Yakimochi: The Meaning of the Japanese Word

In Japanese, there is an idiom, “Yakimochi wo Yaku (焼き餅を焼く)” (Pronunciation), which literally means to “grill a grilled rice cake”, but almost always used as an idiom, the phrase means to be/get jealous. 

In the idiom of Yakimochi wo Yaku, Yakimochi can be written in 2 ways using Japanese words.

Yakimochi (やきもち) and Yaki Mochi (焼き餅)

One is “Yaki Mochi (焼き餅)” partially using Kanji characters, while the other is represented as “Yakimochi (やきもち)” only using Hiragana letters, and these 2 words actually have different meanings.

Yaki Mochi (焼き餅)

Yaki Mochi (焼き餅)

In the former case, “Yaki Mochi (焼き餅)” usually refers to a grilled rice cake and doesn’t mean “jealousy”, as in its word “Yaki (焼き)” is the prefix that stands for “grilled”, while “Mochi (餅)” refers to a rice cake.

Yakimochi (やきもち)

Yakimochi (やきもち)

But when the word Yakimochi is represented only using Hiragana letters, “Yakimochi (やきもち)” means “jealousy”.

Compared to the word “Shitto (嫉妬)” which also means “jealousy” in Japanese, Yakimochi tends to be jealousy without a strong feeling of hatred.

Origin of the Word 

In the Japanese language, “妬く(Yaku)” is the verb meaning “be/get jealous”, but the word can also be represented as “焼く (Yaku)”, which means to grill something.

“Yaki Mochi (焼き餅)” is a traditional mochi dish that is very familiar to us Japanese, and “Kimochi” included in its word can mean “feelings”.

So as a play on words, the word “Yakimochi (やきもち)”, short for “Yaku Kimochi (妬く気持ち)”, is said to have been created.

Tomo

Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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