I've read that several bits of Japanese come from contractions with ある:

  • comes from で + ある (source)
  • なる comes from に + ある (source)
  • たり comes from て + あり (source)
  • たり comes from と + あり (source)
  • Adjective forms like たのしかった come from inflecting たのしく + ある (source)

Because contraction with ある seems to have occurred quite a few times, I started wondering if the suffix 〜がる (as in たがる or ほしがる) was a contraction of が + ある. I realize this is baseless speculation, but it sounded plausible to me, so I tried to look it up to see if it was right. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything about the etymology of がる online, and my dictionaries don't say anything on the subject either.

Is this possible? Is there a better explanation?

  • 3
    Note that there are two -tari: 1) to + ari and 2) te + ari.
    – Dono
    Dec 18, 2012 at 22:54
  • 1
    @Kaz: がる is a suffix, and not a verb in itself. Moreover, [欲]{ほ}しがる is adjective [欲]{ほ}しい with suffix -がる, and has nothing to do with verb [干]{ほ}す. Dec 20, 2012 at 5:10

3 Answers 3


This paper briefly lists this as a source:

「がる」の語源にはいくつかの可能性があるようだが [...] 日本国語大辞典によると、 「アハレガル、ウレシガル、痛ガル、面白ガルのガルは情をそそられる意から、アガルの約。道心ガル、才子ガル、得意ガルのガルは、ゲ(気)アルの約〔大言海〕」などの紹介がある。

I do not have access to 日本国語大辞典, but it seems it does not support your がある theory, rather suggests that it derives from あがる and/or 気{げ}ある.

Update 2021-12-08:

The 日本国語大辞典 is available (for now, at least) via Kotobank, and the relevant entry is here.

  • Interesting. Is -げる then derived by extension from -がる, or is it from something else? There is an apparent root form of -ぐ as in 広ぐ (whence 広がる・広げる), 繋ぐ (whence 繋がる・繋げる), etc., but this might be a different root. Jun 7, 2014 at 0:14
  • Dainichi, @EddieKal, curious about one thing -- the paper claims that the 日本国語大辞典 (NKDJ) points to 上【あ】がる as a derivation of one usage of ~がる, and 気【げ】 + ある as a derivation of another usage. However, I'm looking at that entry in both Kotobank's mirror and my dead-tree version, and the がる entry makes no mention of either. Any ideas what the paper's authors are claiming? And are either of you aware of any similar academic exploration of apparent suffix ~ぐ with derivatives ~がる (intrans.) and ~げる (trans.)? The NKDJ has no entries for these two. Dec 9, 2021 at 1:03
  • Is it because the online version is “精選版”? Not sure about your paper version.
    – dainichi
    Dec 10, 2021 at 18:34

I do not know the origin of the suffix -がる, but I am afraid that your theory is unlikely because the suffix -がる is attached to something different from what a particle が is attached. For example, we say 痛がる, but 痛が is not grammatical.


I've always thought it was 気(げ)ある contracted. It makes sense in that one can't really report on someone else's feelings but one could say "he/she has an air of wanting/hurting/etc."

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