If you like and watch Japanese TV shows, animes, movies, comics, or use SNSs or the like, you may have heard the word “hetare（へたれ、ヘタレ）”.
The main character of anime and manga is often “hetare”, but because of its character, he/she tends to be loved by viewers and readers. Or we have more or less of that part, so we may be sympathetic to that character.
It is thought this word spread throughout the country through TV programs and comedy programs.
Let’s take a closer look at “hetare”.
What does “hetare” mean?
“Hetare” means somebody who is chicken, a loser, a sissy, coward, useless, timid, a wimp and so son.
Often this word is used to describe men.
You can say “hetare” to those whom you feel you can’t leave anything to such as an important job, or somebody who is so afraid that he/she can’t do anything.
The word is said to be similar to “otaku”, but actually some “otaku” people are intelligent and strong, so it may be better to distinguish them.
“Sousyoku-kei danshi（そうしょくけいだんし：草食系男子）” is also said to be similar. However, this is a boy who doesn’t have much interest in having sex with women (not that he particularly likes men), likes sweets like girls, or who cares about fashion.
This is also different from “hetare”. They like their style or even have pride with it, also they may be liked by the girls around them. So it may be better to distinguish this as well.
Those who fall under “hetare” have an introverted personality, are quite vulnerable to adversity and mental burden, and immediately get sick and make things worse which, as you can imagine it, they are not popular among women.
The origin of “hetare”
There are various theories about the origin of this word.
The first is that this word was originally used in the entertainer’s dressing room. It meant “an entertainer who is not full-fledged”.
“Hetare” is expressed in kanji and hiragana as “屁垂れ（へたれ）”.
This means that the person is always farting (the person can’t control and needs a diaper).
In the Heisei era, a comedian used this word in a TV program, and it spread to the general public, especially among young people.
Second, the word is used in Kansai. It means “a fart is coming out of the mouth” and refers to a person who always complains first.
Currently, many comedians appearing on Japanese TV programs come from the Kansai region. Therefore, viewers across the country are familiar with the Kansai dialect, and there are many young people and children who imitate the Kansai dialect. It is believed that “hetare” spread naturally.
The third is a change in the word “hetareru（へたれる）”.
“Hetatta（ヘタった）” is sometimes referred to as not fresh vegetables, withered or drooped flowers, products that do not meet the intended criteria or knives that have lost their sharpness.
Also, the verb “hetareru” means “feeling bad” or “emotionally depressed”.
“Hetatta” is the past tense of “hetareru”.
It is thought that “hetareru” was omitted and became “hetaru”.