I have heard many people claim that Yiddish is a much richer language than English, and follow up with an attempt to prove their point by pulling out a Yiddish word they claim has no English analogue.
One such word I have often seen used as an example in this way is "fargin" or "פארגין", which means something like "to not withhold a favor from someone [for no reason]" or "not to begrudge [something from someone]."

Can anyone think of an English word that could be used in place of "fargin"?

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    The downvoters probably think that finding one Yiddish word that doesn't have a counterpart in English 'prove[s] their point [that Yiddish is a much richer language than English]' in precisely the same way that Athletico Madrid's leading 1 - 0 after 92 minutes proves they are Champions of Europe. There are 1 000 000 + words in English, and countless polysemes. But Italian's arguably better for operas. – Edwin Ashworth May 25 '14 at 21:59
  • @EdwinAshworth That's fine but... I never said I agreed with them. Do you think I should edit the question to clarify? And yes, Italian is definitely better for opera. – Shokhet May 25 '14 at 22:00
  • 'and prove their point' should be taken as your view here; it needs recasting. – Edwin Ashworth May 25 '14 at 22:04
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    Partly: that deals with what appears to be a rather fanciful claim by you. However, it is still certainly you making the unsupported claim 'Many people like to say that Yiddish is a much richer language'. How many? Where is the evidence that they do? As an aside, what's the Yiddish term for pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism? Midmark? Frustum? Abacinate? Abderian? Syzygy? Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? – Edwin Ashworth May 25 '14 at 22:10
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    I'm not a downvoter but this question seems to be to be about Yiddish not English. – user24964 May 25 '14 at 23:57

There is no single-word equivalent for fargin in English, though there are single-word antonyms like begrudge and resent. In the same way, there is no single-word equivalent in English of the French word frileux (someone who has the tendency to feel cold).

That doesn't make Yiddish or French "richer" than English; there are many words in the English language that have no single-word equivalent in either French or Yiddish. Every language has holes in it, where it takes several words to express a single concept. Sometimes languages will "borrow" (without ever really meaning to return) words from other languages when they're especially useful for plastering over those holes. Fargin doesn't cover a very big hole in English since we already have ways of expressing a good deal of nuance around the concept, ranging from merely not resenting through congratulating and on to sharing in the joy. In a sense, you could say that English is richer and more nuanced precisely because it lacks a single word to cover all of the spectrum of attitude that Yiddish packs into the word fargin. Schmooze, on the other hand, was worth stealing borrowing.

  • Never said which language I considered to be "richer" ...but thanks for the great answer! – Shokhet May 28 '14 at 4:34
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    "In a sense, you could say that English is richer and more nuanced precisely because it lacks a single word to cover all of the spectrum of attitude that Yiddish packs into the word fargin." Great thought there! – Shokhet May 28 '14 at 4:34
  • So you were just looking for confirmation that there is no equivalent? In my answer, I was just trying to find the closest ones. Also, words might gain this sense in the context. For example, different senses of "volunteer" might have different words in Yiddish. In the end, we were trying to find the closest ones instead of saying there is no equivalent. – 0.. May 28 '14 at 22:16
  • @ermanen No, I wasn't....and thanks (again) for your high quality answer! – Shokhet Jun 19 '14 at 4:14
  • @ermanen And I never would have seen your comment, had I not been called back to this page by another user....if you want your comments to be seen by a specific person, put them under that person's post, or ping them with an "@" sign like I just did ;) – Shokhet Jun 19 '14 at 4:15

Milce-witter - "knowing mercy."

Milce Mercy, clemency, forbearance, favour. Often coupled with ore, grace, or mercy. Also pl. mercies.


How do you like grant?

grant: to permit as a favor, indulgence, etc.

Alternately, consider permit.

permit: to allow to be granted

  • It's OK....but the idea of "fargin" is a little more complex...it's more like "not withholding a favor" more than just granting a favor... – Shokhet May 25 '14 at 22:01
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    Would Merriam-Webster's 4th definition of "suffer" be what your are looking for? merriam-webster.com/dictionary/suffer 1 a : to submit to or be forced to endure <suffer martyrdom> b : to feel keenly : labor under <suffer thirst> 2 : undergo, experience 3 : to put up with especially as inevitable or unavoidable 4 : to allow especially by reason of indifference <the eagle suffers little birds to sing — Shakespeare> – Michael Owen Sartin May 25 '14 at 22:13

As a verb, I'm going to say bestow. It has the connotation of giving willingly.

To present as a gift or an honor; confer

A word that is as close as possible would be ungrudging

not begrudging; not reluctant or resentful; wholehearted.

So, you can also say support/give ungrudgingly.

volunteer might fit also.

(tr) to perform, give, or communicate voluntarily: to volunteer help; to volunteer a speech.

  • "Give ungrudgingly" is very good, +1 (though my spellcheck doesn't recognize it!;)....but I'm looking more for a single word, if one indeed exists – Shokhet May 25 '14 at 22:33
  • I think volunteer and bestow are the closest words as a single word. – 0.. May 25 '14 at 23:01

Yeah, vouchsafe comes closest; "grant"/"concede"/"spare"/"allow" are more approximate, though in wider use outside of Shakespeare.

vouchsafe (third-person singular simple present vouchsafes, present participle vouchsafing, simple past and past participle vouchsafed)

To graciously give, to condescendingly grant a right, benefit, outcome, etc.; to deign to acknowledge.  [quotations ▼] To receive or accept in condescension.

The difference with "fargin" is that it is quite common and natural in Yiddish.

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    Right. "Fargin" doesn't have the connotation of condescension. – Shokhet Apr 2 '17 at 18:00

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