemporary Korean, 어림 means approxiamation, a rough value, or an estimated number. So, 어림 없다 means "there is no estimation," or "it is even hard to guess the result," something like that.

Because of these, "어림없다" became an expression meaning "impossible," or "far from it."

You might have guessed that the opposite of "어림없다" is "어림있다," but we don't use "어림있다." Just saying "가능하다" is OK.

Examples

네가 날 이길 수 있을 거라고? 어림도 없다.
You said you can win me? Far from it.

지도만 보고 그곳을 찾아간다는 것은 어림도 없는 이야기이다.
It is impossible to go find that place by just looking at the map.

우리 월급으로 집을 산다는 것은 어림도 없는 일이다.
It is impossible for us to buy a house with our monthly payments.

Final note to the expression

I said that 어림 in 어림 없다 has something to do with numbers. Because of that, some Koreans say this expression as "어림 반푼어치도 없다." 반푼 here is a half of a penny, so meaning pittance or a small amount of money. 어치 means value. You can think that "어림 반푼어치도 없다" is an emphasized version of 어림없다.

그런 짓을 하고도 무사히 넘어 갈 수 있을 거라고 생각했나? 어림 반푼어치도 없다.
Did you imagine that you will be all right even if you have done something like that? No way!