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I'm unsure of how to use this word 「キレる」. When I looked up the definition, it says something along the lines of "to get angry" or "to lose one's temper".

Where does this word come from? I'm somewhat confused at the combination of katakana 「キレ」 + hiragana 「る」. Does the origin of the word explain this?

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We also have 逆切れ, ブチ切れ, ブチ切れる, マジ切れ. (We say 逆切れする but not 逆切れる.) I thought it might have something to do with the use of 切れる in [堪忍袋]{かんにんぶくろ}の[緒]{お}が[切]{き}れる, but I'm not sure. –  Choko Aug 19 '12 at 9:27
    
@Chocolate Thanks. If those are related, is there any reason why キレる is not written then as 切れる? Is it just to prevent confusion? –  Chris Harris Aug 19 '12 at 15:52
    
Sorry... I just saw some webpages and found that it's normally written as キレる (not 切れる) when used as slang, meaning "to get angry". So I should have written 逆ギレ、ブチギレ、ブチギレる、マジギレ、逆ギレする. Yeah maybe we tend to write words in katakana when we use them as slang. –  Choko Aug 20 '12 at 7:09

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

The word is kire-ru. Like most 下一段, it naturally derives from the 下二段 verb kir-u. It is properly written 切れる. Consider the word 途切れる. You may think of it as "堪えていた気持ちが途切れて, and now I'm pissed".

As for why it may be written as キレる: it is slang, and the katakana emphasizes this. The final -ru conjugates, so leaving it in hiragana is most natural.

Also note that there is 半切れ (or 半ギレ, if you prefer) in which one may suddenly raise their voice at someone as if they were mad in response to a comment.

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Wikipedia lists @Chocolate's theory that it comes from 堪忍袋の緒が切れる as a plausible one, another one being the image of rage causing a vein to become apparent on one's forehead (a symbol often used in cartoons), and this vein "popping".

Many slang words are written with katakana occasionally: バレる, ドジる, チクる etc.

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a vein to become apparent>>> Ah~~ like this ndr2.up.seesaa.net/image/f03_05.png / kikuno-room.com/image_a/10077275854.png and this vein popping>> Like... プチッ!ブチッ!or プツン! So the word ブチギレ shows you're so angry that your vein pops, with the sound (mimetic word?) "ブチッ!" –  Choko Aug 20 '12 at 7:26

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