[Vocabulary] 오히려 rather, instead


오히려 is an adverb that Koreans often use in conversation and in writing.

1. unexpectedly(different from a general expectation, assumption)’ or ‘instead‘.  A synonym of this meaning is 도리어.

잘못한 사람이 오히려 화를 낸다.  The person who made a mistake (unexpectedly) gets angry.

미안한 사람은 오히려 저예요. I am the one who should apologize. (instead of you)

가장 친한 친구가 오히려 나를 배신하고 내 돈을 훔쳐갔다. My best friend (unexpectedly) betrayed me and stole my money.

사장님이 웃고 있지만 그게 오히려 나를 더 불안하게 한다. The boss is smiling, but that makes me more nervous.(instead of being comfortable)

병원에 가면 오히려 병에 더 걸릴 것 같아. When I go to the hospital, I feel like I will get sick more.

지나친 운동은 오히려 더 안 좋을 수도 있어요. If you do exercise too much, it wouldn’t be good for you.

화장을 너무 많이 해서 예쁘기는커녕 오히려 더 못생겨 보인다.

She puts on too much make-up on her face, she looks more ugly.

2. ‘rather’ which means ‘compare two things’, so it is often used with ‘-느니(rather)’ or ‘-는 것보다(rather)’.  A synonym of this meaning is ‘차라리‘.

이렇게 기다리느니 오히려 걸어가는 게 낫겠어요. I would rather walk than wait like this.

거짓말을 하는 것보다 오히려 사실대로 말하고 사과하는 게 좋지 않을까요?  Don’t you think you’d rather tell the truth and apologize than lie about it?