In the anime adaptation of the manga The Quintessential Quintuplets, as well as the corresponding manga, I notice these 3 times (besides this) the word 'popular' (in the subtitles) was used:

Scene 1: Re 2 of the quintuplets Nino and Itsuki: Nino says to Itsuki '男にモテねーぞー' for eating a lot. Popular here is 'モテ'.

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Scene 2: Raiha thinks 'お兄ちゃんが急にモテだした' when Raiha's onii-chan gets a massage from the quintuplets. Popular here is again 'モテ'.

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Scene 3: Re 2 of the quintuplets Miku and Ichika: Miku says about Ichika '可愛くて社交的で男子から人気で.' This time, popular, is '人気'.

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  1. What's up with the katakana: モテ is borrowing/loaning from what?

  2. So how does モテ differ from 人気, in particular with that 'popular' appears to be used the same way...unless it's referring to Ichika's popularity as a semi-professional actress?

Here's an answer I read (which I guess assumes heteronormativity, rather than really literally 'opposite sex') :

人気 means for an object to be popular and モテる means for a person be popular among the opposite sex.

And another answer I read:

人気 is enable to use in wide situation.

  1. The actress is popular among young male.→あの女優は若い男性に人気です。
  2. Lately, this manga is popular in my class.→最近、私のクラスではこの漫画が人気です。
  3. In Japan, Watching baseball is popular for a long time.→長い間、日本では野球観戦が人気です。

2.1 - Is the different hiragana (different reading, is the term right?) for 男 (おとこ vs だん) possibly relevant here? And actually what's up with the different hiragana/reading for 男?

  • 1
    モテる has several nuances, and is surely not a reserved word for "love and romance", or "opposite sex". Start typing "男にモテる" in Google search bar - "男にモテる男" will definitely appear relatively at the top of the suggestion list, which has nothing to do with homosexual love and romance.
    – dungarian
    Jun 26, 2022 at 2:47
  • @dungarian Yes, and that's why I said "basically restricted". People do occasionally say something like あの猫は女の子にモテる or 顧客にモテモテの多忙な社員 when there is no chance of misunderstanding, but this is a rather exceptional and rhetorical usage of モテる for emphasizing the love-like strong passion.
    – naruto
    Jun 27, 2022 at 17:44

1 Answer 1


モテる is a purely Japanese word. See:

And for the etymology, read these:

The use of モテる is basically restricted to the context related to romantic interest. クラスの男子にモテる means many guys want her as a girlfriend. But when many guys like or respect her as a friend or a classmate but not necessarily as a romantic partner, クラスの男子に人気だ is the only choice. Besides, モテる is still a little slangy word, whereas 人気 is safe even in very formal documents. I guess 人気 was chosen in the last example because this seems to be a rather serious discussion not limited to Ichika's sex appeal.

男【おとこ】 and 男子【だんし】 are different words (the former is closer to "guy" and the latter "boy", though this is very simplified). The difference is not really relevant in explaining the meaning of モテる.

  • Thanks naruto! Maybe otoko vs danshi is like...danshi is more serious/formal like with the 人気 vs モテる? Or not really?
    – BCLC
    Jun 24, 2022 at 4:35
  • 1
    @BCLC It's true that 男 leans towards the unpolite side, but 男子 is a plain word too, just a bit culturally loaded: like "boykind (member)" as opposed to 女子 "girlkind (member)". Jun 24, 2022 at 4:54
  • 1
    @BCLC Please read this, this and this. Writing a thorough explanation about it is much tougher than explaining モテる...
    – naruto
    Jun 24, 2022 at 5:39
  • To naruto : ok thanks, but in short...it's not really the same thing right? I mean it's 'not the same' doesn't mean 'exact opposite', sooo I don't really see the harm in just saying 'no' if the answer is really 'no'. Of course this is just a follow-up comment question not a full post question. I'm not really interested in the otoko vs danshi. I'm just interested to see if maybe we're dealing with formal vs less formal thing like the original popular thing, which is really the point. Or do you agree with @broccolifacemask ? To broccoli facemask : thanks!
    – BCLC
    Jun 24, 2022 at 8:03
  • @BCLC The short answer is "no". Both words are used both in the most formal documents and in the most casual idle gossip, but how they feel greatly depends on the context. Both refer to both male adults and male children. I know this is a confusing response, but it really is complicated. I'd be happy to try to explain if you post a separate question after reading the existing relevant questions on this site. But please, not here.
    – naruto
    Jun 24, 2022 at 8:22

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