Please help me understand the differences in the following words meaning "give up・over", "hand over", "transfer":

  • 渡す
  • [寄越]{よ・こ}す
  • [譲]{ゆず}る

Here are some examples from my Japanese Bible

  • ダビデは主に[託宣]{たく・せん}を求めた。「ペリシテ人に向かって攻め[上]{のぼ}るべきでしょうか。彼らをこの手にお[渡し]{LL}くださるでしょうか。」主はダビデに答えられた。「攻め上れ。必ずペリシテ人をあなたの手に[渡す]{LL}。」 (サムエル記下 5章19節) → David asked the Lord, "Shall I attack the Philistines? Will you give me the victory?" "Yes, attack!" the Lord answered. "I will give you the victory!" (2 Samuel 5:19)
  • その後、この家の女主人である彼女の息子が病気にかかった。病状は非常に重く、ついに息を引き取った。…エリヤは、「あなたの息子を[よこしなさい]{LLLLLL}」と言って、彼女のふところから息子を受け取り、自分のいる階上の部屋に抱いて行って寝台に寝かせた。…主は、エリヤの声に耳を傾け、その子の命を元にお返しになった。子供は生き返った。 (列王記上 17章17、19、22節) → Some time later the widow's son got sick; he got worse and worse, and finally he died. ..."Give the boy to me," Elijah said. He took the boy from her arms, carried him upstairs to the room where he was staying, and laid him on the bed. ...The Lord answered Elijah's prayer; the child started breathing again and revived. (1 Kings 17:17,19,22)
  • アハブはナボトに話を持ち掛けた。「お前のぶどう畑を[譲って]{LLL}くれ。わたしの宮殿のすぐ隣にあるので、それをわたしの菜園にしたい。その代わり、お前にはもっと良いぶどう畑を与えよう。もし望むなら、それに相当する代金を銀で支払ってもよい。」 (列王記上 21章2節) → One day Ahab said to Naboth, "Let me have your vineyard; it is close to my palace, and I want to use the land for a vegetable garden. I will give you a better vineyard for it, or if you prefer, I will pay you a fair price." (1 Kings 21:2)

They seem fairly interchangeable to me, with the exception that only 譲る appears to be used figuratively for "surrender" or "yield" (一歩を譲る → yield/concede a point).


よこす is limited to when the speaker is the recipient of the item: this makes the word almost always used in a command form e.g. よこせ, よこしなさい. This is also because this word is considered rude/casual compared to the others, making it common for verbal demands.

渡す is the regular and neutral word for "to hand over", often used with polite forms お渡しする/お渡し致す. As far as I know, there is no restriction on the direction of handing the item over when using this word. Other than that, it has the same meaning as よこす.

譲る has a different meaning from the first two, as you correctly pointed out. What I notice about 譲る is that it is often preferred over the others when talking about more abstract, non-physical items. One example is "別の機会に譲る/後日に譲る", which means to save something (an opportunity or a discussion, etc.) for another time. Your example is another case in point, since 一歩 also has no physical form.

There are even more synonyms than these three, however. The most interesting one, given what has been discussed, might be 譲渡する.

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