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I've heard this word used quite a few times now, and I'm tired of pretending to understand it. Why does 「やきもち」 refer to being jealous? Is this a slang word? How do people use this word?

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3 Answers 3

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The やき of やきもち can be written in two ways, 焼く and 妬く.

Assuming you know the former(焼く), 妬く can mean to be jealous. So, the word is a play on words that have the same sound. The もち part, meaning rice cake (餅) is said to come from 気持ち, in other words やきもち originated from the phrase 妬く気持ち (whether もち actually originated from 気持ち or not is unclear though).

Sometimes you will see it written as カタカナ (ヤキモチ) and young people often use it. For example:

私の彼氏は超ヤキモチ焼き <-- As if spoken by a young female

女のやきもちって恐ろしい

However, this word has existed for quite some time, so I wouldn't consider it to be slang.

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  • A simpler derivation for the "jealousy, jealous person" sense would be just 妬【や】き ("jealousy, being jealous") + 持【も】ち ("having; person who has"). Consider other common uses of 持【も】ち this way, such as 金持ち【かねもち】("someone who has money"), 子持ち【こもち】 ("someone who has a child / children"), 纏【まと】い持【も】ち ("standard-bearer, someone who has the matoi"), etc. Aug 21, 2021 at 23:53
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Why does 「やきもち」 refer to being jealous?

yakimoti has two meanings: 1) a grilled rice cake, and 2) jealousy. It took on the second meaning due to the fact that yak-u means (among other things) "to be jealous".

(Note that "jealous" is an adjective, while yakimoti is a noun. As such, jealousy (noun) is more appropriate.)

Is this a slang word?

No. It has been a well established word for several hundred years.

How do people use this word?

Usually in the form of "~ ni yakimoti wo yaku".

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For more information, the Kanji root of the word is 焼 which means: bake, burning.

When you are jealous, you feel it burning inside you, right?

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