I found this expression and the dictionaries give

"heaven sent offer", "best offer one could ask for"; "offer just what one wants"

I am interested by the break down this expression, ie how it came to have this meaning :

"an offer (申し出)I did not(ない) even (も) ask (願って)".

Is this correct ?

1 Answer 1


This arguably falls into the category of "could be answered with a simple dictionary search", but I think in this case it would be hard to know what to search for, because it's made up of arguably three different things (願って++ない).

To answer your question, the original translation of "heaven sent offer" is pretty close to accurate. The reason is that 願ってもない is a set phrase meaing exactly what one was looking for, or precisely what one wanted.

Edit: since the question has been updated to be about etymology, I will attempt to address that.

First off, it's worth pointing out that the ない here is 無い and not a contraction of いない. It's not "something not wished for", but "something that doesn't exist even if wished for".

I can't find anything that explicitly addresses the etymology, but dictionary definitions provide some context. For example, From kotobank:


When something wished for but unlikely to actually happen luckily appears

You can find similar explanations here and here. Basically, it seems like this is expressing the idea of something being desirable but typically out of reach.

  • thanks a lot for your answer, I did made my research but I was more interested by how it came to have the set meaning. Well, I changed the title and edited my question to make things more clear. Actually you have provided some breakdown
    – Makoto
    Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 12:50
  • @Makoto I updated my answer to try and answer your question.
    – Mindful
    Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 13:07
  • thanks a lot for pointing out the ても form and not the contraction of いない !
    – Makoto
    Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 13:20

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