I have read what it says in this post but it's old and I would like to hear other opinions. It's interesting that I have found this meaning on Weblio:
(esp. as 持ってる) to have "it"; to have that special something; to be blessed with good luck.
When I explain words to my friends who don't know Japanese I give them a literal translation and explain how some words came to have a certain meaning.
How would you explain モテる which comes from the word 持つ?

  • "She/he has got it."
    – Eddie Kal
    Nov 8, 2021 at 20:23
  • Compare also the English expressions "to have something" (→ 持つ) and "to get some" (→ モテる). Nov 9, 2021 at 1:58

2 Answers 2


There are three similar-looking but different expressions.

  • モテる: "to be popular (usu. with opposite sex)" (usually written with katakana; originally slang, but very common now; from the potential form of 持つ; for details, see the post you linked)

    He's popular with older people.

  • 持ってる: "to have good luck", "to have that special something" (usually in kanji; relatively recent slang (since circa 2010); contracted form of 持っている)

    宝くじ当たったの? 持ってるねえ。
    You won the lottery? Luck's on your side!

  • 持てる: "to be wealthy", "which one owns" (stiff literary expression; from the realis form of 持つ followed by the attributive form of the archaic auxiliary り; i.e., archaic version of 持っている)

    haves and have-nots

    to use all one's strength

They derived from 持つ in different ways in different ages. In particular, モテる and 持ってる are totally different expressions to me, and you should not mix them. (Of course they sound totally different, too.) モテる is a fairly old word and I don't think the post you linked is outdated.

  • 1
    些細なことですが、「the irrealis form of 持つ」ならば「持た~」なはずですが、「もて~」ですので「the realis form of 持つ」のほうが的確であると解釈してもよろしいでしょうか。 Nov 9, 2021 at 1:49
  • @EiríkrÚtlendi 直しました>< ありがとうございます
    – naruto
    Nov 9, 2021 at 1:51
  • 1
    あ、気づきました。助動詞の「~り」は結局状態を表す「あり」から派生したものだそうで、「連用形+あり」が phonologically 「~えり」として現れましたようです。 Wiktionary では「り」の項目もご参照になるかもしれません。 Nov 9, 2021 at 1:52

Several websites (e.g. this) say the following:

  1. Originally 持てる is the potential form of 持つ
  2. It turned into the passive meaning, somewhat by extension, 支持される (gain support)
  3. Then further by extension, 持てる started to mean ちやほやされる(←持ち上げられる) = gain popularity.

These happened in Edo era, and the katakana writing started in Showa.

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