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Is there one? One of my dictionaries lists them as

  • 欲{ほっ}する → to desire/to want
  • 欲しがる → to desire/to want/to wish for/to covet

Only the latter sounds like it includes more "bad"/selfish desires (covet). However, in this verse in the Bible, they both appear, and both talk about "bad"/selfishly desiring something.

あなたの隣人の妻を欲{ほっ}してはならない。隣人の家、畑、男女の奴隷、牛、ろばなど、隣人のものを一切欲しがってはならない。 ―  申命記 / 5章 21節

So all they really different at all?

Also, as a side question, is 欲する ever read as よくする? I see it listed here, and it comes up in my Android Google Japanese IME, but the dictionary only has an entry for ほっする.

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Isn't 欲しがる for another person's desires? Maybe 欲する is for your own desires. –  dotnetN00b Mar 9 '13 at 4:04
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According to the excerpts from the 日国 entries on the page you linked, よくする means 欲をだす。よくばる。, which doesn't sound to me like it's quite the same as ほっする, which has one sense meaning ほしいと思う。得たいと思う。また、望む。願う。ほりす。. (That's all we can see in the excerpt, but 大辞林 lists a second sense.) It seems that they're different words with different origins. I assume you mean ほっする at the top of your question, but maybe you could add furigana to clarify. –  snailboat Mar 9 '13 at 5:48
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I think 「[欲]{ほっ}す(る)」sounds literary/archaic so we rather say/use「欲しがる」(in modern Japanese?), and「~~(せ)んと欲す」also sounds archaic so we normally say/use 「~~(し)たいと思う」「~~(し)たがる」. –  Choko Mar 9 '13 at 17:49
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1 Answer

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I have never heard 欲する spoken in Japan, while you can hear 〜がる every day on TV and in daily life. I would compare it to the currently-used form 感じる and the now-rare 感ずる (cf. 弁ずる、講ずる) which I have again, never heard in speech but have seen in the novels of Soseki and Dazai.

I would be willing to go so far as to say that "covet" is a poor translation of 欲しがる, and should be placed under 欲する for the same reasons.

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