Printable Version
Pronunciation: feer-gun Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A genuinely unselfish delight or pride in the accomplishment of someone else; giving credit where it is due, generously and without jealousy; the antonym of schadenfreude. 2. A sincere compliment, a kind word, a proverbial pat on the back for someone.

Notes: Today's Good Word is not a word yet in English, but is a word English should borrow from Hebrew. It is the antonym of schadenfreude, reveling in the bad luck of others, an attitude exhibited daily this year in Washington. Firgun differs from simply giving compliments, since compliments may be given with ulterior motives. Firgun involves unselfish delight that is authentic and without an agenda.

In Play: The first, abstract sense of today's Good Word refers to an attitude: "Canby Allgood is a man of such firgun, he praises his kids for getting dressed in the morning." It may also be used to refer to an individual act of praise: "Dunham Wright gives everyone firguns, and everyone in the office loves him for it."

Word History: This word was originally discovered and recommended for borrowing by Mark Rice-Oxley in The Guardian. The word can be traced back to the Yiddish word farginen, the Yiddish rendition of the German verb vergönnen "to be happy/glad/delighted for someone". This word was initially used in the 1970s, gaining momentum in subsequent decades. Firgun differs from giving compliments, since compliments may be given with ulterior motives. Firgun is authentic, unselfish delight with no hidden agenda. In 2014, Made in JLM, an Israeli non-profit community organization, set out to create "International Firgun Day", a holiday celebrated annually on July 17, when people share compliments or express genuine pride in the accomplishment of others on social media. The organization set up an online automatic firgun-generating tool at the website Firgunator. (Today's exciting Good nonWord was suggested by Patricia Tancred back in July of this year—2017, an old friend who goes back to my days.)

Dr. Goodword,

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